All posts by Ezra Van Auken

Born and raised in Maryland, Ezra has learned to put up with cronyism, but inevitably escaped from the state paradigm. Self-taught and anchored by commitment to accurate reporting, he has worked independently and with media sources for over two years, bringing the question of government to your computer screen.

Stop Leaks: Intelligence Director Calls On Snowden to Bring His NSA Secrets Home

Hoping to somehow turn National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s half-year role of information exposing and sharing into silence, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking to congress, told Snowden that if he’s accomplished his objectives, as Snowden has stated, then he should turn the rest of his information over.

The director told Congressional members, and Snowden, “If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to U.S. security.” Placing any hope on Snowden’s decision to end all information sharing would be naïve, considering the former NSA contractor has been working against State interests for half a year.

Before the Snowden storm began, Clapper told lawmakers in March that NSA officials were not collecting domestic American data, completely lying to Snowden’s eventual leaks.

Republican Party Decides to Go After NSA Surveillance State

This past Friday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) decided to officially pass a resolution that demands an investigation into National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, and asks Congressional members to amend the current Patriot Act, specifically section 215. Although the party has pledged against NSA spying, in addition to state totalitarianism, some party members blew the candles out a while ago.

Explained by the Time magazine, Zeke Miller lists a section of the resolution, “Among other points, the resolution declares “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” a claim embraced by civil libertarians of both parties.”

With the Republican party taking shift at civil libertarianism, it’s reasonable to say that Washington politics, at the least, is being influenced by outside lobbies other than DC careerists who’ve had a run at big government for quite a while. Of course, there is a long way to go if any political change is to be made.

Room has been made for anti-surveillance advocates, as reported on the recent USA Freedom Act, “The House bill is chalking up many co-sponsors as well. In the beginning of December, about 70 co-sponsors backed the USA Freedom Act, and now, in the end of December, nearly 120 co-sponsors are on board. Introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the bill has also seen staunch support by freshman Congressman Thomas Massie.”

Another State Looks to End “Marijuana Prohibition”, but Not Really

Riding on the coattails of Colorado and Washington legalization efforts, the state of New Hampshire is now looking to play ball with cannabis. Weeks ago, the NH House passed a cannabis legalization bill 170 to 162, marking the start of an enduring process for both sides of the debate. With the bill now moving out of the House and landing into the Ways and Means Committee, progress is being made with the legislation, for now.

If the bill were to achieve success in the committee, then policymakers would send it back to the House where it’s voted on again, and finally the Senate makes the last move before going to the Governor. Before getting high hopes, or at least the hopes of getting high, it should be noted that Governor Maggie Hassan (D) has remained promising that she would veto the bill. Spokesman Marc Goldberg told press a veto would be exercised.

Aside from the possibility of passing, the legalization bill is much like the one in Colorado, and with that, you should worry. Noted previously in my Colorado article, the legalization of cannabis is certainly going in the right direction, however the model being used to take cannabis in that direction is not a good one. Adopted by politicians, the call for cannabis freedom comes with a tradeoff, and that tradeoff is every bit hypocritical.

While basing cannabis legalization off the premise that consumer choice would obviously be more free and personal, lawmakers then decided to establish an arbitrary number for the amount allowed to be possessed as well as a tax on the sale of cannabis.
As explained previously, “By lessening the state’s grip on marijuana, which, oh by the way, is a heavily demanded good in Colorado, bureaucrats and handlers are able to dictate what business is created, who can sell the marijuana and how much it will cost. Increasing the cost of marijuana has already put a burden on smokers.” Many smokers in Colorado have complained of the tax, saying that because of it, they’ll go back to the black market where it’s much cheaper for the same quality.

Instead of arresting and fining the pot smokers, now states have the popular option of legalizing cannabis under the guise that smokers and consumers are being given more freedom to do as you’d like. Of course however, the exchange for cannabis is merely a tradeoff for other property – your money.

NSA Collecting Millions of Untargeted Texts a Day, and More

Adding a little more fuel to President Obama’s growing fire around the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on American citizens, the Britain-based Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 News, in collaboration, published another pile of once-confidential information on NSA’s routine surveillance habits. Of course, what’s been learned in the past year about NSA spying should leave no one surprised to only learn more.


In addition to the NSA spying, which isn’t alone, is the NSA’s sister in Europe, particularly the UK’s Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ). Simply put, both agencies have shared a mutual interest in watching the entire world. More NSA secrets were published just hours before President Obama gave his speech on NSA reform, adding some salt to the deepening wound for those loyal to the surveillance state.


Coming out of the Guardian and Channel 4 News are documents revealing the GCHQ and NSA’s program, which are working to consolidate and collect SMS messages. Leaked in last week’s documents is the realization that both agencies collect about 200 million SMS text messages a day, along with other phone data. Capable of pulling hundreds of millions of text messages, the NSA and GCHQ also extracts finance and contact data.


From location data to your contact list, the agencies have compromised the entirety of your phone’s information. Program tools involved with the collection of cell phone data include “Dishfire” and “Prefer”. Dishfire works to log the information into the agency’s database, while Prefer performs “automated analysis”, and all of the collection is done at random with no targeting of specific persons or data – making anyone vulnerable.


Journalist at the Guardian’s NYC-branch, James Ball said, “The Prefer program uses automated text messages such as missed call alerts or texts sent with international roaming charges to extract information, which the agency describes as content derived metadata, and explains that ‘such gems are not in current metadata stores and would enhance current analytics,’” better explaining the NSA/GCHQ process.


On an average day, the two surveillance programs collect over 5 million missed-alert calls, details on 1.6 million border crossings, more than 110,000 names from electronic business cards, 800,000 financial transactions and 76,000 geological locations from text message data.


Just hours after the latest release of surveillance secrets, President Obama took to the stage for a deliverance of reassurance, telling listeners that what Snowden has released will be changed, in terms of bulk data collection. Of course, getting high hopes for policy change from the same man, who in 2007 told Americans that unwarranted surveillance shouldn’t be a reality in the US, is loose-ended.

Another State Looking to Block Feds from Impeding on Gun Rights

Despite the tragic event in Newtown, Connecticut over a year ago, the push for gun control has been nothing of what leftist anti-gun advocates hoped for. While taking advantage of the Newtown tragedy by introducing legislation the thought of actually succeeding in passing law was shaky for political bobble heads. Although states like Maryland and New York passed gun restrictions, other states nullified gun laws.

Now, states are looking to capitalize on “pro-choice” efforts in regard to gun ownership. Instead of simply working within their own legislative state bodies, Missouri is looking to influence its neighbors nearby as well, and of course, working to pass nullification as well. Missouri is hoping that by passing law, which blocks particular federal gun restrictions, others like Arkansas will continue to do the same work.

The AP reported, “Missouri’s latest proposal, introduced this past week, would attempt to nullify certain federal gun control regulations from being enforced in the state and subject law enforcement officers to criminal and civil penalties for carrying out such policies.”

“We continue to see the federal government overreach their rightful bounds, and if we can create a situation where we have some unity among states, then I think it puts us in a better position to make that argument,” Missouri Senator Brian Nieves explained to reporters.

New Report Shines Light on NSA’s Mishaps and Ineffective Surveillance

Unfortunately for National Security Agency (NSA) bureaucrats and policymakers in Congress, another report has seeped through the headlines showing yet more inconsistencies with government-approved stories on the NSA’s surveillance state. The latest report comes from the New American Foundation (NAF), which outright calls director Keith Alexander’s thwarted terror attacks claim misleading and overblown.

While the NAF does claim the federal government has stopped dozens of terrorist attacks, the organization believes NSA bulk data collection had “minimal” involvement in those thwarted plots. Jumping right in, out of the 225 allegedly foiled plots by state agents, roughly 1.3 percent of the plots were dismantled by “NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority.” And besides unidentified authority, the numbers are still low.

Crunching the numbers, NAF writes that NSA surveillance under section 702 of the Patriot Act was involved in 4.4 percent of thwarted plots. Under section 215, only 1.8 percent was deterred because of NSA surveillance. Simply put, NAF explains that the American surveillance complex hasn’t actually stopped terrorist plots, but rather, related plots that come secondary to the actual plot such as fundraising for groups.

Even in one case of NSA intervention where exchange took place between San Diego cabdriver Basaaly Moalin and an al-Qaeda affiliate group al-Shabaab, the actual intervention took place two months later by FBI officials. Although the call between Moalin and the Somalian-based al-Shabaab occurred under the NSA’s radar, the actual surveillance and wiretapping by FBI agents happened months later, stalling the capture.

The NAF notes, “This undercuts the government’s theory that the database of Americans’ telephone metadata is necessary to expedite the investigative process, since it clearly didn’t expedite the process in the single case the government uses to extol its virtues.” Another case, which has been sprinkled with NSA exaggeration, is the David Coleman Headley and Najiullah Zazi’s case – better known as the NYE bomb plot. 
In addition, court files show other references where NSA surveillance played a role in tampering with terrorist activities, however the NAF was unable to detail how much of a role was played.

Concluding, the NAF believes the problem with NSA techniques is that once the information is compiled, officials are lacking the proper tools to actually do something with the compiled information, making it a soft point for stopping plots. 
With such low NSA intervention after bulk data collection, it’s a wonder whether or not the bureaucrats are actually doing this for national security or rather vast domestic surveillance of Americans.

Lawmakers: Snowden Has Aided Terrorists, Betrayed the US – No Evidence Given

Surely whistleblowers and intelligence community opponents have targets on their heads when it comes to dissenting opinions, but for whistleblower Edward Snowden, his target has grown much bigger in the past year. Aside from the redundant plea against government growth and surveillance, Snowden took up the task of putting words into actions against the increase of bureaucracy, and Snowden’s catching backlash.

Although undisclosed, House Intelligence Committee members have illustrated how the Pentagon is taking direct lash at Snowden’s actions. With the report being touted by members such as Dutch Ruppersberger and Mike Rogers, what’s known of it is little, but telling. Produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other three-letter-agencies, lawmakers overlooking the report have called Snowden’s actions a “betrayal”.

Rep. Ruppersberger explained, “Snowden handed terrorists a copy of our country’s playbook and now we are paying the price, which this report confirms. His actions aligned him with our enemy.” Both Ruppersberger and Rogers joined other lawmakers last week at the White House for a briefing on the DIA report, being instructed on what and what not to disclose. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to refute besides talking points.

Calling Snowden’s acts a betrayal to American interests, Rep. Rogers warned military personnel of a looming, greater risk. Going as far as saying Snowden’s snowstorm has tipped off American adversaries of counter-terrorism methods, despite no evidence, the two lawmakers dug even further saying NSA leaks hurt efforts against human and narcotics traffickers, cyber crime and weapons of mass destruction.

Along with the bold claims was relatively hot air, considering not one shred of information has been released backing what Ruppersberger or Rogers said. “No specific examples are actually given, and you will also notice in virtually every sentence includes the word ‘could’ — meaning real damage hasn’t actually occurred, they are just saying it potentially could happen,” wrote Trevor Timm of Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The secret report fails to be seen by any independent organization or individual unrelated to the Pentagon apparatus or Congressional staff, making the interpretations and claims one-sided at best. Claims like these from Rogers and Ruppersberger have been made before, ironically from Rogers in particular, regarding the NSA leaks. In July, Rep. Rogers was the one to throw out the “number 54” when describing how many terrorist attacks have been thwarted because of NSA surveillance.

Rogers said, “Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe — saving real lives,” adding that what officials are dealing with is “real”. Yet with the statistics, reports and trumped fear by Rogers, his ultimate claim turned out to be half-truths and misleading reports.

Of course, until the classified information comes out showing Snowden’s unintended role in terrorist activities, no one besides the policymakers and bureaucrats making these claims can actually know.

Idaho Town Does the Honors of Banning Federal NDAA Indefinite Detention

Detaining Americans indefinitely, without trial, through the use of military force is well established. Every year since its inception in 2012, President Obama has re-extended the provisions. The idea of American military members detaining you without a trial, for an indefinite amount of time, is eye opening to some, and that’s exactly why states have begun to slowly but surely nullify federal detention.

The state legislature isn’t the only body that can reject NDAA powers. There are also the county bodies: both the states along with their divided counties have been on the offensive. Having success most recently are Idaho’s council members in Emmett who passed NDAA-blocking legislation by a count of 5 to 1. The “Restoring Constitutional Governance Resolution” effectively rejects the enforcement of indefinite detention.

Emmett’s legislation recommends to the Idaho state body a similar legislative bill that would bar federal officials from detaining an Idahoan without trial. The resolution states, “…it is unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful for any person to: a. arrest or capture any person in Emmett, or citizen of Emmett, within the United States, with the intent of “detention under the law of war,” or b. actually subject a person in Emmett, to “disposition under the law of war,” or c. subject any person to targeted killing in Emmett, or citizen of Emmett, within the United States,” pushing federal agents away from the county, specifically.

An advocacy group that’s specializing in the fight against NDAA powers is People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (PANDA), which celebrated the victory in Emmett. PANDA called the passage a growth to the “tidal wave of cities banning provisions” regarding the NDAA’s indefinite detention power. Areas such as Albany, New York, and Webster Maine have also taken part in the movement.

The Idaho coordinator and leader for PANDA, Jason Casella told readers in a statement, “Once you stop and do your own research, you find how egregious this truly is and how this is not about ‘left’ or ‘right;’ this is about freedom vs. tyranny.” Casella’s message isn’t a shy one either, nor is it lonesome. Americans from state to state are realizing the possible dangerous provisions held by Obama’s administration, and find it in their best interest to block those measures locally.

When the town of Emmett decided in favor of blocking the NDAA’s detainment powers, town onlookers erupted in applause for the efforts by their elected members. Just recently, Michigan also decided to push the ban on federal officials practicing trial-less detainment. What’s become a clear message by locals around the country has yet to be heard through the shallow walls of Washington, though.

Block the NSA – California Leading the Way Against the NSA’s Spying Habits

Rejecting the federal government on various civil libertarian issues has become somewhat of a norm in recent years – from the National Defense Authorization Act’s (NDAA) detention provisions, to blocking the use of federal drones – the states have felt emboldened to raise a flag against federal intervention. With last year’s Snowden leaks, the states have another intervention to at least stop what they can.

A bundle of lawmakers in California are taking up the case for blocking NSA powers. The Californian senators are on either side of the political aisle, leaving the legislation bipartisan. Generally, the bill would prohibit the water and electricity use from public sources to the NSA, as well as lay sanctions on private companies that assist in the help of resources. NSA officials would also not be allowed to partner with college programs.

The bill would ban the state from “[providing] material support, participation or assistance in any form to a federal agency that claims the power, by virtue of any federal law, rule, regulation or order, to collect electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”

Co-sponsoring the legislation, Democratic Senator Ted Lieu told reporters he understood NSA officials’ concerns regarding the world being a dangerous place; indeed the world is a danger zone. Sen. Lieu said, “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government.” Lieu went on to label the whole NSA as a danger to liberty values.

As stated, the legislation is bipartisan and Republican Senator Joel Anderson is on the same page as Lieu. Both are adamant about slashing the NSA’s role in California. Simply put, Anderson explained to the press that he’s in favor of the Fourth Amendment. Of course, Lieu and Anderson aren’t the only ones in California looking to throw a wrench in the NSA’s machine; other groups are also involved, like the Tenth Amendment Center.

California isn’t in its lonesome either. Other nullification-styled bills are being recommended and contemplated by lawmakers in states like Oklahoma and Arizona. TAC members, aimed at reducing federal government powers, draft the anti-NSA bills, which are all in the same for the most part. Of course, none of these legislative pieces came into play until after Snowden’s leaks. What Snowden did has not only confirmed the imbedded fear of being watched, but has also allowed Americans to understand what their government is truly doing.

Asked if They’re Spying on Congress, NSA Hardly Answers the Question

Spying is a given at the National Security Agency (NSA), and now that folks have more than enough evidence showing the evasiveness of surveillance, many are wondering if it’s the politicians in Congress who are being constantly monitored too. Unfortunately, knowing completely whether or not policymakers in Washington are being monitored is improbable, at least based on what the NSA says.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wanted clarification on the NSA’s part, deciphering if surveillance is or isn’t being placed on elected officials. Specifically, Senator Sanders called the act of surveillance “spying”, and defined spying as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.”

Timely, the NSA took just a day for a response, and to no surprise, the NSA hardly gave an answer. The NSA wrote that, “[the agency’s] authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protection are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.” Offering hope, the letter explained that NSA officials would continue to work with Congress members to ensure all information is transparent.

As the Washington Post noted, “The answer is telling. We already know that the NSA collects records on virtually every phone call made in the United States. That program was renewed for the 36th time on Friday. If members of Congress are treated no differently than other Americans, then the NSA likely keeps tabs on every call they make as well.”

Some have no problem with the NSA spying on its own government relationships, like former House member Ron Paul who said, “We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government. Not the other way around.” Nonetheless, the battle for privacy and spying is still raging, and both sides are not raising the white flag anytime soon.

Colorado Isn’t an Example of Ending Marijuana Prohibition; Other States Following Suit

As many around the US know, marijuana tolerance has grown exponentially in the past decade, and Americans’ moral acceptance has been affecting the actions of policymakers. Little by little, less-tightening regulation has been placed on cannabis. And just in the beginning of 2014 was yet another monumental feat for the pro-marijuana crowd: Colorado legalized the controversial plant.

Becoming the first state to make a somewhat wishful attempt at allowing the Colorado citizen a freer toke of the dense green, “Amendment 64” working with “Proposition AA” went into effect the first day of the New Year.

Passed by a wide margin of Coloradoans voting 60 percent in favor, the proposition fell in congruence with “Amendment 64”, which was passed in November 2012. The widely covered amendment legalized marijuana, as well as regulated it.

Adults over the arbitrary age of 21 can legally, by Colorado law, smoke marijuana pending the compliance to regulation standards such as licensing. Where it gets sticky is with business operation in the marijuana market, which can be somewhat of a headache, especially for owners, employees, civil libertarians and market enthusiasts concerned with not only personal freedom, but also economic.

In the regulations and taxes pertaining to marijuana sale, “Proposition AA” comes back into the picture. Among the strongest is the 15 percent wholesale tax statewide, in addition to the 10 percent retail sales tax. And for Boulder residents, another 8.5 percent local tax is added on. Of course, along with taxing marijuana is the monopolizing power by state officials to pick and choose who can and can’t operate a licensed retail store.

The personal issue of smoking marijuana was center stage in Colorado, and unfortunately took up the entire stage. While their intention was to bring Coloradoans a basis for personal freedom, or at least the ability to smoke marijuana without imprisonment, policymakers and citizens forgot about freedom in its entirety, which includes freedom in the pocketbook.

And by shaking off economic freedom, as if it were the invisible friend, it seems the pundits have molded marijuana legalization to correlate with what it’s like to end prohibition. Put simply, marijuana legalization in Colorado certainly doesn’t mean the end of marijuana prohibition itself; the noose has just been loosened for smokers. The trend of “ending prohibition” is catching on nationwide, and one should remember that when a prohibition ends, so do the laws guided around that prohibition, and Colorado’s hasn’t.

Looking at the big picture, Coloradoans were given the option to either accept marijuana laws across the board as they were, or to vote in favor of new marijuana laws (“Amendment 64”), which in the end lessened penalty for marijuana use. However, “Amendment 64” and later “Proposition AA” never ended the state’s prohibition of marijuana – the legislations gave more choice back to the Coloradoan, in exchange for their money, forcibly.

Steve Esposito of wrote, “The assumption seems to be that no market is legitimate unless it is regulated, and that regulation is some sort of fairy dust to keep “criminal dealers” out of the industry.” By lessening the state’s grip on marijuana, which, oh by the way, is a heavily demanded good in Colorado, bureaucrats and handlers are able to dictate what business is created, who can sell the marijuana and how much it will cost. Increasing the cost of marijuana has already put a burden on smokers.

Twitter’s recreational tweeters lit up after hearing of the price controls on marijuana sale, with one person saying, “[The state] can keep [its] legalization if weed’s gonna cost $65/8th!” and another satirically asking, “$400 an ounce?” The lack of economic freedom that’s driving up prices is only putting a hurt on the marijuana market. Consumer incentive would lead the marijuana smoker to a cheaper buy, which means evading taxes.

Jumping through tax and regulation means the consumer is headed right back to the black market where marijuana sales started in Colorado – that is if the consumer wants a cheaper price than the heavily taxed, state-stamped marijuana. Costing the coerced Coloradoan even more is the payment for state regulations, on which according to the NY Times has not been decided. The trade-off of being able to smoke marijuana without fear of state enforcement at the price of marijuana tax and regulation is debatable to one side.

To put costs into price perspective, the Summit Daily reported that for some rocky mountain folks, buying an ounce of mid-grade marijuana in Colorado would come with an additional $50 to $60 in taxes. Other sources like Twitter, as mentioned, have noted eighths costing about $50 to $60 after taxes. The tax and regulatory burdens thrown onto Coloradoans will inevitably lead some, or many, to the black market for cheaper prices.

Other state mishaps in the marijuana market include the artificial supply of marijuana products, which isn’t based off demand, but rather state guideline. It’s not only restricted to prices either, considering the state is also approving who’s allowed to set-up a retail business. The lack of supply and demand would eventually lead to the higher prices: something that’s already taking place, and causes a domino effect within the black market.

Overall, instead of Colorado’s finest arresting Mary Jane and her boyfriend for smoking marijuana on their back porch, fining and imprisoning them, now they can smoke legally – as long as the couple purchases marijuana from a state-approved seller and pays the coerced tax. That’s the Colorado version of ending prohibition, at least for some media heads and advocates.

Even aside from economic free will, the Coloradoan isn’t allowed to smoke marijuana on any public or federal properties including sidewalks, parks and roads. Despite being allowed to smoke in your home, you can’t smoke in areas, which although are privately owned, have been deemed public, such as rooftop cafés, restaurants, bars and other venues. Citizens aren’t even allowed to buy as much marijuana as they’d like. A buyer is only allowed to purchase one ounce per transaction.

Since Colorado’s announcement of cutting back on marijuana prohibition, others have tried to follow suit in the depiction of the Centennial State’s end of prohibition. New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo is adopting medical marijuana legislation, repeating the moves by New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Running along with “ending prohibition” are states like Michigan and California.

Let Snowden and the Intelligence Director Share the Same Prison Cell says Rand Paul

While the political field’s libertarian faction in Washington and abroad remains one of the most ideologically consistent, which doesn’t say much considering the field is largely embodied with snakes and demagogues, it seems lately that libertarianism and the groups involved politically with libertarianism are doing just what the rest of politics has been doing: selling out ideological principle for the gain of political capital.

Libertarianism is facing new hurdles in government, specifically the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance leaks, as well as Edward Snowden’s legal conditions. Although unwarranted NSA spying and mass data collection is, for the most part, ironed out by libertarians as something they oppose, Edward Snowden’s legal conditions are apparently not. Senator Rand Paul has awkwardly made it clear that Snowden deserves time in a cell, alongside National Intelligence (NI) director James Clapper.

During an interview with Eric Bolling on Fox News last week, Sen. Paul was asked to respond to the video of director Clapper lying about the collection of data in March 2013 – before Snowden’s leaks. Paul told Bolling it’s ironic that the same legislators and pundits calling for Snowden’s imprisonment are turning a blind eye to Clapper’s committed felony in Congress. Disagreeing with the illustration Paul created, the Senator said he wants the law applied equally: both to Snowden for leaking and to Clapper for lying.

Sen. Paul explained, “[He] frankly [thinks] it would be somewhat enlightening for James Clapper and Edward Snowden to share a prison cell, and then maybe we’d all learn a little bit from that.” Reconfirming his statement, Paul then appeared on “This Week” hosted by George Stephanopoulos who asked the Kentucky Senator if clemency was off the table for Snowden, to which Senator Paul simply replied, “No”.

Along with Stephanopoulos’s question of clemency, the ABC pundit wanted Senator Paul to touch on his comments to Fox News’s Bolling, regarding a prison cell for Snowden. Paul told ABC’s “This Week” that the reasoning behind his statement was to convey a point of equality under the law, pointing out that Snowden and Clapper broke laws and that neither the pro-NSA or anti-NSA sides should throw a blind eye to broken laws.

The Kentuckian did add that the options of life in prison and a death penalty are inappropriate, and went on to say that if Snowden came home and took a penalty, a few years’ serving time would be a lot less time than Clapper’s hypothetical prison sentence. Paul seemingly veered off, not giving any real indication as to what sentence he supported for Snowden until Stephanopoulos went back down the same trail.

Stephanopoulos asked Paul in clarification, “So you’re saying no clemency for Edward Snowden, but perhaps leniency?” Once again, without really addressing the question up front, Sen. Paul told ABC that with a fair trial and a softer, or as Paul called it, “reasonable” sentence, the administration would have a greater chance at bringing Snowden to the US. Paul however did acknowledge that Snowden’s storm of NSA leaks has produced evidence showing the government’s abuse of power.

Ironically, while Paul is beating questions on Snowden’s legal future around the bush, answering in a way that throws softballs to both civil libertarians and conservative moderates, the Senator is using Snowden’s infamous leaks to file lawsuit against the NSA. Based on suing the Obama administration and the NSA, Paul wants to take his lawsuit to the Supreme Court. He wants the Supreme Court to rule on whether, constitutionally, the government can have a single warrant used on millions of people.

On one side of the coin, Senator Paul wouldn’t mind a reasonable prison sentence for Snowden, seeing that the whistleblower violated government laws. As stated by the Justice Department, “On June 14, 2013, the fugitive, Edward J. Snowden, was charged by complaint in the ED VA with violations of unauthorized disclosure of National Defense Information, unauthorized disclosure of Classified Communication Intelligence and theft of Government Property.”

But then, seeing that Snowden indeed took information for the purpose of revealing an even greater debt to the US justice system, the abuse of the constitution and particularly the fourth amendment on a mass scale, Senator Paul has decided to take Snowden’s leaks and file lawsuit against the NSA and administration for violating the law in the first place. In all, the individual that Senator Paul wouldn’t mind viewing behind bars is the entire reason Paul is even able to file lawsuit against the government.

If one claims to be a civil libertarian, as Paul did in 2010 to CNN, and to be a libertarian means to believe that “people should be allowed to do and say what they want without any interference from the government” so long as they don’t interfere with another’s life, one might go as far to say that Snowden has done nothing to interfere with another’s life, and in fact only unmasked the evasive interference government is performing in the lives of everyday Americans.

And to sprinkle and/or dump salt on the wound, reports came out just days after the Snowden leaks began that Snowden himself was a campaign donor to Rand Paul’s dad, Ron, who ran in the 2012 election cycle.

Nonetheless, Paul is remaining in the middle of conservative and libertarian factions on the Snowden issue, ostensibly looking to please both factions, while dropping the strict libertarian principle to human freedom from government interference. Moves like Senator Paul’s have only thrown the libertarian movement, politically, in disarray, in some cases. Leaving the libertarian with either the choice of compromise or principle.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Hopeful to Nullify NDAA Indefinite Detention

Two years ago when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, civil libertarians were put to the test in terms of government overstep. Of course, indefinite detention provisions that allow the military to detain any American without trial were included in the 2012 NDAA package. Libertarians have taken their work at combating what they believe is totalitarianism to the state level.

Backed by civil libertarian advocacy groups, dozens of state lawmakers have not only started the process of introducing anti-indefinite detention legislation to their bodies, but have also began changing government power conversation, completely. The most recent legislator to embrace anti-indefinite detention legislation is Timothy O’Flaherty of New Hampshire. Other legislators, both Republican and Democrat, have also sponsored it.

The Liberty Preservation Act, prescribed by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), would nullify federal provisions pertaining to NDAA detention in the “Live Free or Die” state.

Specifically, the legislation reads: “No New Hampshire agency, political subdivision, or employee of either acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the New Hampshire national guard when such member is serving in the national guard, may knowingly engage in any activity that aids an agency of or the armed forces of the United States in the execution of 50 U.S.C. section 1541 as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Public Law 112-18, section 1021 or any other similar law, order or regulation.”

Once back in session on January 8th, the House Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs will debate and hear further arguments for the passage of O’Flaherty’s bill. New Hampshire hasn’t been the only state in the past year to introduce anti-indefinite detention legislation. Other states include California, Montana, Virginia and New York, to name a few, where some have failed and others have passed into law.

Plenty More NSA-Leaked Info to Come says Greenwald; Anti-NSA Bill with 117 Sponsors

To spy or not to spy, that debate is what’s playing out around the world and particularly in the US since whistleblower Edward Snowden’s storm of National Security Agency (NSA) leaks to journalists and those alike. It would seem that debate over intrusive government spying has yet to be concluded. And with already over 200,000 documents released by Snowden, what’s to come is leaving officials on the edge of their seats.

Giving some indication as to what comes next, Snowden’s story-breaking journalist Glenn Greenwald told Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), an annual conference for international hackers and computer gurus, that information about the NSA is still coming, and a lot of it. The former Guardian journalist told listeners that while it’s important to cover these leaks, it’s as equally important to understand exactly what they’re writing about.

Other speakers included Julian Assange who phoned in to discuss privacy and government issues. Assange told the conference that privacy advocates and hackers should take it upon themselves to fight against government surveillance. And although the outlook for privacy backers may look grim, considering the massive leakage by Snowden showing the destruction of privacy, Greenwald had positive words in the end.

Greenwald said, “One of most significant outcomes of the last few months has been the increased awareness of the importance of encryption and privacy,” referring to the sudden transition of awareness as a “remarkable sea change”. Realizing the loss of privacy and the growth of the surveillance state, the former Guardian journalist noted that democratic processes would not change proper policy, calling the system a duped one.

The Brazilian-based journalist offered a different message of change. Greenwald explained, “When it’s no longer we in fear of them, but they in fear of us, that’s when these policies will change.” While refraining from going into detail, Greenwald made sure to point out that Snowden’s actions were in the defense of civil liberty advocates, and that making such moves costed Snowden, however, for Brazil or Germany to pick up Snowden’s tab would cost much less.

Calling it an “ethical” and “moral” obligation, Greenwald explained that Germany and Brazil should return the favor of protecting rights, just as Snowden did for both countries.

As Greenwald, his accomplices and Snowden continue to prepare and release more information, lawmakers in the House are using the leaks to push tightening legislation on the NSA. The USA Freedom Act, which has been heavily promoted by Rep. Justin Amash, offers somewhat of a reel-in reform by policymakers. All together, the bill stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online-Monitoring Act”.

Interestingly, the USA Freedom Act would open up a position in the NSA for a “special advocate” who would oversee operations, on a pro-privacy basis. Packed with a large, but not an entirely sharp bite, the bill would require the NSA to stop bulk meta-data collection, throw transparency on the FISA courts by making the attorney general release court rulings to the public and give internet and telephone companies the green light to release information regarding court orders received by the FISA courts.

The House bill is chalking up many co-sponsors as well. In the beginning of December, about 70 co-sponsors backed the USA Freedom Act, and now, in the end of December, nearly 120 co-sponsors are on board. Introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the bill has also seen staunch support by freshman Congressman Thomas Massie.

With combined efforts from whistleblower Snowden, journalists and anyone in between, along with lawmaker support, it would appear reigning in the NSA is around the corner. On the other hand, the question must be asked: Has government surveillance grown so large in uses and special interests that reeling in the constructed walls of secret courts, massive data collection and international surveillance relationships near impossible?