Tag Archives: Cato

A “Life to America” News Sandwich

This week I was relieved to hear that a number of Democrat Senators–enough to, along with Republicans, create veto-proof legislation–oppose the “deal” with Iran that is currently being negotiated in Switzerland by John Kerry. These Senators thankfully didn’t get the memo from two Cato scholars that Islamic terrorism “poses no existential threat to America.” Writes Francesca Chambers at the Daily Mail,

[A] dozen Democratic senators, including Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, have said they will join with the GOP majority to pass bills inserting themselves into the [negotiation] process.

One would levy additional sanctions on Iran after June 30 if it doesn’t agree to the final terms of a deal, though monthly waivers would be allowed should more time be requested. The other would give the Senate the power to reject within 60 days any pact the executive branch makes with Iran.

(HT Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch)

If Iran were to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon, it would have the means and opportunity to “pose an existential threat” to many Americans. What about motive? This week, even while the negotiations are going on with John Kerry in Switzerland (did he bring James Taylor with him?), Khameni is back in Iran doing a “Death to America” reprise.

The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, which permits Muslims to lie to “Infidels” like us, should be enough to keep any sane person away from the negotiation table with a theocracy like Iran. But, in addition, the New York Times today provides us with evidence that the doctrine is alive and well, and part of Iran’s strategy for developing its nuclear capacity. Yesterday the paper reported that, in late 2012, our intelligence agencies “uncovered an Iranian businessman’s scheme to buy specialty aluminum tubing, a type the United States bans for export to Iran because it can be used in centrifuges that enrich uranium, the exact machines at the center of negotiations entering a crucial phase in Switzerland this week.” Why should we think, if a “deal” were to be reached–even a deal that Senators would approve–that it would be worth anything at all? In fact, such a deal would likely aid Iran in its nuclear ambitions, because no doubt part of the “deal” would include us sending some of our tax dollars to them, among other “concessions.”

While the Senate may succeed in preventing some of the damage that would result from a “deal” with Iran, our real hope is to elect a candidate in 2016 who can begin to undo the accumulated foreign policy damage. This is no small task because, while the damage done has increased substantially under Obama, it goes back much further than that, arguably spanning decades. Ted Cruz, who is slated to announce his candidacy tomorrow, has been a vocal opponent of Jihad and shows signs that he is not the typical neoconservative. This is only one of many reasons we have to believe that a Ted Cruz presidency would bring back Life to America.

Is Ted Cruz “The Guy”? That’s a question we asked on my podcast back in 2013. Listen here.

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An NSA News Sandwich

According to The Guardian, German Chancellor Angela Merkel compared the NSA’s snooping practices “with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.” She is said to have done this during “an angry exchange with Barack Obama” on the phone in October. Edward Snowden had apparently revealed that the NSA was listening in on Merkel’s private cell phone conversations. She also is reported to have said that the NSA cannot be trusted with private information, as evidenced by the fact that Snowden was able to escape with so much of it.

My question for Merkel is: what if Snowden hadn’t been able to escape with that data? Would she say that ignorance is bliss? Even if Merkel is a little confused about whether to cheer the Snowden leaks, I am glad to be able to live vicariously through her having “an angry exchange” with our president.

Those who, like me, disapprove of the NSA’s spying activities will be dismayed to learn that a recent White House-sponsored review of the NSA’s activities has resulted in a recommendation that the NSA continue its programs essentially unchanged. For example, the report is said to recommend continuing the bulk data collection of Americans’ telephone metadata, without probable cause or particularized suspicion, with the only changes being (1) the level of suspicion required to conduct a search on the ginormous database, and (2) the nominal collector and storer of the data would be the telephone companies. I agree with Jim Harper of Cato that requiring the phone companies collect and store the data makes no substantial difference and, in fact, may be worse than the existing program. “Is secretly violating Americans’ communications privacy really rewarded by a policy requiring the violation of Americans’ communications privacy?” he asked.

Harper and other privacy advocates were heartened this week by a federal district judge who ruled that the NSA spying programs were likely unconstitutional. The Guardian provides access to the full text of the ruling, which is long and addresses issues of jurisdiction and standing, but I focused on the part that most interested me: the section pertaining to the third-party doctrine. The judge was conservative, as is appropriate for a district court ruling. He did not say we should get rid of the third-party doctrine, much less the “reasonable expectation of privacy” test, as I do in my recent PJ Media piece and forthcoming law review article. But he did say that he doubted whether the 1978 Supreme Court decision, Smith v. Maryland, a staple of third-party doctrine jurisprudence, could sanction the legality of the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata. Cell phone use today isn’t comparable to the use of the telephone in the 1970s, and so the fact that one might not have had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in phone metadata in the 1970s doesn’t say anything about whether one has such an expectation today.

While I wish the judge had gone further, it’s a great start and it invites judges on appeal to take a closer look at the third-party doctrine.

 

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