It is an obvious fact that Edward Snowden has forced the Obama administration and others to move in the right direction. For that, he is a hero. Anyone who wants to go after him to prosecute him or punish him or the like (for turning over the NSA information to journalists; for exposing the lies, deception, and unconstitutional acts of the Obama administration) is the exact opposite, an enemy of truth and light and the people as a whole.
Some highlights from a very long, thorough, and critically important article:
"Jeffrey Sterling is not a whistle-blower," Miller, the former Justice Department spokesman, insisted to me, even though Sterling, whatever his motive, apparently was knowledgeable about significant problems plaguing the CIA at the time. "He was fired for cause. He went to court and the case was thrown out. No waste, fraud, or abuse was involved."
This is a disturbing distinction that the Obama administration has made repeatedly. Exposing "waste, fraud and abuse" is considered to be whistle-blowing. But exposing questionable government policies and actions, even if they could be [or clearly are] illegal or unconstitutional, is often considered to be leaking that must be stopped and punished. This greatly reduces the potential for the press to help hold the government accountable to citizens.
Obama and Holder have both expressed support for congressional passage of a federal reporter shield law. A compromise bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12 would make it more difficult for the government in federal investigations to compel reporters to reveal their sources except in "classified leak cases when information would prevent or mitigate an act of terrorism or harm to national security." It would require a judge, not the attorney general, to approve subpoenas for reporters' records or sources.
A potential sticking point for the shield law had been how Congress should define who is a journalist in this participatory digital media era. The compromise language in the Senate bill would cover anyone who had an employment relationship with a news organization for at least one year in the past 20 years, or three months in the previous five years; student journalists; anyone with a substantial track record of freelance journalism in the previous five years; and anyone else regarding whom a federal judge "determines that such protections would be in the interest of justice and necessary to protect lawful and legitimate news-gathering activities under the specific circumstances of the case." Journalists and press freedom advocates are divided over whether the federal government should define who is a journalist at all, even though many state shield laws already do. They are concerned about any restrictions on whose journalism would be protected.
"You give us a definition of what a journalist is, you define exemptions, you're painting us into a corner," Scott Armstrong, an independent investigative journalist and the executive director of the government transparency advocate Information Trust, said of the reporter shield legislation at a Newseum Institute panel discussion in Washington in September. Armstrong said that, as a First Amendment absolutist, he opposes any congressional legislation governing the press. He added that the national security exemption means that the legislation "won't protect national security reporters. Federal agencies can still investigate us."
Senator Wyden told me that he has studied the intelligence agencies' personnel rules and found that whistle-blowers "have to go first to the people perpetrating the problems they want to expose, before they can come to Congress, for example. There are a mountain of barriers and hurdles for intelligence agency whistle-blowers," he said.
"We have a president with two minds in regard to whistle-blowing," said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight. "He deserves credit for doing more than any other president, but there's a different policy for classified information whistle-blowers."
"The system is bent deeply in the direction of over-classification of information," Senator Wyden said. "If done properly to protect only genuine national security information, it would be easier to protect government secrets." He said it seemed as if classification were being used more to protect people from political embarrassment.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)