The Air Force and The Espionage Act

The Air Force Oversteps Its Bounds – published 9 Feb 2011

Recently, the Air Force announced possible prosecution under the Espionage Act to civilian family members who read Wikileaks on private computers The idea that a USAF wife, child or relative would be prosecuted for reading a public message by private means is both ludicrous and chilling to the bone.

According to Air Force Materiel Command’s legal office, “If a family member of an Air Force employee accesses WikiLeaks on a home computer, the family member may be subject to prosecution for espionage under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 793. The Air Force member would have an obligation to safeguard the information under the general guidance to safeguard classified information.” [Air Force Print News Today, “Command Offers Wikileaks Guidance” AFMC Public Affairs report, 3 Feb 2011.]

The still current Espionage Act (also known as the Sedition Act of 1918) made it a crime to be publicly against World War One, and hundreds (some say thousands) of Americans were imprisoned for simply saying so in public. Is it now being used again for odious purposes?

This should make you ask the question, at what point does any citizen become a criminal for simply reading something? Maybe you’ll become a criminal for reading this opinion.

Somewhere along the line some military leaders have truly lost their compass.

The Air Force’s reason for being is to assure our liberties, not threaten to throw families in prison for reading.

Pete Blome
Chair,
Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County

Is This How Liberty Dies?

On Thursday, December 15 – the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights – Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which can be used by the President to indefinitely detain Americans without charge or trial; an utter eradication of the Fifth Amendment, without apology. Our Congress decided the President needs more power at the expense of the people and the Constitution.

Is this what our veterans and our forefathers fought and gave their lives for? Is this what Americans want their Congress to do? Place power like this in the hands of one man – the President – to do as he wishes with American citizens?

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes your right to due process: “No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Fourth Amendment, for what it’s worth, also recognizes that your right to be secure in your person and in your house (among other things) cannot be infringed by sidestepping the legal process. The explicit recognition of these rights by our government is one of the things that has always made our country exceptional. But this new law is a misguided attack on our country’s 220-year recognition of these inherent rights.

Let us look at the final text of the bill. In “Subtitle D–Detainee Matters”, Sec. 1031, “Congress affirms that the authority of the President…includes the authority…to detain…any person…who was a part of or substantially supported…enemy forces.” The keyword here is “substantially supported.” This designation is extrajudicial – that is, at the President’s discretion. Sec. 1032 says, “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” The keyword here is “requirement.” In other words, the President has the authority to indefinitely detain any person who “substantially supported” the enemy, and is in fact required to do so – unless it is a U.S. citizen, in which case it is at the President’s discretion.

What if opposition to certain government policies – the Patriot Act, or the TSA, or certain military actions, for example – is deemed “substantially supportive” of the enemy? What if a President’s discretion, in lieu of a Constitutionally-guaranteed jury trial, is faulty and harms innocents? Obama himself, and those who succeed him, will now decide whether to send government agents to your living room to apprehend and detain you, without charges, for whatever duration they wish (or for as long as there is a War on Terror), under a Congressionally-condoned false pretense and color of law. Did we not learn from Russia, China, and Germany in the past century?

The so-called “conservatives” in Washington who are, at least in public, constantly at odds with the Obama agenda are the majority of whom voted for this bill. How dare they give this (or any) administration even more broad unilateral power to unequivocally control the very lives and liberty of We the People?

Couple that with the fact that Predator drones are now being used inside the United States as police tools, and we are looking at an outrageous reality. We must be honest with ourselves: America is becoming a police state. It cannot be overstated how serious of an offense this is. All those in Congress who supported this legislation must be voted out of office for violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution. That is the least that should happen in response to such an egregious assault on our liberties.

We cannot allow the slow death of our Republic.

Over the past decade, our rights have slowly been dissolved. Some say, “It couldn’t happen here. This is America!”

Wake up. Congress just made it happen.

This has got to stop.

Calen Fretts is a Candidate for U.S. Congress in the First District of Florida

What I’m All About

I am Calen Fretts. People tell me I must be mad to run for Congress in the First District as a Libertarian. They say the Republican Party armor is far too thick to make a dent.

I don’t like attitudes like that. They make people who deserve better settle for less.

You see, I’m a blessed man. I have a home, a business, a wonderful fiancée, and I live in the greatest country in the world – a country that flourished by protecting individual rights, free markets, and limited government. I want my neighbors and future family to prosper. I can’t stay silent when I see the best parts of America withering away.

It is withering. A lot of that comes from Congress doing things it shouldn’t.

Take the debt ceiling, for example. Just this past August it was raised again by $2 trillion. Numbers have gotten so big, it’s tough to completely understand them, but $2 trillion means about $7000 in new debt, forced by the government, at interest, forever, on every man, woman and child in the country . Mind you, the federal government has spent $15 trillion already, and is set to spend a lot more.

Another example is Congresspersons giving up their powers to a “Supercommittee” so that they don’t have to make tough decisions. It is dead wrong for a member of Congress to give up his power to such a group. He may as well not be in Congress at all.

There is more. Most of my neighbors detest the thought that government is everyone’s nanny. The resistance to Obamacare, with its obvious costs and personal restrictions, instantly comes to mind. But the Republican Party doesn’t want to repeal Obamacare, they want to “repeal and replace” it with their own version that will also have costs and personal restrictions.

Add the Patriot Act to the list. Enacted without time to be read, it was sold to a frightened public as the way to keep us safe. It led to secret lists, government permission to travel, abusive searches on airlines, warrantless searches of Americans, zero financial privacy, and soon will lead to checkpoints in train stations, bus stations, and even open roads. This is America, the land of the free? What good is it for a country to gain the whole world, yet forfeit its own soul?

Even the rule of law is now in question. Congress has actually exempted itself from insider trading laws, meaning acts that we lowly citizens would go to jail for make them rich. The government uses fake accounting methods. Large financial companies, supposedly regulated by the government, repeatedly violate the law (some even get bailouts), and no one goes to jail.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the news yourself. These things are already happening, and happening by the hand of those in Congress.

In a land founded on individual rights, our government- at all levels- taxes us, limits us, regulates us, commands us, and threatens our way of life, more than ever. These assaults on liberty are branded as keeping us safe, or investing in the future, or the lesser of two evils, or being fair, or even compassion for our fellow citizens. No one can feel secure in their property, papers, or personal effects anymore. The abuses are everywhere, and are being enabled by Republicans and Democrats alike.

I may be young, but I know when I am being taken advantage of, and I don’t like it.

Congress is the key. I am about standing firm on no new debt. I am about political competition. I am about fighting the nanny state and all its ills. I am about maintaining our liberty instead of trading it for the illusion of security. I am for free, not managed, markets. Most of all, I am for the rule of law. We are not a country of truth and justice for some.

The proper role of government is to defend the country, impose justice on those who use force or fraud on others, and act within the limits of our Constitution. It is not to own businesses, or grant favors.

It won’t be fixed by hiring the same leaders again either.

This is what I am about.

Hope on the War Front

The people of the panhandle should be justly proud of their important role in defending our nation. All five of our armed services have missions in this area, and serving in the military is an esteemed part of thousands of local family histories.

I am not a soldier, but I can understand such pride. From my brother, who currently serves in the Army, to my grandfathers who served in the last century, I am honored to come from a long line of servicemen to the country; in fact, going all the way back to the Revolution. I deeply respect the sense of duty and commitment to the principles of our Constitution that are found in our military.

But things in the military are not as they used to be in our great Republic.

In 1776, our forefathers were fighting an imperial British occupation force in their own back yards. In 2011, our friends and loved ones are asked to fight a faceless enemy as an occupation force in foreign lands.

Why is that? America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11. The military mission was to bring to justice those who perpetrated this crime.

Osama bin Laden and his cronies are now dead. Enemy organizations have been shattered. Yet our military remains abroad, now engaged for over a decade.

The United States military now accounts for almost half of total world military spending, and is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. During many missions, the U.S. cedes its military sovereignty to international organizations such as the UN and NATO, putting its troops under foreign commanders and foreign flags.

In an example of collateral damage, the war on terror became a pretext to expand government control, violate individual rights, and erode the Constitution at home. Since 2002 there are precedents for the assassination of U.S. citizens abroad without trial, a blatant violation of the Fifth Amendment. There are plans for virtually all travelers in our country to be routinely searched. The rule of law continues to be battered by a President who neither sought the Constitutionally-mandated approval of Congress to engage in war on Libya, nor complied with the War Powers Act passed by Congress. To cap it off, this week, the Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867/H.1540) – a bill that will let the government use the military, as Congressman Justin Amash stated, to “indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President.” The House has already passed this bill.

Broad powers might not seem so bad when the custodian is someone you trust, and in the name of safety, but what happens if and when someone unchecked by conscience, the rule of law, and the Constitution takes office?

But take heart, because we are not there yet. We can still bring the troops home to reunite with their spouses, children, and families, by forcing Congress to uphold its Constitutional accountability for the wars. Our troops can rest and recuperate, in case the U.S. faced a legitimate threat, while spending their money here at home and spurring the domestic economy. We can cut the spending overseas and foreign aid by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We can defend our own borders from illegal immigrants and Mexican drug cartel terrorists. All it takes is your voice.

America’s Founding Fathers envisioned a revolutionary ideology for the New World; one where the nation would refrain from offensive and interventionist wars, one where force would only be justified in defense against imminent attacks. Sadly, the U.S. today could not be further to the opposite side of the spectrum. Now fighting multiple wars in the Middle East with no real end in sight, the cost of incessant war is being unnecessarily paid every day with American lives and American dollars – blood and treasure.

How many veterans fought for more debt, less freedoms, and endless war?

This is not the nation America’s Founding Fathers envisioned. It is time to restore the U.S. military to its rightful place as the defender of sovereignty and beacon of liberty worldwide.

Calen Fretts is a candidate for Congress in the First District of Florida

Legalized Corruption

It has recently come to the attention of the American public that their Congressmen have pulled a fast one on them by excluding themselves from insider trading laws.

There is one recent bill to stop this odorous exemption from the law, but until the recent “60 Minutes” piece, it had only one other Congressman co-sponsoring it, and that co-sponsor was not Jeff Miller.

The idea that members of Congress can make money doing something that you or I would go to jail for is outrageous. Congressional supporters of the exemption say they are covers by ethics rules that would prevent insider trading.

Tell that to those who have gone to prison. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had an “ethics rule” that did not include prison instead of the legal code.

Don’t kid yourself. Congress is taking advantage of their position.

This matter goes to the heart of how Congress does business, and the only remedy is to vote out those who think they can live by a separate law than the rest of us.

Look up Libertarian Candidate Calen Fretts. The rule of law is for everybody.

We are not a land of truth and justice for some.

Calen Fretts and Karl Denninger at Occupy Pensacola 15 Oct 2011

Ten Years On

Ten years ago 19 murderers using box cutters cold-bloodedly killed thousands of Americans.

Some events are scars on the memory. I can only imagine that 911 is for recent generations what Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination were for previous ones. I can still remember the exact position I was standing in my living room when news of the event came over the television set.

To say this changed America is almost trite. If Americans were ever complacent about the dangers that lurk out in the world, it certainly stopped that day. It was one of those moments when as a people we looked into the abyss, and, true to form, the abyss looked back.

For many Americans, the Twin towers attacks filled them with a terrible resolve; a just desire to punish those responsible and to make sure it never happened again.

But this is where our leaders failed us.

America is more than a place, or a thing. It is an idea. It is the idea of individual liberty. It is the idea of equal justice for all, of innocent until proven guilty, of the rule of law, of a free market, of the supremacy of the Constitution. Kill the idea, and you kill the country.

The murderers on board those planes killed themselves to a purpose. In our reaction to their treachery they saw a path to America’s defeat. By banking on our leaders acting out of rage contrary to the ideas we hold so dear, they could see us eventually destroying ourselves.

How then have our leaders acted?

Instead of treating the hunt for Osama Bin laden as a criminal affair, it became a tool for replacing the Afghan leadership with ones of our own choosing. What could have been a short, punitive search for a fugitive became a long, meandering, painful, expensive and bloody exercise in nation building.

In the pursuit of preventing a recurrence of 911 all Americans have lost their protections to illegal search and seizure. Government permission is required to travel, and consent to search is assumed simply because you travel. American citizens are being searched without warrants on ships, trains, planes, and buses. Government agents perform physical acts that would be considered crimes in any other context, and should be.

Our government routinely performs searches of mail, electronic communications, and even the private homes of citizens without warrants. For many years, those who witnessed such searches and spoke of them could be put in jail simply for saying so. Government has given special immunity to companies for assisting the government violate wiretapping laws.

Those arrested for acts of terrorism have a completely separate legal system to determine their guilt or innocence. Even if found innocent, our Presidents, with the consent of the Congress and the courts, are holding some in prison indefinitely anyway.

Since George W. Bush’s day, the executive has maintained it has the prerogative to kill American citizens overseas if the government suspects they are engaged in terrorist activities, and it has actually done so. There is no judge, jury or public evidence involved.

Our government has openly admitted that it engaged in torture of apprehended criminals for information. Our former Vice President quite openly admits that he favors a form of torture for which we executed Japanese Officers.

Financial privacy does not exist anymore. Government has unlimited access to nearly anyone’s private finances. Many banks routinely report transactions of $2500 or more to the government as a suspicious activity.

We are currently fighting three undeclared hot wars, and at least two cold ones. Our President refuses to comply with the War Powers Act, and the Congress refuses to object. Every day the wars continue to consume more men, money and materiel slowly driving us into bankruptcy.

Herein lies the failure of our leaders. The Twin Towers were never really about 19 crazed murderers. They were always about us, and how we deal with what they did.

On this solemn day, ten years on, when we remember the dead, let’s think of the kind of legacy those who died would have wanted for America.

Would they have been happy that liberty became another casualty?

Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chair of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.

So Which Way Is It Sheriff?

It’s becoming clear that Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley is becoming a master of doublespeak.

After I attended the county commission meeting on July 19, there are more questions than answers about why the Sheriff’s Office costs so much.

When questioned by the commission he seemed very defensive and deflecting rather than answering clearly and directly.

In one breath he runs the most transparent office in the state, in the next, however, he can’t understand what an itemized list of expenditures is and why anyone could possibly want such a thing. He even questions whether it’s required of him by statute to provide an itemized list (of course it does).

Even if his expenditures were not required, after all that has happened with disgraced former Sheriff Charlie Morris, you’d think Ashley would provide them anyway.

Let’s clear the air real quick and define expenditure. It is payment of cash or cash-equivalent for goods or services, or a charge against available funds in settlement of an obligation as evidenced by an invoice, receipt, voucher, or other such document. It is commonly referred to as an actual.

This is pretty plain stuff, but he still didn’t understand the request from the commissioners. The sheriff’s repeated remark was basically “what are you looking for? Maybe we can help you find it.” The answer is simple; an itemized list of expenditures.

He also said he would provide “any” information that was requested from him.

Then why hasn’t the OCSO provided the LPOC (Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County) with requested information for the development of a Destin Police Department?

For weeks information has not been forthcoming about calls for service, about how many private contracts does the OCSO and/or any of its deputies have inside Destin city limits, and the revenue generated thereby and its distribution.

I haven’t even received an acknowledgement that they are even considering the request. Now that I think about it, I would like to know what these numbers are countywide. And I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

In one breath Sheriff Ashley says his per-capita costs to the citizens of the county are one of the lowest in the state, but in the next breath it’s a real burden and he needs more patrols and the equipment and manpower to go with it.

In one breath, his department is doing great and is on the right track, and yet violent crime has risen more than 20 percent in the county. It has fallen in the rest of the state for the last four years running.

This is the question sheriff, which way is it? Is this a safe and wonderful beach community that is a dream come true to live in? Or, a dangerous and violent place where crime is on the rise and you are powerless to do anything about it without more money and double the manpower?

There is a lot more to this budget review, and thankfully everyone can check it out for themselves at http://okaloosacountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.

Will the Sheriff’s department provide an itemized list of expenditures? Will it also reveal the private contract information, at least for the east district?

I would also encourage everyone to go to: http://www.libertarianpoc.org/, and checkout the proposal made to the city of Destin for a Destin PD.

 

Sky Monteith is a resident of the City of Destin and Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.

Ed Braddy Presentation at the Emerald Grande Hotel July 2011

The New Ms Jean Weber

On Saturday, June 18th 2011, Ms. Jean Weber took her ailing mother to the airport so she could go see relations in Michigan.

Her mother was elderly, frail, and battling illness. She had to wear special undergarments because her age and infirmities made self control difficult. Travel is hard for her. She could not walk far enough to make it through an airport scanner. But she was determined to see her family in Michigan. With the help of her daughter, Jean, she would get through it somehow. For her part, Jean felt a daughter’s love and wanted her mom to get on her way in as little discomfort as possible.

Jean knew about airport security, but she didn’t worry. After all, this is Okaloosa; this is home.

Out of earshot, she watched as her mother was frisked by the TSA. She saw how rudely and hard the strangers placed their hands. It worried Jean because she knew how easily her mother bruised.

But something else was wrong. Her mother was shuffled out of view to a separate room. After some time a TSA agent came out and unceremoniously gave Jean an edict. In order to get on a plane her mother would have to remove her diaper for inspection.

Jean couldn’t believe it.

Jean’s Mom wasn’t offended. She was tired. She came from that generation that saw true hard times, and accepted official imposition in stride; maybe too much in stride. Seeing her family in Michigan is what mattered.

But to Jean, a heartfelt departure had turned kafkaesque. She had to physically assist her mom. Just getting to a restroom was a chore, and once there she had to help mom intimately disrobe for the TSA bureaucrats.

The inspectors told her she had a choice, but Jean knew she really didn’t. If you don’t comply, you don’t fly. There is no crime, judge or jury involved. There is no discussion of compensation for monetary loss or the fourth amendment. The TSA even claims, in court, the privilege to strip search anyone.

The emotion was too much. Jean came out of the bathroom crying. In the ridiculous shuffle of bags, tickets, wheelchair, jackets and removed undergarments, she misplaced the pass that allowed her to accompany her mom in the TSA “secure areas.” Ever helpful, a TSA agent told Jean she displayed “unusual behavior” by crying and not having a pass. Jean was subjected to an even more rigorous physical inspection as a result.

By now this process had taken a long time, and the aircraft departure was very near. Jean’s mom was still far from the gangway, and there was little time. Jean was still being questioned and frisked, so she asked that her mom be escorted to the plane.

As she watched her mom depart flanked by the TSA, she thought to herself that one of the last memories she would hold between them was this demeaning inspection.

Jean says her friends would laugh at the thought that she was complaining against the TSA. She is a private person, and minds her own business. She doesn’t get involved in “political” topics.

This event changed her. She has a new view of what it means to be an American.

Ms Jean said when she was a kid she used to watch the show “Davy Crockett.” She remembered a quote from that show, “Make sure you are right. Then go ahead.”

Ms Jean has filed a local complaint with the TSA over this incident, and she plans to file a national one as well.

Personally, I am not reassured by a complaint form.

Our government has forced us to argue for things that should be self evident, such as the fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and the rule of law for everyone including government officials. To me, it is as if leaders in government have lost their senses.

The Sheriff of Okaloosa County should enforce the laws of Florida, especially those relating to battery and lewd and lascivious molestation, and arrest the TSA agents responsible for the acts perpetrated against Ms Jean’s mom.

Only then will this madness end.