John Kerry concedes Obama’s spy team ‘reached too far’

31049_large_jp-nsa2-superJumboSecretary of State John Kerry surprised many reporters, as well as intelligence, law enforcement and military officials, when he conceded on Friday that some of the U.S. surveillance has gone “too far.” The Obama administration has come under intense criticism from many world leaders including some heads of state from NATO allies, according to Josh Hollander, a former intelligence-division police detective.

Responding to increased questioning by major news organizations, Secretary Kerry admitted that at times the technological surveillance by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) “have reached too far.”

However, Kerry quickly alluded to the Obama claim of ignorance when he added, “There is no question that the president and I have actually learned of some things that had been happening, in many ways, on an automatic pilot because the technology is there,” Kerry was quoted as saying.

John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, found himself confronting reports that the U.S. spies had eavesdropped on cell phone calls by world leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Merkel’s case, there are allegations that her office telephone was also “bugged” by U.S. spies and that the NSA collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in European countries.

In a direct contrast to statements he made while he served as a Senator during the Bush administration, Kerry actually defended the NSA’s operations during the Obama administration, claiming that U.S. surveillance programs are an “effective counterterrorism tool” that has prevented Islamic and domestic terrorists from bombing buildings, hijacking or bombing passenger airliners, assassinating leaders, and murdering people since the NSA was able to “learn ahead time of the [terrorists'] plans.”

President Barack Obama and members of his administration are being pressured by the international community since June after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the spy agency’s massive surveillance program which monitors worldwide phone calls and Internet communications as part of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

The Obama White House promised it will conduct a full investigation of its global intelligence-gathering operations, but many expect a continuation of most of the intelligence operations in spite of criticism, said Josh Hollander.

McCain clumsily chides Rand Paul over filibuster, questions

predator-firing-missile4A day after Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan, Arizona Senator John McCain felt it necessary to criticize Paul’s questions of Brennan and accused the junior Senator of political stunts.

The most confusing part of McCain’s criticisms came when he accused Rand Paul of being uninformed on the matter of U.S. use of drones over our homeland.  “He needs to know what he’s talking about,” McCain spat.

Which begs the obvious question: which one of Paul’s questions gave McCain the impression that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?  Paul pressed Brennan on the government’s use of drones within the United States and demanded an answer to the constitutionality of using drones to kill U.S. citizens at home.  Brennan, of course, did not give a straight answer.  While saying the possibility of using drones to attack U.S. citizens is unlikely, the government has been careful to leave the door open to drone use in grave matters of national security, like the September 11th attacks.

Rand Paul wants to know if the use of drones, especially for non-combatants in the U.S., is constitutional to Mr. Brennan.  Brennan is up for a vote to be the CIA’s next director, and accordingly, I would think such questioning is not only appropriate, but necessary, before leading one of the United States’ more secretive and protected intelligence agencies.

McCain’s confusing critique of Paul continued.  “What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused,” he said.

Okay, Mr. McCain – what rule did Rand Paul break or abuse in filibustering Mr. Brennan?  Filibustering has been a part of American politics for decades and stands as a perfectly reasonable means to protest the appointment of government officials and/or demand answers from them.  This has been used countless times in the past and will continue to be used in the future.

What is your real problem with Paul, Mr. McCain?  Your clumsy critique of the Senator seems forced and contrived.  You managed to provide absolutely no specific information to backup your criticism of Paul, only a shallow school yard comment about Paul not knowing what he’s talking about and an implication that concerns over the random killing of Americans on U.S. soil are unfounded.

Is ensuring our appointed officials answer a direct question regarding the constitutionality of the surveillance of the American people inappropriate?  Perhaps you believe government officials such as Brennan, and maybe yourself as well, are above question?  Isn’t the possibility of using drones to surveil and potentially kill American citizens on our own soil worth the extra night of questioning and a filibuster?  As an elected official, you should be asking these very same questions, Senator.  Our government should never, under any circumstances, go unchecked or unquestioned.  Even if you personally do not believe the government would commit such an atrocity, Brennan is being considered for a position that comes with power that would allow for such an action.

But I suppose that when you are in that government, it is less of a worry.

Or, maybe this issue is not of any real importance to you, and anyone who dares question the motives of the United States government or its appointed officials must not know what they are talking about.  After all, the government has a stellar record of self-governance and ethical behavior, right?  There is no need for such uninformed questions.  There is no basis to be concerned over the government’s ability to watch the American people and take action against those they deem to be “enemy combatants” without any kind of trial or hearing.

The possibility does not exist, so let’s not even ask.

Just a couple hours ago, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Paul’s question asking whether the President has the authority to kill U.S. citizens in a non-combative situation.  The answer, simply, is “no”.  Paul said he’s satisfied with that answer in an interview with CNN, although he wishes the White  House would have responded a month ago when the question was initially asked.