Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Christian Geopolitics; concerning Israel, Islam, China and Paganism

Christianity is waging a war on two fronts and doing poorly in both. Geopolitics is not unimportant to the life of the Church.

Theories of future raptures (dispensationalism) and of past judgements (preterism) are designed by the antiChrist to take our focus off the Gospel truth, that our times are set between His first coming (atonement) and His second coming (judgement), and that in the meanwhile His Church (the Elect) should be circumspect about the eternal significance of temporal signs, to watch carefully but not to be deceived by false "Christs." In other words, we are to live according to faith in His daily provision, not rely upon to our own senses, strengths, visions, intuitions, etc. At the same time we are not to ignore the His obvious provision of facts that enable us to distinguish between friend and enemy.

The first front, concerning Islam and Israel

Christians are supposed to believe that Jesus was "crucified under Pontius Pilate", a gentile, while he was attempting to justify himself by asking the crowd whom they would like to set free. In other words, we are supposed to look upon ourselves, the seed of Adam, as his executioners, not the Jews. Looking around the Church, it is apparent that self-justification by gentiles in respect to the crucifiction of Jesus continues to this day. It is ignorance and prejudice... and heresy in that it proposes a false enemy.

As for secular Israel, its interest lies in the defeat of Islam far more directly than the USA or the West generally. Indeed, we in the Enlightenment West are befuddled about our proper interests, that Islam is hell-bent on destroying Christianity. Israel by contrast has a laser-like focus that Westerners outside of Israel are incapable of performing. Yes, sometimes Israel goes too far, but let's remember that its objectives are compatible with our own (even if they are not the same). I'm not referring here to the USA, but rather to the Christian objective of protecting and preserving Christian witness in the dark Islamic places of this world. It doesn't matter that the secular state of Israel has no eternal or symbolic significance. The fact is that Israel is our friend because its enemy is our enemy. If we should not lose the war with Islam, it will be due in part to Israel. It certainly won't be because our leaders in Washington have the guts to stand up to Muslim terrorism and infiltration.

The reason we ought to be a friend to Israelis is NOT a special concern for their eternal salvation. No, it is a special concern for our mutual and temporal survival.  That's a huge difference. Consider also that the mandate given to Adam is still in force, that Christians are to tend and care for all of God's creation; every living thing as unto our neighbor, especially the weakest, most vulnerable and most threatened by bullies. Refusing to see help Israel is refusing the creation mandate even if it has nothing to do with the mandate to "love the brethren."

The second front, China and Paganism 

While Israel's objectives are compatible with ours, China's are NOT. China does everything it can to replace Christianity with Paganism, and is working every bit as hard as Islam, yet with the more subtle tactics of socialist materialism and espionage. Is it not true that the West already agrees with China's man-centered truth and its attitudes toward life and liberty? With respect to this second front, who on the outside is going to have the guts to do what we are unwilling to do? 

Conclusion; working with and on behalf of non-believers against enemies

These are spiritual, not national battles, and the enemies are real. Yet the far more dangerous enemy is the Christian in our own midst that sticks his head in the sand in the face of danger, or betrays the Church's allies while befriending those that would destroy us.

Again, geopolitics is important to the life of the Church.  God calls us to be engaged with the world even as He called Solomon, David, Job, Abraham, Jacob, Paul... and Jesus himself. They demonstrated clearly the value of dealing with outsiders for common objectives, trade and suppression of common enemies. Who in the Bible did the Will of God without engaging with non-believers? It is only the man who denies the sovereignty of God over His whole creation that refuses to see His hand in the lives of the non-Elect, and that God works out His purposes through them. 

We are made unclean not by what we take into our bodies but by what comes out from them. It is NOT necessarily unholy to have a conversation with a tax collector, or even with the Devil himself. Indeed, every time we engage with the world for our daily bread we are agreeing with it in some way, even if only as to the price. If God did not intend for us to engage with the world for our benefit and His Glory, He would have already removed us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The 4th Amendment and the "Conservative" Establishment

Andrew McCarthy and the NRO conservative establishment are just plain wrong. The 4th Amendment definition of personal property includes the word "papers", and in today's understanding that includes our electronic communications. They are also wrong that these communications belong to the phone company. If that were true, then there never would have been a requirement for a judge to issue a warrant for a wiretap. The fact is that our electronic communication belongs to us, not to the carrier. They are hired to carry it, period. In other words, they are not permitted to read the contents themselves or to show it to the government unless there is a warrant related to a specific suspected criminal. 

As for metadata, that belongs to us also even though it's a little less clear. The government postman has to be able to read the address on the letter if he is to deliver it as intended by the sender, but beyond retaining proof that it performed its duty to deliver, the government carrier has no assumed proprietary interest in retaining addressing information.  Neither does it have an assumed proprietary interest in communications carried by commercial carriers. A commercial carrier has a right to maintain customer records, but the government has no assumed co-ownership of those records.

The principle that must be upheld above all others is that the public is owed a presumption of innocence. It's fine if the government wants to monitor all communications metadata, but then it should be sorted, and everything more than two degrees of separation from a suspected criminal (on which there is a warrant) should be thrown away. Less than 1% should be retained. As it is, 100% is being retained indefinitely, and the cached data becomes a huge temptation for those who would use it against the innocent.

The notorious “civil rights” lawyer William Kunstler, in addition to his work on “political” cases (i.e., anti-American radical-leftist and terrorist cases), gladly made himself available to mobsters, too — after all, someone had to pay the bills. Invited to a dinner once after a job well done for a mafia don, he hoisted a glass to the assembled capos and button men, toasting them, “Here’s to crime!”

Not content to contort natural law, Paul then works his magic on positive law. He alleges that collection of records of telephone activity (but not the content of phone conversations) is somehow “a clear violation of the explicit language of the highest law of the land.”

Rand Paul’s ‘Here’s to Crime’ Act 

Gleeful crooks across the country could be giving the same toast if Senator Rand Paul gets his way. The self-styled libertarian Republican from Kentucky, firmly in his father’s tradition of overreaction to imagined constitutional violations (or, perhaps I should say, violations of an imaginary Constitution) is outraged by reports that the Defense Department’s National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting “metadata” on phone calls of millions of Americans. He has responded by introducing an absurd piece of legislation he calls the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013.”

Naturally, the bill is unacquainted with the Fourth Amendment — either the one given to us by the Framers or even the one enlarged over time by Supreme Court jurisprudence. I use the word “naturally” advisedly. Senator Paul’s proposed law asserts: “The collection of citizen’s [ACM: I take it he means citizens’] phone records is a violation of the natural rights of every man and woman in the United States.” A citizen’s “natural right” to telephone-usage records that are actually the property of third-party service providers? I wonder what Saint Augustine would have made of that.

By “highest law of the land,” Paul is referring to the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The senator apparently did not read the Fourth Amendment before cutting and pasting it into his bill. It requires (in relevant part) that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, shall not be violated.” Perhaps Senator Paul will edify us on how it is “clear” that a phone record, owned and possessed by a telephone service provider (not the customer), qualifies as the person, house,paper, or effect of the customer, such that the government’s acquisition of it violates the Fourth Amendment. The federal courts have consistently, emphatically rejected this implausible suggestion, holding that government’s collection of phone records does not even implicate the Fourth Amendment, much less violate it.

Maybe Senator Paul would tell us that this is just the muck those crazy left-wing judges have made of the Constitution. But what Paul is advocating is a Constitution even more warped than the “organic” one progressive jurists have contrived. His proposal bears no resemblance to the Constitution of the Framers.

In last year’s United States v. Jones decision, Justice Scalia explained (not for the first time) that the animating idea behind the original Fourth Amendment is protection of personal property. The Constitution was not deemed to be violated absent some form of government trespass. That is why, under the Fourth Amendment as originally understood, it would be a violation for police, without a valid judicial warrant, to attach a GPS tracker to a person’s car and monitor his movements (the situation in the Jones case). On the other hand, it would not be a violation to wiretap a person’s conversations by physically attaching a monitoring device to the phone company’s line on a public street, without any entry into the person’s home or trespass on his property. (See Olmstead v. United States [1928].)

This changed because the Supreme Court deviated from the original Fourth Amendment’s bright-line focus on the physical person and his property to embrace the vague concept of “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The original Fourth Amendment preserved the proper constitutional order: It instructs us on what the government must protect, while the people’s representatives in Congress are free to enact additional safeguards beyond this irreducible constitutional guarantee. By contrast, were we to rewrite the Fourth Amendment consistent with its modern understanding — assuming the written word means anything when we could evolve again at any moment — it would say: “The right of the people to be secure in whatever expectations of privacy we judges think are reasonable shall not be violated.”

Unfortunately for Senator Paul, even this new Fourth Amendment that progressives have erected on the remains of the original one has never protected third-party business records. That, in particular, includes “metadata” — customer telephone activity (not the content of conversations, but numbers dialed, time and duration of calls, etc.), records of which are maintained by service providers.

To give such third-party business records constitutional status, Senator Paul would have to get the judges to invent a newer, more expansive Fourth Amendment. So could we please drop the bunkum about how Senator Paul and his anti-government followers are “constitutional conservatives” crusading to “restore” the Fourth Amendment? If Senator Paul were actually trying to “restore” the Fourth Amendment, he’d be calling not for phone-usage records to be shielded from government but for phone conversations to be more easily monitored by government.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another Leaker. How much longer can the NSA keep the floodwaters back?

NSA is ‘bamboozling’ lawmakers to gain access to Americans’ private records – agency veteran

American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism.
RT: I’m sitting here with Mr. William Binney -- he’s a thirty-two year veteran of the NSA who helped design a top-secret program that he says broadly changed Americans’ personal data. And he actually helped crack those codes, and enter into this. He’s now a whistleblower. Mr. Binney, thank you so much for joining me. So first of all, let’s talk about the latest information that has come out from this NSA spying on Americans.
Bill Binney: Well, first of all, the FISA warrant that was issued to the FBI to get the data from Verizon…that’s been going on, according to the paper anyway, since 2007. And this is like being renewed every three months. So if you look at the top-right corner of that order, it’s 13-80 -- that means it’s the 80thorder since this year of 2013. So when you start to say, so what are the other 79 orders? You can figure other companies. And this is like the second order of 2013, for each company. So that maximum -- you would divide 80 by two, and the maximum number of companies that could be involved in this order would be 40. But I’m sure that there are other things, that they have other orders they are issuing than just this kind, for the service providers, or the telecoms.
RT: So let’s talk about the nine Internet companies that said that they are part of this PRISM program. Should Americans really be surprised at this?
BB: Well I’m not, that’s for sure. But I would point out that the NSA had deployed Naris devices in its court documents submitted by Mark Klein, documenting the NSA room in the San Francisco At&T building where they had Naris devices in a splitter that basically duplicated the fiber-optic lines and would send them down two paths. All the information went down two directions: one of them went down the Naris devices in the NSA room. And so those Naris devices could take everything off of that fiber-optic line. One Naris Insight device could do 10 GB per second,which meant it could reassemble a million and a quarter 1000-character e-mails per second. And that’s the kind of input they could get from one device. Now I’m sure they have multiple devices at multiple sights in the country as well as other places in the world, so that’s an awful lot of data to try to manage. So they need to do things like build Bluffdale to plan for the future so they have lots of storage for all this data.
RT: So how far down the rabbit-hole are weAre we really just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of their spying with this PRISM program coming out in the Verizon records?
BB: Tim Clemente, who is an ex-FBI agent, came on CNN a week or two ago, and he said that any digital data wasn’t safe, and that the intelligence community and the FBI had ways of getting back to it. And he was specifically talking about the phone call between one of the [Tsarnaev] brothers and his wife. And if his wife didn’t tell the FBI what they talked about in that phone call, that they had ways of getting back to that and transcribing and getting the information. So that’s telling you what they’ve got recorded – then they extend it and have digital data. That means all kinds of email, all kinds of Twitter kind-of things, anything going across the fiber-optic lines, as well as the public switch telephone network.
RT: So we’re not talking billions of pieces of information here, we’re talking trillions.
BB: We’re talking trillions, yea. My estimate with phone calls and emails jointly would be on the order of 20 trillion for the last 12 years. 
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski

RT: How can we even manage such a thingThey’re saying, with this PRISM program for instance, we have one lawmaker after another supporting it, saying it helps thwart at least one terrorism attack. How would trillions of emails and trillions of bits of data help find one terrorist attack?
BB: My personal view is that the intelligence community is bamboozling Congress and the administration. They are telling them that they have to do this in order to find the bad guys in the networks, and that’s just absolutely false. You don’t have to do that. There are ways and means to do that, and I left that ability and capability with them, and they just threw it away. So instead they just opted to collect everything they could about everybody in this country, and one of the reasons that they would want to do that – the only one I could think of is they wanted to be able to leverage anybody in this country. For example, we can take the case of the IRS and the tea party, and the harassing they’re doing there. One of the people that’s being harassed was giving testimony in front of Congress. And they said, which I thought was quite revealing, was that they had a question from the IRS that asked, “what Is your relationship with this other person?” And they gave the name. Well how would they know that unless they knew the communications community of that person? So that means you’re getting back to this program where they’re pulling all the records of phone calls and emails and everything together and seeing who that person worked with. And on top of that it gave them the ability to pull together the entire tea party. So you would know everybody that’s involved in the tea party, peripherally or centrally.
RT: Now this new PRISM program says that the agents who are employing need to have a 51 percent confidence that it’s a foreign agent, a foreign person. Can you talk about that accuracy, how can we guarantee it, and is 51 percent even enough?
BB: Well that’s another joke [laughs]. These are all jokes. They expect people to believe this. There are two parts: one is the public switch, the PSTN – public switch telephone network, and the other is the Internet, or the World Wide Web. On the one side you have phone numbers. Now these phone numbers, whether they’re your landline phone or your mobile phone or your satellite phone, [they] all connect into this public switch telephone network, and those numbers are unique in the world. And you’re talking about switches that are routing these communications from one point in the other to another. And they have to know exactly where to send it. And so you know exactly where it went and exactly where it’s coming from. So there’s no question that we shouldn’t have fairly 99.9999 percent accuracy on identifying that – unless something happens and they have electronic blip and they lose part of the information. 
AFP Photo / Rainier Ehrhardt
AFP Photo / Rainier Ehrhardt

And the other thing is, on the World Wide Web – here again they have attributes that are part of the world wide system that identifies those people that are uniquely in the world, like the IPV4, the IPV6. You know, addresses that are assigned by the IANA in the five regions of the world. And that clearly tells you, if you don’t have that, then every device – whether it’s a switch, a server or a computer – had a MAC number. That’s a machine access code that identifies you uniquely in the world. And the same would be true in using username and service provider combinations, like williambinney@comcast.net, something like that. Those kind of attributes identify where you are and where you’re coming from.
RT: So let’s talk about the companies, the nine Internet companies that are involved in this. They say that they didn’t know that this was possibly happening under their watch. First of all, is it even possible that they didn’t know?
BB: Certainly it’s possible that some of the people in these companies didn’t know, but I find it hard to believe that that wasn’t already agreed to, that somewhere in the company the COO or the CEOs knew and agreed to this kind of access. Because it’s hard to believe that they could not notice that they’re being drained of information 0 that’s pretty difficult.
RT: And you have, on the other hand, lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We went out as a group with RT and we interviewed people on the streets. And one after the other, a person said that they are not only OK with this type of surveillance – but that they actually encourage it if it thwarts terrorism. So talk about this debate, this debate between civil liberties and national security – should it be either or, in this case?
BB: No, you can have both. The point is that you can filter out all the domestic communication that isn’t connected in any way with any terrorist – or even close to a terrorist, like two degrees of separation in the communications network or communities you’re building. You can reduce it to that, and if you’re not in that zone, then all your data is thrown away, and that would eliminate 99.99 percent of the US population and the world. But they don’t do that. So that’s where they’re getting back to the idea and bamboozling Congress and the administration to suggest they need to collect it all to figure it out. That’s simply false.
RT: So what can we really do to protect ourselves, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves here?
BB: Not really, there’s not really anything you can do, except to fire everybody in Congress and the administration and elect new people that will do a constitutionally acceptable job.