Thursday, April 11, 2013

IRS: We can read emails without warrant

The Hill
April 10, 2013

In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users "do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, government officials only need a subpoena, issued without a judge's approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.

Privacy groups such as the ACLU argue that the Fourth Amendment provides greater privacy protections than the ECPA, and that officials should need a warrant to access all emails and other private messages.
Traditionally, the courts have ruled that people have limited privacy rights over information they share with third parties. Some law enforcement groups have argued that this means they only need a subpoena to compel email providers, Internet service companies and others to turn over their customers' sensitive content. 
But in 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that police violated a man's constitutional rights when they read his emails without a warrant.
Read the entire article

Top Economic Advisers Forecast War and Unrest

Washington’s Blog
April 11, 2013
We’re already at war in numerous countries all over the world.
But top economic advisers warn that economic factors could lead to a new world war.
Kyle Bass writes:
Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusionWe believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation.
Martin Armstrong writes this week:
We will be updating the Cycle of War. Obviously, it is time once again. Especially since that model also hit to the day 3 times in a row.
Similarly, Larry Edelson wrote an email to subscribers entitled “What the “Cycles of War” are saying for 2013″, which states:
Since the 1980s, I’ve been studying the so-called “cycles of war” — the natural rhythms that predispose societies to descend into chaos, into hatred, into civil and even international war.
I’m certainly not the first person to examine these very distinctive patterns in history. There have been many before me, notably, Raymond Wheeler, who published the most authoritative chronicle of war ever, covering a period of 2,600 years of data.
However, there are very few people who are willing to even discuss the issue right now. And based on what I’m seeing, the implications could be absolutely huge in 2013.
Former Goldman Sachs technical analyst Charles Nenner – who has made some big accurate calls, and counts major hedge funds, banks, brokerage houses, and high net worth individuals as clients –saysthere will be “a major war starting at the end of 2012 to 2013”, which will drive the Dow to 5,000.
Veteran investor adviser James Dines forecast a war is epochal as World Wars I and II, starting in the Middle East.
Nouriel Roubini has warned of war with Iran. And when Roubini was asked:
Where does this all lead us? The risk in your view is of another Great Depression. But even respectable European politicians are talking not just an economic depression but possibly even worse consequences over the next decade or so. Bearing European history in mind, where does this take us?
He responded:
In the 1930s, because we made a major policy mistake, we went through financial instability, defaults, currency devaluations, printing money, capital controls, trade wars, populism, a bunch of radical, populist, aggressive regimes coming to power from Germany to Italy to Spain to Japan, and then we ended up with World War II.
Now I’m not predicting World War III but seriously, if there was a global financial crisis after the first one, then we go into depression: the political and social instability in Europe and other advanced economies is going to become extremely severe. And that’s something we have to worry about.
Billionaire investor Jim Rogers notes:
A continuation of bailouts in Europe could ultimately spark another world war, says international investor Jim Rogers.
“Add debt, the situation gets worse, and eventually it just collapses. Then everybody is looking for scapegoats. Politicians blame foreigners, and we’re in World War II or World War whatever.”
Marc Faber says that the American government will start new wars in response to the economic crisis:
We’re in the middle of a global currency war – i.e. a situation where nations all compete to devalue their currencies the most in order to boost exports. And Brazilian president-elect Rousseff said in 2010:
The last time there was a series of competitive devaluations … it ended in world war two.
Jim Rickards agrees:
Currency wars lead to trade wars, which often lead to hot wars. In 2009, Rickards participated in the Pentagon’s first-ever “financial” war games. While expressing confidence in America’s ability to defeat any other nation-state in battle, Rickards says the U.S. could get dragged into “asymmetric warfare,” if currency wars lead to rising inflation and global economic uncertainty.
As does Jim Rogers:
Trade wars always lead to wars.
And given that many influential economists wrongly believe that war is good for the economy … many are overtly or quietly pushing for war.
Moreover, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that the Iraq war was really about oil , and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11. And seethis and this. If that war was for petroleum, other oil-rich countries might be invaded as well.
And the American policy of using the military to contain China’s growing economic influence – and of considering economic rivalry to be a basis for war – are creating a tinderbox.
Finally, multi-billionaire investor Hugo Salinas Price says:
What happened to [Libya's] Mr. Gaddafi, many speculate the real reason he was ousted was that he was planning an all-African currency for conducting trade. The same thing happened to him that happened to Saddam because the US doesn’t want any solid competing currency out there vs the dollar. You know Gaddafi was talking about a golddinar.
Indeed, senior CNBC editor John Carney noted:
Is this the first time a revolutionary group has created a central bank while it is still in the midst of fighting the entrenched political power? It certainly seems to indicate how extraordinarily powerful central bankers have become in our era.
Robert Wenzel of Economic Policy Journal thinks the central banking initiative reveals that foreign powers may have a strong influence over the rebels.
This suggests we have a bit more than a ragtag bunch of rebels running around and that there are some pretty sophisticated influences. “I have never before heard of a central bank being created in just a matter of weeks out of a popular uprising,” Wenzel writes.
Indeed, some say that recent wars have really been about bringing all countries into the fold of Western central banking.
Many Warn of Unrest
Numerous economic organizations and economists also warn of crash-induced unrest, including:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prof at public univ under investigation for allegedly forcing students to make anti-gun posters

Campus Reform
April 9, 2013
A professor at a public university in Texas is under investigation from school administrators for allegedly forcing students in her graphic design class to create anti-gun posters for a personal anti-gun campaign she had launched.
Midwestern State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Betty Stewart confirmed to Campus Reform Friday the school has launched an investigation into professor Jennifer Yucus’ conduct after a student filed an official complaint on Thursday.
According to the complaint, obtained by Campus Reform, the professor compelled students in her graphic design class to create artwork opposing firearms on campus and opposing pro-gun legislation currently pending before the Texas state legislature.
The professor then used the artwork students created online to publicize an anti-gun petitionentitled “MSU is anti-Concealed Carry on Campus” and on a now deleted Facebook page opposing firearms, says the complaint.
“On Monday, April 1, around 7 PM (class was 5:30 – 8:20), Jennifer Yucus, Assistant Professor of Graphic Art/Design, compelled students from her Computers For Artists class to advocate in favor of a political petition opposing firearms on campus, in opposition to a pair of bills currently before the Texas legislature, using personal art materials and MSU resources,” reads the complaint.
“Several of my classmates were uncomfortable with the assignment and either quietly or openly expressed this,” it continues. “Professor Yucus asked students to rationalize objections by thinking of it as a job from an employer (or words to that effect).”
The complaint adds that Yucus “did require all works to include the URL to the petition” she had created and adds that students were photographed while crafting the posters to give the illusion of youth support.
“Professor Yucus took photos of her students in the process of drafting and creating the posters, but did not say how these would be used,” says the complaint. “The posters were then hung in the hallways of the Fain Arts building, giving the impression of student support.”
Some of the photos later appeared on an anti-gun Facebook page that appeared to have been created by Yucus. The page appeared to have been deleted after the complaint was filed, but Campus Reform was able to capture the posted images before they were removed.

DeMint: Obamacare Will Create a Government Monopoly

Mark Matheny
April 10, 2013

Heritage Foundation President, Jim DeMint appeared on Fox News April 7, 2013 to discuss the serious need to repeal Obamacare.
All of us who read the bill—what parts of it we could get when they were trying to pass it—knew this was going to happen. We knew it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars more for the government; it would cost individuals and families more; it would replace private-sector insurance—like you said, creating a government monopoly that will eventually push private insurers out. We’ll all end up on Medicaid."

Of course, many supporters of the bill argue that the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare will lower future costs for Medicare and Medicaid spending. One advocate of this unrealistic idea was  Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D–WA) ,who, back in February of this year stated at a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office Report,

"As I was reading through the report, one section really got my attention …which was the discussion of the change in health spending in recent years. In fact, I stopped and underlined one statistic because I found it so surprising. The statistic is that CBO has lowered its estimate of federal spending for Medicare and Medicaid to such a degree that spending for 2020—one year is now $200 billion lower than CBO thought back in 2010, an improvement of 15 percent.
And let’s be clear, that improvement has occurred since enactment of the Affordable Care Act."
 Yet, contrary to what Mr. Murray was so inaccurately saying, the very next paragraph of the report being read from states quite clearly this The Affordable Care Act will increase future spending:
Spending projections also have been affected by legislative action—most not.ably as a result of the Affordable Care Act…. From 2010 to the present, those other types of revisions boosted the estimates of outlays for Medicare and Medicaid in 2020 by $72 billion, or about 5 percent. (The Affordable Care Act also created new subsidies for some people to purchase health insurance through exchanges, adding $115 billion to the estimate for federal outlays for health care programs in 2020, according to CBO’s current projections.) - CBO Report
What is misleading about Murray's statement is the fact that although Medicaid and Medicare is expected to decrease in spending in 2020 by $200 billion, according to the report itself, Obamacare will spend an additional $187 billion more than what would have otherwise have been spent without Obamacare.

Looking at it in this light, it is clear to see that any "savings" will be lost through all of the additional spending that Obama's Affordable Care Act will cost.

Republican Senator Richard Burr has doubts that Obamacare will save money. He believes that insurers will face an average 30% increase  in payouts for those covered by Obamacare, which could then be passed on to those insured outside of Obamacare. 

In a report by the Heritage Foundation called "The Case Against Obamacare: A Health Care Policy Series for the 112th Congress , the foundation shows 15 provisions on why Obamacare needs to be repealed:

Introduction: Repealing Obamacare and Getting Health Care Right by Nina Owcharenko
The new law transfers vast powers to Washington bureaucrats who will control the dollars and decisions that should be in the hands of individual patients and their families.

1. Obamacare and the Individual Mandate: Violating Personal Liberty and Federalism by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
The individual mandate is an intrusion into personal liberty.

2. Obamacare and New Taxes: Destroying Jobs and the Economy 
by Curtis Dubay 
Tax increases in the new health care law will impede an already stagnant economic recovery.

3. Obamacare and the Budget: Playing Games with Numbers 
by James C. Capretta and Kathryn Nix
An honest accounting of the new health care law’s fiscal impact reveals Obamacare as a trillion-dollar budget buster.

4. Obamacare and the Employer Mandate: Cutting Jobs and Wages 
by Brian Blase
The employer mandate will raise the cost of doing business and discourage job growth.

5. Obamacare and Health Subsidies: Expanding Perverse Incentives for Employers and Employees 
by Brian Blase and Paul Winfree
Health care exchanges and subsidies in Obamacare further complicate the tax structure and discourage work.

6. Obamacare and Federal Health Exchanges: Undermining State Flexibility 
by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
The new law’s concept of health insurance exchanges reduces states to mere agents of federal health policy.

7. Obamacare and Insurance Benefit Mandates: Raising Premiums and Reducing Patient Choice 
by Edmund F. Haislmaier
Benefit mandates prescribed by the new health care law will make all health benefits uniform, increase the cost of coverage, and stifle insurance innovation.

8. Obamacare and Insurance Rating Rules: Increasing Costs and Destabilizing Markets 
by Edmund F. Haislmaier
The age-rating rules of Obamacare and blanket prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions will destabilize insurance markets.

9. Obamacare and the Hidden Public Option: Crowding Out Private Coverage 
by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
Giving the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) power to sponsor national health insurance plans could crowd out private coverage in the health insurance exchanges.

10. Obamacare and Medicare Advantage Cuts: Undermining Seniors’ Coverage Options 
by James C. Capretta
The new health care law cuts deeply into Medicare Advantage plans, resulting in substantial reductions in the value of health care services for enrollees.

11. Obamacare and Medicare Provider Cuts: Jeopardizing Seniors’ Access 
by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
Using projected Medicare savings to finance new entitlements expansion jeopardizes Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care.

12. Obamacare and the Independent Payment Advisory Board: Falling Short of Real Medicare Reform 
by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
The new Medicare board is prohibited by law from making any meaningful reforms.

13. Obamacare and Medicaid: Expanding a Broken Entitlement and Busting State Budgets 
by Brian Blase
Instead of reforming Medicaid, the new health care law doubles down on the program’s existing flaws.

14. Obamacare and the CLASS Act: Creating a Long-Term Care Entitlement Burden 
by Brian Blase
A new entitlement created by Obamacare, the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) program is actuarially unsound and fiscally irresponsible.

15. Obamacare and the Ethics of Life: Weakening Medical Conscience and the Protection of Life
by Chuck Donovan
The new health care law fails to protect the conscience rights of physicians who refuse to provide or refer patients for abortions… or the conscience rights of taxpayers who refuse to pay for abortions.
It is clear to see that the "Affordable" Care Act is something America cannot afford.

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Than 101 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
April 8, 2013
The jobs recovery is a complete and total myth. The percentage of the working age population in the United States that had a job in March 2013 was exactly the same as it was all the way back in March 2010. In addition, as you will see below, there are now more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job. But even though the employment level in the United States has consistently remained very low over the past three years, the Obama administration keeps telling us that unemployment is actually going down. In fact, they tell us that the unemployment rate has declined from a peak of 10.0% all the way down to 7.6%. And they tell us that in March the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% even though only 88,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. But it takes at least 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So how in the world are they coming up with these numbers? Well, the reality is that the entire decline in the unemployment rate over the past three years can be accounted for by the reduction in size of the labor force. In other words, the Obama administration is getting unemployment to go down by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans simply do not want jobs anymore. We saw this once again in March. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,more than 600,000 Americans dropped out of the labor market during that month alone. That pushed the labor force participation rate down to 63.3%, which is the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. So please don’t believe the hype. The sad truth is that there has been no jobs recovery whatsoever.
If things were getting better, there would not be more than 101 million working age Americans without a job.
So exactly where does that statistic come from? Well, the following explains where I got that number…
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 11,742,000working age Americans that are officially unemployed.
In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are89,967,000 working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”. That is a new all-time record, and that number increased by a whopping663,000 during the month of March alone.
When you add 11,742,000 working age Americans that are officially unemployed to the 89,967,000 working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”, you come up with a grand total of 101,709,000 working age Americans that do not have a job.
When you stop and think about it, that is an absolutely staggering statistic.
And anyone that tells you that “a higher percentage of Americans are working today” is telling you a complete and total lie. During the last recession the percentage of working age Americans with a job fell dramatically, and since then we have not seen that number bounce back at all. In fact, this is the very first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen the employment-population ratio bounce back after a recession. At this point, the employment-population ratio has been under 60 percent for 49 months in a row…
Employment-Population Ratio 2013
Since the end of 2009, the employment-population ratio has been remarkably steady. Just check out these numbers…
March 2008: 62.7 percent
March 2009: 59.9 percent
March 2010: 58.5 percent
March 2011: 58.4 percent
March 2012: 58.5 percent
March 2013: 58.5 percent
We should be thankful that the percentage of working age Americans with a job did not continue to decline, but we should also be quite alarmed that it has not bounced back at all.
If there was going to be a recovery, there would have been one by now. The next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching, and that is going to push the employment-population ratio down even farther.
So why is the U.S. economy not producing as many jobs as it used to? Well, certainly the overall decline of the economy has a lot to do with it. We are a nation that is drowning in debt and that is getting poorer by the day.
But since the end of the last recession, corporate profits have bounced back in a big way and are now at an all-time high. So you would figure that the big corporations should be able to hire a lot more workers by now.
Unfortunately, that is not the way things work anymore. Big corporations are trying to minimize the number of expensive American workers that they have on their payrolls as much as possible these days.
One way that they are doing this is through the use of technology. Thanks to robots, computers and other forms of technology, big corporations simply do not need as many human workers as they used to. In future years, this trend is only going to accelerate. I wrote about how this is changing the world of employment in one of my previous articles entitled “Rise Of The Droids: Will Robots Eventually Steal All Of Our Jobs?
Another way that big corporations are replacing expensive American workers is by shipping their jobs off to the other side of the globe. Big corporations know that they can make bigger profits by making stuff in foreign countries where they can pay workers less than a dollar an hour with no benefits. How in the world are American workers supposed to compete with that?
For much more on how U.S. jobs are being killed by offshoring, please see this article: “55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America“.
And of course immigration is having a dramatic impact on the labor market in some areas of the country as well. Cheap labor has dramatically driven down wages in a lot of professions. For example, once upon a time you could live a very nice middle class lifestyle as a roofer. But now many roofers really struggle to make a living.
When you add everything up, it paints a very bleak picture for the future of the American worker.
The cost of living keeps rising much faster than wages do, and the competition for good jobs has become incredibly fierce.
Meanwhile, the government continues to make things even easier for those that are not working. This has caused some Americans to give up completely and to be content with letting the government take care of them. The following is from a recent article by Monty Pelerin
As we make it easier to get unemployment benefits for longer time periods, more people take advantage of the system. So too with food stamps and disability. All programs are at or near record levels in what is supposed to be four years into an economic recovery. For many, the benefits of becoming a government dependent exceed what they can earn. One study reported that a family of four, collecting all the benefits for which they were entitled, would have to earn $65,000 per annum to have the same after-tax purchasing power.
If you are a product of the government schools and are legal to work (i.e., have skills enough that you are affordable at the minimum wage or higher), at what point do you realize that there is no need to go through the hassle of actual work. You can live pretty well by staying home and taking advantage of the entitlements available to you. That is exactly what a larger and larger percentage of the population are realizing. In many cases, it is economically irrational to work.
This behavior creates a social pathology that only worsens over time. Kids learn from their parents that work is not necessary and the many ways to game the system. In this regard, look for this problem to become worse over time unless these programs are cut back.
In some areas of the country, it actually pays not to work very hard. According to Gary Alexander, the Secretary of Public Welfare for the state of Pennsylvania, a “single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.”
But the truth is that most Americans still want to work hard and would gladly take a good job if they could just find one. The following is one example that was featured in a recent Fox News article
After a full year of fruitless job hunting, Natasha Baebler just gave up.
She’d already abandoned hope of getting work in her field, working with the disabled. But she couldn’t land anything else, either — not even a job interview at a telephone call center.
Until she feels confident enough to send out resumes again, she’ll get by on food stamps and disability checks from Social Security and live with her parents in St. Louis.
“I’m not proud of it,” says Baebler, who is in her mid-30s and is blind. “The only way I’m able to sustain any semblance of self-preservation is to rely on government programs that I have no desire to be on.”
And that is how most Americans feel.
Most Americans do not want to be dependent on the government.
Most Americans want to work hard and take care of themselves.
Unfortunately, our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone and it never will again.
So there will continue to be millions upon millions of Americans that find that they cannot take care of themselves and their families without government assistance no matter how hard they try.
And this is just the beginning – things are going to get much worseduring the next major wave of the economic collapse.
Yes, at the moment there are more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job, but that number is actually going to go much higher in the years ahead. The anger and frustration caused by a lack of employment opportunities is going to shake this nation.
That is why it is important to try to become less dependent on your own job. In this economic environment, a job can disappear at literally any moment. Anything that you can do to become less dependent on the system would be a good thing.

Kissinger: ‘Illegal we do immediately; unconstitutional takes a little longer’

April 8, 2013

WikiLeaks has published the ‘Kissinger Cables’: its largest public release of documents in nearly a year, totaling some 1.7 million classified files, including information on the US’s secret diplomatic history.
A variety of files have been collected and collated, including from congressional correspondence, intelligence reports, and cables.
Julian Assange, who heads the organization, told the Press Association that the documents were illustrative of the “vast range and scope” of global US influence. He is to present and mark the release of the documents on Monday in a mass-press conference.
Assange is currently residing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, under the threat of arrest if he leaves.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying, “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer’,”during a 1975 conversation which included a Turkish and Cypriot official.
Among the other information released is the revelation that that the Vatican may have collaborated with the US in supporting the Pinochet coup in Chile, which saw in a regime of bloodshed and disappearances.
In a cable dated 18 October 1973, it is stated that “Archbishop [Giovanni] Benelli, Vatican Deputy Secretary of State, expressed to illing [sic] his and Pope’s grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation.” 
The events which preceded Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship were dismissed as overblown.
“Bellini labeled exaggerated coverage of events as possibly greatest success of Communist propaganda, and highlighted fact that even moderate and conservative circles seem quite disposed to believe grossest lies about Chilean Junta’s excesses.”
It went on to admit that there had been bloodshed during what they labeled ‘mopping up’ procedures in Chile, but followed it up with the statement that the Junta was making ‘every effort’ to return the situation to normal.
Documents had previously come to light about US involvement in the bloody Chilean coup. One CIA document released in a 2003 book of collected works stated “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup…it is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [US government] and American hand be well hidden.”
The WikiLeaks releases additionally suggest that former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Ghandi, worked as a negotiator for Swedish company Saab-Scania, which was trying to sell its Viggen fighter aircraft to Chile in the 1970s.
The documents are comprised of the 250,000 leaked state department memos made previously available through the ‘Cablegate’ release, alongside the new 1.7 million US State Department files from Kissinger’s time in the SoS position, from 1973-1976.
Although the 1.7 million had been officially declassified, and accessible through the National Archives and Records Agency, members of the WikiLeaks team consider their importance to be too significant for them to stay subtly tucked away.

“The Kissinger Cables provides unparalleled access to journalists and the general public,”
 said WikiLeaks in a statement.
Assange himself commented on the role that their publication of the documents’ played in preserving all sides of US history.

“The US administration cannot be trusted to maintain the history of its interactions with the world. Fortunately, an organization with an unbroken record in resisting censorship attempts now has a copy,”
 he said. He went on to call it the single most significant the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published.
The lack of accessibility was also commented upon.
“One form of secrecy is complexity. That’s the reason why we decided to merge these files with our existing cables and put a lot of effort into making a user-friendly and accessible database” a WikiLeaks spokesperson, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told Forbes.
WikiLeaks has voiced additional concern over the possibility that some documents could be reclassified.
Julian Assange’s confinement in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy means the country has already spent some $4.5 million on police officers patrolling the building on 24-hour watch. He has been resident in the building since he lost a UK court case demanding his extradition to Sweden.
WikiLeaks dropped a bombshell when it released over 250,000 leaked US cables in 2010, infuriating the US, as many related to the war in Iraq.
The material released by the organization included the infamous ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which was shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, and documented direct attacks on unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Furor Over Colorado Bill to Give Secret Service Agents Police Powers

The New American
April 8, 2013

Furor Over Colorado Bill to Give Secret Service Agents Police Powers
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign into law a bill that would give the U.S. Secret Service "limited" police power while operating in the state of Colorado. The bill, SB 13-013, which has already been passed by both the Colorado House and Senate, has sparked a firestorm of controversy because of fears that the proposed power could be used by Secret Service agents, acting on behalf of the Obama administration, to arrest sheriffs in Colorado who refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal gun controls.
Just such a scenario of federal overreach was expressed by Colorado state Representative Lori Saine, who was quoted on March 29 by World Net Daily exclaiming:
This is insane! In theory if a Secret Service agent is in a county where the sheriff has refused to enforce some of the recent unenforceable gun laws, the agent could [ignore the sheriff entirely and] arrest any individual if he believes the law has been broken....
I believe it is intended to be used for setting up a framework so that at some other time they could expand it to possibly include being able to arrest a sheriff who is refusing to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Charley Barnes, at in Denver, further fanned the controversy within Colorado when he observed on April 1:
By the sounds of it, Colorado is being targeted with an attempt to set up loopholes that will allow the U.S. Secret Service to arrest and remove an elected sheriff for refusing to enforce the law, or anyone [else] breaking the law.
His post went viral, fostering so many phone calls and emails to the Larimer County Sheriff’s office that Sheriff Justin Smith, who does not share Barnes' view, was forced to respond and “clarify” what, he say, SB 13 is really intended to accomplish. Here is Smith’s response to Barnes:
In the last decade, Colorado started to grant limited authority to certain federal law enforcement agencies. The purpose is so that if they witness a citizen being victimized, they can act and turn the case over to a local police officer (because most crimes against our citizens are not federal crimes and they have no other jurisdiction to intervene as federal officers).
The law also allows them, in cases where they are investigating a crime that is against both state and federal law, to file the case with our local DA [District Attorney] in situations where the damage amount doesn't meet a threshold where the federal prosecutors will file it in federal court.
If you read the bill, you will see the limitations clearly in it. As sheriffs, we are the beacon against over reach by federal authorities, but in this situation, it is not the case.
(signed) — Sheriff Justin Smith
However, when one actually reads the specific language of SB 13, a more ominous picture emerges that undermines Smith’s disclaimer. Taken directly from the language of the law,
The law gives a special agent, uniform[ed] division officer, physical security technician, physical security specialist, or special officer of the United States Secret Service limited peace officer authority while working in Colorado.
On its face, the law gives “limited peace officer authority,” but it does so without specifying any limits on that authority. But the law does specify the circumstances where a Secret Service agent may operate as a peace officer in Colorado:
Simply put, a Secret Service agent is granted the same powers as local law enforcement officers if he
1. Sees a crime being committed,
2. Has “probable cause” that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed,
3. Has been asked to assist local law enforcement, or
4. Is part of a joint task force with local law enforcement.
Eerily, the bill goes on to say that this federal agent doesn't have to follow Colorado rules when exercising those powers. Here’s more from the law:
And who employs this Secret Service Agent? The U.S. government! And under the ground rules specified by SB 13-013, the Fourth Amendment is erased from consideration. Here’s the language:
This is plain English. The Secret Service agent, acting as an agent of the federal government and not the state of Colorado, may use deadly force if necessary to arrest an individual without a warrant for any activity under the United States Code the Secret Service agent observes that gives him “probable cause” to conduct the arrest.
Is it too much of a stretch to conjure that the U.S. Secret Service might regard a Colorado county sheriff refusing to enforce Obama gun controls as a violation of the United States Code and, upon observing that violation, might move to arrest the sheriff, using deadly force as necessary?
Some might suggest that this is stretching the potential impact of SB 13-013 beyond what's intended — and perhaps even beyond what could reasonably occur in the name of SB-013. Perhaps. But it is helpful to remember that the United States Code is over 200,000 pages long and contains 51 titles, one of which is entitled Domestic Security. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces that part of the Code, and, as summarized by Wikipedia, it “works in the civilian sphere to protect the United States within ... its borders. Its stated goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism.”
Is it too much of a stretch to see how failure to enforce a state law by a county sheriff might be perceived to enable terrorists in the eyes of the U.S. Secret Service?
I think the bottom line is [that] there are now around 350 sheriffs from all across the country who are staring into a barrel of trouble when they refuse to arrest someone based on the 2nd Amendment issues they say they will not enforce.
At least one pro-gun Republican lawmaker who voted in favor of SB 13-013 is having second thoughts. In an email to one of his constituents, state Senator Kevin Grantham lamented:
I will tell you what I've been telling everyone about this legislation since it’s taken on a life of its own: as far as votes go I suppose all things being equal I would probably take that one back....
The one criticism leveled against the bill and against my vote, to which I humbly acquiesce, is that it does grant power where none existed before. For that alone I would like to have [my] vote back.
Grantham expressed the same sentiment at an April 6 Town Hall meeting in Falcon, Colorado, that was attended by this reporter. On that occasion, Grantham, a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, also noted that the bill was “intended” only to assist local and state law enforcement officials in their duties. But the big question: Could the legislation be used as a rationale for something more sinister, irrespective of the intended purpose?
The furor will likely continue and undoubtedly even increase if and when a Secret Service agent actually attempts to do exactly what Barnes has suggested — that is, he attempts to arrest a local sheriff for refusing to enforce unconstitutional federal gun controls.
Photo of U.S. Secret Service agents: AP Images
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached

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