Dear faux conservatives, please stop falsely claiming "Snowden aided Al Qaeda!"

When Edward Snowden leaked internal documents proving the existence of a dragnet domestic spying program, most Americans were angry. Most, regardless of their political leanings, are wary of secret courts rubber-stamping orders without much oversight. Most are disturbed that the PRISM program collects and stores an unfathomable amount of sensitive information, which can be retroactively reviewed.

But some self-professed conservatives turn their rage and disgust toward Edward Snowden, the whistleblower.  Their main complaint: he is a treasonous traitor for revealing to our enemies strategies used in the endless, unwinnable "War on Terror". 

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Shallow patriotism and the Iraq War's 10th anniversary

James Blake Miller, The Marlboro Man, Iraq War, Time Magazine The 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War is today. My Facebook feed is full of well-meaning civilians sharing photographs of honorable soldiers in venerable poses and elegant yellow ribbons. It seems as if, as time has passed, the anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq has become a gleeful opportunity for some to demonstrate their patriotism.

It is understandable that those that never served, never loved nor lost a soldier or Marine to that war would look at this anniversary without grief. The American military is an all-volunteer force comprised of less than 1% of the population. As fewer Americans serve, the gap between civilians and military personnel widens, leaving subjects such as the Iraq War near-taboo.

The opinion-makers and news personalities setting the tempo for how this war will be remembered rarely emphasize what those close to the military community or combat veterans feel on this day: solemnly reflective and gravely concerned over the health of our nation's moral compass.

From where some of us stand - ten years ago - millionaire politicians and chicken-hawk ivy-league pundits mobilized their resources to persuade an entire nation and the world that "liberating" Iraq would be a cakewalk, that our soldiers and military families were worthy sacrifices to eradicate Saddam's threat to the world and liberate the Iraqi people.

Regardless of your opinion on the Iraq War, given what we've learned this last decade, why are otherwise good Americans equating worship of the invasion with honoring our soldiers and Marines?

After the dust of occupation settled and the trucks roared home, did we not discover awful truths about our politicians and their eagerness to wage war? Did we not reflect at all this last decade on why we went to Iraq and whether that war was the best use of our military's energy?

In light of the last decade of revelations, is comparing this Mesopotamian endeavor to Pearl Harbor (?) or associating Iraq with 9/11 revenge responsible? Does willful twisting of history honor our troops that served? Many Americans cannot pinpoint Iraq on a map, but are intent on "celebrating victory". Some would say this insults our warriors.

It is wonderful that the love of country inspires remembrance, but if we want to support the troops and their sacrifices of the Iraq War, Facebook photos of yellow ribbons don't cut it.

Volunteer with the wounded at the local VA, through a local charity or by donating to a family in need. The next time a horrible policy rips education or healthcare from our veterans, pick up the phone and call the politicians responsible. Or send them an email. It takes 5 minutes to care.

If we want to honor those that served, support the troops by never forgetting that soldiers don't determine foreign policy, we do. Never forget that we elect the opportunists willing to exchange their lives, bodies, families and sanity for international chess games played by the powerful.

If we truly care, we must never forget the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers and children that still live with the consequences of 10 years of constant deployments, emotional, physical and financial losses, and wounds seen and unseen. We must accept it is the American people's responsibility to protect the soldiers of tomorrow from smooth lies and lofty promises of professional liars.

We must never forget where Iraq is in this world, where so many of our patriots lost their lives. We must never forget the Battle for Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, Al Kut, Mosul, the Battles of Ramadi, Sadr City and Samarra. We must never forget the Battle of Haditha and the toll taken on all involved. We must never forget Nasiriyah, Najaf, Fallujah I or II.

We must never forget the 4,804 soldiers lost in Iraq and the 32,221 wounded as well as the tens of thousands of non-combatant Iraqis lost. We must never forget the 3,263 lost and 18,333 wounded in Afghanistan. We must never forget that nearly 22 veterans kill themselves every day. We must never forget that we're still in Afghanistan.

We must never forget that HUMAN LIVES forever altered or lost are the cost of war. We must remember that perpetual war for perpetual peace is not a worthy ambition. We must remember that military resources are not statics. And battles, soldiers, bombs and wars are not merely considerations of policy.

We must value that American tax dollars and military families are not endlessly expendable in pursuit of slippery enemies and nation-building fantasies.

More than 1.5 million Americans served in the Iraq War; some worry their sacrifices were for nothing, some say history will decide, some have tucked Iraq away and moved on, others never will. Instead of warping this day into something it is not, remember them, mourn them and support them by caring beyond the moment.

Most importantly, protect them the next time the establishment politicians and media beat the drums for another war.

To join the Facebook conversation, visit here.

Who bought your politician? Check out this widget tracking the ownership of your leaders

I'll be damned. "A web-based embeddable widget — for anybody to use — that lists the top 10 donors and their contributions to any member of the House and Senate, their opponents, and the presidential candidates. Wired updated the widget in conjunction with Maplight, the Berkeley, California-based nonprofit dedicated to following money and politics." As previously reported:

“Corporate influence in politics has gone off the charts, and it’s more important than ever for voters to understand who is financing candidates,” Evan Hansen, editor in chief of Wired.com, said according to the post. “Maplight has done the hard work of compiling the data. At Wired, we’re happy to help get that information out to the wider public, and share it as broadly as possible with this web-based embeddable widget.”

The donor information itself is pulled together by Maplight from campaign-financing figures obtained by the Federal Election Commission. Wired states that this information remains up-to-date."

Beautiful. Check your leader below and spread the word: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/10/wired-campaign-widget/

Congress attacks your privacy; CISPA moves to Senate

DALLAS, May 18th, 2012H.R. 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, authored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), is the most audacious, frightening legislation this Congress has passed, which considering indefinite detention is now legal, says a lot. CISPA passed in a surprisingly rushed vote and moves to the Senate next. Here’s what you need to know:

  • This legislation will destroy the Internet and your privacy. It will give private companies and government employees authorization to secretly access your text messages, emails, posts on Facebook, Internet search history or private messages without any oversight;
  • The legislation also allows these agencies to intercept communications between people without informing the people they’re doing so;
  • Private companies cannot be prosecuted for any mistakes they make;
  • The Department of Homeland Security is authorized to stalk, intercept and retain the private emails of citizens without a court order even if they have done nothing wrong;
  • The Internal Revenue Service is authorized to review private correspondences via text messages (through your cell phone provider) or emails if they decide to audit you over a few dollars;
  • A profile of your every click, search terms and movement on the Internet could be cataloged by your IP address and accessible to government departments which could get hacked at any time or decide to stalk you in person because you’re a member of the Tea Party or the ACLU or some other activist group, just like they did with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights activists, but now they will operate without restriction.
Worse than anything – the legislation states that this law, poorly written and ill-designed, ERASES ALL PRIVACY RIGHTS AND LAWS PASSED UP TO THIS POINT. The legal traditions and precedents designed to protect your privacy would be destroyed by one piece of legislation.

Consider the ACLU’s scathing call for action

Think for a minute about all the things in your life that are kept on computers, but you would like to keep private. How about your medical records? Your banking and financial records? What about your education or library records? How about the things you bought on Amazon last year? Or those love letters you emailed? Or the political opinions you share with close friends?

Do you think the bureaucrats and spies at the National Security Agency have any right to gather that information on you, when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong? What if we tell you that once the NSA has the information, it can keep it forever, share it with whomever it deems necessary, and that no court will be able to look over the NSA’s shoulder and keep it in check? Yet that is exactly the scheme envisioned by the champions of CISPA. Does Congress really think our Founding Fathers would support this?

From Electronic Freedom Foundation:

Congress is considering legislation that would give companies a free pass to monitor and collect communications, including huge amounts of personal data like your text messages and emails, and share that data with the government and anyone else. All a company has to do is claim its privacy violations were for “cybersecurity purposes.” Tell Congress that they can’t use vaguely-defined “cybersecurity threats” as a shortcut to bypassing the law.

H.R. 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, would let companies spy on users and share private information with the federal government and other companies with near-total immunity from civil and criminal liability. It effectively creates a “cybersecurity” exemption to all existing laws.

There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by “cybersecurity purposes.” That means a company like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or AT&T could intercept your emails and text messages, send copies to one another and to the government, and modify those communications or prevent them from reaching their destination if it fits into their plan to stop cybersecurity threats.

Worst of all, the stated definition of “cybersecurity” is so broad, it leaves the door open to censor any speech that a company believes would “degrade the network.” The bill specifically mentions that cybersecurity can include protecting against the “theft or misappropriation of private or government information” including “intellectual property.” Such sweeping language would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.

Congress wants to use the threat of “cybersecurity” to undermine our digital rights. Tell your lawmakers that we won’t stand for dangerous, unsupervised information sharing in this bill or any bill like it.

Without Rule of Law, we are governed by the will and ego of individuals. Without the power of rights, we are no better than China or Iran.  This is what we’re allowing to happen to our country. Will we squander the greatest set of liberties ever designed to foster individual liberty.

Take action now:

Urge President Obama to fulfill his promise to veto this devastating legislation.

SEND A PETITION THROUGH DEMAND PROGRESS

CONTACT YOUR SENATOR NOW THROUGH POPVOX AND DEMAND THEY VOTE NAY

FIND OUT WHICH COMPANIES SUPPORTED THIS VIOLATION OF YOUR PRIVACY; TAKE 20 MINUTES TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU THINK

Nothing is more important.