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Posts tagged ‘James Comey’

Christine O’Donnell: Tax Law Didn’t Protect Me.


A federal law intended to protect the privacy of personal tax information has become a “shield” to protect tax agency employees, says tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, whose tax data was accessed  immediately after she announced her Republican Senate candidacy in Delaware nearly three years ago.

“What was written as a well-meaning law to protect taxpayers has inexplicably transformed into a shield for the perpetrators,” O’Donnell wrote in the New York Post Saturday under the headline “Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS.”

“Unless the law is changed, there will be no public accountability for those who committed this crime, no one will be brought to justice — and there will be no deterrent preventing such crimes from being committed again.”

O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in a 2010 primary for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat, but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.

The day she announced her candidacy the Internal Revenue Service placed an $11,744 tax lien on a Wilmington home O’Donnell had sold in 2008.

“On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for the Senate representing Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her Post column. “Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes.

“It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says.

“That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims,” O’Donnell said.

“The tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate,” she continued. “I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned.

“The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done,” O’Donnell said.

She noted how the IRS has admitted to targeting tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status and acknowledged how “opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration.”

In fact, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and other conservatives have charged to Newsmax TV that last month’s indictment of Obama critic and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza on campaign-finance charges “smacks of selective prosecution.”

“What we all have in common,” O’Donnell said. “No answers.”

A Treasury Department official told O’Donnell in January 2013 that “my tax records were compromised and misused,” she said, but since then, “no one has been called to testify, no more answers given.

“How did Smith’s curiosity become an erroneous tax lien? How did the material end up in the hands of a journalist?” O’Donnell asked. “Neither Smith, nor anyone else in the Delaware Department of Revenue, nor anyone at the IRS, has never been placed under oath to explain this.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating the IRS targeting — and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley has discussed O’Donnell’s case.

Just this week, Grassley and three other Judiciary Committee members called on FBI Director James Comey to answer specific questions regarding the “routine review” of campaign filings, IRS records and other data that led to the D’Souza indictment.

But “in a brutal irony, even if Congress does track down answers, they may not be able to share what they discover with me,” O’Donnell said.

That’s because of the law requiring the privacy of personal tax information.

“Too bad it didn’t protect mine,” O’Donnell said.

“It has already been 10 months since Sen. Grassley and I were told by Treasury Department officials that we would be given information about my case,” she added. “What is taking so long?

“The only way people will be confident the government is truly on their side is if these cases are resolved with the perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice,” O’Donnell said. “Until then, any taxpayer is a potential target.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Todd Beamon

Rand Paul Sues Obama, NSA Over Surveillance of Americans’ Phones.


Image: Rand Paul Sues Obama, NSA Over Surveillance of Americans' Phones

By Bill Hoffmann

Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he has filed his much anticipated class-action lawsuit against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency over its massive collection of data on millions of unsuspecting Americans.

“There’s a huge and growing swell of protest in this country of people who are outraged that their records are being taken without suspicion, without a judge’s warrant, and without individualization,” Paul said outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Flanking Paul were tea party favorites Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, and Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, Politico reports.

Cuccinelli, who unsuccessfully ran as the Republican candidate for governor, is serving as lead counsel for the lawsuit.

Kibbe said his group became involved “on behalf of our community of 6 million citizens nationwide, along with any American who has a phone. If you use a phone, you should care about this case.”

Paul, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, filed suit as a private citizen and is hoping the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the Fourth Amendment,” a statement from Paul’s political action committee asserted.

“The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants.”

The Hill notes it’s the first time Paul has mentioned the president as a defendant.

Besides Obama and the NSA, the lawsuit names James Clapper, director of national intelligence; Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA; and FBI chief James Comey.

Paul has been a frequent critic of the NSA’s trolling for metadata across the country and has conducted a drive to sign up 10 million participants in the class-action lawsuit through his campaign website and his political action committee.

Other cases challenging the spy agency’s information collection include that of legal activist Larry Klayman.

Politico reports that Paul initially directed potential class-action signatories to websites including RandPAC.com and to his Facebook page, which sent visitors to RandPaul2016.com. Signing up added visitors to his campaign’s email lists.

Paul is also is pushing Defendthe4th.com, a reference to the Fourth Amendment, according to Politico.

The suit criticizes the “mass, suspicionless, non-particularized collection, storage, retention, and search of telephone metadata.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Journalist Greenwald Denies He’s ‘Fencing’ Stolen NSA Secrets.


Image: Journalist Greenwald Denies He's 'Fencing' Stolen NSA Secrets

By Drew MacKenzie

Freelance journalist Glenn Greenwald has flatly denied the allegations of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers that he’s selling U.S. surveillance secrets stolen by fugitive Edward Snowden.

The Michigan Republican claimed on Tuesday during a committee hearing that Greenwald is receiving payments from news organizations worldwide for the intelligence secrets that Snowden had illegally taken while working for the National Security Agency.

“A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” said Rogers. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information.”

But Greenwald, who once worked for The Guardian in Britain, said that he’s giving hisservices to foreign news agencies as a journalist and that he’s not, as Rogers suggested, “fencing stolen material.”

He said in an interview, “I’m never selling documents. I don’t get money and give them documents, like, ‘Hey, nice doing business with you.’

“We do the reporting first I vet the stories. We come with the story already formed. We work on drafts of the story. We always edit the story. We have approval rights.”

Greenwald, who works with the help of other freelancers, said that he is careful to make sure that he has signed freelance contracts with various agencies before filing his Snowden stories to ensure that he’s seen as a journalist rather than a source.

“If I went around and reported on this without a freelance contract or a freelance fee paid, the government would say I’m acting as a source and not a distributor of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I never work with any foreign media outlet without any kind of agreement. I have to do it that way. If I don’t, they would make other accusations.”

Politico noted that in the past sources have been prosecuted for revealing secret data while the U.S government has been reluctant to go after journalists or publishers.

Rogers had attempted during the committee hearing to make a connection between journalism and criminality while being briefed by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.

“I I’m a newspaper reporter…and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?” Rogers asked. “If I’m hawking stolen, classified material that I’m not legally in possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?”

But Comey said that if a reporter was “hawking stolen jewelry” it would be a crime, but added that reporting on classified documents was harder to quantify because “it involves a news-gathering function” and “could have First Amendment implications.”

Greenwald pointed out that Roger’s accusations, if they stood up in a court of law, could criminalize the profession of journalism, and in essence the rights of free speech.

The writer, who is also an attorney and civil rights activist, claimed that his contracts are for a “trivial amount.”

He added, “Any journalist who reports on top-secret documents is necessarily getting paid. If you’re going to characterize that as selling documents, you’re necessarily selling documents.”

Greenwald also pointed out that journalist Bart Gellman had written stories for the Washington Post as a freelancer using Snowden’s documents, but Rogers had not accused him of fencing stolen goods.

“How is that any different than what Bart Gellman does?” Greenwald asked. “He’s freelance for the Washington Post and he gets paid per story.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

FBI to Help Boost Security at Sochi Olympics.


Image: FBI to Help Boost Security at Sochi Olympics

By Melanie Batley

The FBI will be sending several dozen agents to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to help boost security amid concerns about threats by extremists.

According to The Washington Post, FBI director James Comey told reporters Thursday the agency will be working with Russian intelligence services, and agents and personnel will have a presence in Moscow as well.

“Securing any Olympics is an enormous task,” Comey said, according to the Post. “I think it’s particularly challenging in Sochi because of its proximity to areas of unrest and sources of terrorist threat.”

Russia has already received credible threats from extremists who said they intend to target the Games opening Feb. 7, according to the post. Terrorists carried out two bombings last month in the city of Volgograd that killed 34 people and injured dozens.

During a wide-ranging interview with reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey also said that the bureau has become increasingly concerned about security at large venues and events generally, as the incidence of attacks on “soft targets” has increased.

He pointed in particular to the terrorist attack in September on Nairobi’s Westgate mallthat killed more than 70 people.

“We are taking a lot of steps with the Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, and the retail industry to train, to anticipate, to drill,” Comey said, according to the Post. “It was going on before Westgate, and that effort was given renewed energy by the Westgate tragedy.”

Comey also said there is growing concern that extremists who have been involved in the Syrian conflict could return to their home countries, including the United States, and carry out terrorist attacks.

“It is one of my greatest worries in the counterterrorism area. The conflict in Syria has attracted so many people from so many places of so many motivations, including Americans, that it is an enormous challenge for all intelligence services, including the FBI, to identify the ones of bad intent, to figure out where they’re going, why they’re going and keep track of them,” he said.

“As long as people are flowing in, learning how to kill other people and meeting really bad people, it’s going to be a big worry.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

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