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Remember when President Obama lectured Republicans about paying the government's bills on time? When Obama told Congress, "Now is the time to deliver on health care"? When he called his administration the "most transparent in history"?

Today, the Washngton Post reports that the federal government has failed to pay hundreds of American Indian tribes for contracted healthcare support services. Despite two Supreme Court rulings telling the federal government to pay up, the administration secretly prepared a proposal to renege on obligations that now total $2 billion.

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After the President issued a directive to DNI James Clapper to "establish" an NSA review group, many people criticized the President's choice.  The idea that Clapper, who admits misleading Congress about surveillance programs, might have any control over the review was upsetting to many. The next day, the White House denied that Clapper would lead the group and said it would select the members. Critics were then accused of reading too much into the President's directive and of over-reacting.  

Intelligence Community Directive Number 111 suggests the criticism was justified.

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Rubber stamp stash

When President Obama announced his plan for a panel of "outside experts" to conduct an "independent" review of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance activities, I didn't expect much. But, when I read that Obama had picked James Clapper--yes, that guy--to select and oversee the panel, I was gobsmacked. A glance at my Twitter feed indicated I was not alone.

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Russia Today (RT) reports that President Vladimir Putin, of Russia, has offered 'asylum' to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden--but with a string attached.

“There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound from me,” Putin told a media conference in Moscow.
Update: Multiple newspapers in the US and UK (including The Guardian) are reporting that Snowden submitted asylum requests to 15 countries, including Russia, on Sunday. Russia Today says "Nyet."
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Efforts to arrange asylum in Ecuador for whistleblower Edward Snowden have not gone as well as hoped. But, after revelations this weekend of NSW spying on Europeans, another option may have opened: putting Snowden in a European witness protection program.

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President Obama's excuse for not prosecuting Bush administration officials for torture was that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards" so that "extraordinarily talented people" do not have to "spend all their time looking over their shoulders."

In the case of whistleblowers trying to protect the public from waste, fraud and abuses of power, that rule has been reversed. Multiple government employees, including Thomas Drake, have been aggressively prosecuted to the extent that  federal judges, generally deferential to the government, have sharply criticized the government's attorneys.

Today, we learned that the Obama administration is "looking backwards" at hundreds of previously reported leaks for the purpose of prosecuting [or administratively punishing] those, also.

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Internet Surveillance

[Republished with permission from Whistleblowing Today]  

Andrew Leonard over at Salon confirms what some of us already suspected:  The National Security Agency (NSA) is not merely an end user of data collected by internet firms. NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were directly involved in developing the capabilities of those firms to amass that data in the first place.  Leonard describes how an open source computer program called Hadoop "effectively enabled the surveillance state" by making it possible to make sense of large bodies of data, thus encouraging the collection of even more data. He describes as "incestuous" the "intertwining of the intelligence agencies with the larger open source software community."

The NSA doesn’t just use Hadoop. NSA programmers have improved and extended Hadoop and donated their changes and additions back to the larger community. The CIA actively invests in start-ups that are commercializing Hadoop and other open source projects. [Salon]
More below the fold.
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Update 8:  The Guardian publishes a livestream covering Edward Snowden's surveillance disclosures and the international community reacts. (More at the end of the diary)

Cross-posted from Whistleblowing Today.

The Guardian disclosed today the identity of the individual who provided it with information about NSA surveillance. He is Edward Snowden, "a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton" who "has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell." The British newspaper says it has revealed Snowden's identity at his request.<!--more-->

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Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:23 PM PDT

Memorial Roll Call, 2013 (Vol. 1)

by Deep Harm

Enjoy the fun around our campfires and cookouts at the ranch

Daily Kos is political website and, also, a network of digital campfires, each with its own circle of regulars who gather to be enlightened, challenged or entertained by the keeper of the flame. When an author dies, a campfire goes cold and the community that formed around it is displaced.

In Memoriam creates a new campfire where displaced communities of friends and admirers may gather to share memories of the fires that brought us together; of flamekeepers who linger in our minds and hearts.  In Memoriam gathers individual memorial diaries for republication and publishes the Memorial Roll Call, a comprehensive list of deceased Daily Kos members and links to their memorials.  (Thank you, In Memoriam group members, for your efforts that helped to bring this project to life.)

In the tradition of placing a pebble or flower on a gravesite, I invite all to post comments in remembrance of those listed below the fold.

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Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:34 PM PST

In Memoriam: A new Daily Kos group

by Deep Harm

This is a short diary to inform the community of a new Daily Kos group called "In Memoriam." In Memoriam will republish diaries about the passing of Daily Kos members--diaries with tags like "obituary," "memorial," "R.I.P." and "in memoriam."

I invite all Daily Kos members to join the group and/or suggest diaries to add. I have republished zircon the twisted's diary on the passing of Translator as the first diary in the group.

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Healthcare Costs

A story in today's LA Times describes in rare detail why US healthcare is insanely expensive.  It's not due to malpractice lawsuits, patients who expect too much, high-tech medicine or burdensome regulations. No, it's the result of insurance industry bureaucracy and greed. While many consumers have long suspected that, hard evidence has been elusive.  Now, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times has turned up that hard evidence.

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Over the weekend, Hong Kong officials reported finding high levels of melamine in eggs shipped from mainland China. This is the first official notice that eggs have been contaminated with melamine.  It is believed that the chickens were given feed contaminated with melamine or a related substance, as melamine contamination of fish and animal feeds appears to be widespread in China.  Few will be surprised to hear that Chinese officials reportedly knew of the egg contamination problem weeks ago.

But, many readers may be surprised to learn that I warned about such a problem more than a year ago, in my May 6, 2007, diary, "The ominous silence about eggs from gluten-fed chickens."

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