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Mike German was fired by the FBI for exposing their cover up. He now works for the ACLU and is speaking out about how the government targets people based on religion and politics, with little oversight.  (Source: Network World)
Feds have little respect for your privacy, Constitution

The police are watching you.  If you're the wrong religion, they'll spy on your every move.  If you voice the wrong political opinions they'll be watching you.  According to Mike German, a 16-year veteran with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, this is happening right in the U.S.

Mr. German has become the FBI's worst nightmare.  Fed up with the abuses of privacy he was seeing, he complain to higher authorities and was promptly fired by the FBI.  Recently he became the ACLU's Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy [press release]. And he's speaking up about what he witnessed.

States Mr. German in a recent interview with Network World:

The most disturbing thing we've uncovered is the scope of domestic intelligence activities taking place today. Domestic spying is now being done by a host of federal agencies (FBI, DOD, DHS, DNI) as well as state and local law enforcement and even private companies. Too often this spying targets political activity and religious practices. We've documented intelligence activities targeting or obstructing First Amendment-protected activity in 33 states and DC.

He says that this Orwellian atmosphere could leave the U.S. a far different beast than the proud beacon of freedom it once was.  He states, "The biggest threat is that the increase surveillance of political activity will create a chilling effect that will dissuade people from exercising their rights, which will cause significant harm to participatory democracy."

He states that the "War on Terror" will continue to serve as an excuse for federal agencies to trample civil liberties.  He says that there are no clear-cut guidelines as to when you get put on a "watchlist" and are spied on by federal agents.  It's impossible to find out if your on a list and equally impossible to dispute or ask to be removed from a list.  

He also blasts TSA "enhanced pat-down" procedures and body scanners, calling them "unreasonable invasions of privacy that do not enhance security."

Given the Supreme Courts interpretation that privacy is a fundamental human right and thus Constitutionally protected by the Ninth Amendment, and given the First Amendments protections concerning freedom of speech and religion, Mr. German's claims are alarming.  Are U.S. federal employees deliberately spying on citizens and violating their rights, without the slightest legal accusation?

It'd be easy to dismiss Mr. German's claims as the words of a disgruntled employee.  But consider Mr. German's story of his departure from the agency:

I left the FBI when the DOJ Inspector General failed to investigate an FBI cover-up of a failed FBI counterterrorism investigation I reported, or protect me from official retaliation that resulted. I reported the information to Sen. Grassley and resigned. Grassley put pressure on the IG, so almost two years later the IG issued a report that showed the FBI falsified and backdated records about the case and retaliated against me for reporting it. I joined the ACLU two years later because I knew from my counterterrorism work that protecting civil liberties and keeping law enforcement accountable is what keeps America safe from terrorism and other crime.

Mr. German was clearly vindicated in the case that led to his dismissal.  The fact that the FBI tried to cover up its own wrongdoing and then punished Mr. German certainly damages its credibility and offers support for Mr. German's claims.



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By dgingeri on 2/8/2011 12:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
The government takes away nearly half of what I earn already and gives much of it to people who don't deserve it: both welfare recipients and bureaucrats who do nothing. Granted, there are people who need help, but it is not the place of the government to provide for them by taking away from others.

Some of the taxes I pay do go for needed things, I admit that, but when federal bureaucrats are making 20% more than their equal or near equal positions in private enterprise, with nearly no worry about being fired for incompetence or laziness, then I have issues with that.

you want to know what their taking away from me? My hard earned money. My lifestyle. I don't want to be rich, I just want to be able to pay for my 700sq ft apartment, drive to work and back, have my tv and internet, buy new computer parts once in a while, and eat. That's what I've been doing for the last 6 years. However, recent government activity have reduced the value of the dollar I earn, (making my rent, food, and computer parts increase in price) increased the taxes I pay, increase my energy costs substantially (my summer electric bills used to be $100 and now they're $160, and my winter electric bills have gone up from $70 to $110, all because of this renewable energy mandate) and substantially increased the cost of my gas for my car. (While the cost of oil is a part of the cost of gas, so is the production capacity of the refineries in this country, and 2 have been shut down while plans for 3 new ones to increase capacity have been shelved due to new federal rules and regulations, thus reducing the capacity of production by almost 10% while demand increased by more than 15%, increasing the cost substantially.) In addition, new government taxes on businesses is limiting their ability to increase the pay of their employees. My company has been on a pay freeze for the last two years, and is unlike to raise it in the next two, despite inflation being as high as it is.

In short, the government is taking away my life. I want to keep it. I have no spare money anymore, even though my income is equal to what it was 2 years ago when I had plenty.


By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 1:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry they'll just keep taxing you until you too need government assistance to provide for yourself.

If you look at the health care bill, that's exactly what it does to some. They're taxing certain health plans as "cadillac" plans. Well then you may not be able to afford the plan you used to have so now you need the governments help to pay for it. Thus increasing their influence over you. And most people don't have the willingness to vote for someone that says they're going to end a benefit you need to get what you used to have or think you should have.


By eggman on 2/8/2011 2:53:33 PM , Rating: 2
What is your solution for the health care cost crisis? For the last 10 years my health insurance has gone up 3 times faster than my salary, and the plans get worse and worse.


By dgingeri on 2/8/2011 4:39:48 PM , Rating: 2
I have a solution for that:

1. have malpractice cases tried before a panel of volunteer doctors. common people don't know when a doctor could have seen something coming and when they couldn't. Other doctors could. In addition, the doctors can declare the suit "frivolous" and charge the suer and his lawyer for the court costs. Trying a malpractice case in front of a regular jury is the biggest malpractice of all. malpractice insurance is the fastest growing cost to health care by a wide margin, usually taking as much as 60-80% of the doctor's take home pay. My uncle is a general medicine doctor, and pays $396,000 per year in malpractice insurance in Indiana. He takes home a little over $500,000. Making malpractice claims actually fair for both the doctor and the patient, instead of the decidedly one sided system we have now, and that cost will go down rapidly.

2. force the insurance companies to have a declared statement of covered procedures. If it is covered by a policy and the paperwork is filled out correctly, then they cannot deny the claim. If they deny the claim and all the paperwork is filled out correctly and the procedure is covered, they face fines on the order of 10 times the cost of that claim. Many insurance companies practice "deny first, have them resubmit before paying" practice. This increases the overhead costs in getting claims paid by the insurance company, and doesn't serve any purpose. Some idiot manager in an insurance company somewhere came up with this idea so they could keep their money for longer and earn more interest on it before paying the claim, but in the end it only serves to increase costs for everyone. This practice needs to be stopped.

3. have all insurance companies use all the same forms. Have all the insurance companies send 3 delegates to a conference to establish the paperwork, not to exceed 4 pages, for all claims to be processed. Then have them meet ever 5 years to update the forms. This reduces the complexity of training required to fill out the forms, reduces the number of people required to fill out the forms, and reduces the error rate of the claims. This, in turn will reduce costs. The second fastest climbing cost in healthcare is forms and claims processing.

Do these things, which Obama didn't touch, and the costs of health care will fall quickly.


By eskimospy on 2/8/2011 8:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
Holy crap you're wrong. This is so false I don't even know where to start. The median malpractice cost for a GP in 2008 was $12,500; your figure was inflated by approximately 3168%. If your uncle is paying $396,000 a year, it's because he's Dr. Frankenstein.
http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/artic...

The idea that doctors should be the jury at malpractice trials is the same idea as that police should be the jurors in police brutality cases. ie: an insanely terrible idea.


By FITCamaro on 2/9/2011 10:40:35 AM , Rating: 2
It depends on where you live. The article even states this. If you live in an area with a lot of trial lawyers with nothing to do, you'll pay drastically more since you'll have to carry a few million dollars in insurance. Trial lawyers have driven many good doctors out of the Orlando area. You now have to go to Tampa for many operations.

Doctors shouldn't be the jury at a malpractice trial. Just the damages on malpractice lawsuits should be capped. The doctor should pay to correct whatever he did wrong. Then if the mistake actually impacted the persons ability to work, they should compensate the person for the lost wages. That's it. There should be no such thing as damages for crap like "distress".

Now if the person died as a result of the malpractice, compensate the family for around 10 years of the persons salary. It shouldn't be a blank check essentially so the husband/wife never has to work again.

If the malpractice forever took away the persons ability to work, then fine, you can compensate them for that. But very few malpractice suits are this extreme.


By dgingeri on 2/9/2011 10:40:54 AM , Rating: 2
So what you're saying is that all those states where doctors are in short supply because malpractice insurance is too expensive, like Ohio, Florida, California, New York, are all just imagining it. There really isn't a shortage of doctors. We shouldn't be having problems finding doctors.

Have you ever tried to find a GP in Denver? It's like pulling teeth. In my last attempt, I called 8 offices in my area to find out they weren't accepting new patients. I have to drive over 20 miles, halfway across town, to get a doctor, and he's not very good.

You're also saying that regular people are capable of knowing better about what can be done to heal the human body and who can and can't be saved than doctors who have to go through 12 years of education and mentoring by other doctors.

My uncle happens to have never been sued directly in his 30 years of practice. (His office has been sued twice in suits that just tacked his name on the list because he ran the office, and a hospital he worked for was sued and his name was tacked on just because he was in the department.) Those numbers are what he told me a little over a year ago.

He also has 14 people in the billing department, 4 in the records department, 6 nurses, and three doctors in the office. his billing department costs the office $740k per year and the doctors cost them $850k per year, before he gets his pay. It's pretty sad that billing staff cost almost as much as two doctors.


By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 6:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
So you agree with a solution to raise that cost even further through taxes and mandating coverage for certain things you may not need or want?

Yeah that makes sense.


By eggman on 2/9/2011 4:53:16 PM , Rating: 2
I did not say anything like that.


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