Shock Claims: Another NSA whistleblower emerges

Safe to say it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the NSA, and the latest information that has leaked certainly won’t help. This whistleblower isn't new, he has actually been around since the Bush days, but his claims are getting a closer look now that we know the scope of the NSA snooping scandal.

His comments are chilling and include claims that a Supreme Court justice has been closely monitored for quite some time. Could a justice have been compromised?

According to TheBlaze:

Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst and Bush-era NSA whistleblower, claimed Wednesday that the intelligence community has ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.

“He's been blowing whistles for a while,” Pat said. “This guy has been talking about the Bush administration spying for a long time, and he was with the ONI, the DIA, the NSA, the NCAA. I mean, he's been everywhere. And so now, now his latest deal, he's been saying this about Bush since I think 2005 and then he said that they retaliated against him but then he was speaking out in more specifics yesterday.”

Yesterday, Tice dropped this bomb:

[The Bush administration] went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things – they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial.

But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of – heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people.

“Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Stop the presses. What year did John Roberts go in [to the Supreme Court],” Glenn asked.

It might seem far-fetched to think that the NSA surveillance could somehow extend to political intimidation, but Glenn provided this not-so-hypothetical example:

Let's just say that John Roberts is the example, but you could use anybody… Let's say the evil Karl Rove gets into office. He's the next president, President Karl Rove. And he has this ability, which is no longer hypothetical, and we know is happening. And beyond that, we know that everything that he and his family have done, said, written, where they have been hasn't necessarily been looked at but has been stored. And the evil Karl Rove says, "[Sonia Sotomayor], take her down. I need her not to vote that way." Are you telling me that with all of the information stored on a sweet, sweet Latina who's never done a thing wrong in her life… She was just so sweet and gracious and just a wonderful woman.

So we have her on there. Let's say she is everything that everybody says she is, but maybe her daughter or her son or her grandchildren have done something stupid. Are you telling me that there aren't unscrupulous people that will come to you or to Kagan or to Roberts are or anybody else. Why do you expect them to be different than you? How many people do you know that say, "You know what? I'm with you guys, but I just, because of my business, because of my business I can't speak out. Because if I speak out, I'll lose my job. Because if I speak out, they will boycott my business. Because of that, my kids will be bullied. So I have to sit it out. I have to be quiet, but you keep going. I'm a silent supporter of yours. You keep going.”

How many people do you know that are already like that? Are you telling me that the ability for the United States government to know all of your healthcare records, just that, just that, your kids are really struggling through depression, your kid is ‑‑ has made just a horrible mistake and is, you know, is, you know, on drugs, or whatever it is, is just depressed, your kid, your family is going through some sort of an issue and you've got to go to the doctor, and all those doctors, all those, every bit of those records, if they're electronic, are with the IRS, just for safekeeping. They're in the federal data bank. All of them. Are you telling me that you really think that all of the people that you know that are just good, decent people and, "Don't worry about it because I haven't done anything wrong," are you telling me there's nothing in their life ever, there's nothing in their children's lives or their grandchildren's lives? How many times, how many times, have you said as a parent, Lord, just take this away from them, give it to me. Give it to me, I'll take it. Whether it's an illness or a problem or whatever it is, take it from them. Give it to me. We all have.

Now, somebody comes to you and says, "I think, justice Roberts, that you're going to go the other way because your child has their whole life in front of them, and my, oh my, this just doesn't look bad. Do you know that they were buying drugs? Did you know that they've smoked marijuana cigarettes?" "Yeah, but that happens..." "Yeah, but you know what? I see that your kid was at a party and I've got the GPS tracking. He was at a party with another guy, and that other kid, he does more. That kid is related right to this crime family, this drug cartel. Looks to me, I mean, certainly could make a case that your child is wrapped up in some sort of drug crime. Because it's not just that party. There seems to be another tracking. It shows that these kids have met before, maybe three times."

"There's a whole pattern. And, we haven't even started looking into it, of course, but boy, oh boy. Now, you can make any decision you want. But I just want you to know, man, a man would sure hate to have his child's lives destroyed over a simple mistake."

“Can you even imagine the power that this government would have over you? It's already here,” Glenn said. “They've already admitted to storing it all. Now we're finding out that they are already admitting that they have used it, and we're finding out more; they've used it against congressmen and judges. No wonder the world doesn't make any sense… Who were they listening to? And why is no one demanding? I'll tell you why: Because the George Bush administration was just as guilty as this one is. Just as guilty.”

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?