You Can Stop Active Shooters and Save Lives!

America is in two concurrent modes in the aftermath of one of the worst mass killings in our history . We are overwhelmed with grief and mourning for 14 children and three adults whose lives were senselessly snuffed out on a celebrative Valentine’s Day. Simultaneously, we are outraged that such carnage can continue to happen in our modern, civilized society. One of the many lessons we must learn from the savagery of Parkland, Florida, is that we have to have each other’s backs. We have to watch for the unnatural and report it.

We are dealing with so many issues this tragedy brings to the surface of our minds. Do we need to change some gun laws? What can we do about mental health? Why isn’t there better security in our schools? It is imperative that we have serious national discussions on these things. But, you can only impact those issues indirectly at best through your vote and other civic action. However, there is one thing you can do individually and directly that, combined with other citizens, can virtually stop mass killings and many other violent crimes. We hear about it all the time, but do we really live by “See Something; Say Something?” SEE SAY for short.

I honestly don’t remember a single mass killing that wasn’t followed within hours by comments about how obvious the signs were. There was always clear evidence of the perpetrator’s instability, breaking point stress level, or his actual plan. The Parkland school shooting was no different. The 19-year-old’s parents had died recently. He was living with a friend’s family. He had been expelled from school. He had been under psychiatric treatment. He had an infatuation with guns. He bragged about killing animals. He posted threatening comments on social media. Some people had knowledge of all of these concerns, but just one or two of the concerns should have caused anyone to monitor him more closely.

Each one of us should be constantly on alert for unusual and unnatural behavior. The SEE SAY proponents urge us to observe three things constantly:

* Unusual items or situations: A vehicle parked at an odd location, a package unattended, an open window or door that should be closed, etc.

* Elicitation of information: A person questioning individuals at a level beyond curiosity about purpose, operations, security , times, locations of people, etc.

* Observation/surveillance: Someone paying unusual attention to facilities or people beyond casual or professional  interest. People acting very unnatural considering the setting. Unexplained loitering, note taking, or sketching.

I would add to this list: Physical appearance or attire that doesn’t match the environment; social media posts of desperation, hatefulness, or hopelessness; verbal or social media threats; illogical statements; or just generally acting suspicious.

SEE SAY reports should be submitted to law enforcement agencies. I have my local police and sheriff offices’ non-emergency dispatch numbers in my phone contacts. That’s where I start. But, don’t hesitate to call 911 if necessary. If activities prompting 100 such calls proved to be benign, but one call prevented injury or death, wouldn’t it be worthwhile? I know, we just heard the FBI neglected to follow up on a tip regarding school shooter, Nikolas Cruz. We live in a world where even the good guys let us down sometimes, but our responsibility is still to provide the information.

When reporting, emphasize behavior over physical appearance. Provide facts of who, what, when, where, and why (why it is suspicious). For an American, the age-old question of am I my brother’s keeper should be a resounding “yes.” Each of us should be forever looking out for other innocent folks like us. What might you observe tomorrow that could stop a mass killer before he or she gets to your local school, church, mall, restaurant, etc? Be alert! SEE SAY!

 

 

North Korea in the Olympics: Good or Bad?

I understand that the participation of North Korean Olympians on South Korea’s soil is a powerful symbol of hope. It could create some inroads to better relations between the two countries and ease tensions around the world. However, inviting the most evil, irrational government on the planet to meld with sane and honorable nations without any repentance or concessions is an abrogation of global responsibility and accountability.

I love the Olympics and have always enjoyed the camaraderie of the teams and the goodwill emanating from the event. I’m awed by the unmatched pageantry. It is impossible to keep the event completely apolitical, but the Olympic Committee usually manages to preclude national conflicts from spilling too excessively into this sacred event. But, for this Winter Olympics, I’m afraid North Korea may have pulled off the biggest diplomatic snow job in the history of the games.

Although most of the world is appalled and perturbed at Kim Jong Un and his rogue nation, they are looking frantically for a solution short of war. When this regime announced its entry into the Olympics, many other nations, including South Korea, took the bait hook, line, and sinker, as a long-shot hope for reconciliation. Of course, the news media also played into Kim’s hands. Talk of unification of the Koreas began cropping up. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, an official part of the oppressive regime, is being treated like a rock star and labeled the Ivanka Trump of North Korea. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in is glad-handing the North Korean “dignitaries” as honored guests.

So here we have ruthless dictator Kim Jong Un oppressing and starving his people, guilty of countless murders including his own half brother, and pouring his failing economy into nuclear weapons with blatant threats to America and other countries. Yet, instead of chastising him, much of the world is making him and his delegation the heroes of the winter competition. The media is doing everything possible to make merciless North Korea look like a normal state that we should learn to love or at least have sympathy for. If PyeongChang has to be a stage for world discord, the world should be highlighting the atrocities and recklessness of North Korea rather than making them out to be misunderstood peace seekers. The price of peace should have been required as their entry fee.

Kim Jong Un acts like a spoiled four-year-old most of the time, but can be a genius at times. Participating in the Olympics was a rare genius moment. In this gesture to the world, He has driven a wedge between South Korea and its allies, America, Japan, and others. His hiatus of missile test launches and other provocations during the games is an obvious move to make him appear diplomatic. The media should be punishing him with truth in reporting.

If the unification moment does result in a cooling of tensions, peace talks, and progress toward the denuclearization of North Korea, I will be the first to admit I was wrong. But, I fully expect continuation of the North’s nuclear weapons development, resumption of test launches, and deadly oppression of the people by this time next month. A longer lasting result of the ruse, unfortunately, will be a bolstering of the charade that North Korea would be a likable little country if other nations would just be nice to them.

 

 

The FISA Memo in Plain Language

The FISA memo issue is so convoluted that hardly anyone can understand it. Yet, it is of vital importance to every American. And, it will develop further over the next few weeks. The following few paragraphs provide a plain language summary of what is important to understand about the issue and how it relates to your freedom and privacy.

First, some background to aid in understanding the memo. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 established processes and procedures for federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on American citizens suspected of having illegal or treasonous interface with foreign individuals or governments. The Act established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) as a secret federal court of judges who hear request for surveillance of Americans and authorize or deny them. The judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with no congressional oversight. Supposedly, the judge considers both the evidence and the Forth Amendment (privacy) rights of the surveillance target and decides on whether to authorize the activity in the form of a FISA warrant.

Actually, the FISC almost never denies a warrant. In its history, only .03 percent of the requests have been denied leading to its reputation of being merely a “rubber stamp” court. So, if the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, etc. have even the flimsiest excuse to tap your phone, intercept your email, access your Facebook, or video your activities, they can do so. The FISC only hears the federal agency’s points of view. There is no one to advocate for the surveillance target.

Now to summarize the memo. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Clinton campaign and the DNC jumped on a rumor that Trump was colluding with Russia to help in his campaign. They paid $160,000 for an opposition research “dossier” from a British intelligence officer and FBI informant, Christopher Steele. The dossier, also desired by the FBI, contained derogatory information on Trump including Trump’s supposed ties to Russia. Steele was known to be very anti-Trump. Fusion GPS was the research firm that obtained the information from Steele. Later, for many reasons, the FBI and the DNC determined the Steele dossier was bogus. The FBI terminated Steele as a source due to what it described as the most serious of violations.

Meanwhile, the FBI had been watching Carter Page on suspicion of his being recruited by Russia as a spy. Mr. Page became a low-level volunteer for the Trump campaign, and the FBI thought he might be a way to connect Trump with Russia. So, the FBI applied for a FISA warrant from the FISC to spy on Page. The justification for the surveillance was almost entirely based on the Steele dossier which they knew to be false. The application mentioned nothing about the DNC and the Clinton campaign paying for the dossier, thereby making it a political document. But, the FBI was at loss for anything else to justify surveillance of Page. Subsequently, three more FISA applications were submitted to extend the surveillance of Page based on the Steele dossier known to be fabricated.

Several high-level DOJ officials were aware of every aspect of this issue including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who initiated the special counsel investigation and appointed Robert Mueller to investigate a supposed Russian collusion with Trump. Also involved and knowing the truth was Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr whose wife was employed by Fusion GPS to find dirt on Trump for the DNC. Former FBI Director, James Comey, signed three of the FISA warrant applications and Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, signed one. Again, both knew the applications were based on false information. Comey was fired by Trump, and McCabe recently resigned when it became apparent the memo would be released to the public.

The FISA memo declassified from Top Secret by the president is a four-page document from Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to the members of his Committee summarizing the numerous inappropriate activities I have further summarized above. Of interest to all Americans, of course, are the many other classified documents that would provide further evidence of Congressman Nunes’ findings. It is obvious why the Democrats and the FBI didn’t want the memo released to the public. Further attempts to release other supporting documents will likely be met with the same resistance from the same people. Of course, they claim that this memo is out of context, contains errors, and is politically motivated.

I needed to sort this out in my mind to understand the current media frenzy. I hope it helped you, too. My take-away is that the memo spotlights an anti-trump bias in the upper echelons of the FBI, corruption in the DNC, dishonesty of the Clinton campaign, and further evidence that the Mueller investigation is waste of time and money.

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