Obama Administration to Create Office to ‘Shape Behavior of Society’

They dare ask why we compare them to Nazis?

Via Fox News:

The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals,” reads the government document describing the program, which goes on to call for applicants to apply for positions on the team.

The document was emailed by Maya Shankar, a White House senior adviser on social and behavioral sciences, to a university professor with the request that it be distributed to people interested in joining the team. The idea is that the team would “experiment” with various techniques, with the goal of tweaking behavior so people do everything from saving more for retirement to saving more in energy costs.

The document praises subtle policies to change behavior that have already been implemented in England, which already has a “Behavioral Insights Team.” One British policy concerns how to get late tax filers to pay up.

“Sending letters to late taxpayers that indicated a social norm — i.e., that ‘9 out of 10 people in Britain paid their taxes on time’ — resulted in a 15 percent increase in response rates over a three-month period, rolling out to £30 million of extra annual revenue,” the document reads.

Another policy aimed to convince people to install attic insulation to conserve energy.

“Offering an attic-clearance service (at full cost) to people led to a five-fold increase in their subsequent adoption of attic-insulation.”

[Read the full document here]

Such policies — which encourage behavior subtly rather than outright require it — have come to be known as “nudges,” after an influential 2008 book titled “Nudge” by former Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler popularized the term.

The term “nudge” has already been associated with the new program, as one professor who received Shankar’s email forwarded it to others with the note: “Anyone interested in working for the White House in a ‘nudge’ squad? The UK has one and it’s been extraordinarily successful.”

Richard Thaler told FoxNews.com that the new program sounds good.

“I don’t know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided,” he said.

“The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right.)”

But some economists urge caution.

“I am very skeptical of a team promoting nudge policies,” Michael Thomas, an economist at Utah State University, told FoxNews.com.

“Ultimately, nudging … assumes a small group of people in government know better about choices than the individuals making them.”

And sometimes, he added, government actually promotes the wrong thing.

“Trans-fats were considered better than saturated and unsaturated fats in the past. Now we know this is an error.”

Every intervention would need to be tested to make sure it works well, said Harvard economics professor David Laibson, who studies behavioral economics and is in touch with the people in government setting up the program. He added that the exact way the team will function is currently unknown.

“We have to see the details to be sure, but this could work out very well,” he said.

Asked about details, Dan Cruz, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration (the department which the team will be a part of) told FoxNews.com: “As part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to promote efficiency and savings, GSA is considering adding some expertise from academia in the area of program efficiency and evaluation under its Performance Improvement Council.”

Maya Shankar did not respond to questions.

Laibson added that he hoped the U.S. program would stay away from overly controversial subjects.

“Let’s say we want people to engage in some healthy behavior like a weight loss program, and then start automatically enrolling overweight people in weight loss programs — even though they could opt out, I’m guessing that would be viewed as offensive … a lot of people would say, ‘I didn’t ask for this, this is judging who I am and who I should be.”

But Laibson added that there are very real benefits to some “nudge” policies — such as one that increases the number of people registered as organ donors by making people decide when they apply for a drivers’ license.

Thaler, who is also an adviser to the British Behavioral Insights Team, said that his research also supports automatically enrolling people in retirement savings plans.

“Many people have struggled to save enough to provide for an adequate retirement. … Two simple design changes can dramatically improve the situation … automatic enrollment (default people into the plan with the option to easily opt out) and automatic escalation, where workers can sign up to have their contributions increased annually,” he said.

Jerry Ellig, an economist at the Mercatus Center, said that some “nudges” are reasonable, but warned about a slippery slope.

“If you can keep it to a ‘nudge’ maybe it can be beneficial,” he added, “but nudges can turn into shoves pretty quickly.”

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Income Gap Grows to All-Time High Under Obama

Via Investor’s Business Daily:

Obamanomics: The president has been decrying the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. to help sell his retread tax-and-spend proposals. But those policies have already produced record levels of income inequality.

In his speech in Illinois last week, and at events since, Obama described income inequality in the starkest terms. “This growing inequality is morally wrong,” he said, and “undermines the very essence of America.”

To be sure, income inequality is a standard trope for liberals, who always use it to advocate more wealth redistribution.

And Obama’s latest focus neatly coincides with his plans to push for more federal spending and taxes on the “rich” in coming budget battles.

But what Obama conveniently leaves out of his sermons is that income inequality has grown faster on his watch than any time in the past two decades, at least.

Research by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez shows that since the Obama recovery started in June 2009, the average income of the top 1% grew 11.2% in real terms through 2011.

The bottom 99%, in contrast, saw their incomes shrink by 0.4%.

As a result, 121% of the gains in real income during Obama’s recovery have gone to the top 1%. By comparison, the top 1% captured 65% of income gains during the Bush expansion of 2002-07, and 45% of the gains under Clinton’s expansion in the 1990s.

The Census Bureau’s official measure of income inequality — called the Gini index — shows similar results. During the Bush years, the index was flat overall — finishing in 2008 exactly where it started in 2001.

It’s gone up each year since Obama has been president and now stands at all-time highs.

It’s worth underscoring that the growing income gap under Obama isn’t the result of the rich getting fabulously richer. Nor is it any sort of indictment of “trickle down” economics.

[…]

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Report: Al Qaeda’s Power & Influence Growing Under Obama Administration

Via the Christian Science Monitor:

Al Qaeda not only remains a threat to the United States, but its capabilities and scope are expanding, a new analysis from a respected think tank has concluded.

“There has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of Al Qaeda affiliates and allies over the past decade, indicating that Al Qaeda and its brand are far from defeated,” argues Seth Jones, an analyst at the RAND Corporation and the study’s author.

Why, after a decade of wars – the longest in America’s history – is the terrorist organization that the US military set out to defeat still active and growing? And does it really have an impact on the everyday safety of most Americans?

There are a few reasons for the growth of the terrorist group, Mr. Jones argues. “One is the Arab uprisings, which have weakened regimes across North Africa and the Middle East, creating an opportunity for Al Qaeda affiliates and allies to secure a foothold.”

This expansion – coupled with the weakness of central Al Qaeda in Pakistan – “has created a more diffuse and decentralized movement,” Jones added in little-noted testimony last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the topic of “Re-examining the Al Qaeda Threat to the United States.”

As a result, most of Al Qaeda’s local affiliates “largely run their operations autonomously, though they still communicate with core leadership in Pakistan and may seek strategic advice.”

The good news is that within this disparate movement, most Al Qaeda affiliates and allies are not actively plotting attacks against the US homeland, according to the RAND analysis.

“Contrary to some arguments, most Al Qaeda leaders are not interested in establishing a global caliphate and do not seek to overthrow regimes in much of the world,” Jones writes.

Instead, they tend to have rather more parochial goals. “They want to establish Islamic emirates in specific countries or regions, though they may be agnostic about a broader violent jihad.”

The goal for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, for example, is to overthrow regimes in North Africa, particularly Algeria, and replace them with an Islamic government, Jones notes.

In many cases, “France, rather than the United States, is the most significant foreign enemy.”

Captured Al Qaeda documents show that both Osama bin Laden and the current Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, primarily emphasized guerrilla campaigns to overthrow “apostate” governments in the Middle East.

Indeed, approximately 98 percent of Al Qaeda attacks between 1998 and 2011 “were part of an insurgency where operatives tried to overthrow a local government or secede from it – and were not in the West.”

That said, Al Qaeda affiliates do pose some threat to US citizens overseas. The RAND analysis notes that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies were involved in the 2012 attack that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, for example.

There also have been a growing contingent of foreign fighters – perhaps several thousand, according to Jones, who has served as an adviser to the Pentagon – traveling to Syria to fight. Many of these volunteers are coming from Europe.

This is a problem because “volunteering for war is the principal stepping stone for individual involvement in more extreme forms of militancy,” Jones argues. “When Muslims in the West radicalize, they usually do not plot attacks in their home country right away, but travel to a war zone first.”

So what should US officials do about these expanding networks?

“In areas where Al Qaeda does not pose a significant threat to the homeland, the US government should support local countries and allies as they take the lead – much like the United States did in supporting France’s counterterrorism efforts in Mali in 2013,” notes the RAND analysis.

When they do pose a direct threat, the key is “implementing a light footprint strategy that focuses on covert intelligence, law enforcement, and Special Operations Forces to conduct precision targeting of Al Qaeda and its financial logistical support networks,” Jones says.

“In Afghanistan, for example, “the United States should withdraw most conventional forces, relying primarily on clandestine operatives as it has done in Colombia, the Philippines, and other counterinsurgencies.”

That’s because most of the terrorists involved in serious homeland plots after Sept. 11 – from Jose Padilla’s plot to blow up apartment buildings in the US to Najibullah Zazi and Faisal Shahzad’s plots to conduct terrorist attacks in New York City – “were motivated by large US conventional military deployments overseas.”

The US should also engage more robustly in psychological warfare, according to the report. Unlike the role of the US Information Agency, which was disbanded in 1999, there is no government department responsible for taking the lead role in countering Al Qaeda ideology.

“The CIA is involved in some clandestine activity, but most senior officials do not view undermining Al Qaeda ideology as its core mission,” Jones says. “Ultimately it is the president and the national security staff’s responsibility to appoint a lead agency and hold it responsible.”

The bottom line is that US policymakers, the analysis ominously concludes, “should view the Al Qaeda threat as a decades-long struggle like the Cold War.”

Report: Benghazi Survivors Forced to Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements

Via The Weekly Standard:

Congressman Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, said today on the House floor that survivors of the Benghazi terror attack have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements:

 

“On Tuesday I raised the question of why none of the Benghazi survivors, whether State Department, CIA, or private security contract employees have testified publicly before Congress,” said Wolf.

“According to trusted sources that have contacted my office, many if not all of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks along with others at the Department of Defense, the CIA have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks. Some of these new NDAs, as they call them, I have been told were signed as recently as this summer.”

Wolf continued: “It is worth nothing that the Marine Corps Times yesterday reported that the Marine colonel whose task force was responsible for special operations in northern and western Africa at the time of the attack is still on active duty despite claims that he retired. And therefore could not be forced to testify before Congress.

“If these reports are accurate, this would be a stunning revelation to any member of Congress, any member of Congress that finds this out and also more importantly to the American people. It also raises serious concerns about the priority of the administration’s efforts to silence those with knowledge of the Benghazi attack in response.

“So today I ask, how many federal employees, military personnel, or contractors have been asked to sign additional non-disclosure agreements by each agency? And do these non-disclosure agreements apply to those undercover or have non-covert State Department and Defense Department employees?”

Wolf added, “I do not expect the Obama administration to be forthcoming with answers, but if this Congress, if this Congress does not ask for the information and compel its delivery, the American people will never learn the truth. Any federal employer employee or contractor who has been coerced and is silenced through a non-disclosure agreement should expect that Congress [will] ask to speak out on their behalf and compel their voice to be heard. That’s why I, along with 159 of my colleagues, support a Select Committee to hold public hearings to learn the truth about what happened that night in Benghazi.”

Panama Stops North Korean-Bound Cargo Ship Carrying Missiles from Cuba

Via Fox News:

Panama’s president says the country has taken control of a North Korean ship that was trying to illegally sneak ballistic missiles and other arms materials from Cuba through the Panama Canal.

Ricardo Martinelli said on Radio Panama on Monday that the ship was stopped on the Atlantic coast of the country, according to the AFP.

“We had suspected this ship, which was coming from Cuba and headed to North Korea, might have drugs aboard so it was brought into port for search and inspection,” Martinelli said. “When we started to unload the shipment of sugar we located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment, and that is not allowed.”

Martinelli told RPC the 35 North Koreans on the boat resisted police efforts to take the ship to the Caribbean port of Manzanillo. The crew was later taken into custody, and Martinelli said the captain had a heart attack and also tried to commit suicide during the operation.

“The world needs to sit up and take note: you cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal,” Martinelli said, according to the AFP. Panama is holding the ship for further investigation.

Panamanian authorities have only searched one of the ship’s five cargo holds so far, Luis Eduardo Camacho, a spokesman for the president, said on Tuesday.

“This material not being declared and Panama being a neutral country, a country in peace, that doesn’t like war, we feel very worried about this war material and we don’t know what else will have … passed through the Panama Canal,” Martinelli said.

He added that the undeclared military cargo appeared to include missiles and non-conventional arms and the ship was violating United Nations resolutions against arms trafficking.

The governments of North Korea and Cuba had not commented on the ship seizure as of Tuesday morning.

Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the seized ship is called Chong Chon Gang and has been on the institute’s suspect list for some time.

He said the ship had been caught before for trafficking narcotics and small arms ammunition. It was stopped in 2010 in the Ukraine and was attacked by pirates 400 miles off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

Griffiths’ institute has also been interested in the ship because of a stop it made in 2009 in Tartus — a Syrian port city hosting a Russian naval base.

Griffiths also said the institute earlier this year reported to the U.N. a discovery it made of a flight from Cuba to North Korea that travelled via central Africa.

“Given the history of North Korea, Cuban military cooperation and now this latest seizure, we find this flight more interesting,” he said. “After this incident there should be renewed focus on North Korean-Cuban links.”

Taliban Setting Up Camps in Syria, Aiding Rebels

Via Ahram Online: (h/t Jawa Report)

The Pakistani Taliban have set up camps and sent hundreds of men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, militants said on Sunday, in a strategy aimed at cementing ties with al Qaeda’s central leadership.

More than two years since the start of the anti-Assad rebellion, Syria has become a magnet for foreign Sunni fighters who have flocked to the Middle Eastern nation to join what they see as a holy war against Shi’ite oppressors.

Operating alongside militant groups such as the al Nusra Front, described by the United States as a branch of al Qaeda, they mainly come from nearby countries such as Libya and Tunisia riven by similar conflict as a result of the Arab Spring.

On Sunday, Taliban commanders in Pakistan said they had also decided to join the cause, saying hundreds of fighters had gone to Syria to fight alongside their “Mujahedeen friends”.

“When our brothers needed our help, we sent hundreds of fighters along with our Arab friends,” one senior commander told Reuters, adding that the group would soon issue videos of what he described as their victories in Syria.

The announcement further complicates the picture on the ground in Syria, where rivalries have already been on the boil between the Free Syrian Army and the Islamists.

Islamists operate a smaller, more effective force which now controls most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria. Tensions erupted again on Thursday when an al-Qaeda linked militant group assassinated one of Free Syrian Army’s top commanders after a dispute in the port city of Latakia.

It also comes at a time when Assad’s forces, with backing from Shi’ite fighters from Hezbollah and Iran, have been making gains on the Syrian battlefield.

Another Taliban commander in Pakistan, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision to send fighters to Syria came at the request of “Arab friends”.

“Since our Arab brothers have come here for our support, we are bound to help them in their respective countries and that is what we did in Syria,” he told Reuters.

“We have established our own camps in Syria. Some of our people go and then return after spending some time fighting there.”

Al Qaeda Loyalties

Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban operate mainly from Pakistan’s insurgency-plagued ethnic Pashtun areas along the Afghan border – a long-standing stronghold for militants including the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.

Taliban militants in Pakistan, who are linked to their Afghan counterparts, are mainly fighting to topple Pakistan’s government and to impose their radical version of Islam, targeting the military, security forces and civilians.

But they also enjoy close ties with al Qaeda and other jihahist groups who have, in turn, deployed their own fighters to Pakistan’s volatile tribal region on the Afghan border known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA.

In the latest sign of this trend, at least two suspected foreign militants were killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan, local security officials said.

Ahmed Rashid, a prominent Pakistani author and expert on the Taliban, said sending Taliban fighters to Syria was likely to be appreciated as an act of loyalty towards their al Qaeda allies.

“The Pakistani Taliban have remained a sort surrogate of al Qaeda. We’ve got all these foreigners up there in FATA who are being looked after or trained by the Pakistani Taliban,” said Rashid, who is based in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

“They are acting like global jihadists, precisely with the agenda that al Qaeda has got. This is a way, I suppose, to cement relationships with the Syrian militant groups … and to enlarge their sphere of influence.”

Obama Administration Repeals ‘Anti-Propaganda’ Laws – Will Allow Spread of Government-Manufactured News to Americans

Via Foreign Policy:

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?

Until this month, a vast ocean of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed or listened to at broadcast quality in foreign countries. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It’s viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.

The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 70s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they “should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics.” Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky who argued that such “propaganda” should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. “from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity.”

Zorinsky and Fulbright sold their amendments on sensible rhetoric: American taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda for American audiences. So did Congress just tear down the American public’s last defense against domestic propaganda?

BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insists BBG is not a propaganda outlet, and its flagship services such as VOA “present fair and accurate news.”

“They don’t shy away from stories that don’t shed the best light on the United States,” she told The Cable. She pointed to the charters of VOA and RFE: “Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible, discussion, and open debate.”

A former U.S. government source with knowledge of the BBG says the organization is no Pravda, but it does advance U.S. interests in more subtle ways. In Somalia, for instance, VOA serves as counterprogramming to outlets peddling anti-American or jihadist sentiment. “Somalis have three options for news,” the source said, “word of mouth, Al-Shabaab or VOA Somalia.”

This partially explains the push to allow BBG broadcasts on local radio stations in the United States. The agency wants to reach diaspora communities, such as St. Paul Minnesota’s significant Somali expat community. “Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia,” the source said. “It was silly.”

Lynne added that the reform has a transparency benefit as well. “Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars – greater transparency is a win-win for all involved,” she said. And so with that we have the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, and went into effect this month.

But if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing Al-Shabaab. “Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership,” reported The Post.

But for BBG officials, the references to Pentagon propaganda efforts are nauseating, particularly because the Smith-Mundt Act never had anything to do with regulating the Pentagon, a fact that was misunderstood in media reports in the run-up to the passage of new Smith-Mundt reforms in January.

One example included a report by the late Buzzfeed reporter Michael Hastings, who suggested that the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act would open the door to Pentagon propaganda of U.S. audiences. In fact, as amended in 1987, the act only covers portions of the State Department engaged in public diplomacy abroad (i.e. the public diplomacy section of the “R” bureau, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.)

But the news circulated regardless, much to the displeasure of Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), a sponsor of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. “To me, it’s a fascinating case study in how one blogger was pretty sloppy, not understanding the issue and then it got picked up by Politico‘s Playbook, and you had one level of sloppiness on top of another,” Thornberry told The Cable last May. “And once something sensational gets out there, it just spreads like wildfire.”

That of course doesn’t leave the BBG off the hook if its content smacks of agitprop. But now that its materials are allowed to be broadcast by local radio stations and TV networks, they won’t be a complete mystery to Americans. “Previously, the legislation had the effect of clouding and hiding this stuff,” the former U.S. official told The Cable. “Now we’ll have a better sense: Gee some of this stuff is really good. Or gee some of this stuff is really bad. At least we’ll know now.”

Report: IRS has been Protecting Illegal Aliens for Years

Via CNS News:

(CNSNews.com) – The question of whether to legalize illegal aliens and put them on a pathway to citizenship may be the most controversial legislative issue facing the U.S. Congress this year.

But, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), seventeen years have already passed since the Internal Revenue Service made its own “policy decision” to “’legalize’ illegal aliens.”

That policy, made those many years ago, not only determined that the IRS would treat illegal aliens the same as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, but also that the IRS would not hand over to federal immigration authorities information about employers who appeared to be hiring large numbers of illegal aliens and about illegal aliens who filed false documents with the IRS.

The story starts in 1996, when Democrat Bill Clinton was president, and the Republicans controlled Congress.

On May 2, 1996, the Senate voted 97 to 3 to approve the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. This vote inspired Sen. Ted Kennedy to go down to the Senate floor and proudly proclaim that the Senate had taken bipartisan action to stop illegal immigration and protect American workers.

“This legislation, I think,” said Kennedy, “will be extremely important and, I believe, effective in stemming the tide of illegals, not just because of the expansion of the border patrols, although that will have some effect, and not just because of the increased penalties in smuggling, as all that will have an effect; it will have an important impact in helping American workers get jobs and be able to hold them and have the enhanced opportunity for employment.”

Four months later, on Sept. 25, 1996, a House led by Speaker Newt Gingrich approved the bill 305 to 123. President Clinton signed it on Sept. 30, 1996.

Section 642 of this law said that no other law or official could bar any agency or official from providing information about illegal aliens to the Immigration and Naturalization Service–the agency then responsible for enforcing immigration law.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law, a federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual,” said the law.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law,” it said, “no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a federal, state, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual: (1) Sending such information to, or requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2) Maintaining such information. (3) Exchanging such information with any other federal, state, or local government entity.”

On May 29, 1996—after this bill passed the Senate but before it passed the House—the IRS issued a regulation that contradicted it.

This regulation said the IRS would grant what it called Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to aliens who did not qualify to work in the United States and did not qualify for Social Security Numbers. The IRS had three basic requirements for people receiving these numbers: 1) they had to be an alien, 2) they could not be qualified to work in the United States or have a Social Security Number, and 3) they owed taxes in the United States.

In issuing this regulation, the IRS said Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code would apply to the aliens it granted these ITINs. Section 6103 says the IRS must keep tax information confidential and, with a few exceptions, may not share that information with other government agencies.

In September 1999, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which has oversight over the IRS, published an audit report on the ITIN regulation. It was titled, “The Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Program Was Not Implemented in Accordance with Internal Revenue Code Regulations.”

The IG pointed out that the IRS’s claim that it could issue ITINs to illegal aliens and then decline to provide information about those illegal aliens to the federal immigration enforcement agency—then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)–contradicted the terms of the 1996 immigration reform law.

[…]

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Audio Proves DOJ Bias – Verifies Working with Trayvon Martin Protesters

Via Judicial Watch:

LISTEN TO AUDIO HERE

Judicial Watch, Inc.  on April 24, 2012 launched an investigation into the Trayvon Martin case based on reports that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had sent a secret team of “peacekeepers” to Sanflord, Florida, where Martin was shot on February 26, 2012 after wandering in a gated community after dark.  George Zimmerman, a resident of the community and its neighborhood watch captain, is currently on trial for Martin’s death though he maintains he acted in self-defense.

To view the Judicial Watch press release click here

Records obtained by Judicial Watch in response to local, state and federal public records requests show that the so-called peacekeepers are part of a large and growing division within DOJ called the Community Relations Service (CRS).  Though CRS purports to spot and quell racial tensions nationwide before they arise, the documents obtained by Judicial Watch show the group actively worked to foment unrest, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel and hotel rooms to train protestors throughout Florida.  The peacekeepers also met with officials of the Republican National Convention, scheduled for several months later in Tampa, to warn them to expect protests in connection with Martin’s death.

  • CRS employee spent $1,142.84 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 25-28, 2012 “to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies”;
  • CRS employee spent $751.60 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 30-April 1, 2012 “to provide technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31”;
  • CRS employee spent $1,307.40 to travel to Sanford, Florida from April 3-12, 2012 “to provide technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford”;
  • CRS employee spent $672.24 to travel to Tampa, Florida from April 18-20, 2012 “to meet with RNC official related to possible protests and demonstrations during the RNC”

From a Florida Sunshine Law request filed on April 23, 2012, JW received thousands of pages of emails on April 27, 2012, in which was found an email by Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board Program Officer Amy Carswell from April 16, 2012: “Congratulations to our partners, Thomas Battles, Regional Director, and Mildred De Robles, Miami-Dade Coordinator and their co-workers at the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service for their outstanding and ongoing efforts to reduce tensions and build bridges of understanding and respect in Sanford, Florida.”