WikiLeaks has dropped its bombshell cache of U.S. diplomatic cables, ripping the cloak off scores of secret deals and duds, including clandestine North Korean support for Iran and the Bush administration’s failed attempt to remove nuclear material from Pakistan.
The release — more than a quarter-million back-channel cables that include brutally candid assessments of world leaders and previously undisclosed details of nuclear and antiterrorism activity — represents the most embarrassing and potentially damaging disclosure of American diplomatic material in decades.
“I don’t see the world ending … but lots of red, sputtering faces in D.C., embassies and capitals,” a senior American diplomat told POLITICO early Sunday, just before the release of the documents, which chronicle the sprawling growth of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence corps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The diplomat also predicted that governments and individuals overseas are likely to clam up as a result of the disclosures, “since no one will trust us to keep a secret for a while,” while “various and sundry interest groups will cherry-pick whatever can be found in the documents to support whatever version of reality they are peddling.”
Are you frustrated with how the Transportation Security Administration is treating passengers? Did you encourage travelers to participate on National Opt Out Day? If so, you are a “domestic extremist,” according to the Department of Homeland Security:
Following the publication of my article titled “Gate Rape of America,” I was contacted by a source within the DHS who is troubled by the terminology and content of an internal memo reportedly issued yesterday at the hand of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Indeed, both the terminology and content contained in the document are troubling. The dissemination of the document itself is restricted by virtue of its classification, which prohibits any manner of public release. While the document cannot be posted or published, the more salient points are revealed here. emists.”
The memo, which actually takes the form of an administrative directive, appears to be the product of undated but recent high level meetings between Napolitano, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),and one or more of Obama’s national security advisors. This document officially addresses those who are opposed to, or engaged in the disruption of the implementation of the enhanced airport screening procedures as “domestic extremists.”
No doubt the invasive tactics being used by the Transportation Security Administration have people angry. They feel like they are being abused and treated like criminals by a government that’s supposed to protect them.
In a way that only he can put it, George Will discusses the underlying philosphical problem with what the TSA is doing to Americans:
When TSA personnel began looking for weapons of mass destruction in [John] Tyner’s underpants, he objected to having his groin patted. A TSA functionary, determined to do his duty pitilessly — his duty is to administer the latest (but surely not the last) wrinkle in the government’s ever-intensifying protection of us — said: “If you’re not comfortable with that, we can escort you back out and you don’t have to fly today.”
Tyner: “I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying.”
TSA: “This is not considered a sexual assault.”
Tyner: “It would be if you weren’t the government … “
TSA: “Upon buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.”
Oh? John Locke, call your office.
The theory — perhaps by now it seems like a quaint anachronism — on which the nation was founded is, or was: Government is instituted to protect pre-existing natural rights essential to the pursuit of happiness. Today, that pursuit often requires flying, which sometimes involves the wanding of 3-year-olds and their equally suspicious Teddy bears.
It’s Carlin so it’s a little NSFW, but funny and spot-on:
You want to know why so many people are bothered by these invasive “pat downs” being conducted by the Transportation Security Administration. It’s because they are treating us, including children, like criminals. Check out this video from November 19th at Salt Lake City International Airport:
Just this past week a couple of cancer survivors were forced to go through humiliating security process. A North Carolina woman was forced to remove her prosthetic breast and show it to a TSA officer in order to pass through the security check point:
The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ ” Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’ “
Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”
The outrage directed that the Transportation Security Administration over its use of full-body scanners and “pat downs,” which can be more accurately described as sexual harassment, has been palpable. People are angry, they feel like they are being assaulted and harassed. It doesn’t stop at passengers. And at this point, you have to ask if the actions taken by the TSA, which amounts to invasive security theater, is terrorism itself.
Over at Forbes, Art Carden explains that it’s time for the Transportation Security Administration to be abolished:
For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA. For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.
But won’t that compromise safety? I doubt it. The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility. This might be beside the point: in 2003, William Anderson incisively argued that some of the steps that airlines (and passengers) would have needed to take to prevent the 9/11 disaster probably would have been illegal.
Rasmussen released a poll at the end of last week showing where both political parties stand with voters on 10 issues. The survey shows Republicans leading with voters on all 10, including issues that have been traditionally owned by Democrats such as Education, Healthcare and Social Security.
Not only do voters trust the GOP on each of the 10 issues below, the crosstabs show that independent voters, which are the key to the mid-term election, swing overwhelmingly to the GOP on each issue as well.
None of this is good news if you’re a Democrat in a swing district.
It’s been a long time since I last interviewed Dan Carlin, host of the Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts. That doesn’t mean that he’s stopped being interesting, however. In this installment, I asked his unique, historically based perspective on China, Iraq, the United States military and marijuana.
In your Hardcore History podcast Death Throes of the Republic, you say that there were “perverse incentives” in place that kept Rome in a state of warfare. Having worked in Washington D.C., I have to wonder if the same is true of here. What do you say?
I think that’s going to be a pretty accurate statement in any society where warmaking becomes a regular feature of the system. Once you develop a major societal infrastructure to support such a military establishment, you begin to build up a vast array of interests (both in supplying and providing for such an entity, but also for ways to employ it that would benefit someone). These interests have a way of bending and warping the nation-state’s priorities and interests. I think that is something that is one of the lessons the writers of Classical Antiquity try to pass on to us. The people who founded the United States read those authors and understood those lessons, and tried to heed the warnings of the Greek and Roman writers and keep those “perverse incentives” under control by limiting the growth of a large standing army and by counseling an avoidance of things like “ entangling alliances” that could drag you into someone else’s wars.
A very disturbing trend is occurring in the prosecution of the federal’s government’s “War on Drugs:” an additional war on the country’s canine companions. It started in Maryland in 2008 with the case of a small town mayor:
BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. (AP) - Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table.
Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple’s two dogs and seizing the unopened package.
The package had 32 pounds of marijuana, quite a bit of the illegal substance, but certainly not of more worth than the life of a pet.
The trend continued recently with the released video of a raid in Missouri in May, in which dogs can be heard howling as they are shot by a SWAT team:
(Click on the video to watch)
The next story comes with a raid on an elderly woman in D.C., resulting in the killing of her dog: