National Security

#IAmUnitedLiberty: How Reality TV Influenced Stephen Littau’s Libertarian Views

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Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

In 1999, I was living in a small studio apartment in Phoenix by myself and three years into my career. As the 2000 campaign was underway, I wanted to learn about the candidates. The news wasn’t terribly informative as it mostly covered how well the candidates were polling rather than where they stood on the issues.

Due to this frustration, I did the one thing I had often made fun of my dad for doing: I started listening to talk radio. One day there was a substitute host on The Rush Limbaugh Show. The host’s name was none other than Walter E. Williams.

As I listened to him, I realized he made so much more sense than anyone else on the radio. It was a shame that he didn’t have a show of his own, I thought. And though I had heard the term “libertarian” before, I didn’t have much of an idea about what they really stood for. Walter Williams was my first introduction to libertarianism and I was always thrilled when he filled in for Rush.

Still, Walter Williams ideas, as good as they were seemed a little abstract. The abstract, however; became more concrete as I started watching the reality show COPS (though, I don’t think they called it “reality” TV back then).

Barack Obama’s new strategy in Iraq makes no sense

U.S. Embassy in Iraq

Just what is the strategy in Iraq?

The country is going to hell in a hand basket, and America’s strategy is to send 300 “advisers” to help the Iraqi government. The “advisers” are special forces soldiers, and, despite what President Barack Obama claims, it means troops are back on the ground in the country. This shatters Obama’s statements from 2011 and 2012 that the war in Iraq was over and troops were coming home. It isn’t a bad thing the troops were taken out of Iraq, but why are they going back?

The mission is rather nebulous as well. If anyone thinks the “advisers” are just going to sit back and relax while telling Iraqis what to do, then there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. The U.S. doesn’t just send 300 special forces soldiers to do nothing. Best guess is they’ll be involved in intelligence to help the Iraqis fight the Islamic State In Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And that means they’ll probably end up in harm’s way.

NSA: Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, and Deceive

This past Monday Alice Salles posted a very disturbing article about the NSA and GCHQ intercepting and storing webcam images from supposedly private web chats. Between 3 to 11 percent of these images contain sexually explicit content. What would the NSA and GCHQ possibly want with these images apart from a few individual agents getting their jollies?

According to secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden, it seems that these images are to be used to embarrass any would-be critics of the NSA, GCHQ, or anything else the federal government doesn’t want the citizens to get too uppity about. Glenn Greenwald explains:

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Korn Takes on Obama, the NSA, and the MSM in New Music Video

Jonathan Davis

Full disclosure: This author is a fan of the metal genre in general and has been a Korn fan since their first self-titled album released in 1994 featuring their hit songs “Blind” and “Shoots and Ladders.”

Its nothing new or surprising that most entertainers, to the extent they weigh in on political issues at all, usually come down in favor of the Left. In the world of rock music (of all varieties including metal, punk, classical, 80’s hair bands, etc.), most acts promote anti-establishment or anarchistic themes.

But even these rebels, with or without a cause, all too often favor the Left or at the very least, save their harshest criticisms for the Right. Its easy to be critical of a politician and political party the MSM already hates (often assuming the public and the MSM have the same values). Being critical of President George W. Bush at the height of the unpopularity of the undeclared wars in  Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA PATRIOT Act, the signing statements, torture, Gitmo, takes very little courage. But being critical of a President Barack Obama, who the MSM loves, even as he continues and expands upon many of the same policies of Bush? To me that takes more courage*.

While these concerns may still be present among these artists, it seems that their criticism of these policies is much more muted since Obama became president. With the raising concerns about how President Obama has abused power, it seems that at least a few bands like Megadeth** and now Korn are telling the music world that it’s okay to attack Obama through their art.

“Meet the Press” recruits NSA apologists to analyze NSA reforms

Meet the Press

When the Sunday shows or any cable news program (that at least feigns objectivity) books guests to discuss a certain topic, those guests are usually experts on that topic, and they usually get one of each on different sides of the topic. With its just-announced guests to discuss the Obama administration’s new NSA “reforms,” Meet the Press has succeeded, albeit ironically, on the former, and failed hysterically on the latter.

MTP

On first glance, they’ve wisely booked the chairs of both congressional intelligence committees. Perfectly qualified to analyze new intelligence gathering reforms! Feinstein and Rogers are truly experts in what the NSA does, since their committees are charged with overseeing the agency and its programs. Also, one of them is a Democrat and the other is a Republican. Balance! Surely they will have a lively but respectful debate on the topic!

That might be your reaction if know nothing past what Meet the Press lists in their announcement. Unfortunately, the rest of us know better. Feinstein and Rogers know so much about what the NSA does because they have been the primary enablers of the agency and its unconstitutional programs for years.

Declassified: CIA Aided Iraq’s Chemical Weapon Attacks on Iran

Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

Bashar al-Assad has allegedly crossed what President Obama called a “red line” using chemical weapons against up to 1,000 people. The threat of chemical weapons and other WMD by such unsavory characters as Saddam Hussein was the major pretext for “preemptive” war with Iraq.

President George W. Bush argued that regime change was necessary due to the fact that Hussein used these awful weapons in the Iraq-Iran war and against the Kurds. In this post 9/11 world, “outlaw regimes,” particularly those he dubbed the “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) were a threat to the civilized world which could no longer be tolerated. Chemical weapons are so taboo, after all, even the Nazis opted not to use chemical weapons on the battlefield!*

But as this article in Foreign Policy points out in analyzing declassified CIA documents, the use of these weapons was not so taboo inside the CIA at the time when Saddam Hussein used them against Iran (yes, the very same event which would later be cited as a reason to attack Iraq about a decade and a half later):

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

No, the War Powers Act does not authorize unilateral executive preemptive military action

After the recent chemical attack by the Syrian government on its rebelling citizens, the war drums in Washington DC are rumbling. Ships are positioned, missiles are pointed, sabres are rattled, allies are consulted, the UN is in motion (sluggish, corrupt, meaningless motion). But can the President alone make the decision to attack another nation’s government or military forces? According to the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973, the answer is absolutely NO.

After decades of war in Korea and Vietnam without congressional authorization, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (commonly known now as the War Powers Act) specifically to make explicit limits on the President’s authority to engage in military action. It states that the President can engage in hostilities under only three conditions: a Congressional declaration, other Congressional authorization, or in retaliation for an attack on America.

Section 1541(c)

Obama lied, your privacy died

In his post-NSA revelations press conference recently, President Obama spoke often of “abuse.” Unfortunately,it was always a hypothetical (emphasis added):

“make sure they have strong oversight by all three branches of government and clear safeguards to prevent abuse and protect the rights of the American people”

“I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse.”

“how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used”

“And we’ve tried to set up a system that is as failsafe as so far at least we’ve been able to think of to make sure that these programs are not abused.”

And even one time he was explicit that there wasn’t abuse.

“What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.”

Actor John Cusack not happy with media’s NSA coverage

John Cusack

Yes. We’re still talking about the NSA, the wide range of spying programs the agency continues to run and how Americans are handling the apparent incessant flow of leaks.

Just before enthusiastic reports concerning the NSA whistleblower’s whereabouts, the drama involving the plane carrying Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, and how France and Portugal refused to allow the plane to travel in their airspace came about, actor and producer John Cusack expressed heartfelt umbrage when asked how he felt about the media and its handling of the issues.

“Why are the red and blue elites in the establishment press so afraid of an informed public”? As a Freedom of the Press Foundation’s active board member, John Cusack expressed frustration with the media’s seemingly neglectful coverage of the NSA’s spying programs and distasteful approach to the whistleblower’s character during a recent phone interview.

According to Cusack, the media is doing a great job, if the its sole purpose is to assassinate the whistleblower’s character and avoid tackling the real issues.

Your Ox Will Eventually Be Gored

It seems logical that every American, regardless of political affiliation/philosophy, race, religion or creed, would be concerned about the revelations concerning domestic spying on the part of the NSA. If the Obama administration can spy on and mistreat the Tea Party and other right wing causes, the next Republican administration could spy on and mistreat Occupy Wall Street and other left wing causes.

As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. According to an article by David A. Love, the black community has largely greeted this news with a shrug and a yawn.

Is this lack of concern because many blacks do not want to be critical of the first black* president? This might account for some of this shrugging but Love suspects that there is something much deeper at work here:

The black community has decades of experience being monitored, so this type of surveillance is nothing new. Given the long history of being spied upon, many blacks already assume they are being monitored by the government […]
[…]
African-Americans are no strangers to surveillance, as their activities were highly regulated through the slave codes, laws which controlled both slaves and free blacks.

The mistreatment of blacks did not end when slavery was abolished, of course. Love goes on to describe several other atrocities such as the Tuskegee experiment, J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal spying on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and others.


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