The United States military has dropped almost 50,000 bombs on Syria and Iraq over the last two years. Most of that has been against ISIS targets in the desert regions between the two countries, but some, including President Trump’s airport bombings last week, were against the Assad regime itself.
The news out of the Perpetual War on Terror is pretty grim these days. The US military knowingly but “accidentally” bombed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 doctors and patients. Just days later, the president decided not to draw down troops in the country as previously planned, but will instead keep nearly 6,000 of our sons and daughters in the country until at least 2017 when his term ends. At the same time, the inner workings of the president’s drone war, including questionable intel, lax target timeframes, and horrifying collateral damage ratios, have been brought to light by a whistleblower.
But you’d be forgiven for not noticing any of this. While it has been reported in the news media, there has been almost no secondary public reaction. I think that’s entirely because of one factor: Barack Obama won the last election, not Mitt Romney. If Romney had been elected in 2012 and in the year before his reelection campaign had bombed a hospital, decided to keep troops in Afghanistan, and had details of his robot assassin program leaked, things would probably look a little different today.
Not content to let Rand Paul have his minor, temporary Patriot Act sunset victory, conservative blogger and video auteur Ben Howe took to Red State just minutes before the expiration of the act’s surveillance powers to proclaim the Kentucky senator and presidential candidate worse than Obama on national security.
As far as I’m concerned, Rand Paul’s view of ISIS and our role in “creating” them is pretty much a deal breaker. It shows such an uninformed and naive view of radical Islam that it makes me expect President Paul to be as dangerous as a President Obama in this regard. In fact I’ve reached the point where I question whether Obama might actually keep us safer than Rand Paul would.
Howe joins a crescendoing chorus of Republicans who might have a hard decision to make come November 2016 if Rand Paul is indeed the party’s nominee. I predicted this intra-party schism almost two years ago, but I’m stunned by the accelerated timeline. I expected Republicans hawks to flip to Hillary if Rand was the nominee. I didn’t expect them to all but do so 8 months before any primary votes are cast.
Whether or not you think it’s outrageous for Rand to have said “hawks in our party” “created” ISIS, let’s review the evidence. (Because that’s what thinking people do. We don’t just hear something that sounds outrageous, gasp, and shun the speaker.)
The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”
This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.
After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.
According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.
The decision was announced Monday.
Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.
The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was the target of much praise and criticism when his amendment to strip funding for the NSA program responsible for the collection of phone records of Americans was narrowly defeated in the House.
While some big government conservatives did not find Amash’s leadership and dedication to disassemble the surveillance programs anything close to productive, Americans of all walks of life cheered his outspoken attitude and his battle to restore 4th amendment rights. Now, a Republican businessman named Brian Ellis has decided to challenge Amash’s Michigan House seat.
According to Politico, Ellis says he will “advance conservative solutions by voting to balance the budget, reduce the tax burden, expand American energy sources, and defend the right to life and our Constitution.” During his announcement, Ellis criticized Amash for voting “present” instead of voting in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, probably unaware of the reasons why Amash chose to do so. According to news sources covering the story at the time, Rep. Amash voted “present” on the Keystone XL pipeline because he did not believe that a bill should single out just one company or one individual. While Amash was in favor of having the pipeline built, he believed singling out a company was simply unconstitutional.
According to new survey data from Pew, a plurality of self-identified Republicans oppose bombing Syria to help we-don’t-really-know-who. Across partisan divides, respondents overwhelmingly believe that a U.S. military intervention would elicit significant blowback, and would likely lead to an actual war (as opposed to a strategic, surgical bombing campaign to even the score for the rebels fighting Assad’s regime):
Three-quarters (74%) believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there. Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons; roughly half (51%) think they are not likely to achieve this goal.
Read the full report here (PDF).
Last week, in his historic filibuster, Senator Rand Paul provoked Attorney General Eric Holder to relinquish the right to assassinate American citizens on American soil - a claim previously made in a Department of Justice White Paper. In so doing, we have established the first real boundary for the use of drones in American foreign policy. Senator Paul has since stated the drone debate “isn’t over” and that this victory is “just the beginning.” Senator Paul is pioneering a winning strategy to incrementally advance freedom within a broader liberty movement.
Since the first armed drone strike in Yemen 2002, the United States has been leveraging the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, signed on September 18, 2001, presumably for use in Afghanistan, to justify the use of drone warfare in numerous countries. Drones have since been used in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Mali, but mostly in Pakistan, where strikes began in 2004, and accelerated in 2009; with more than 300 strikes, there have been six times more drone strikes in Pakistan under Obama than under Bush.
After hours of debate yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, along strict party lines, with a 14-11 vote. Hagel is expected to narrowly be confirmed by a full vote in the Senate as soon as Minority Ranking Member Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) says all holds placed on the nomination are cleared. While reasons such as financial disclosure and – in the case of Senator Graham - information on Benghazi have been given for holding Hagel’s nomination, such holds are essentially due to Hagel’s heterodoxy on foreign policy.