Terrorism

Your Secrets Are Not Safe with the Government

government secrets

During a recent show, Chris Hayes, host of All In with Chris Hayes, made some very important points worthy of sharing here about government secrecy and the government’s inability to keep secrets:

As of the end of 2011, there were 1.4 million people with top secret security clearance […] just one of the 1.4 million people is on trial for leaking a heck of a lot of secrets. Bradley Manning is the 25-year-old soldier accused of turning over files to Wikileaks including reports from Afghanistan and air strikes to killed civilians. His trial got under way and he faces prison. He is viewed as a hero and others see him as a villain and a traitor. What he is is proof that the government cannot keep secrets. If 1.4 million people had access, that access is not a secret in any real way.

Drone Strikes: Questionably Legal, Certainly Not Ethical, and Most Unwise

Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.

The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.

They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?

They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.

Obama’s Secret Power To Kill Anyone, Anywhere, at Any Time

drones

Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.

Wolf writes:

The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.

Brandon Raub: Not A Martyr, But Still A Victim

I’m going to have to disagree with my colleague Kevin on the Brandon Raub case. Sure, I get that he is no martyr. (First of all, he isn’t dead. Yet.) But neither is there any cause for the man to picked up by the FBI and involuntarily put in custody for “psychiatric evaluation.”

We all know the comments on his Facebook wall. Kevin listed some of them. Yes, they looked like Mr. Raub was deeply frustrated with this country, and they were, I admit, a bit threatening. (“I’m coming for some heads,” “There will be justice,” etc.). But is that grounds for arresting him? I find that very doubtful.

If my mother had posted what she had said to me on a daily basis as a kid to a Facebook wall, she would no doubt be arrested. That’s because, half the time I did something very stupid and aggravating, she would shout “I’m going to kill you!” Now that’s a statement many would take as one of intent to kill. But did my mother ever intend to murder me? Of course not. (She might say otherwise, but really, she never wanted to hurt me.) Yet some overzealous law enforcement officer or child protective services agent might have seen that and had my mother locked up, for really no good reason.

Judge Rules NDAA Unconstitutional

Well, at least a part of it. From the Associated Press (via Newsday):

A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.

“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” the judge said.

She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.

“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.

In the words of our forefathers, Hallelujah.

Iran and America’s Nuclear Hypocrisy

Despite the heavy news coverage of the Republican primary race—known in these circles as “The Farce Seen ‘Round The World”—came news of Obama’s stance on Iran, and his statements to Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu of Israel in a meeting over the past week. From ABC News:

Amid rising concerns about the prospect of the Iranian government making a nuclear weapon, President Obama today assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.”

In contrast to the tense Oval Office meeting of last May, when the president and prime minister were more focused on the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process Obama and Netanyahu today sounded united, though behind the scenes they are working through some contentious issues on how to best discourage Iran from continuing with any plans to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Echoing remarks he delivered Sunday to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama argued that diplomacy is the best way to resolve the issue but that all options, including military action, are on the table.

“We will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options. And my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons,” Obama said. “When I say all options are at the table, I mean it.”

Swear on the Constitution

Our U.S. Constitution is a remarkably efficient document. It is our only founding charter. Many times changed, rendered, adumbrated. But it’s essence is unshakable. Written in Thomas Jefferson’s handwriting, edited against his will, pored over, discussed, hushed about, while it lay about some small wooden tables in independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Americans believe, that the Constitution is the link between our government and our lives. Congress and the Executive, can not overstep the harmony that exists, by each American following his path of liberty. Unfortunately, too many harmful minds, want too much power in this country. Power never vested in the Constitution. Power never meant to be handled by bureaucrats or officials or committees. We need to change all this. The oath of office should be sworn on the Constitution. In the Capital Rotunda. Among the historicity of remains from past great ages of the United States.

Drones in our night skies. Unelected lawyers interpreting the U.S. Constition. Surveillance. Internet spying. Blackouts and Stasi-like encroachements. Torturing. Deaths and internment of American citizens. Socialization of medicare for the elderly, and healthcare for those in mid-age. Food stamps and deductibles for people who do not work. Taxation over representation. Data-accumulation. Groping at airports. Fumbling and nefarious Justice Department officials. Cronies. Welfare abuses. War and destruction as an industry, like Hollywood and Corporate America! Blame-games. Undermining of basic civil rights. Monetarism-mongering! Unaccountability and state-sponsored fear. Campaigns of division. Solutions disguised for self-created problems.

Mitt Romney’s American Delusion

Republican voters are being put through the pincers. We are back to 2008. Heaps of strong candidates, but no consensus. Great speeches, but no substance. PAC money spent by the millions, but no conclusive results. GOP candidates are even welcoming Democratic voters, to smear each other, to add to their victories, or to just plainly embitter each other. The Republican race is not going to get any more civil. Once, we see these subterfuges, we can ask the real questions: what will it take to unseat Obama in November, and who can best do this?

In America the conservative movement has been changing. Neo-conservatives, who had for roughly two decades (1980-2000) held the strongarm of the party, are gone with the Bush Administration’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” and the PATRIOT ACT. We are in the midst of the dregs. Still trying to find out which direction this country will spill it’s spirit of changelessness.

For all his grandeur, Mitt Romney just has not taken his campaign to the next level. Rick Santorum has peaked, but more likely will not hold his miniscule leads. Newt Gingrinch’s populism and Ron Paul’s constitutionalism, so similar to each other, are self-negating. None is in charge. Marginal candidates can’t win delegates, nor the RNC party’s nomination. Mitt Romney, the ever-chameleon like business mogul, can’t strike a human touch to save his life and political prospects.

If Mitt Romney is the front runner of the wolves, ready to flay Obama; what is his version of the American Dream? How does he see this country, through which prism? Is it a legalistic, rigidly technocratic, institutional approach? It seems, his advantage is not his base, his character, anything as much as his warchest. He won’t run out of steam. Even if the delegate count gets close in Tampa, FL this spring; he’ll be able to resurrect himself, make the necessary promises and sail away with the nomination.

Santorum’s Statism Problem

Let us make fresh.

The reason why Rick Santorum would not oust Barack Obama in November, is not his faith. It is simply that he is running a ‘social message’ of uniform decency against a ‘social message’ of uniform healthcare. Plainly, Obama’s health plan, is vital: but not more pressing than the economic calamity of bailouts, frauds, money-laundering, spending and public debt. These are focal issues of the 2012 election.

Santorum is the politician everyone can super-impose themselves on. He’s no CEO like Mitt Romney, no renowned speaker like Newt Gingrich, not intellectual like Ron Paul. No, he is a regular Pennsylvania lawyer, who argued some weird World Wrestling Federation cases. Somehow he is unspectacular enough, that he could almost be your town butcher, postal deliverer or stockyard piler. You would think this is a strength. But it is not.

Eventually, while trying to keep your political pronunciations to a minimum, to correspond to the widest social base possible, you hit a tollboth going 160 mph. Santorum is earnest, he surely is: means well to families and the elderly, but he has yet to prove his salt. His record is plain: he has taken massive amounts of Washington D.C. beltway funding, voted to raise the debt ceiling, is in cahoots with the (so-called) ‘military industrial complex’  and dislikes many anomalies of our population: young pregnants, migrant-labor, jobless, gays, blacks. He has been able to entrench his campaign in an atmosphere of rustic humbleness and simpletonness.

Reporters Silent on Ron Paul

The more connected you are, within the Washington D.C. circuit; and on the long-stretch between Los Angeles and New York, the more clout you have as a politician. Especially, if you’ve squandered taxpayer money on “bridges to nowhere” (Rick Santorum), Olympic “Games” (Mitt Romney) or have been kick-backed by Fannie & Freddie (Newt Gingrich).

All these, of course, are fine examples of Capitalist enterprise, of leadership and smart capital-management. But what do all these undertakings reveal, about abilities in leadership, necessary to plug the dam of the 2008-unward recession? Not, much.

Ron Paul is the antithesis. He negates almost in it’s entirety, every other issues brought by his opponents in the GOP presidential race. He is not reported on, because those who indeed try to, fail miserably: the way Gerald Seib did, moderating the Republican Debate in South Carolina. Ron Paul is too honest: clear, succinct, philosophically astute. This makes him a slippery fish, to place in the Republican Party, although he is by far the most consequently, stalwartly arch-conservative since that other Gipper, that slipped his way into the White House: Ronald Reagan!

Being less ‘politicized’, in other words by having put his neck out on an execution-block, or guillotine, to amass money, has meant he has to do with less campaign finance. But what Paul has lacked in initial spending, his patriots have donated in turn. No other US politician has ever raised a sum, close to over 1 million, which Paul’s campaign has been able to do in 2011. What this means, is; people base decision on mass-media, pandered bits-and-pieces of evening chatter, boxed soundbites (often misinterpreted) while heading out the door in the morning. Ron Paul is lucky to get 3 minutes airtime, after a debate platform.

 


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