Terrorism

NDAA: How bad can it be?

With Congress passing the NDAA, the question many ask is simple: How bad will/can it get?  It’s a fair question.  While the constitutional questions this bill raises are a topic of debate amongst the talking heads and various other politicos, the average person must ask that simple question.

The NDAA essentially turns the entire United States into a warzone for the purposes of combating terrorism.  It also gives the government extra-constitutional powers for this very same purpose. Officially, this is about Al Qaeda and “associated forces”, whatever that means.

The thing is, when you look at how Obama’s White House has defined “domestic terrorists”, one is left to wonder when will they decide to define “associated forces” to include domestic terrorists.  Honestly, I don’t think it would take very long, and as there is no due process, it’s unlikely that the courts will get a say on this for a very long time.

So the first thing we have to understand is, “what is a domestic terrorist”?

((5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that—

Look, Guys, It’s 2011, Not 1775

I think someone needs to explain that to this bunch of alleged geriatric “terrorists”:

Four Georgia men who were part of a fringe militia group were arrested on Tuesday in what the Justice Department described as a plot to use guns, bombs and the toxin ricin to kill federal and state officials and spread terror.

The men, all aged 65 and over, were recorded telling an F.B.I. informant that they wanted to kill federal judges,Internal Revenue Service employees and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to court documents.

“There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly, highly illegal: murder,” one of those charged, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., was recorded telling the informant.

“When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people have got to die,” he said.

Actually, no, Fred, it doesn’t. In fact, you go on a terror spree in order to “save” the Constitution, I guarantee you will bury it under a block of lead.

Can we just call them the Gendarmerie already?

I’m certainly not the first to notice this, but can we just give up on the fiction that our police officers are actually civilians? If you needed further evidence to see that they are becoming another wing of the armed forces, take a look at this monster:

Big SWAT Tank

What you are looking at is the new “PitBull VX” from Alpine Armoring, a vehicle specially designed for SWAT teams.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Cool!” Or maybe, “Actually, they could probably use one of those.” And, true, Detroit and Philly might need one of these. But anywhere else?

I thought one of the commenters thoughts best expressed my own:

Also, the whole argument, “We should do so-and-so to save lives” is the most ridiculous government argument I’ve ever heard.

The purpose of (local, state, federal) government’s is to serve their populace. “Saving lives” is surely a good application of serving your populace. No one seems to understand that money and budgetary constraints exist even when it comes to “saving lives.”

You simply cannot get 100% coverage in anything like this. First, it is probably impossible to and secondly, it would be far too expensive even if you could. It is all boils down to math and statistics. You do certain things/make certain purchases in the hope that it will “save more lives.” If this 200k purchase of a police vehicle or 750k purchase of another ladder truck will save more lives, that’s great - it’s all touchy feely.

Repeal of DADT to save taxpayers money

According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the ban on gays in the military, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” cost taxpayers close to $400 million, around $53,000 per solider discharged:

One month after President Obama signed a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” government accountants have finished tallying up how much the policy cost taxpayers during the 16 years it was in effect.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday that each discharge of a gay or lesbian service member over the past six years alone cost $52,800, including administrative costs and costs to recruit and train a replacement.

The removal of 3,664 service members total between 2004 and 2009 cost taxpayers an estimated $193.3 million.

The latest figures follow a 2005 GAO study that put the cost of the first decade of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at $190.1 million.

More than 13,000 service members have been discharged for violating the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian troops since 1993, according to GAO.

Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” was the right thing to as a matter of personal liberty and fiscal responsibility.

Photo of the Day: It’s for your own protection

Via David Rittgers at Cato @ Liberty comes this photo of a TSA agent “inspecting” a passenger with his pants pulled down to proved he isn’t a terrorist:

TSA

Quote of the Day: Last words of Richard Holbrooke

“You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” - Richard Holbrooke

Holbrooke, a United States’ diplomat that passed away on Monday due to complications from surgery to repair an aortic tear.

United States v. WikiLeaks (and the First Amendment)

Over at the Washington Examiner, Gene Healy, author of Cult of the Presidency, unloads on the campaign by Washington to punish Julian Assange and WikiLeaks by undermining the First Amendment:

Anyone who values the First Amendment ought to oppose the campaign to “get” Assange by any means necessary. In a free society, you can’t just “change the law” to persecute someone you don’t like, and you can’t abuse your position to silence speech you oppose.

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., demanded that Assange be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act. After all, she wrote, the First Amendment isn’t “a license to jeopardize national security,” any more than it’s a license to “yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.” A poor choice of metaphor: It comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1919 opinion in Schenck v. United States, when the Supreme Court allowed the Wilson administration to imprison a man for the crime of publicly arguing that the draft was unconstitutional.

We’ve since done a much better job protecting the First Amendment. In 1971’s New York Times v. United States, the Supreme Court rebuffed the Nixon administration’s attempt to stop the paper from publishing classified documents showing that the government had lied America into the Vietnam War.

TSA invades house party

Here is a funny, but NSFW, take on the invasive and unconstitutional security procedures, which have managed to turn many conservatives and Republicans into quasi-civil libertarians, being employed by the Transportation Security Administration:

H/T: We Won’t Fly

Ron Paul introduces the American Traveler Dignity Act

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced legislation to end the harassment of Americans by TSA officers by making travelers to go through full-body scanners and subjecting them to “pat downs” as they try to board their flight.

Explaining TSA screening

Some of you may be flying next week for Thanksgiving, so here is a video explaining the Transportation Security Administration’s new screening techniques, which amounts to government-sanctioned sexual harassment:

 


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