Rand Paul, who has surprised a lot of people by becoming a real contender for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky, bows to political reality — he’s blasting the Obama administration’s policy on terror trials and proposing to “try, convict, and lock up terrorists in Guantanamo.”
Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is one of the very few Republicans pushing for the closure of Gitmo. The Rand Paul press release was pointed out to me by a supporter of the elder Paul, who’s furious that libertarian-minded donors are flocking to the younger Paul.
War on Terror
ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that the Obama Administration is striking a very familiar theme:
In an oped in USA Today, John Brennan — Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism — responds to critics of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies by saying “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”
Gee, where have I heard that before.
Way back in July of 2003 Ron Paul wrote an article entitled “We’ve Been Neo-Conned” in which he laid out facts showing that the “Neo-Con” philosophy had taken over the foreign policy of the USA (For a quick primer on the Neo-Conservative movement please click the link above). As I was reading this article one question kept repeating in my head:
“How did it come to this?”
The only place to start I believe is with the American person (notice I didn’t use the plural “people”). I will use myself as an example since I believe my story is common to many modern-day libertarians and members of the Liberty movement.
In short, I was raised a Reagan Republican, became a Neo-Con after 9/11, converted to a Goldwater conservative after the invasion of Iraq and became a full-fledged libertarian after finding the writings of Murray Rothbard(OK, maybe every libertarian didn’t become one because of Murray but I think many have a similar story).
But here is what I believe is key in my story and the reason why there aren’t more capital “L” Libertarians: I didn’t get their foreign policy. Like many I actually referred to myself as libertarian on social and monetary issues, but not when it came to our “enemies”. I hear the same from freedom loving people over and over again, especially in the wake of 9/11.
The reason the Neo-Cons were able to seize power is FEAR. I am not putting anybody down because of it. I can certainly relate, but we still have to figure out why the American person is allowing our government todrop bombs and declare war on anybody they want to while we cheer them on. When does fear translate to lunacy?
The Obama Administration has decided not to try Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in New York City:
The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.
“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”
The reversal on whether to try the alleged 9/11 terrorists blocks from the former World Trade Center site seemed to come suddenly this week, after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abandoned his strong support for the plan and said the cost and disruption would be too great.
But behind the brave face that many New Yorkers had put on for weeks, resistance had been gathering steam.
After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama’s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.
More recently, in a series of presentations to business leaders, local elected officials and community representatives of Chinatown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly laid out his plan for securing the trial: blanketing a swath of Lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, vehicle searches, rooftop snipers and canine patrols.
“They were not received well,” said one city official.
Gee, I wonder why.
Apparently, the Justice Department is now looking for other locations for this trial, including here in Northern Virginia or at a secure military base.
The war on terror has inevitably led to loss of liberty. Starting with the Patriot Act that was passed soon after 9/11 (but most certainly was written well before the attacks) which not a single legislator read before being passed, to where we are now with full body scanners likely being implemented both abroad and in the United States.
According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, an astounding 78% approve of full body scanners.
CNN recently reported that TSA documents, obtained by a privacy group, state that the machines will have image storing and sending capabilities:
The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.
In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in “test mode.”
It is amazing how quickly we forget the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” After hearing that, check out this quote below from Representaive Bennie Thompson (via Politico):
“If you want safety, you’re going to have to compromise convenience,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said on TV One’s “Washington Watch.” “You’re never going to be able to travel the way you did in the past. Times are different.”
Editor’s note: In the interest of debate on our nation’s foreign policy, we are offering a point/counter-point on the “surge” Afghanistan. Jeff Scott is arguing the needs for an increased presence sans a timeline for withdrawal. Brett Bittner will argue the case to bring our troops home.
Last week, I had a brief conversation via Twitter with a neo-conservative who shall remain nameless, because I do not wish to provide him any further attention, and he was quite a jerk. That conversation made me realize that I’ve not collected my thoughts on the war or put them to paper, or more accurately, my hard drive and the annals of cyberspace.
The first thing I should note is that I am a firm believer in non-interventionism, and I like to refer to that as being a “peacemonger.” These ideas do not mean that I am an isolationist, since relationships with other nations are necessary for a strong economy in the form of free trade. I believe that our military’s purpose is to provide a national defense, not to be on the offensive as they “kill them before they kill us.” I oppose the global War on Terror that began during the previous administration, since I believe the United States is at least partly responsible for its escalation through poor foreign policy and subsequent undesirable decision-making.
I do not pretend that, in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11, I did not support an immediate and devastating strike against those responsible. It was an emotional response that almost every American had as we tried to cope with the fact that nineteen people hijacked four jet airliners, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a field in western Pennsylvania. We were hurting, and we were anxious to lash out at anyone who might be responsible, in an effort to ease our pain.
I know a lot of folks inside the liberty movement are disappointed in Rand Paul’s position on this issue. Unlike others, I’m not going to call him a neo-con or blast him for it, although I disagree with him.
Rand Paul is running a different type of campaign. Despite leading in a recent poll, he is considered to be an underdog running against the Republican establishment.
Kentucky is still a conservative state. He has to be very careful with what he says, because of who he is. Like I said, I don’t agree with it, but I can understand the politics behind making this statement. However, his campaign risks alienating his base of donors that come from mostly out of state.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Obama Administration’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in a civilian court has little to do with actual justice.
Consider for example this exchange between Senator Chuck Grassley and Attorney General Holder:
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa): “I don’t think you can say that failure to convict is not an option, when we have juries in this country.”
Attorney General Eric Holder: I have thought about that possibility. Congress has passed legislation that would not allow the release of these individuals in this country. If there is not a successful conclusion to this trial, that would not mean that this person would be released into this country …
Grassley: My understanding is that if for some reason he’s not convicted, or a judge lets him off on a technicality, he’ll be an enemy combatant, so you’re right back where you started.
In other words, the trial is a sham:
[I]f the defendants have zero chance of being released, this is a show trial and a sham. That’s frankly much worse than the status quo, much less a military tribunal.
Former Congressman Bob Barr, David Keene of the American Conservative Union and Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform (all members of the Constitution Project) are getting behind a proposal that would move detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to a prison facility in Illinois.
Here is the statement from Barr, Keene and Norquist:
As it moves to close Guantanamo and develop policies for handling terrorism suspects going forward, the government should rely upon our established, traditional system of justice. This includes our system of federal prisons, which have repeatedly proven they can safely hold persons convicted of terrorism offenses.
We are confident that the government can preserve national security without resorting to sweeping and radical departures from an American constitutional tradition that has served us effectively for over two centuries.
Civilian federal courts are the proper forum for terrorism cases. Civilian prisons are the safe, cost effective and appropriate venue to hold persons convicted in federal courts. Over the last two decades, federal courts constituted under Article III of the U.S. Constitution have proven capable of trying a wide array of terrorism cases, without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards.
Likewise the federal prison system has proven itself fully capable of safely holding literally hundreds of convicted terrorists with no threat or danger to the surrounding community.
The scaremongering about these issues should stop.
The reputation of the United States as much as anything is on trial along with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The kangaroo courts devised by the Bush administration made this country’s government look more like the one that rules the island of Cuba than the one that rules the patch of land known as Guantanamo Bay. If precedent had been set of trying non-military personnel in military courts, it would not be far fetched to imagine situations in which that precedent would be applied to American citizens.
The Obama administration would be well advised not to follow the emotional wishes of those who want to exact vengeance:
“I’m very, very disappointed in the government,” said Anne Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan Ielpi, was a firefighter who was killed in the south tower.
“It’s like throwing it in our face again,” she said, speaking by phone Friday. “We can’t get away from 9/11, we can’t.”
She said the five, who include confessed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, should be tried in military court.
“It definitely should have been finished in Cuba,” she said.
Apparently, for some, September 11th is Training Day:
WASHINGTON - The Coast Guard conducted a training exercise in the Potomac River near the Pentagon amid Sept. 11 commemorations Friday, sparking confusion that scrambled FBI agents and led the nearest airport to briefly ground flights.
Coast Guard Chief Keith Moore said Friday no shots were fired as part of the exercise in the river. Media reports suggested shots had been fired in the river and showed vessels circling in the water, near the bridge where President Barack Obama’s motorcade passed as he traveled to a Sept. 11 memorial at the Pentagon Friday morning.
Departures from Reagan National Airport were halted as a precaution at 10:08 a.m., then resumed at 10:30 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said. The airport borders the Potomac.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said federal agents scrambled to the river scene after the initial reports, because the local FBI office had not been told ahead of time about the exercise. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the incident.
Here’s video of the incident: