War on Terror
I was not going to post about this anymore because I’m tired of hearing about it. But last night, Jon Stewart gave a great monologue on the uproar over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque and it needs to be shared.
Like Stewart, I get the reason people are upset about the mosque. But the push back against the mosque has reached a point where it’s not about placing a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the rhetoric has reached a point where most of the opposition are condemning an entire religion. They are placing the blame for what happened on 9/11 on an entire religion instead of 19 radical Islamists.
Around three minutes in, Stewarts shows video of Eric Bolling, who was appearing on Fox and Friends, laying out the alleged ties that Feisal Abdul Rauf has to various groups, including Hamas and Perdana. Bolling also speculates on whether or not Iran may be funding Park51, formerly the Cordoba House.
For perspective, Stewart shows a clip of Charlton Heston speaking at the NRA convention in 1999, just after the Columbine tragedy. In case you don’t remember, there was an uproar that wanted the NRA to hold their convention somewhere else.
During his speech to the convention, Heston said:
Tragedy always has been and always will be with us. Somewhere right now evil people are evil things. All of us will do everything meaningful, everything thing we can do to prevent it, but each horrible act can’t become an axe for opportunists to cleave the very Bill of Rights that binds us.
Stewart admits he was part of the uproar, but he also admits that he was wrong:
On September 11, 2001, our world changed. It seems unreal that it was just nine years ago that Osama bin Laden managed to terrorize an entire nation. We responded militarily, as we tend to do when sucker punched like that. However, I’ve had an idea that’s been bouncing around my head for a little while now, and that is based partially on the idea that Congress can issue letters of marque and reprisal. In the digital age.
Al Queda has money. They have technical savvy. And they’re a pain in the butt.
However, a large amount of their ability to function is because of the internet and secure computer systems. Their money’s in banks, they use the internet to communicate. They’re backwards, but very 21st century at the same time. Every system they use is vulnerable to hacking.
So why not let the hackers have a field day?
Hackers, once considered a plague on computer systems, have been around since before the computer age. They used all kinds of tricks to get around the telephone systems for free. With the coming of the computer age, hackers started poking around in the new technology. Some maliciousness started, just look at viruses, but most hackers are just the curious sort. They might want to hack the Department of Defense computer system, but most to see if they can do it.
Now, let’s let them take that curiosity, and focus it on Al Queda. By issuing a letter of marque, you can hone the hackers’ skills towards crippling Al Queda. They want to hack a bank computer? Sure. However, you can only touch Al Queda money. Of course, once you hack it, it’s yours. They would be digital privateers, raiding the waves of the information superhighway and still fighting terrorism
Just as he has released his memoirs, Hitch 22 tells the story of a truly remarkable man of letters, Christopher Hitchens. On June 30, he revealed through a blog at the magazine Vanity Fair’s Web site that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Bodyscanners, devices gaining widespread use in airports allowing TSA agents to see what amounts to a virtual strip search, have drawn some serious questions about our privacy over the past few years.
Proponents say they are an important tool to fight terrorism, allowing the detection of potential weapons not caught metal detectors. However, things just got complicated.
We all can agree that child porn is a truly despicable evil — so what happens when TSA agents are looking at naked scans of our children’s bodies? We found out recently as a 12-year old girl was selected for a body scan while she as on vacation with a friends family:
A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.
The article does not specify who saw the scan, but:
Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said anyone can be selected from the line and given a body scan, even children, as long as they can hold their arms over their heads for five or more seconds.
Koshetz of the Transportation Security Administration said the faces and body parts on the images are blurry and never saved.
“There’s no way to associate that fuzzy black and white image to a particular person,” she said.
From Foreign Policy b/w of The Daily Beast comes some really fascinating thought on Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign affairs:
Was the Gipper as tough as his fans make him out to be? “Today’s conservatives have conjured a mythic Reagan who never compromised with America’s enemies and never shrank from a fight,” Peter Beinart writes in an excerpt of his new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, in Foreign Policy magazine. “But the real Reagan did both those things, often. In fact, they were a big part of his success.” Beinart says Reagan was “terrified of war” and he fought suggestions, from both within and outside his own administration, that he bomb or send troops into Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba. Beinart also takes issue with the conservative boast that Reagan “frightened” the Soviet Union into submission. “The problem with this story is that Reagan began abandoning his hard-line anti-Soviet stance in late 1983, 18 months before Gorbachev took power,” Beinart writes.
A critical case in point here would be the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. It killed 241 American servicemen, the most killed in an assault on American troops since World War II. Reading about the attack’s response is illuminating:
From the Declaration of Independence: “He [the present King of Great Britain] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.”
The above statement most certainly describes, with great accuracy, any number of agencies of the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service in particular. This year, it could well apply to the U.S. Census Bureau, in its campaign (what else could we call it?) to make sure that all of the people respond to the 2010 Census.
Today, I received in the mail a little postcard, with the following return address:
U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. Census Bureau
8411 Kelso Drive
Essex, MD 21261-6666
On the front, just above the address, set apart by a rectangular box, was the the following statement: “Your response to the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law.” Oh!!!!! (Shudder!!!) Kennedy: Be afraid… be very afraid! You haven’t yet responded to the 2010 Census. They are going to get you!
On the back of the postcard is contained the following letter, dated March 22 (that’s yesterday… amazing, isn’t it, how quickly the U.S. Post Office delivers mail from the Washington, D.C. area when it is coming from the Census Bureau).
A few days ago, you should have received a request to participate in the 2010 Census. It was sent to your address as part of our effort to conduct the most accurate census possible.
It is important that you respond. If you have already provided your census information, please accept our sincere thanks. There is no need to provide your answers again. If you have not responded, please provide your information as soon as possible.
As the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches on March 20th, we here at United Liberty would like to encourage you to participate in some form of peaceful protest. writing about it either in a note on Facebook, on a blog or letter to the editor of your local paper, participating in a demonstration or simply donating to AntiWar.com or another anti-war organization.
While engaging in protest, please keep this in mind: The disagreements on foreign policy should be directed at policymakers, such as the president and Congress. Please be respectful to our men and women in uniform. They deserve no less.
Dissent against policies and actions of our government is a right. Use it.
Within the podcast, Ms. Keaton references a list of links which have been included below:
The latest controversy of the day among many on the right, led principally by Liz Cheney and William Kristol, involves attacking Justice Department lawyers who represented alleged members of al Qaeda or the Taliban detained at Guantanmo Bay.
[L]awyers now at the DOJ worked on the historic Boumediene case. That case established the Gitmo detainees’ right to challenge their detention in habeas corpus hearings. In effect, the habeas proceedings have taken sensitive national security and detention questions out of the hands of experienced military and intelligence personnel, and put them into the hands of federal judges with no counterterrorism training or expertise. That lack of experience shows. For example, in one recent decision a federal judge compared al Qaeda’s secure safe houses (where training, plotting and other nefarious activities occur) to “youth hostels.” The habeas decisions are filled with errors of omission, fact, and logic.
Still other lawyers did work on behalf of these well known terrorists: Jose Padilla (an al Qaeda operative dispatched by senior al Qaeda terrorists to launch attacks inside America in 2002), John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban), and Saleh al Marri (who 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sent to America on September 10, 2001 in anticipation of committing future attacks).
Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
In a special podcast, Jason and Brett interview Bob Barr to further explore his thoughts regarding the plan to possibly bring prisoners detained as part of the War on Terror to the United States for trial.
On Monday, former Congressman Barr, along with Grover Norquist and David Keene released a joint statement supporting the proposal. In the interview, Barr discusses federal prisons, habeas corpus, and indefinite detention of these prisoners.