Today in Liberty: Email privacy reform bill hits the magic number, Senate Conservatives Funds goes on the air for Chris McDaniel

“Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” — Thomas Sowell

— Email Privacy Act hits majority support: We mentioned in Tuesday’s Today in Liberty that the Email Privacy Act was very close to 218 cosponsors, a majority of the House of Representatives. Well, it happened. “The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gained its 218th cosponsor late on Tuesday, giving the sponsors hope that the bill could move this year,” The Hill reports. “The sponsors have been talking with House leadership and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) about moving the bill forward, according to Yoder.” The Email Privacy Act would close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows law enforcement agencies to access emails and other electronic communications older than 180 days without a warrant.

Obama to send special forces to Iraq just days after he said he wouldn’t send any troops

In a Friday morning press conference at the White House, President Barack Obama told reporters without equivocation that his administration “will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq” and that the intervention would be limited to airstrikes against Islamic militants wreaking havoc in the country.

Well, that was then. ABC News reported this morning that President Obama has sent 275 special forces troops to Iraq to secure U.S. assets and advise the the country’s fledging military as ISIS inches closer to Baghdad:

As the militant group ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – continues to fight, young Iraqi men lined the streets, scrambling to find discarded U.S. and Iraqi military gear so they could join the fight to defend Baghdad.

Obama has told Congress he will send about 170 of the troops to the U.S. Embassy to secure the scores of Americans still present there. The $700 million fortress is the size of 80 football fields, built to withstand attacks.

Obama is also considering sending in U.S. Special Forces – 100 in all — to help advise Iraqi forces. Those forces, some of which might be sent to Kuwait, could be used for airfield management, security and logistics support, officials said.

These troops aren’t being sent for combat operations, so that technically President Obama isn’t going back on what he told reporters last week. But that’s not how most Americans are going to see it — and after all, perception is reality.

Obama’s NSA completely missed the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq

Americans have been endlessly told by President Barack Obama, intelligence officials, and a number of politicians from both parties that the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance programs are absolutely necessary to protect the United States’ from acts of terrorism both in the homeland and abroad. Well, that’s the talking point, at least.

But the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where brutal Islamic militants taken control of swaths of the country, seemingly unnoticed by the Obama administration until a couple of weeks ago. That’s something Conor Friedersdorf mentioned yesterday over at The Atlantic:

Without presuming to speak for any individual, the typical “NSA-hater” would love nothing more than for the NSA to focus its intelligence capabilities on war zones where anti-American fighters plausibly threaten the lives of soldiers or diplomatic personnel, and away from Angela Merkel and every cell-phone call Americans make. Spying on ISIS, however intrusively, is fine by me.

That said, events in Iraq seem to have taken us by surprise, despite the fact that the NSA is totally unencumbered, both legally and politically, in the intelligence it can gather there. And even if the seeming surprise is an illusion, even if the NSA anticipated the fall of cities to Islamic militants, knowing didn’t stop it. That isn’t a knock on the NSA. It’s a statement about the limits of signals intelligence. The NSA didn’t stop the underwear bomber or the Times Square bomber or the shoe bomber either. That’s not a knock on the NSA. They can’t know everything. And if they could, that would be a lot more dangerous than terrorism.

Finally: It looks like progressive Democrats are going to stand up to Barack Obama

President Barack Obama may be facing a revolt in his party over intervention in Iraq. Nearly three years after he claimed the war was over, the White House is preparing an airstrike campaign in Iraq against the ISIL, and that’s not sitting well with many of the progressives that make up the Democratic Party’s base:

Since Friday, thousands have added their names to two progressive petitions warning the president against military action in Iraq, one from San Francisco-based progressive group CREDO and the other hosted by Should Obama decide to go ahead with airstrikes in Iraq — he ruled out ground troops in a brief question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House Friday — progressive strategists told BuzzFeed Sunday the liberal grumbling could turn into an election year headache for the White House.
Leaders of CREDO, a group known for strong criticism of Obama over Keystone and other issues, are already equating Obama to his predecessor as U.S. military action in Iraq goes back on the table.

“If the president takes ownership of George W. Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq by launching a new round of bombing strikes, Iraq will become Barack Obama’s war,” reads the CREDO petition.

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul endorses Raul Labrador’s leadership bid, Lindsey Graham is so amazingly wrong about everything

“The government holds a monopoly on violence.” — Dave Brat

— How the House leadership races will go down: Politico has a primer on the two House Republican leadership races that will take place on Thursday, June 19. “Republicans will gather in the Longworth House Office Building for two as-long-as-it-takes votes,” Lauren French notes. “Before voting begins, each of the candidates will have an opportunity to make a final pitch to the 233-member caucus.” A candidate needs 117 votes to win. Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) are the two candidates for House Majority Leader. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) are up for Majority Whip. The elections will be conducted by secret ballot.

Barack Obama could be breaking the law if he bombs Iraq without congressional approval

President Barack Obama is prepared to wage an airstrike campaign to help the fledging Iraqi government as it faces a dire threat from the terrorist group, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (also known as “ISIS” or “ISIL”).

Roll Call recently noted that the Obama administration isn’t saying where it would derive the authority to launch the campaign, but argued that the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 would give the White House the authority to conduct the airstrike campaign.

Though the 2002 Iraq war resolution remains in effect, despite laudable attempts to repeal it, President Barack Obama could be violating use it to wages a military campaign against ISIL. The resolution was tailored against Saddam Hussein’s regime and enforcement of United National Security Council resolutions.

The Iraq war resolution does make references to terrorism, but in the context of al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. ISIL isn’t affiliated with al-Qaeda, though it was until February, and the Iraq-based terrorist group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, played no role in the planning or execution of 9/11.

If President Obama wants to wage an airstrike campaign against ISIL to save Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government, he needs to go to Congress to get approval, and without doing so, his administration would be in violation of the law.

The rise of Islamic militants in Iraq is not removed from U.S. interests and it could make us less safe if we ignore them

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

With the upheaval in Iraq, the case for non-interventionism gets a little murkier given there are a reported 10,000 American contractors and officials still in the region. UL’s own Matthew Hurtt wrote a piece this morning making the case that the degradation of the region is no reason the US should involve itself by sending troops and taking a leadership role in stabilizing the situation:

In the wake of these unfortunate developments, it’s appropriate for conservatives to take a look at prevailing foreign policy views within the Republican Party. Should Republicans push to further entangle our diplomats and troops in conflicts where it isn’t clear what the objectives are or who the enemies are? Should the U.S. risk providing weapons and other military assistance to individuals or groups who would then turn around and use those weapons against us?

He’s not off track, of course. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that our technology is falling into combatant hands even if we don’t actively place it there:

The Iraq government forces abandoned their arms and ammunition as they fled the horde of Sunni gunmen streaming into the war-torn nation’s second largest city earlier this week.

Most of that equipment was supplied by the United States.

It was supposed to give Iraqi government forces a technological edge over their tribesman opponents as US troops withdrew following their 2003 invasion.

Much of that edge is now in enemy hands.

Obama’s epic failure in Iraq doesn’t mean we should put our brave troops back in harm’s way


The situation in Iraq is incredibly fluid, but things aren’t looking good for the fledgling democracy’s second-largest city, Mosul. CNN has a pretty good summary of what’s going on there:

Monday night into Tuesday, militants seized Mosul’s airport, its TV stations and the governor’s office. They freed up to 1,000 prisoners.

Police and soldiers ran from their posts rather than put up a fight, abandoning their weapons as they went. The militants took their place in the city’s boulevards and buildings.

“There was no presence of any government forces on the streets, the majority of their posts destroyed and manned by (Islamist militants),” resident Firas al-Maslawi said.

An audio recording purportedly from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS] promises more fighting in more Iraqi cities, including Baghdad.

“Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,” a voice said to be that of ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says.

Vox also has a run-down with details about how nearly 30,000 Iraqi troops “simply turned and ran” when confronted by a force of just 800 militants.

Missing in action: Bush-era antiwar activists have rubber stamped Obama’s foreign interventionism

In 2002, Barack Obama, then an unknown Illinois state senator, gave an impassioned speech at the Federal Plaza in Chicago in which he blasted the Bush administration’s plans for war in Iraq.

“I don’t oppose all wars,” he declared. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” He blistered Bush administration officials, calling the looming war in Iraq one “based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”

Obama’s speech was just one small part of the wave of antiwar activism that swept the country over the next several years. Protesters demanded an end to the war, often accusing President George W. Bush and members of his administration of war crimes and comparing them to Nazis.

By 2005, as American causalities began to mount, public opinion began to shift against the war in Iraq. The souring mood is largely the reason Republicans lost the 2006 mid-term election, handing control of Congress to Democrats and setting the stage for the rise of antiwar presidential candidate.

Obama, who by this time was a U.S. senator, had continued to speak out against the war in Iraq and used his opposition to his advantage. Most of his primary opponents — including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, and John Edwards  — voted for the 2003 authorization for the use of military force against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Rand Paul seeks to repeal Iraq War authorization

Despite an al-Qaeda resurgence in Iraq, just 25% of voters favor military action in the Middle Eastern country if Islamic radicals take control. That is an example of how much a war weary nation has changed.

Some like, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have used the escalating violence in Iraq to slam President Barack Obama’s 2011 decision to withdraw from Iraq, which was based on a timeline set by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Others, however, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), say that it’s time to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., plans to introduce legislation Friday to repeal the law that green-lighted the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and which remains on the books two years after President Barack Obama declared that war over, Paul’s office said Wednesday.

Paul’s announcement came one day after Yahoo News reported the White House now favors scrapping the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq, signed into law in late 2002 by then-President George W. Bush.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.