Islamic militants

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

Here’s your shock story of the day: ISIS fighter killed in Syria worked at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Since the disclosures last summer about the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance apparatus, Americans have been endlessly told that federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies need vast and wide-reaching abilities to monitor domestic and foreign terror threats.

Despite claims that these domestic surveillance programs, including the controversial bulk phone metadata collection program, have prevented acts of terrorism, there isn’t much, if any, evidence that backs that up.

In its December report on the NSA programs, the White House Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, for example, noted that bulk metadata program “was not essential to preventing attacks.” A separate report, published by the New American Foundation, explained that the most controversial NSA program had “no discernible impact” in preventing terrorist attacks.

Now, there’s a story from a Fox affiliate in Minnesota about an American supporter of ISIS, one who was killed last week in Syria while fighting for the Islamic militant organization, who worked at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and had access to airplanes:

Watch MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blast Barack Obama over his response to ISIS

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC talk show host who once said that Barack Obama gave him a “thrill up [his] leg,” isn’t happy with the President’s response to the brutal execution of James Foley in Iraq at the hands of Islamic militants.

In a segment on Wednesday evening, Matthews blasted President Obama’s statement on Foley’s death and his promise to see his killers are brought to “justice.”

“I don’t know why he used the word ‘justice.’ It’s not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it,” said Matthews, according Newsbusters. “This is our country versus this group that’s declared war on us. What’s justice mean in this con— I don’t know why the word’s used, like we’re going to go to the World Court with this?”

Just after he gave the statement on Foley’s death, The Hill reported that President Obama, who returned to Martha’s Vineyard to finish his vacation on Tuesday after a two-day visit to Washington, “hit the golf course” with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, among others.

ISIS must be destroyed: The murder of James Foley should spur the golfer-in-chief into action

JF

Most Americans, libertarians especially, and the writers on this site in particular, were skeptical about going back into Iraq with military force to defend the Iraqis and Kurds from the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group’s conquest.

It’s really not our fight anymore. We were there for eight years fighting the Hussein regime, then insurgent forces, and training the Iraqi military to defend itself and maintain the peage. Still, polls showed support for limited airstrikes against ISIS targets to protect especially vulnerable civilian populations

That all changed on Tuesday when a video surfaced (but will not be linked here) of an American, AP photographer James Foley, being horrifically decapitated by an ISIS representative (and apparently British citizen) as a warning over our limited involvement in the situation. This was exactly the wrong tactic if ISIS wanted to keep us away.

However deep your pacifism, isolationism, or non-interventionism runs, the brutal public execution of an American citizen is a red line that must not be crossed without consequence. We can debate Congressional authorization, tactical targets, strategic objectives, operational scopes, or international assistance, but we must respond swiftly and unflinchingly.

Hey, neocons, Dick Cheney is irrelevant — maybe it’s time to find someone new

It has been entertaining to watch former Vice President Dick Cheney. He’s become a “thing” again as neoconservatives raise hell about the resurgence of the Islamic militants in Iraq as the latest failure of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Cheney appeared on Fox News last week and was grilled by host Megyn Kelly over an op-ed he and his daughter, Liz, had written in the Wall Street Journal.

“[T]ime and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” Kelly told Cheney. “You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005. And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’”

“Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there,” she continued, “what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Cheney, of course, didn’t back down. He defended the now-debunked intelligence showing that that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and claimed that “[i]t would have been irresponsible for us not to act” and that the Bush administration “did do the right thing” by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime.

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.

Today in Liberty: Liberty Republican Raul Labrador considering a run for House Majority Leader, Obamacare heads back to court

“We must have government, but we must watch them like a hawk.” — Millicent Fenwick

— House Republican leadership race update: It looks like Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is close to sealing up the nod for House Majority Leader. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) decided not to run for the post. Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-TX) also bowed out. Word is that Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), who is part of the libertarian-conservative faction in the chamber, is considering a run against McCarthy. “Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said in a brief interview Thursday night that he is considering running for majority leader and hopes to make a decision on Friday,” the Washington Post reports. “Labrador said many of his colleagues were urging him to run on Thursday and that he is doing his due diligence to weigh the pros and cons of a bid challenging McCarthy.” Labrador would be the better choice, from a limited government perspective, but he faces an uphill battle.

What difference does it make?: Clinton refused to designate al-Qaeda-connected group as a terrorist organization

The kidnapping of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group, has sparked condemnation and action the United States. The Obama administration announced this week that it will send technical support to the African country to help search for the girls.

While most Americans have never heard of Boko Haram, the al-Qaeda-connected group has carried out a number of attacks over the last few years, including the 2011 assassination of an Islamic cleric who criticized violent groups and the bombing of a United Nations building in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that same year.

The kidnappings have led to a round of “hashtag diplomacy” on Twitter. Many users are have tweeted their thoughts about the situation using #BringBackOurGirls, among them is Hillary Clinton. The former Secretary of State tweeted this late last week:

Report: CIA sending weapons to Syrian rebels

Syrian  war

Despite concerns expressed by many members of Congress that the best organized groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are Islamic extremist, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is sending arms to rebels who hope to depose the regime:

The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.

The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.
[…]
U.S. officials hope that, taken together, the weapons and gear will boost the profile and prowess of rebel fighters in a conflict that started about 2 1/2 years ago.

Assad threatens retaliation for strikes, Syrian rebels depict blowing up United States Capitol

Bashar al-Assad

Supporters of President Barack Obama’s push for military intervention in Syria have been playing up Charlie Rose’s interview with Bashar al-Assad, who’s government has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people.

During the interview, which aired in full last night, Assad denied that he had anything to do with the attack and challenged the Obama Administration to present evidence that it was his government that released the chemical agents, alleging that it was the rebels fighting his regime that are responsible for the attack.

He also spoke of consequences for the United States should go forward with the attack, telling Rose that we “should expect everything.”

“Will there be attacks against American bases in the Middle East if there’s an air strike?” asked Rose.

“You should expect everything. You should expect everything. Not necessarily through the government. The government’s not the only player in this region,” said Assad in response. “You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies. You have everything in this region now, so you have to expect that.”

When pressed on whether that could mean chemical attacks against Americans, Assad said, “That depends.”

“If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen,” he added, before again warning of a takeover of Syria by Islamists who are unfriendly to the United States.


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