Osama bin Laden

Have conservatives lost their mind on foreign policy?

As a libertarian, it has been puzzling to watch how conservatives have reacted to the foreign policy of Barack Obama.  In almost every tangible way, Obama’s policies have been a continuation of his predecessor’s.  In fact, in some ways he has been even more aggressive - amping up the mission in Afghanistan, involvement in Libya, and increased drone attacks (including against American citizens).  Yet the right continues to pretend that the Obama administration has been “weak” on national defense.

This debate has reached an even greater level of absurdity in recent weeks as Obama has used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing to tout his foreign policy successes.  Obama has even attempted to argue that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the killing (more than a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion).  Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to minimize the significance of the event and find any way possible to not give Obama credit for it, when surely they would have praised George W. Bush.

And while military spending has not been cut at all under Obama, conservatives are still arguing that he is somehow short-changing the Pentagon.  Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma went as far as to claim Obama is “gutting” the military in recent comments regarding President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early this week:

“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” [Inhofe] said. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”

United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2011

We’re winding down on another year. Much like recent years, 2011 represented challenges for liberty and the Constitution. These hurdles came from all sides, including the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress, and we are ending the year a little less free than in 2010.

Below is a recap of some of bigger stories of the year that were covered here at United Liberty (though a couple are thrown in for fun). Thanks for reading in what was a record breaking year for this blog. We appreciate the readership and hope you’ll keep coming back in 2012

Happy New Year!

— The Death of Osama bin Laden (Jason Pye): On Sunday, May 1st, word broke that the White House had called notified the press of a major announcement. You could tell that it was a significant event since the president was making such a statement late on a Sunday evening.As you probably remember, wild speculation started almost immediately as many people said that it could have only meant a couple of things, either we were going to war or Osama bin Laden had finally been captured.

Around 11pm, President Barack Obama told Americans that, after nearly 10 years after murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people, Osama bin Laden was dead. Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a group of Navy SEALS at a compound that he had lived in for five years.

Death pics, “Deathers,” and an October Surprise?

I have become completely obsessed with this so-called “deather” phenomenon, the topic du jour that the media wants to shove down our throats at the moment.  I should warn you straight away, that I am a raging news junkie.  There are far too many moments of my life spent sitting on the couch watching a news channel on television, while reading the news on my iPad, and checking Twitter with my Blackberry.  In fact, I have pretty much been in that position since Sunday night.  So, as soon as I heard the news that we had finally tracked down and eliminated the most infamous terrorist of any of our lifetimes, I did kind of wonder if we would see a death photo of Osama bin Laden.

I’m not really someone who seeks out shocking or gruesome images or videos, only because I don’t want to live with something that disturbing in my mind if I can avoid it.  In fact, I have never watched any of the videos of Americans being beheaded at the hands of animals in the Middle East, I didn’t watch Saddam Hussien’s execution, I’m frankly just not curious about these things.  However, on Monday morning, when I listened to Hoda and Kathie Lee breezily chatting about a death photo on the Today show, I figured there was no way in hell those photos weren’t going to be released.   Well, obviously I was wrong.  Of course, no politician would ever let an opportunity like this pass without milking it for all the political capital it is worth, so a delay and drawn out public debate didn’t surprise me.

Was it all worth it?

As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead.  Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America.  The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11.  Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.

But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it?  Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood.  We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001.  Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.

It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect.  It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor.  His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.

BREAKING: Osama bin Laden is dead

According to just about every major news network, Osama bin Laden is dead and the United States is in possession of his body. President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation in a few minutes to give details and warn of possible retaliation against the United States.

This a developing story, please check back for live updates below.

[11:34pm] Obama: “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden””

[11:40pm] Bin Laden was apparently killed in a firefight. Some of the reports this evening claimed that Bin Laden was shot in the head.

[11:42pm] Obama: “Justice has been done.”

[11:45pm] Crowds have been gathering in front of the White House celebrating since the news of Bin Laden’s death broke.

[11:46pm] As was reported by news networks, Bin Laden was killed deep inside Pakistan.

[11:50pm] DNA testing was used to confirm that the body was that of Osama bin Laden.

[11:55pm] Here is the statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):

“Nearly a decade ago, in the days after 9/11, President Bush said, ‘Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.’ Tonight, we’ve learned that justice has been done. The man with the blood of more than 3,000 Americans on his hands, the man who forced us to begin to think the unthinkable - is now dead.

Jon Stewart nails the uproar over the Ground Zero Mosque

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.

Stewart then uses the same logic to connect Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to the Bin Laden family and Wahhabist Muslims, a form of Islam followed by al-Qaeda.

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:

Creating Terror

By now, everyone is aware that Hamas has attacked Israel, though it was Israel itself which broke the ceasefire. I no longer have a television but I know the story is plastered on every major news network because it is also plastered on every political blog and social networking site. There is an entire network of supporters on both sides of the conflict insisting that their side is blameless and that the concerns of the other side are unremarkable. Both sides are spewing enough hyperbole and anger to warrant concern about fistfights breaking out stateside.

The conflict between Israel and it’s “neighbors” in Gaza and the West Bank is a great big mess that apparently has just one solution - according to a large group of foreign policy geniuses in America and Israel: more fighting.

The victims’ families deserve transparency: Barack Obama should declassify the 28 pages of the joint inquiry into 9/11

It’s hard to believe it has been 13 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, a day in which nearly 2,977 people lost their lives at the hands of 19 radical Islamic militants doing the work of al-Qaeda and its founder, Osama bin Laden.

Americans know the story of what happened and the massive intelligence failures that led up to the attack. But there is some information in a 2002 congressional report that the Bush administration and, now, the Obama administration don’t want the public to see.

At issue are 28 pages in the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (Volume I, Volume II), a report conducted by the House and Senate intelligence committees. The then-chairmen of the two committees, Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) and Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) , both of whom have since retired from public service, oversaw the inquiry and the report.

The Bush administration classified 28 pages of the report, citing national security concerns. Three House members, however, are working with families of the victims of the September 11 attacks to declassify these page, which, they say, details the Bush administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and ties elements within the Middle Eastern country’s government to the Islamic radicals who carried out the attack, as The New Yorker explains:

What?!: House Democrat absurdly says it’s “not necessarily accurate” to call the Taliban “terrorists”

Jackie Speier

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) took issue with Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) suggestion that the Obama administration violated the long-standing policy that the United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.

“Let me underscore the term terrorist. The Taliban is a part of the fabric of Afghanistan. They were part of the leadership of that country before we engaged there,” Speier told MSNBC. “We are now actively attempting to get the Taliban to negotiate with President Karzai and the Afghanistani government, because there will be some cooperation, some level of coordination between the two if that country is going to survive and move forward.

“So, to say that they are terrorists at this point is not necessarily accurate,” she added.

Though the Taliban isn’t on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, it was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in July 2002 by then-President George W. Bush.

Today in Liberty: Neocons are gunning for Rand Paul, Big Labor protests Heritage Foundation

“I follow a set of principles. I follow the Constitution. And that’s what I base my votes on; limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty.” — Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)

— April Fools: Not to take away anybody’s fun, but be careful what you link to, retweet, and like on Facebook today. There’s a good chance that it’s a joke. Don’t be the guy with derp all over his face. That said, we’ve already seen one pretty funny fake news story this morning.

— Obama administration claims original enrollment target in sight: Officials are saying that the Obamacare enrollment could hit the 7 million target, the original projection made by the Congressional Budget Office and touted by the administration. “According to the report, the goal was ‘in sight’ after consumers flooded the federal website and phone system in the final hours of open enrollment,” The Hill notes. “Hitting seven million enrollments would be a major symbolic achievement for the White House after the opening months of the ObamaCare exchanges were plagued by technical glitches that prevented many consumers from completing an application.” We’ll have more on this later today, but the paid numbers matter more than sign-ups. So even if the administration hits the 7 million figure, immediately subtract 20%.

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