terrorists

Incompetent and Corrupt: Scandals Pile Up for “No Drama” Obama

Six years into his presidency, Barack “No Drama” Obama has been anything but drama-free. His presidency has been one series of scandals after another, the magnitude of each increasing with each successive revelation. Initially, these scandals centered around partisan bullying, political cronyism, and general corruption, but as his second term unfold, more and more the scandals involve dead Americans.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the scandals surrounding the Obama presidency is that the sheer volume seems to inoculate him from being brought down by any one scandal. No sooner do we start making progress investigating one scandal than another one breaks. It’s like watching a dog chase a ball but suddenly stop and change directions moments before retrieving it when another ball is tossed in the opposite direction.

The current scandal involves Obama’s decision to negotiate with terrorists. In violation of the absolutely clear requirements of the law, the Obama administration revealed last week that it had negotiated the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by Taliban forces for five years. In exchange for Bergdahl, Obama released five senior Taliban fighters who are responsible for the deaths of countless Americans.

The outrage surrounding this exchange is multi-faceted. First, there is the fact that Obama broke long-standing U.S. policy of never negotiating with terrorists. Even were that not the policy, Obama’s negotiating skills were exposed as horrendously deficient considering the Taliban gets five hardened fighters in exchange for one relatively low-level American soldier.

Obama’s inconsistency, incoherence has created a foreign policy mess for America

Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort one feels when holding contradictory beliefs, thoughts, ideas, or values simultaneously. It’s based on the idea that it is inherently human to want consistency — it makes us feel secure and, frankly, sane.

What, then, to do with political policy decisions that should induce these feelings of discomfort given their glaring inconsistencies but that apparently produce no such feelings since no one in the press or the White House is commenting on the confusion? For example, how can the nation under President Obama be simultaneously weakening the military and drawing back on foreign policy, yet going ahead with what the Free Beacon calls “imperialist meddling in Nigeria”:

As the pressure mounts from America’s media elites and hashtag aficionados, what will he do when strongly worded condemnations fail to persuade Boko Haram’s elected leader Abubakar Shekau to release the hundreds of girls his group has (allegedly) enlisted in its quest for religious freedom?

A View of U.S. Drone Policy from the Ground

Based on some of my discussions with people who tend to support U.S. foreign policy in general and the drone policy in particular, there seems to be a lack of empathy for those who have been victims of errant bombs (I’m told these people “hate us for our freedoms”). I think sometimes we Americans have no idea what it must be like to live anywhere in the third world as opposed to a superpower. It’s difficult for me to imagine what it must be like to live any place the U.S. is hunting terrorists with soldiers or drones. Would I be worried that my friends or family might be killed by mistake?

This isn’t to say that the U.S. should not hunt terrorists, drones or otherwise, but I do think it’s time for a serious debate about when and how drones should be used. The drones in of themselves are not the problem, it’s the drone policy. What is the cost/benefit of using drones in targeting these people? Can this be done without harming innocent bystanders? Are drones being used when less destructive means are available? Is this policy counterproductive in “winning the hearts and minds” of people who might otherwise fight against Islamic fundamentalists?

The video clip below is from the testimony of one individual who has experienced the reality of U.S. drone policy first hand. Despite this, Farea al-Muslimi is otherwise grateful for his experiences with America, Americans, and American generosity. His heart and mind seems to be on the side of America. His testimony offers a perspective we would all do well to consider when thinking about these questions.

No, don’t skip the drone debate

drones

Erick Erickson, master of the conservative blogging site RedState.com, has just penned a FoxNews column where he says we should just totally skip the drone debate and just kill the terrorists before they kill us. He goes through a series of so-called “justifications” for this terrible idea, before ending with this very chilling conclusion:

Just kill them before they kill us. At some point, we must trust that the president and his advisers, when they see a gathering of Al Qaeda from the watchful eye of a drone, are going to make the right call and use appropriate restraint and appropriate force to keep us safe.

Frankly, it should be American policy that any American collaborating with Al Qaeda is better off dead than alive.  Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney should be proud.

First off, let’s get one thing straight—Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney are not people to celebrate or emulate. Nixon engaged in dirty, underhanded tactics to keep his presidency, tactics which when exposed led to the largest case of political corruption in modern American history. And Cheney, well, he’s just a jerk. A jerk who was beholden to his old company, Halliburton, and was not exactly in line with the Constitution on several issues. Erickson should not be looking to either with praise and approval, but the exact opposite.

The Inexcusable Brennan Hearing

In light of a Department of Justice memo laying out the general rules for assassinating American citizens with drones via a presidential “kill list” - and consequently, without Due Process - it was believed yesterday’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency Director, the architect of these strikes, would be contentious.  It sadly was not, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s failure to press him on the assassinations of American citizens is nothing short of inexcusable.

As I stated in a post earlier this week, I did not expect the U.S. Senate to check the power it collectively usurped with the CIA; after all, they had a hand in constructing the legal framework for the extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens.  The precedence set by this policy endangers the checks-and-balances inherent within a typical constitutional republic.

Was the risk in Libya worth the reward?

President Obama just had to do it.  After all, the freedom loving people of Libya wanted out from under the boot of Muammar Gaddafi, and we should use our military force for such noble purposes, right?  So, we risked US personnel to support the rebels in Libya.  They won, and I wasn’t really sad to see Gaddafi dead.  But was it worth it?

Initially, some thought it would be by buying us some much needed “good will” in the Middle East.  By supporting anti-dictatorship rebels, there was supposedly a chance that we would be able to start mending a few fences with non-terrorist Muslims.

Yeah, that worked out great, didn’t it?  The United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three of the embassy staff were killed Tuesday.  Stevens was reportedly a key player in the effort to oust Gaddafi.

I don’t think anyone wanted to rebels to lose.  As I said earlier, I wasn’t a fan of Gaddafi and was glad to see him taken down.  I also happen to believe in self governance and love seeing people take their nations back from psychotic dictators that make Bond villians seem sane and rational.

However, American military personnel were put at risk.  It was yet another example of American adventurism, and just like our other most recent examples, it’s netted us jack.

When will the powers that be understand that all of this nets us nothing?  While we were fortunate to not lose Americans during the Libyian operations, the risk is there for any combat operations, and what has it gotten us?  Clearly, nothing.

How the United States recruits terrorists

From the New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan – The American military claimed responsibility and expressed regret for an airstrike that mistakenly killed six members of a family in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Monday.

The attack, which took place Friday night, was first revealed by the governor of Helmand Province, Muhammad Gulab Mangal, on Monday. His spokesman, Dawoud Ahmadi, said that after an investigation they had determined that a family home in Sangin district had been attacked by mistake in the American airstrike, which was called in to respond to a Taliban attack.

Whatever you think about the war in Afghanistan, there is no disputing that this is recruitment fodder for terrorist organizations. In a region where objective information is scarce, the narrative that America is an evil empire is easily spread unchallenged, and when your family is killed by Americans, you seek vengeance. Events like this only serve to aid those we are truly at war with.

USA Using Patriot Act Against Its Own Citizens

See Video

In August of 2007, several Ron Paul supporters attended a straw poll in Tuscaloosa, AL.  One of the supporters carried a home-made sign that said, “Got Habeas Corpus?”.  An older gentleman there questioned me about the sign, wanting to know why she was carrying it.  As I began to explain the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, he became increasingly angry and beligerant, claiming that those acts were only to be used for military combatants, and that we believed in “aiding and abetting the enemy” if we didn’t agree with those acts.  He refused to even listen to the fact that the acts were not limited as he believed and that US citizens were just as vulnerable.

Well, I hate to say, “I told you so”, but if he was here, I’d say, “I told you so.”

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.

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:


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