War on Terror

House passes NDAA, White House backs off veto threats

[UPDATE - 7:23pm] The United States Senate passed the NDAA this evening by a vote of 86 to 13. It will now head to President Obama’s desk for approval.

As noted yesterday, House and Senate conferees were moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward to the final action in both chambers with compromise legislation that kept in controversial language that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens and legal residents of the United States.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA overwhelmingly last night by a vote of 283 to 136. You can see how your representative and the members of your state’s delegation voted here. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.

For those of you that are just now catching up on this, the House basically voted last night to suspend the right to due process, the right to a trial by a jury of an accuser’s peers, and the right to habeas corpus. And now that the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded to include not only al-Qaeda but also the Taliban and other “associated forces.” Given the war on terrorism has become an open-ended war with civil liberties being offered by Congress on the alter of the “national security,” this provision will be no doubt be abused; if not by this administration than the next.

It was also noted that the White House asked for the language, at least according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). So it should come as no surprise that the White House has backed off veto threats of the NDAA:

NDAA: Cracking Freedom’s Foundation

This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).

This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.

Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”

We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.

The Real Tragedies of 9/11

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches this Sunday, I cannot help but feel it will be a commemoration of not one, not two, but at least three different tragedies that have befallen the American people. The first is the obvious tragedy of the attacks themselves, which took thousands of lives in an act of barbarism and insanity. The second tragedy is what happened to the American consciousness afterwards. And the third is what our children understand about it.

I read earlier this week about a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The results were disquieting, to say the least. Some of the highlights:

  • 71% of Americans favor surveillance cameras in public
  • 47% support the government reading emails outside the US without a warrant
  • 30% support the government monitoring emails within the country
  • 58% support random searches involving full-body scans or patdowns at airports
  • 35% support racial or ethnic profiling at airports
  • 55% support the government snooping into financial transactions without a warrant
  • 47% support a national ID card to show to authorities on demand (a “Show-Me” Card, if you ever watched Fringe)
  • 64% believe it is “Sometimes necessary to sacrifice some rights and freedoms” in order to fight the war on terror
  • 53% think you can’t be too careful dealing with people (which is a slight improvement from 2002, I suppose, which was 58%, but…)
  • 54% would, between counterterrorism and civil liberties, come down on the side of civil liberties

Like I said, disquieting. All but the last should be far lower; the last should be far higher. Only 54% would go for civil liberties? That means 46% would put counterterrorism operations above what it actually means to be an American?

Herman Cain: People Have A “Right” to Ban Mosques

Herman Cain is the GOP’s 2012 token Islamophobe. When asked if he would be comfortable with “appointing a Muslim either in your cabinet or as a federal judge” Cain gave an emphatic “no” and stated that he “will not” appoint a Muslim to any such position:

He later campaigned against a mosque being built in Tennessee, ironically citing the First Amendment:

“It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” he said. “And I don’t agree with what’s happening, because this isn’t an innocent mosque.”

Now Cain is stating that Americans “have a right” to ban mosques that they don’t like:

In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.

A Free Market Solution to the War on Terror

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

Podcast: Healthcare, CBO, Census, Immigration Reform, Pre-Crime Policing, War,Guests: Doug Mataconis, Brooklyn Roberts

This week, Brett was joined by UL contributor, Doug Mataconis, and Brooklyn Roberts, Executive Director of the Alabama Eagle Forum.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond his control, Jason was unable to participate, so we had a blast without him.

This week’s topics include:

Podcast: State of the Union, Bank Fees, Spending Freeze, War on Terror, Gay Equality, Guests: Andisheh Nouraee & Jeff Scott

In a move that caused them to have more fun than normal, Jason and Brett were joined by Andisheh Nouraee and Jeff Scott this week.

Their discussion covered:

Podcast: TSA, Yemen, Filibuster, Ben Nelson, Guests: Jason Cecil, Jimmie Bise PART ONE

Jason and Brett jump into 2010 with a podcast, joined by two guests, Jason Cecil, current Southeast Director for Young Democrats of America and immediate past president of Young Democrats of Georgia, and Jimmie Bise, political and pop culture commentator at The Sundries Shack blog and The Delivery podcast.

The discussion went so well (and long), they split the podcast into two installments, with the second part publishing tomorrow available here.

In the first part, they discuss:

Jon Stewart Explains Obama’s Euphemisms

I Am Not A Conservative

A few weeks ago, I went to see “An American Carol” with high hopes for an atypical Hollywood film. It reinforced something I have been working on. When you look at the spectrum of topics I have written about, I am difficult to pigeon-hole by the average American. The two-party system forces people to consider politics in a linear manner, one is either a conservative Republican on the “right” or a liberal Democrat on the “left,” with no room for anything else. Interestingly, most Americans are not able to fit their beliefs into one of those two options, but they settle for the side they feel most comfortable with.


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