war on terrorism

Recall of NDAA supporters?

No state is perfect, but Montana seems intent on trying anyways.  Their most recent attempt is a move to recall Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their support of the tyrannical National Defense Authorization Act which, for those who’ve been living under a rock, essentially turns the entire United States into a war zone for the purposes of pursuing “terrorists” and permits the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.

(HELENA) - Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill.

Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses.

The Salem News goes on to state that the issue of a state’s ability to recall federal officials has never reached the federal courts.  In reality, I suspect that the federal courts would strike down such a law as unconstitutional primarily because it would actually give states the ability to actually do something when the federal government oversteps its power, somthing that the courts seem intent on keeping as the status quo.

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.

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.

Indefinite detention not the only problem with NDAA

Much has been made over the “indefinite detention” language included in the National Defense Authorization Act. As Ron noted earlier, an effort to fix the legislation — the Amash-Smith Amendment — was defeated by the House, which opted for much less clear language.

But the failure to get rid of the indefinite detention provision isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. The NDAA for FY 2013 includes a provision, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who sponsored the language to axe the indefinite detention provision, that would allow for taxpayer-funded propaganda to influence Americans:

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

Jon Stewart on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

On Wednesday, Jon Stewart covered the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains language that would allow the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without formal charges or trial.

Listen carefully and call your members of Congress:

Have the terrorists won?

Ten years after the horrific events of 9/11, America braced for other possible attacks to mark the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history.  Phone calls from my mother outlined how authorities believed new terrorists were in the country, and how panel vans had been stolen.  She even called to tell me that they believed there was a dirty bomb involved.  In the end, there was nothing.

However, a mother’s reports of what she saw on CNN are only part of the story.  ABC news reports that law enforcement and military elements were scrambled for even more benign reasons.

Fighter planes were scrambled, bomb squads were called, FBI command centers went on alert and police teams raced to airports today, but in the end two separate airline incidents were caused by apparently innocent bathroom breaks and a little “making out,” federal officials said.

On that horrible day ten years ago, we were told that we must not change as a nation or else “the terrorists win”.  Well folks, I have to ask if they already have won.  The Patriot Act made it easier to spy on American citizens.  New similar laws are being created to combat crimes that haven’t needed that level of snooping before.

We now have vehement arguments over houses of worship being located in particular places as a result of that day.  Right or wrong, these arguments just didn’t happen pre-9/11.  They just didn’t.  No one seemed to care.

United States conducts airstrikes in Somalia

The Washington Post reported late last night that the United States had launched airstrikes targeting militants in Mogadishu, Somalia:

A U.S. drone aircraft fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operation said Wednesday.

The strike last week against senior members of al-Shabab comes amid growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.

The airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. And it comes as the CIA is expected to begin flying armed drones over Yemen in its hunt for al-Qaeda operatives.

More comes out about bin Laden kill

Let’s be honest, the Osama bin Laden story won’t end in the next few hours.  The biggest victory in the war on terror has got to be good for more than one 24 hour news cycle.  As we learn more about the operation, there are more questions that are asked.  Some of them aren’t easy questions either.

For example, the tidbit that started the whole thing, the nickname of the courier, was learned via water boarding.  The “enhanced interrogation technique” has been the subject of much criticism, including the fact that information learned that way was often unreliable.  Yet, this little tidbit obtained just that way snowballed into the intelligence that lead us to bin Laden.

Other questions stem from how long it took to finally launch an operation.  In President Obama’s defense (and I hate defending him), military operations take time to plan.  Teams specially train for just that mission, rehearsing it over and over and over, just to make it automatic.  It’s not like the movies where they learn something and launch a mission the next day.  They’ll do it if they have to, but there wasn’t a need.  Osama had been in that house for six years.  He wasn’t going anywhere.

Obviously, there are more questions.  Some I could probably answer, some I can’t.  However, for the time being, we just need to be glad that there has been a victory.  We need to hope that this does as some say and cripples the terrorist organization to a point when they’re no longer a threat.  We need to pray that this is over and that now there will never be a repeat of 9/11.

Jon Stewart on Osama bin Laden

Like most talk show hosts, Jon Stewart used Monday to express pleasure over the death of Osama bin Laden. He started his show discussing it, making his usual cracks, but he got serious. While admiting he couldn’t be rational about bin Laden’s death, he made some very good points about what it all means:

[Sunday] night was a good night; for me, and not just for New York or DC or America, but for human people. The face of the Arab world in America’s eyes for too long has been bin Laden; and now it is not. Now the face is only the young people in Egypt and Tunisia and all the Middle Eastern countries were freedom rises up. Al-Qaeda’s opportunity is gone.

Well said.

Here is video of the segment.

 
 


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