Ron Paul: What If….

Great speech by Congressman Ron Paul..

More people need to speak up.

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Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ron Paul “Torture & Assassination Are Illegal! In Both US & International Law!

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  

The Obama-Gates Department of Detentions

Scott Horton, of Harper’s Magazine, writes:

The portions dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular reflect significant shifts in approach. But I join Spencer Ackerman in flagging one strange passage, under the heading of “Strengthen the Power of Our Example”:

The increased risk of terrorism necessitates a capacity to detain and interrogate suspected violent extremists, but that framework must align with our laws to be effective and sustainable. When we are able, we will prosecute terrorists in Federal courts or in reformed military commissions that are fair, legitimate, and effective. For detainees who cannot be prosecuted—but pose a danger to the American people—we must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards. We must have fair procedures and a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. And keeping with our Constitutional system, it will be subject to checks and balances. The goal is an approach that can be sustained by future Administrations, with support from both political parties and all three branches of government.

It’s hard to pass by the reference to detaining prisoners “who cannot be prosecuted.” If they’re involved with terrorists, the law provides the tools to arrest and charge them. This is about cases in which the United States has no meaningful evidence that would link the person held to a terrorist group. It looks like an endorsement of indefinitely detaining persons against whom the United States has no evidence of criminal conduct but whom it “suspects” may constitute a threat, usually based on the say-so of the intelligence service of some tyrannical but allied foreign power. That is the very definition of tyrannical conduct, yet here it is perversely touted as an example for emulation by others.

The Obama Administration has failed to provide a coherent justification for its detentions policy. This hasn’t stopped the District of Columbia Circuit—the amen corner for judicial acquiescence in the face of power grabs by the Executive—from giving it a green light to build and expand future Guantánamos, as is shown by the recent exercise in judicial pointlessness called Al Maqaleh v. Gates (PDF). Daphne Eviatar’s recent post discusses the consequences of this decision. In a word, it is a sweeping abdication of judicial responsibility in the face of the Executive’s proposal to build a global prison regime. It’s a death knell for the good old doctrine that the Constitution follows the flag.

The Obama Administration came to Washington promising to clean up the Bush-era detentions policy and make it conform to the clear requirements of law. Then it seems to have decided that the law wasn’t so convenient and that simply providing for unbridled executive authority à la Bush-Cheney wasn’t such a bad idea after all. In terms of Washington power politics, that decision seems to have taken the form of letting Robert Gates make the call on all these issues. The two figures in the Administration who took the most credible stance for implementing the Obama campaign-era promises on detentions policy—Greg Craig and Phil Carter—resigned within a few weeks of one another, offering no believable reasons for departing. Then press reports began to appear about secret prisons, operated by JSOC and DIA and applying rules different from those applied in the “normal” DOD prisons, including plenty of torture-lite techniques under Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (PDF).

This passage in the National Security Strategy makes clear that Barack Obama and his team have abandoned the promises they made to reform detentions policy in the 2008 campaign. Even the commitment to stop torture does not appear to have been fully implemented, given the unaccountable practices of JSOC and the DIA in Afghanistan. Barack Obama’s belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Barack Obama’s belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. History will judge whether his confidence in his own abilities is warranted, but the distortion of the constitutional system presents a continuing challenge for those who believe in the older and more fundamental principle of accountability under the law.

This is not what I voted for. I thought we were supposed to have change? But it only seems to be more of the same.

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Some more talk about the “crazies” in our political culture

Conor Friedersdorf, writing for Newsweek, has a great article on the media mocking libertarians and other outside the mainstream for their ideas being crazy, when the truth is, their ideas are not that far fetched.

Forced to name the “craziest” policy favored by American politicians, I’d say the multibillion-dollar war on drugs, which no one thinks is winnable. Asked about the most “extreme,” I’d cite the invasion of Iraq, a war of choice that has cost many billions of dollars and countless innocent lives. The “kookiest” policy is arguably farm subsidies for corn, sugar, and tobacco—products that people ought to consume less, not more.

These are contentious judgments. I hardly expect the news media to denigrate the policies I’ve named, nor do I expect their Republican and Democratic supporters to be labeled crazy, kooky, or extreme. These disparaging descriptors are never applied to America’s policy establishment, even when it is proved ruinously wrong, whereas politicians who don’t fit the mainstream Democratic or Republican mode, such as libertarians, are mocked almost reflexively in these terms, if they are covered at all.

And it’s true, Paul has plenty of beliefs that I regard as wacky, such as his naive, now withdrawn, assumption that markets would have obviated the need for certain provisions in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Or his desire to return America to the gold standard.

If returning to the gold standard is unthinkable, is it not just as extreme that President Obama claims an unchecked power to assassinate, without due process, any American living abroadwhom he designates as an enemy combatant? Or that Joe Lieberman wants to strip Americans of their citizenship not when they are convicted of terrorist activities, but upon their being accused and designated as enemy combatants? In domestic politics, policy experts scoff at ethanol subsidies, the home-mortgage-interest tax deduction, and rent control, but the mainstream politicians who advocate those policies are treated as perfectly serious people.

Call them crazy, but Rand Paul, Ron Paul, and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, a likely 2012 presidential candidate, oppose those policies, which puts them at odds with an establishment whose consensus shouldn’t determine whether we grapple with or dismiss an idea. As the most egregious excesses of the war on terror so clearly demonstrate, libertarian ideology doesn’t always lead its adherents to lunacy, and being “in the mainstream” isn’t always a self-evidently desirable characteristic, nor has it ever been in the long history of American politics.

The beliefs of libertarians and other candidates on our political fringes should not escape media scrutiny, nor should the media start making reflexive judgments about the wisdom of nonlibertarian Democratic and Republican policies, treating them with the open mockery and barely concealed disdain that Rand Paul and his father have received. But the policies and ideology of libertarian politicians should be treated as seriously and equitably as those of Lindsey Graham or Joe Lieberman, especially given the balance of political power in this country. It’s a de facto two-party system. And crazy, kooky, extreme actions are perpetrated by establishment centrists far more often than by marginalized libertarians.

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Who are the real “crazies” in our political culture?

Have you ever really taken the time to answer this question?

Have you ever held a conversation with someone and as soon as someone mentions a political party, such as libertarian, that someone calls that political view ‘crazy’ because it is not a mainstream view-point from either the Republicans or Democrats? I know I have. The real question to ask, though, is whether the libertarian view is actually the ‘crazy’ political view. In all honesty, I used to think it was the craziest of all political views. But after months of reading libertarian writers, I found myself agreeing with the libertarian view-point more and more. It has and will always be easier for people to choose which mainstream view-point they agree with since mainstream view points are the focus of your nightly news cast. Therefore, someone like Ron Paul, a libertarian, will be the focus of the ‘crazy’ talk, even though on many occasions, he has voted and spoken out against ‘crazy’ policies such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, indefinite detention, presidential assassinations of American citizens, and so on. While Ron Paul is being scrutinized for his views, Democrats and Republicans, are sitting on the sidelines implementing policies which go against everything our country stands for-the rule of law, equal rights, and freedom.

Glenn Greenwald, blogger for Salon.com, has as always, great analyses of  who the real crazies are in our political culture. Greenwald writes:

One of the favorite self-affirming pastimes of establishment Democratic and Republican pundits is to mock anyone and everyone outside of the two-party mainstream as crazy, sick lunatics.  That serves to bolster the two political parties as the sole arbiters of what is acceptable:  anyone who meaningfully deviates from their orthodoxies are, by definition, fringe, crazy losers.  Ron Paul is one of those most frequently smeared in that fashion, and even someone like Howard Dean, during those times when he stepped outside of mainstream orthodoxy, was similarlysmeared as literally insane, and still is……..

The crazed monster Ron Paul also opposes the war in Afghanistan, while the Democratic Congress continues to fund it and even to reject timetables for withdrawal.  Paul is an outspoken opponent of the nation’s insane, devastating and oppressive “drug war” — that imprisons hundreds of thousands of Americans with a vastly disparate racial impact and continuously incinerates both billions of dollars and an array of basic liberties — while virtually no Democrat dares speak against it.  Paul crusades against limitless corporate control of government and extreme Federal Reserve secrecy, while the current administration works to preserve it.  He was warning of the collapsing dollar and housing bubble at a time when our Nation’s Bipartisan Cast of Geniuses were oblivious.  In sum, behold the embodiment of clinical, certifiable insanity:  anti-DADT, anti-Iraq-war, anti-illegal-domestic-surveillance, anti-drug-war, anti-secrecy, anti-corporatism, anti-telecom-immunity, anti-war-in-Afghanistan.

There’s no question that Ron Paul holds some views that are wrong, irrational and even odious.  But that’s true for just about every single politician in both major political parties (just look at the condition of the U.S. if you doubt that; and note how Ron Paul’s anti-abortion views render him an Untouchable for progressives while Harry Reid’s anti-abortion views permit him to be a Progressive hero and even Senate Majority Leader).

Greenwald end his post writing:

The reason the U.S. is in the shape it’s in isn’t because Ron Paul and the rest of the so-called “crazies” have been in charge; they haven’t been, at all.  The policies that have prevailed are the ones which the two parties have endorsed.  So where does the real craziness lie?

I think it is time to change the way our political system works. It is time to move away from the two-party status quo system. I wonder what the U.S would be like if congress consisted of multiple political viewpoints, not just Republican or Democrat?

Glenn Greenwald is a must read.

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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General Petraeus’s Secret Ops

Sorry for my absence. Apparently the government is positioning special (secret) ops in places, both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. The following is from The Nation and The New York Times.

Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times, who broke the story, writes:

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

In broadening its secret activities, the United States military has also sought in recent years to break its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant American troop presence.

General Petraeus’s order is meant for small teams of American troops to fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks against the United States.

Robert Dreyfuss writes in his Nation article:

A secret military directive signed last September 30 by General David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, authorizes a vast expansion of secret US military special ops from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and “appears to authorize specific operations in Iran,” according to the New York Times.

If President Obama knew about this, authorized it and still supports it, then Obama has crossed a red line, and the president will stand revealed as an aggressive, militaristic liberal interventionist who bears a closer resemblance to the president he succeeded than to the ephemeral reformer that he pretended to be in 2008, when he ran for office. If he didn’t know, if he didn’t understand the order, and if he’s unwilling to cancel it now that it’s been publicized, then Obama is a feckless incompetent. Take your pick.

What happened to a presidency of transparency? Not only that but, Why is Obama surrounding himself with a bunch of neo-conservatives? We need to be deescalating the wars not escalating the wars. Add this to Obama’s negative column in terms of the ‘war on terror’.




Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Absence

Sorry for my absence. Work has been crazy. I will start blogging again in the coming days.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Middle East Challenge and the Accidental Empire

Has anyone ever wondered why Islāmic extremist want to destroy the US? Has anyone ever wondered why mainstream Islamist become radicalized?

First came the Carter doctrine in 1979, which was secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime that was in power in Afghanistan. Note that this aid started six months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Who received this aid? Well, they called themselves mujahedeen, jihadists, and freedom fighters, and had among their leadership men like Osama bin Laden , Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani all of whom can be found in the news today. The aid was just enough to keep the Soviet bogged down in their version of the Vietnam War. The aid for Afghanistan was not enough to actually win the war, it was just enough to prop-up the war. So what exactly is the Carter doctrine? The Carter doctrine stated that the United States needed to maintain a military presence in the Middle East in some form to protect American national security and oil interests. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter said, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” This resulted in the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), which Gen. David Petraeus is now commanding. The RDJTF was at first just in place for military preparedness but then moved to an array of weapons, bases, ships and airfields throughout the Middle East. Now, as of 1980, the US is stationed in Afghanistan, permanently.

Four years later Reagan whom the public believed to be an anti-interventionist,came into office. Reagan launched a brief, ill-fated invasion of Lebanon that entailed the first suicide bombings on American forces of the modern era. The pretext for invasion was support of Israel, who had already invaded the country. While the majority of US military forces were operating under a peacekeeping role, the CIA was much more actively involved. (WFYAL)

During the Afghan war (1979-1989) the CIA allied with Saudis, Pakistanis and the most extremist of Islāmic fundamentalists who made up the core opposition to the Soviet. The CIA proved money, weapons, and other support to the extremist fighters. This is when Osama bin Laden joined the US payroll.

During the Iran/Iraq wars (1980-1988) the American political establishment provided battle planning assistance to Hussein even while knowing that Iraqi commanders were using chemical weapons on the field of battle.

What happened when the Soviets left Afghanistan? The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the backing of the US, created the Taliban. Having embarrassed the Soviets, which was the America’s goal, they left Afghanistan, and allowed the Taliban, who were/are extreme fundamentalist,to have complete control. The people, whom America is now fighting, are the same people who received support from America during the Afghan war. Not only that but the Taliban created terrorist training camps, with US taxpayer money.

Did you know that from 1991 to the Iraq invasion in 2003 the US was bombing Iraq military bases? Don’t feel bad, few actually do.

Now for the real reason the US insists on being involved in the middle east. Via Wake Forest Young Americans for Liberty, whom I think sums up the US’s Middle East challenge:

The conflict in Afghanistan is much less about protecting the United States from terrorism, and much more about expanding American empire and projecting European influence, than anyone in the Western establishment is willing to admit. The situation is shifting at an alarming rate from one of misguided presidents and generals making faulty strategic decisions to one of an establishment that has traditionally hungered for empire once again attempting to subjugate any and all opposition.

The biggest lie being propagated in regards to the conflict in Afghanistan is the idea that if we do not fight terrorists there, we will have to fight them here. The mass acceptance of this statement by much of the American public is based in the assumption that the attacks of 9/11 came directly from terrorists based in Afghanistan and supported by the Taliban.

There are multiple flaws with this common conception of the current war. The first is the proposition that the 9/11 attacks came out of Afghanistan, a fallacy used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan as a just war of defense. The fact is that the attacks of 9/11 were planned in apartments in Germany and Spain, not caves and camps in Afghanistan, and were conducted mainly by Saudis based in the United States who were retaliating against the United States both for its military presence and support of the current regime in Saudi Arabia and its ideological and physical backing of Israel’s repression of Palestinians.

In fact, the Taliban, which received U.S. foreign aid until May of 2001, was completely surprised by the events of 9/11. The Taliban is a militantly religious, anti-communist movement that is essentially a large grouping of tribesmen called Pashtun. These tribes had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. However, these are exactly the people with whom the United States is currently engaged in a bitter conflict that top generals have recently warned will end in defeat if more troops are not sent into the theater.

So where does the U.S. government draw the link between Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks? At the time of the attacks, Osama bin Laden was in fact in Afghanistan, but not to plan attacks against the United States. He was being honored as a national hero for his efforts in the 1980s against the Soviets, efforts that he carried out while receiving an American paycheck, and was also aiding the Taliban in a civil war against the communist-controlled North Alliance.

In fact, as late as 2001 the CIA was planning to use al-Qaida to foster rebellion against the Chinese while using the Taliban in a similar sense against Russia. Meanwhile, the “terrorist training camps” that supposedly were identified as the source of the 9/11 attacks were actually being run by Pakistan, which was using the camps to prepare Mujahidin fighters – yet another group that the United States has used to fight proxy wars — to fight against India in the tumultuous region of Kashmir.

Add to all of this the fact that in 2001 Al-Qaida’s membership was only 300, most of which are now dead, and it becomes obvious the American public should be suspicious of President Obama’s insistence that 68,000 more troops be sent into the Afghani theater. The claim that these troops are needed to keep al-Qaida from reorganizing, like those about WMDs in Iraq and now Iran, is nothing more than an attempt to legitimize war in the eyes of the public. There are dozens of countries all over the world where terrorist groups could plan attacks on the United States. If the attacks of 9/11 should have taught us anything, it is that terrorist groups are not geographically-based, and thus wars based on occupation and subjugation have no place as methods of national defense against such an enemy.

Want to know why there are so many civilian deaths? Well guess who we are fighting. Via Wake Forest Young Americans for Liberty:

The people who today fight against the United States in Afghanistan are the sons and daughters of tribesmen who were on the American imperial payroll under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. These people have not been born and bred to be our enemies. These are tribesmen who want to end the occupation of their land by foreigners and who have a vendetta against communists and drug lords within their own borders. They fight us for the same reasons they fought the Soviets in the 1980s. By failing to think before acting, the United States military machine has stumbled into a war with tribes that make up over half of Afghanistan’s population — and the situation is getting worse.

Richard Bissell, a top CIA official during Kennedy administration (architect of the Bay of Pigs), once said:

“we are deeply concerned with the internal affairs of other nations and that, insofar as we make any effort to encourage the evolution of the world community accord with OUR values, we will be endeavoring purposefully to influence these affairs”. “The United States is the world’s natural upholder of an International order”

America has secretly become an accidental empire. We need to stop pushing our values, governmental system, beliefs, and start worrying about our domestic problems. There is no need to have our military presence in 114 countries out of 200. The US is creating its own demise by thinking and acting on the belief that we are the world’s natural upholder of an International order.

Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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At Least Someone is Speaking Out Against Presidential Assassination Programs

Can you guess who that someone is? I know you can. Just think back to the Presidential campaign….Did you think? Well, I am tired of waiting. The someone who is speaking out against President Obama’s assassination program is Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. If you remember, his Presidential campaign consisted of speaking out against the wars, impeaching Bush/Cheney, and adhering to the Constitution no matter what the circumstances were.

During an interview with Jeremy Scahill, of The Nation, Representative Kucinich said, “I don’t support it–period,” and “I think people in both parties that are concerned about the Constitution should be speaking out on this. I can’t account for what anyone else doesn’t do.” Representative Kucinich added:

“There’s always the possibility of blowback, which could endanger high-ranking US officials. There’s the inevitable licensing of rogue groups that comes about from policies that are not strictly controlled and that get sloppy–so you have zero accountability. And that’s not even to get into an over-arching issue of the morality of assassination policies, which are extra-constitutional, extra-judicial. It’s very dangerous from every possible perspective.”

“The assassination policies vitiate the presumption of innocence and the government then becomes the investigator, policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner all in one. That raises the greatest questions with respect to our constitution and our democratic way of life.”

Scahill writes:

Targeted killings are not a new Obama administration policy. Beginning three days after his swearing in, President Obama has authorized scores of lethal drone strikes, including against specific individuals, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, surpassing the Bush era numbers. The elite Joint Special Operations Command maintains a list of individuals, including US citizens, which it is authorized to assassinate. In January, Dana Priest reported in the Washington Post that the CIA had US citizens on an assassination list, but thePost later ran a correction stating that only JSOC had “a target list that includes several Americans.” The policy of the CIA targeting al-Awlaki, a US citizen, for assassination, therefore, appeared to be a new development, at least in terms of public awareness of approved government assassinations

I thought Obama was going to follow the rule of law the US was built on. The rule of law that supposedly makes the US ‘better’ than other countries. What happen to that Obama?

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Obama on Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan: “I Am Accountable”

Jeremy Scahill, of ‘The Nation, asked, how are President Obama or Gen. McChrystal accountable? The fact is that they are responsible by covering them up and blaming the Taliban, but they will not (even though they should) be held accountable. Obama and McChrystal can proclaim how ‘accountable’ they are all they want, but it is just not true.

Why are they not held accountable? Scahill writes:

Afghans have little, if any, recourse for civilian deaths. They cannot press their case in international courts because the US doesn’t recognize an International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over US forces, Afghan courts have not and will not be given jurisdiction and Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear that the Justice Department will not permit cases against US military officials brought by foreign victims to proceed in US courts. So, what does it mean to be accountable for civilian deaths? Public apology? Press conferences? A handful of courts martial?

Today, Obama and Afghan President Karazi held a press conference, during which, Obama said:

“Because of Gen McChrystal’s direction, often times they’re holding fire, they’re hesitating, they’re being cautious about how they operate even though it would be safer for  them to go ahead and take these locations out.”

Scahill asked, how does that square with recent, heinous instances of civilian killings in Afghanistan? Citing examples, such as, Scahill writes:

In February, for example, US special forces shot and killed five people, including three women who collectively had 16 children. The US military tried to cover it up and blame it on the Taliban, saying coalition forces “found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed.” The New York Times reported that military officials had “suggested that the women had all been stabbed to death or had died by other means before the raid, implying that their own relatives may have killed them.”

Later, General McChrystal’s command admitted US-led forces had done the killing, saying it was an accident. This was hard to square with reports that soldiers may have dug bullets out of the dead bodies to try to cover it up. The head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven, eventually apologized to the family of the dead Afghans and offered them two sheep as a condolence gift. Was this accountability?

It must be easy to say you are ‘accountable’ when you know there is no possible way to actually hold you accountable.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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