Excellent source of Boston Bombing photos:
Excellent source of Boston Bombing photos:
I’m amazed California taxpayers want to accept cutbacks in the courts ($1 billion in judicial budget cuts the past five fiscal years and a $3.7 million deficit this year), higher college tuitions, furloughed workers and other public service cuts rather than address the real underlying problem: our sentencing laws, especially for drug offenses.
Fifty percent of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drugs. One in every 30 people is under some form of corrections supervision nationwide. Sixty-seven percent of Kern County’s general fund goes to criminal justice. California spends $184 million a year (and rising) trying to execute a handful of inmates on death row.
When do we admit we are a police state? Until government and society address the underlying problem of prison overcrowding — as Portugal’s reformed drug laws did — and accept the fact long sentences don’t deter crime, we’ll only get more reduced public services.
Government likes to shift things around (prison realignment) and doesn’t try to solve the underlying problem. District Attorney Lisa Green’s recent recommendation: “Someone needs to take a hard look” at whether another prison or two can be built. The last one, in Delano, cost $850 million.
From Mr Marc McDonald.
Sir, In “Right about Britain, Europe and nearly everything” (Comment, April 9), Niall Ferguson writes that Margaret Thatcher was “right about most things”. If this is true, why is Thatcher not fondly remembered today by most British people?
Thatcher’s central economic policy was to deregulate virtually everything, slash social services to the bone and embrace hardcore, dog-eat-dog capitalism. But today who advocates this sort of thing, outside of perhaps a dwindling number of Tea Party extremists in the US?
Prof Ferguson attacks “left-leaning Brits” for being supposedly wrong about Thatcher. But as I recall, Thatcher’s foes predicted that her policies would decimate the middle class. They have been vindicated.
A great deal of the economic prosperity of the Thatcher years was really more because of the North Sea oil bonanza, rather than the Iron Lady’s policies.
Outside of the US, few nations have ever embraced Thatcher’s slash-and-burn methods. In continental Europe today, for example, few people want anything to do with “Anglo-American” capitalism. The same is true of much of today’s Latin America.
As far as Thatcher’s crushing of the unions and deregulating the economy, I would challenge Prof Ferguson as to whether even this was necessarily a good thing.
Germany, for example, still has some of the most powerful unions in the world, as well as a heavily regulated economy. And yet Germany today still has a strong middle class and a world-beating high-technology manufacturing base. Germany is one of the world’s leading capital surplus nations, while Britain runs massive current account deficits. And yet Germany accomplished its enviable economic success by rejecting the Thatcher/Reagan economic model.
Marc McDonald, Fort Worth, TX, US
[If the Democratic Party activist, who spied on McConnell had actually recorded malicious plans to lie about the "flaky" Hollywood actress, rather than simply catching the politicians discussing the known negatives about the little "briar-hopper," (Ohio slang for Kentuckian, Tennesseans are "ridge-runners"), then this all might have turned-out differently. There was no slander, if they were telling the truth.]
“The ‘flaky’ actress ‘openly supports’ President Obama. She’s an ‘out of touch’ Hollywood liberal. She once said San Francisco is her ‘American city home’and has a cellphone with a 415 prefix. She’s against coal, for cap-and-trade. She supports Obamacare, abortion rights and gay marriage. She views Christianity as a ‘vestige of patriarchy.’ She enjoys ‘native faith practices’ and has used the phrase ‘Brother Donkey’ and ‘Sister Bird’ to describe animals’…. And then comes the rough stuff: ‘This sounds extreme,’ says a voice on the tape, ‘but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.’….excerpt from a Judd speech:’The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.’”–LA Times
The left-wing organization reported to be behind the alleged illegal wiretapping of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office is not, as some media coverage suggests, a an independent agent operating but a group with close ties to the Democratic Party.
In fact Shawn Reilly, the executive director of Progress Kentucky, the controversial super PAC allegedly involved in the recording, is a notable Democratic Party activist and veteran community organizer.
If Reilly has ceased to be a senior Democratic Party official, it is a very recent development.
Reilly attended the 2012 Democratic national convention in Charlotte, N.C, describing himself in a photo on his Twitter account as a delegate to the convention. He also describes himself as a delegate in another photo that shows him in a television screen grab from CNN coverage of the convention.
“Before starting Progress Kentucky, he was a member of the executive committee of the state Democratic Party,” according to a Huffington Post article from January that Progress Kentucky posted on its own website.
Although Reilly appears to be a member of the Democratic Party establishment, media outlets are now propagating a version of the illegal bugging story in which Democratic officials claim to have been blindsided by a scandal foisted on them by an unaccountable outside group.
Jacob Conway, a member of the executive committee of the state Democratic Party in Jefferson County, Kentucky, told Fox that two Progress Kentucky leaders admitted to him that they secretly recorded a February strategy meeting McConnell held with aides. The senator and campaign staffers discussed the approaching campaign and the political vulnerabilities of actress Ashley Judd, who at the time was considering running against McConnell next year.
Conway identified the two leaders as Reilly and a man named Curtis Morrison.
“I don’t know why they were at the grand opening of his campaign office. … They overheard the conversation going on,” Conway said. “To me it was an extremely tacky conversation … but it was a private conversation nonetheless.”
Conway added, “They told me they were there. They told me they were in the hallway. They have a recording. So you know, you can draw your own conclusions.”
Conway said he came forward because he didn’t want the unfolding scandal to hurt the Democratic Party.
Reilly previously worked as an organizer for a left-wing anti-war group.
In 2007 he was a “field organizer” for the Iraq Summer Campaign, a project of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.
Daily Kos diarist “briansmith” brags that the group silenced McConnell when he tried to make a speech at a public event in 2007. “The din of opposition was so great that Mitch bailed from the podium in mid-sentence,” he writes.
According to his LinkedIn bio, Reilly became executive director of Progress Kentucky in January 2013. From August 2008 to January 2013 he was a financial advisor in the Louisville office of asset management firm Waddell & Reed.
Progress Kentucky has certainly been stirring the pot lately.
In February, the super PAC received a warning letter from the Federal Election Commission after failing to disclose donors and expenditures.
Progress Kentucky was also accused of racism after its tweets mocked the Chinese ethnicity of McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
Vote to break a threatened filibuster on gun control doesn’t end the debate — it only begins it.
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 68 to 31 Thursday morning to move forward on a gun safety bill, breaking a threatened filibuster from conservative Republicans who wanted to draw out debate on a measure that they say threatens their Second Amendment rights.
The vote was just the first step in what could be a weeks-long saga fraught with procedural perils and subject to a barrage of amendments from both sides.
But it ensures an open debate on gun control for the first time in nearly a decade, and four months after 26 children and adults were shot and killed by a gunman bearing a semi-automatic rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We’ve got the attention of the American people, and frankly, the world,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the vote, as families of Sandy Hook victims watched, hands over mouths, from a gallery.
The vote — on “cloture,” or closing debate and allowing a bill to come to the floor — was one of the most-watched procedural votes in recent history. The National Rifle Administration said it would take the vote into account in sending out pre-election letter grades.
It also broke some party and regional lines. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted to move forward with the bill despite his “A+” rating from the NRA. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., voted against.
The 16 Republican senators voting to move forward were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
A trio of conservative GOP senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — said they forced the filibuster-breaking “cloture” vote because the legislation was unfinished, and no one has seen the final language of a key amendment.
“We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it,” they said in a joint statement sent out just before the vote.
Even with the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the gun bill, Senate rules require 30 hours of debate. That time is often routinely waived — but a single senator can insist on allowing the full time for arguments. Reid said Thursday morning that senators from both sides are “waiting in the wings” to offer amendments.
First up: a proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would expand background checks to guns shows and Internet sales, but exclude many of the person-to-person transfers that President Obama wanted to be covered. That amendment will come up for debate Tuesday, Reid said. After that will come Democratic-sponsored amendments to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and then an alternating series of Republican and Democratic amendments on mental health, school safety, straw purchases and others.
But the language of those amendments still hasn’t been introduced.
As senators headed to the chamber to vote, the Obama administration formally came out in support of the underlying bill, ushered through the Senate Judiciary Committee by Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., that would expand background checks but would not create new limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“The administration urges the Congress to make the legislation even stronger by adding provisions to keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate mass killings off the nation’s streets,” said the statement released through the Office of Management and Budget.
Vice President Biden, in an interview that aired Thursday on MSNBC, pointed to public opinion polls to show Americans favoring legislation such as expanded background checks for gun purchasers.
“This is one of the cases where the public is so far ahead of the elected officials — I mean so far ahead,” Biden said on the Morning Joe program. “You saw it in immigration, you saw it in marriage issues, you’re seeing it now. The public has moved to a different place.”
[Murder by drone is simply the next generation of American "Death Squads," with the "Squad" referring to the UAV controller unit, somewhere in the American Southwest, or sitting in an air-conditioned office on the 7th floor at Langley. The concept of roving bands of semi-autonomous assassins has been replaced by roving "eyes in the sky." The next logical step are programmable, self-guided terminator drones. Science Fiction has become reality. "Future shock" has been replaced by "shock and awe." America is a Fascist state, seeking to ride to total global domination on the strength of its military technology and the power of its leaders' lies.]
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.
The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.
“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”
Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.
The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”
In a response to questions from McClatchy, the White House defended its targeting policies, pointing to previous public statements by senior administration officials that the missile strikes are aimed at al Qaida and associated forces.
Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”
The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”
McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal U.S. intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct. 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed U.S. drone.
The analysis takes on additional significance because of the domestic and international debate over the legality of drone strikes in Pakistan amid reports that the administration is planning to broaden its use of targeted killings in Afghanistan and North Africa.
The U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy covered most – although not all – of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011. In that later period, Obama oversaw a surge in drone operations against suspected Islamist sanctuaries on Pakistan’s side of the border that coincided with his buildup of 33,000 additional U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. Several documents listed casualty estimates as well as the identities of targeted groups.
McClatchy’s review found that:
– At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.
Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”
During the same period, the reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
– At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.
To date, the Obama administration has not disclosed the secret legal opinions and the detailed procedures buttressing drone killings, and it has never acknowledged the use of so-called “signature strikes,” in which unidentified individuals are killed after surveillance shows behavior the U.S. government associates with terrorists, such as visiting compounds linked to al Qaida leaders or carrying weapons. Nor has it disclosed an explicit list of al Qaida’s “associated forces” beyond the Afghan Taliban.
The little that is known about the opinions comes from a leaked Justice Department white paper, a half-dozen or so speeches, some public comments by Obama and several top lieutenants, and limited open testimony before Congress.
“The United States has gone far beyond what the U.S. public – and perhaps even Congress – understands the government has been doing and claiming they have a legal right to do,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Notre Dame Law School professor who contends that CIA drone operations in Pakistan violate international law.
The documents McClatchy has reviewed do not reflect the entirety of the killings associated with U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, which independent reports estimate at between 1,990 and 3,581.
But the classified reports provide a view into how drone strikes were carried out during the most intense periods of drone warfare in Pakistan’s remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Specifically, the documents reveal estimates of deaths and injuries; locations of militant bases and compounds; the identities of some of those targeted or killed; the movements of targets from village to village or compound to compound; and, to a limited degree, the rationale for unleashing missiles.
The documents also reveal a breadth of targeting that is complicated by the culture in the restive region of Pakistan where militants and ordinary tribesmen dress the same, and carrying a weapon is part of the centuries-old tradition of the Pashtun ethnic group.
The Haqqani network, for example, cooperates closely with al Qaida for philosophical and tactical reasons, and it is blamed for some of the bloodiest attacks against civilians and U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. But the Haqqani network wasn’t on the U.S. list of international terrorist groups at the time of the strikes covered by the U.S. intelligence reports, and it isn’t known to ever have been directly implicated in a plot against the U.S. homeland.
Other groups the documents said were targeted have parochial objectives: the Pakistani Taliban seeks to topple the Islamabad government; Lashkar i Jhangvi, or Army of Jhangvi, are outlawed Sunni Muslim terrorists who’ve slaughtered scores of Pakistan’s minority Shiites and were blamed for a series of attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including a 2006 bombing against the U.S. consulate in Karachi that killed a U.S. diplomat. Both groups are close to al Qaida, but neither is known to have initiated attacks on the U.S. homeland.
“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” said Christopher Swift, a national security law expert who teaches national security affairs at Georgetown University and closely follows the targeted killing issue. “We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”
The administration has declined to reveal other details of the program, such as the intelligence used to select targets and how much evidence is required for an individual to be placed on a CIA “kill list.” The administration also hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of so-called signature strikes, let alone discussed the legal and procedural foundations of the attacks.
Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees say they maintain robust oversight over the program. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., disclosed in a Feb. 13 statement that the panel is notified “with key details . . . shortly after” every drone strike. It also reviews videos of strikes and considers “their effectiveness as a counterterrorism tool, verifying the care taken to avoid deaths to non-combatants and understanding the intelligence collection and analysis that underpins these operations.”
But until last month, Obama had rebuffed lawmakers’ repeated requests to see all of the classified Justice Department legal opinions on the program, giving them access to only two dealing with the president’s powers to order targeted killings. It then allowed the Senate committee access to all opinions pertaining to the killing of U.S. citizens to clear the way for the panel’s March 7 confirmation of John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism chief and the key architect of the targeted killings program, as the new CIA director. But it continues to deny access to other opinions on the grounds that they are privileged legal advice to the president.
Moreover, most of the debate in the United States has focused on the deaths of four Americans – all killed in drone strikes in Yemen, but only one intentionally targeted – and not the thousands of others who’ve been killed, the majority of whom have been hit in Pakistan.
Obama and his top aides say the United States is in an “armed conflict” with al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban, and the targeted killing program complies with U.S. and international laws, including an “inherent” right to self-defense and the international laws of war. Obama also derives his authority to order targeted killings from the Constitution and a Sept. 14, 2001, congressional resolution empowering the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who perpetrated 9/11 and those who aided them, they say.
Time and again, the administration has defined the drone targets as operational leaders of al Qaida, the Afghan Taliban and associated groups plotting imminent attacks on the American homeland. Occasionally, however, officials have made oblique references to undefined associated forces and threats against unidentified Americans and U.S. facilities.
On April 30, 2012, Brennan gave the most detailed explanation of Obama’s drone program. He referred to al Qaida 73 times, the Afghan Taliban three times and mentioned no other group by name.
“We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing,” Brennan said.
To be sure, America’s drone program has killed militants without risk to the nation’s armed forces.
The administration argues that drones – in Brennan’s words – are a “wise choice” for fighting terrorists. Over the years, the aircraft have battered al Qaida’s Pakistan-based core leadership and crippled its ability to stage complex attacks. And officials note it has been done without sending U.S. troops into hostile territory or causing civilian casualties “except in the rarest of circumstances.”
“Any actions we take fully comport to our law and meet the standards that I think . . . the American people expect of us as far as taking actions we need to protect the American people, but at the same time ensuring that we do everything possible before we need to resort to lethal force,” Brennan said at his Feb. 7 Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing.
Caitlin Hayden, national security spokeswoman for the White House, said late Tuesday that the Brennan speech is broad enough to cover strikes against others who are not al Qaida or the Afghan Taliban. While she did not cite any authority for broader targeting, Hayden said: “You should not assume he is only talking about al Qaida just because he doesn’t say ’al Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces’ at every reference.”
Some legal scholars and human rights organizations, however, dispute the program’s legality.
Obama, they think, is misinterpreting international law, including the laws of war, which they say apply only to the uniformed military, not the civilian CIA, and to traditional battlefields like those in Afghanistan, not to Pakistan’s tribal area, even though it may be a sanctuary for al Qaida and other violent groups. They argue that Obama also is strengthening his executive powers with an excessively broad application of the September 2001 use-of-force resolution.
The administration’s definition of “imminent threat” also is in dispute. The Justice Department’s leaked white paper argues the United States should be able “to act in self-defense in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.” Legal scholars counter that the administration is using an exaggerated definition of imminence that doesn’t exist in international law.
“I’m thankful that my doctors don’t use their (the administration’s) definition of imminence when looking at imminent death. A head cold could be enough to pull the plug on you,” said Morris Davis, a Howard University Law School professor and former Air Force lawyer who served as chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo Bay terrorism trials.
Since 2004, drone program critics say, the strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, fueling anti-U.S. outrage, boosting extremist recruiting, and helping to destabilize Pakistan’s U.S.-backed government. And some experts warn that the United States may be setting a new standard of international conduct that other countries will grasp to justify their own targeted killings and to evade accountability.
Other governments “won’t just emulate U.S. practice but (will adopt) America’s justification for targeted killings,” said Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. “When there is such a disconnect between who the administration says it kills and who it (actually) kills, that hypocrisy itself is a very dangerous precedent that other countries will emulate.”
A special U.N. human rights panel began a nine-month investigation in January into whether drone strikes, including the CIA operations in Pakistan, violate international law by causing disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties. The panel’s head, British lawyer Ben Emmerson, declared after a March 11-13 visit to Pakistan that the U.S. drone campaign “involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
The administration asserts that drones are used to hit specific individuals only after their names are added to a “list of active terrorists,” following a process of “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness” that confirms their identities as members of al Qaida or “associated forces” and weighs the strategic value of killing each one.
Yet the U.S. intelligence reports show that 43 out of the 95 strikes recorded in reports for the year ending in September 2011 were launched against groups other than al Qaida. Prominent among them were the Haqqani network and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan.
The Haqqani network is an Afghan Taliban-allied organization that operates in eastern Afghanistan and whose leaders are based in Pakistan’s adjacent North Waziristan tribal agency. The United States accuses the group of staging some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Kabul, including on the Indian and U.S. embassies, killing civilians, and attacking U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. But the Obama administration didn’t officially designate the network as a terrorist group until September 2012.
Its titular head is Jalaluddin Haqqani, an aging former anti-Soviet guerrilla who served as a minor minister and top military commander in the Taliban regime that sheltered al Qaida until both were driven into Pakistan by the 2001 U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. U.S. officials allege that the group, whose operational chief is Haqqani’s son, Sirajuddin, closely works with al Qaida and is backed by elements of the Pakistani army-led Inter-Services Intelligence spy service, a charge denied by Islamabad.
At least 15 drone strikes were launched against the Haqqani network or locations where its fighters were present during the one-year period ending in September 2011, according to the U.S. intelligence reports. They estimated that up to 96 people – or about 20 percent of the total for that period – were killed.
One report also makes clear that during the Bush administration, the agency killed Haqqani family women and children.
According to the report, an undisclosed number of Haqqani subcommanders, unnamed Arabs and unnamed “members of the extended Haqqani family” died in a Sept. 8, 2008, strike. News reports on the attack in the North Waziristan village of Dandey Darapakhel said that among as many as 25 dead were an Arab who was chief of al Qaida’s operations in Pakistan, and eight of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s grandchildren, one of his wives, two nieces and a sister.
The U.S. intelligence reports estimated that as many as 31 people were killed in at least nine strikes on the Pakistani Taliban or on locations that the group shared with others between January 2010 and September 2011. While U.S. officials say the Taliban Movement of Pakistan works closely with al Qaida, its goal is to topple the Pakistani government through suicide bombings, assaults and assassinations, not attacking the United States. The group wasn’t founded until 2007, and some of the strikes in the U.S. intelligence reports occurred before the administration designated it a terrorist organization in September 2010.
The U.S. intelligence reports estimated that the CIA killed scores of other individuals in 2010 and 2011 in strikes on other non-al Qaida groups categorized as suspected extremists and unidentified “foreign fighters,” or “other militants.” Some died in what appeared to be signature strikes, their vehicles blown to pieces sometimes only a few days after being monitored visiting the sites of earlier drone attacks, or driving between compounds linked to al Qaida or other groups.
“The first challenge in any war is knowing who you’re fighting, and distinguishing those that pose a credible threat to your interests and security,” said Swift.
The U.S. intelligence documents also describe a lack of precision when it comes to identifying targets.
Consider one attack on Feb. 18, 2010.
Information, according to one U.S. intelligence account, indicated that Badruddin Haqqani, the then-No. 2 leader of the Haqqani network, would be at a relative’s funeral that day in North Waziristan. Watching the video feed from a drone high above the mourners, CIA operators in the United States identified a man they believed could be Badruddin Haqqani from the deference and numerous greetings he received. The man also supervised a private family viewing of the body.
Yet despite a targeting process that the administration says meets “the highest possible standards,” it wasn’t Badruddin Haqqani who died when one of the drone’s missiles ripped apart the target’s car after he’d left the funeral.
It was his younger brother, Mohammad.
Friends later told reporters that Mohammad Haqqani was a religious student in his 20s uninvolved in terrorism; the U.S. intelligence report called him an active member – but not a leader – of the Haqqani network. At least one other unidentified occupant of his vehicle perished, according to the report.
It took the CIA another 18 months to find and kill Badruddin Haqqani.
“I fundamentally reject the notion that terrorism is the greatest threat to our national security. A far greater threat that has a far more profound implication for our economy and indeed our society for generations to come, for the future of this nation, is the fact that an ever increasing number of our nation’s children will have known homelessness and poverty.
More and more of those who we turn to in the next generation to take this country, our country, into the future will have grown up with compromised health, their education has been fractured, they have known hunger and food insecurity, they have known homelessness with all the disruptions and anxieties that come with it.”
Crissy Canganelli is the executive director of Shelter House. For information, visit www.shelterhouseiowa.org.
Dowds Catfish and BBQ, 1760 West Elm St., Lebanon,
MO 65536 – 417-532-1777- $8.99 up
—————————————————————————————————————————Saturday April 6, 2013 8AM – Exhibitor Setup
Saturday April 6, 2013 9AM – 6PM – EXPO Hall Open for Guests
Saturday – Seminar Rooms A, B, C, Entry Lobby, Theater, and Second Floor Mezzanine
Theater – Dr. Richard Allen Miller– Mind Control- Learn to Think Like a Navy SEAL .
Room A – Nicole Trujillo, Doterra – Medicine Cabinet Makeover – Essential Oils
Room B – Judy Dollarhite – USAPrepares.com – Water Filtration at Home or On-The-Go
Room C – Ken Hurley, Kyani – Lower High Blood Pressure, Increase Endurance – Naturally
Entry Lobby – Edward Campbell – Nobel Mint – Purchasing Gold in Small Amounts
Second Floor Mezzanine – Bob Gaskin – Bug-in or Bug-out? Which one? And Why?
Theater – James Wesley, Rawles – Part -1of 2 – via Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli -Survival
Room A- Carl Rickard, CC Silver – What is Colloidal Silver? How it is beneficial to your
Room B – Roy Birdsong, Choose Your Own Wireless – Cell Phone Calling Plans – $8 per Month
Room C – Nathan Jones, Power Source Solar – Alternative Energy from the Sun – Solar Life
Entry Lobby – Bill Whaley – Living off Junk, Creative and Useful Applications discarded Items – Also see special all-day seminar on Monday, April 8
Second Floor Mezzanine – Eric Vought – Start Your Own Sheriff’s Auxiliary – your first line of defense
Theater – James Wesley, Rawles -Part 2 of 2 – via Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli -Survival
Room A – Dr Dan Junker – Oxygen Cures – The Underground Cancer Doctor
Room B – Alan Busiek (of Doomsday Preppers) Preparedness for Beginners – how to begin
Room C – Robb Clopfill – Salad Master: Demonstration – Learn to cook to preserve nutrition – Enjoy sample foods…
Entry Lobby – John Dollarhite, DollarValue Computers. EMPs – Preventing Computer Failure
Second Floor Mezzanine – Stephen Heuer – Synergistic Nutrition - Learn The 5 Factors That Stop Your Body from operating at 100%
Theater – Joyce Riley – The Power Hour – When There is no Doctor
Room A – Brooklyn Bagwell – Doomsday Preppers – Casting Call – Do you have the preps to be on TV?
Room B – Len Pense, Gardening Revolution – Survival High Yield Gardening. Learn how to build your raised bed garden.
Room C – John Moore – Violent Climate Change. You can feel the climate changing – Should you relocate?
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Hands-on Suture Seminar Part-1 of 2 by our Emergency Room Doctor – Suture a pigs foot, and take home spare suture kit. For educational purposes only – we are not training you for surgery – Cost $65 – Watch for Free (Class size limited to 20) purchase ticket at the Store Tab at http://www.USAPrepares.com
Entry Lobby – Dough Dougherty – Author, Survive USA – Beyond Food and Water – then what?
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dragon Heaters – Cindy Mathieu – Fire Science: Wood Stoves, Masonry Heaters, and Rocket Heater
Theater – Dr. Joel Wallach, DVM – Youngevity – Restore Your Health – Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
Room A – Joel Johnson, Kodiak Survival – MacGyver 101. Invisible inventions
Room B – Marjory Wildcraft, Grow Your Own Groceries in Your Backyard – Living off the land
Room C – Paulette Wohnoutka, Millstreet Market – Build Your Own Bucket of Food. You can
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Hands-on Suture Seminar Part-2 of 2 by our Emergency Room Doctor – Suture a pigs foot, and take home spare suture kit. For educational purposes only – we are not training you for surgery – Cost $65 – Watch for Free (Class size limited to 20)
Entry Lobby – Mike Mah – Negotiate for Your Life. Learn the lifestyle of making friends easily
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Cass Ingram – Dr Oregano (Talk Show Host) – The All-purpose Cure and Prevention Herb
Theater – Larry Pratt, Teleseminar – Larry Pratt (with Vincent Finelli) – Executive Director of Gun Owners of America – The Second Amendment is in Danger
Room A – Mike Nocks, White Harvest Seed – Seeds Planting, Gardening and Saving – what to do right now!
Room B – Dr. James Hubbard – Wound Care – Burn Care
Room C – Dr. Julie Penick, Penick Health Care – Sea of Toxins. Overweight? Tired? Irritable?
Entry Lobby – Caleb Arthur, Missouri Sun Solar – Living With Solar Power
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Theater – Mat Stein – EMPs and Solar Flares – Fact Fiction and Survival Strategies. Buy your autographed books.
Room A – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – First Aid Kits Developed by an Emergency Room Doctor – Build yours and take it with you.
Room B – Craig Douglas, Forbidden Knowledge – Radiation Detection – Can you detect
Room C – John Ragan USAF Officer (Ret) – Author – The Financial State of the Union
Entry Lobby – Jeff Olms – Selecting Your First Defense Firearm
Theater – Dr Cass Ingram – Dr Oregano (Talk Show Host) – The All-purpose Cure and Prevention Herb
Room A – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Room B – Johnny Delerious, Monolithic Dome – Concrete Dome Structures. If you are willing
Room C – Lucinda Bailey, Texas Ready – Heirloom Seeds. Grow a 2,000 pound Garden
Entry Lobby – Scott Peterson – Down To Earth Seeds – Our Current Food Supply, and Dangers
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Richard Alan Miller – Ask the Doctor – the questions you want answered
Saturday April 6, 2013 6PM – 8PM– Banquet Dinner – $6, $7 Tickets Required
Networking Dinner – Instructors, Exhibitors, Guests
Seminar Rooms A, B, and C
Theater- Dr. Joel Wallach, DVM – Youngevity – Restore Your Health – Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
Room A – Stephen Heuer – Synergistic Nutrition - Learn The 5 Factors That Stop Your Body from operating at 100%
Room B – Eddie Allen – American Open Currency Standard – Gold, Silver, and Copper barter
Room C – Judy Dollarhite – Raising Rabbits and Chickens – In the City – And Her New Book – about her $6 Million USDA Fine
Entry Lobby – Mike Mah, No StressMike.com, Hoy Chi, The Ancient Art of Chinese Medicine.
Second Floor Mezzanine – Ken Hurley, Kyani – Lower High Blood Pressure, Increase Endurance – Naturally
Theater – Dr. James Hubbard – The Survival Doctor – Wound Care – Burn Care
Room A – Paulette Wohnoutka, Millstreet Market – Build Your Own Bucket of Food. You can
Room B – Joyce Riley – The Power Hour – The Truth about Military Experiments
Room C – Lucinda Bailey, Texas Ready – Heirloom Seeds. Double Your Tomato Yield
Entry Lobby – Dr. Richard Alan Miller – Who Knows – It really doesn’t Matter
Second Floor Mezzanine – David Klotz – – The Wal-Mart Takeover of America
Theater – John Moore – Violent Climate Change. You can feel the climate changing – do you need to relocate?
Room A – Joel Johnson, Kodiak Survival – MacGyver 101. Invisible inventions – that is what
Room B – Eric Lancaster, Teraganix – High Yield Gardening on Steroids – Let Microorganisms do the hard work.
Room C – Glenn Meder, Survival Still – Emergency Water Distillation – What do you do when there is no clean drinking water?
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Learn how to vacuum pack foods for long term storage.
Entry Lobby – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Second Floor Mezzanine – Aaron Tarlow -Southern Armory – Buy Your First Survival Firearm – Beginners
Theater – Marjory Wildcraft, (Doomsday Preppers Expert), Grow Your Own Groceries – Bugs, the final and last choice for
Room A – Valerie Earhart – ABC Books – EMP Proof Information that You Need – We have
Room B – Casey Mustion, Hewitt Messenger – Well Drilling and Water Treatment.
Room C – Dr. Howard Shayne, DDS, Fox Grape Dentistry – Emergency Dentistry
Entry Lobby – Ray Cooley, Solar Labs – Solar Power for Your Home and Business
Second Floor Mezzanine – Jeff Olms – Selecting Your First Defense Firearm
Theater – Sheriff Richard Mack (America’s Sheriff) – The Second Amendment – Our Greatest Threat to Liberty
Room A- Bill Whaley – Live Off Junk – Creative and useful applications for items in the trash
Room B – Bruce Hough – Buy Your First Farm
Room C – Bob Gaskin – What to do When the Lights Go Out – Serious Survival Strategies
Entry Lobby – Wes McCollum – VacuCanner – Simple and Effective Process for Food Storage
Second Floor Mezzanine – Chief Cloudpiler – Native American Medicine – Do you want to be a Medicine Man/Woman – Natural Healing
Theater – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Every Day Carry – The essential Supplies that you must carry with you.
Room A – Len Pense, Gardening Revolution – Survival High Yield Gardening. Learn how to…
Room B – Ozark Beekeepers Association – Beekeeping for Food Production. It is simple.
Room C – Dr Dan Junker – Oxygen Cures – The Underground Cancer Doctor
Entry Lobby – Julia Schopick – Author – Honest Medicine – Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli
Second Floor Mezzanine – Louis Krudo – Krudo Knives – Knife Fighting – Devense
Sunday April 7, 2013 – 4PM – Exhibitor Close Down
Monday, April 8, 2013 8AM – 5PM – Special Optional Seminars for Guests
8 – 5
Seminar Room A – Dr. Richard Alan Miller – Critical Decision Making Power Tools – Learn to Think Like a Navy SEAL – by the man who developed the technology. Limited seating. Cost $35 per person, $50 per couple. On-Line Registration – USAPrepares.com, Store Tab. Dinner at Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ – Optional and on your own
Monday, April 8, 2013 8AM – 5PM – Special Optional Seminars for Guests
8 – 5
Seminar Room B – MacGyver meets the Junk Man – Presented by the Authors and Developers of “Invisible Inventions” (a.k.a. “MacGyver 101″) and “How to Live on Junk”
BASIC / INTERMEDIATE WORKSHOP In this hands-on workshop, Joel Johnson, (“The Real MacGyver”) and Bill Whaley (“The Junkman”) train you to take another man’s trash and turn it into fuel, tools, and weapons essential for emergency survival, to economize, and to think, see, and perform like MacGyver. Cost $35 per person, $50 per household. On-Line Registration – USAPrepares.com, Store Tab. Dinner at Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ – Optional and on your own
[If left unchecked, then the penetration of the American heartland by the heavily armed (WE have heavily armed them) Mexican drug cartels will justify whatever level of militarization deemed necessary by the powers that be. This means that reasonably, and with no stretch of the imagination, Americans can assume that the American Heartland will experience a very real drug war of our own in the immediate future, similar to the ongoing civil war in Mexico. It will be a war entirely of our own making. With our creation of the "Los Zetas" cartel (training given by American Special Forces to Mexican Special Forces units, which included Zetas founding members), by our surreptitious provision of military grade arms through "Fast and Furious," and because of misguided policies of taking the Sinaloa Cartel side in Mexico's drug war, cartel outposts have been created in America's major cities such as Chicago, Denver and Dallas. One needs only to look to the border cities of Texas, to understand the level of violence which is now barely being held back. The recent cold-blooded murders of district attornies in Texas and a prison warden in Colorado documents how far the seepage of Mexican cartel violence has already gone beyond our border fences. Both of these examples also illustrate a new, even more troubling development in the spread of the Cartels' tentacles, the embedding of the Zetas organization within the American penal system, where it is merging with the major white supremacist groups, like the Aryan Brotherhood and their Colorado branch, called the "211 Crew."
American justice officials have little choice, but to eradicate the American foothold of the Zetas and the Sinaloas, before it is too late. The big problem with this statement is that it seems to speak in support of a military escalation on American soil, which has been the Pentagon/CIA plan all along. Our only hope, i.e., the hope of Americans who love our Constitution, is that the Cartel onslaught will be handled through a concerted, nationwide police offensive, before it can further escalate into a military problem. This means that the subversive hand of the CIA must be removed from the equation. It is the CIA which has been "queering" everybody's fight against the Cartels within Mexico, in order to bring-about their own plans for the total destabilization of the American Homeland. In this, as in all American policy problems, it is the CIA that is poisoning the well.
The only thing that can save the United States of America is the fulfillment of JFK's promise to "shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces," as well as the immediate scrapping of every single project that they had in the works. Compared to that, taming the Cartels should be a piece of cake.]
CHICAGO – Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.
The cartel threat looms so large that one of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins — a man who has never set foot in Chicago — was recently named the city’s Public Enemy No. 1, the same notorious label once assigned to Al Capone.
The Chicago Crime Commission, a non-government agency that tracks crime trends in the region, said it considers Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman even more menacing than Capone because Guzman leads the deadly Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in Chicago and in many cities across the U.S.
Years ago, Mexico faced the same problem — of then-nascent cartels expanding their power — “and didn’t nip the problem in the bud,” said Jack Killorin, head of an anti-trafficking program in Atlanta for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “And see where they are now.”
Riley sounds a similar alarm: “People think, ‘The border’s 1,700 miles away. This isn’t our problem.’ Well, it is. These days, we operate as if Chicago is on the border.”
Border states from Texas to California have long grappled with a cartel presence. But cases involving cartel members have now emerged in the suburbs of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and rural North Carolina. Suspects have also surfaced in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Mexican drug cartels “are taking over our neighbourhoods,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane warned a legislative committee in February. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan disputed her claim, saying cartels are primarily drug suppliers, not the ones trafficking drugs on the ground.
For years, cartels were more inclined to make deals in Mexico with American traffickers, who would then handle transportation to and distribution within major cities, said Art Bilek, a former organized crime investigator who is now executive vice-president of the crime commission.
As their organizations grew more sophisticated, the cartels began scheming to keep more profits for themselves. So leaders sought to cut out middlemen and assume more direct control, pushing aside American traffickers, he said.
Beginning two or three years ago, authorities noticed that cartels were putting “deputies on the ground here,” Bilek said. “Chicago became such a massive market … it was critical that they had firm control.”
To help fight the syndicates, Chicago recently opened a first-of-its-kind facility at a secret location where 70 federal agents work side-by-side with police and prosecutors. Their primary focus is the point of contact between suburban-based cartel operatives and city street gangs who act as retail salesmen. That is when both sides are most vulnerable to detection, when they are most likely to meet in the open or use cellphones that can be wiretapped.
Others are skeptical about claims cartels are expanding their presence, saying law-enforcement agencies are prone to exaggerating threats to justify bigger budgets.
David Shirk, of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute, said there is a dearth of reliable intelligence that cartels are dispatching operatives from Mexico on a large scale.
“We know astonishingly little about the structure and dynamics of cartels north of the border,” Shirk said. “We need to be very cautious about the assumptions we make.”
In Mexico, the cartels are known for a staggering number of killings — more than 50,000, according to one tally. Beheadings are sometimes a signature.
So far, cartels don’t appear to be directly responsible for large numbers of slayings in the United States, though the Texas Department of Public Safety reported 22 killings and five kidnappings in Texas at the hands of Mexican cartels from 2010 through mid- 2011.
Still, police worry that increased cartel activity could fuel heightened violence.
In Chicago, the police commander who oversees narcotics investigations, James O’Grady, said street-gang disputes over turf account for most of the city’s uptick in murders last year, when slayings topped 500 for the first time since 2008. Although the cartels aren’t dictating the territorial wars, they are the source of drugs.
Riley’s assessment is stark: He argues that the cartels should be seen as an underlying cause of Chicago’s disturbingly high murder rate.
“They are the puppeteers,” he said. “Maybe the shooter didn’t know and maybe the victim didn’t know that. But if you follow it down the line, the cartels are ultimately responsible.”
The world’s most powerful mayor welcomes ‘visibility’ — just not in city hall
Taking a break from his crusade against sugary soft drinks, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg took some time during his weekly radio broadcast last week to downplay an issue that’s been at the forefront of privacy concerns in a growing number of US states: the use of unmanned aerial drones for ubiquitous police surveillance. “What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” asked an incredulous Bloomberg, now in the final months of his heavily-lobbied third term in office. “I mean, intellectually I have trouble making that distinction.”
The comparison seems especially tone-deaf as lawmakers and citizens in other cities across the US continue efforts to block the use of drones by law enforcement for general surveillance. In Seattle, the public outcry has already derailed plans to introduce police drones, and in Florida, a bill currently sailing through the State Senate would require law enforcement to have probable cause warrants before using drones. 22 other states are in various stages of passing similar legislation; Virginia legislators have even gone as far as approving a bill that will put a two year moratorium on drones altogether.
The furor helps underscore that, yes, there is a huge differences between cameras in the streets and drones in the skies. “Many privacy invasions are abstract and invisible [...] Drones, on the other hand, are concrete and real, and the threat requires no explanation,” wrote the ACLU’s Catherine Crump and Jay Stanley. “But they are just the most visible example of a host of new surveillance technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter the balance of power between individuals and the state.”
The NYPD’s “Domain Awareness System” has around 3,000 cameras
In New York City, that balance has already been disrupted. Currently, the NYPD’s surveillance network is comprised of around 3,000 street-level cameras in Manhattan, connected to its loudly-trumpeted and Orwellian-sounding “Domain Awareness System.” The system combines real-time CCTV feeds with data from various other sources, including 911 calls and CompStat crime prevention software, which uses statistics to algorithmically identify areas where crimes are likely to occur and dispatches police accordingly. NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly announced last week that a citywide license plate reading program will soon be integrated into the $30 million system as well, allowing police to track practically all vehicle movements with unprecedented speed and efficiency. All video footage collected in this way is retained up to 30 days, and all other data can be kept for up to 5 years.
Before 9/11, the prelude to this massive surveillance expansion was VIPER, a collaboration in the late 90s between the NYPD and New York City Housing Authority which installed hundreds of police surveillance cameras inside low-income public housing. In the following years, police triumphantly cited a 36 percent reduction in crime in the housing projects they monitored. The stats were largely accepted, but a wider look revealed that crime had actually fallen overall in New York City during that decade, and so this drop might be the result of macro factors, not the new cameras. Further investigation by the Government Accountability Office was also unable to establish a direct link between surveillance cameras and reduced crime.
Even in the heavily-monitored UK, the country whose 2012 Olympic mascot was a cartoon surveillance camera, evidence has been spotty. In 2008, Scotland Yard solved only one crime for every 1,000 CCTV cameras within London’s infamous “Ring of Steel,” which was created to combat a series of IRA bombings in the early 90s. The most commonly-cited independent study counts one CCTV camera for every 14 people in England (with the British Home Office estimating much lower). However, numerous factors have complicated any attempt at proving whether they are an effective deterrent. Some research has suggested that surveillance cameras often displace crime into the space outside of their influence rather than help solve or prevent it. David Davies, a Conservative Member of the British Parliament, has lamented that London’s massive camera population “creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.”
Whether or not these systems are truly effective, their potential effects on privacy vastly differ from those of a surveillance drone hovering above a city. For one, the NYPD’s system does not include the vast majority of the city’s cameras, the privately owned units commonly affixed to the outsides of buildings. And even then, it’s difficult to make the argument that a network of stationary street-level cameras compares to “wide-area persistent surveillance” technologies like ARGUS-IS, the DARPA-developed drone surveillance system made from hacked-together cellphone camera sensors which can identify and track a person as they move across an entire city (the NYPD is already employing a lesser form of Argus camera in their CCTV network).
“I just don’t see how you can stop them.”
Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men who rules over one of the most intensely policed cities on earth, should know this more than anyone. But with a strategically placed “fuggedaboutit,” he disregards civil problems regarding privacy that his police force has probably long seen as administrative solutions.
“We’re going to have more visibility and less privacy [...] you can’t keep the tide from coming in,” he said ominously, resigned to a supposedly inevitable scenario where drones constantly patrol the skies. “It’s not a matter of whether I think it’s good or bad. I just don’t see how you can stop them.”
The sudden doom-and-gloom is ironic, considering how just last September, the NYPD spared no expense in tracking down and arresting Essam Attia, the street artist who posted fake NYPD “drone” billboards across the city, hoping to start a conversation about this very issue. The case was pursued vigorously by NYPD forensics and counter-terrorism teams, eventually serving Attia with 56 felony counts for the short-lived, politically-motivated vandalism. It’s as if somewhere in the past few months, we’ve gone from please remove your tin-foil hats to Bloomberg’s constant droning is inevitable — get used to it.
Is the situation really so hopeless? Perhaps. But it’s certainly easier to think so when you preside over a paramilitary police force that frequently receives healthy doses of grant money from the US Department of Homeland Security to implement such surveillance programs. For years the NYPD has been using those resources to do things like infiltrate Muslim communities, employing alarmingly aggressive tactics in an attempt to ensnare average citizens as “terrorist suspects.” More recently, the department has come under fire for its infamous “Stop and Frisk” program, which establishes quotas for officers to search random passersby, and overwhelmingly antagonizes black and hispanic men in low-income neighborhoods.
When Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he means visibility of the citizenry, not the police
But for all these various strains of snooping, Bloomberg’s NYPD has never been receptive to criticism, or demands for its own transparency. Just last week, the Mayor promised to veto a bill which would create new independent oversight of the department to investigate police misconduct. Why? According to Bloomberg, the increased oversight would “put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk,” a claim which he made no attempt to prove. So it’s again ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that when Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he only means more visibility of the citizenry, not the police. By its nature, police surveillance is never “transparency” — it’s a black box.
Bloomberg of all people should know that attitude won’t fly. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually a staunch ally of Bloomberg’s, recently declared that she has the votes to override the veto on the NYPD oversight bill. And if the legislation running through various states right now is any indication, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Bloomberg, embracing a drone-infested surveillance state for what remains of his term, will find himself in the minority. Transparency, at very minimum, needs to be a two-way street — not an ever-present, top-down panopticon.
[Gen. Kelly warns about possible Iranian terrorism merging with drug cartels in Central and South America. At the nexus of terrorism and drug traficking you will always find the CIA.]
CIA Torture Jet crashed with 4 Tons of COCAINE, September 24, 2007
A Gulfstream II jet that crash landed in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in late September bearing a load of nearly four tons of cocaine. This particular Gulfstream II (tail number N987SA), was used between 2003 and 2005 by the CIA for at least three trips between the U.S. east coast and Guantanamo Bay — home to the infamous “terrorist” prison camp — according to a number of press reports.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – A potential connection between crime syndicates and terrorists in Latin America would constitute a clear danger to the region, U.S. Southern Command’s senior leader told reporters at the Pentagon today.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said the increase in Iranian influence in Latin America is worrisome, and an example of the peril that the combination of criminal networks and states that sponsor terrorism, like Iran, could pose.
Kelly, who took over U.S. Southern Command in November, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that in the past six years Iran has tried to increase its influence in Central and South America. The Iranian government, he said, has built embassies and cultural centers in the region.
“The concern is that … they’re looking … for influence — say for votes in the U.N. on sanctions,” he said. “But also, and I’ve … made mention to some of our friends in the region that these guys are very, very good at what they do, and very, very skilled at what they do, and that people should just be careful as to who they’re dealing with.”
The general stressed he is not accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Latin America, but he noted that Iran is involved in terrorism in other areas of the world.
“We do know that some terrorist organizations are able to skim off fairly substantial sums of money from the drug profits,” Kelly said. “And so there has to be kind of a network for that to happen.”
The criminal networks in Latin America are very sophisticated and very well financed, he said.
Drugs are the basis for this wealth and the drug-related money coming out of the United States “is astronomical,” Kelly said.
“I mean palettes of money,” he said. “For a buck, anything can get on the [drug transport] network.”
That network, Kelly said, transports tons of drugs into the United States and Europe and moves bales of money back out.
“The point of it all is the network is a very dangerous thing to have working as effectively as it does, because anything can get on it,” he said.
Kelly said his command is working to build military-to-military contacts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The good news about Latin America and my part of the world is that there are no wars,” he said.
And most Latin American countries, including Brazil — the world’s fifth-largest economy — want the United States as a partner, Kelly said.
The countries of the region don’t ask for much, the general said.
“When I go down and visit, they’re not asking for an awful [lot] — they’re not asking for money,” Kelly said. “They’re willing to pay their own way.”
What the Latin American countries need is expertise, the general said. For example, Peru is asking for help in getting its separate military services to work together better. Colombia needs help in countering improvised explosive devices that the terror group FARC and criminal syndicates use to protect coca fields and factories. Other nations need medical expertise.
Turning to another topic, Kelly noted that sequestration will hit his command hard. He said there will be fewer vessels to interdict cocaine shipments, and fewer troops to operate with partner militaries.
The planning document recently obtained by Reuters, dated March 4, showed that the legislation is primarily aimed at targeting and tracking terrorist cells, exposing money-laundering schemes, tracing criminal syndicates and curbing corruption.
However, though the plan is still in its early stages, it has sparked mass outrage with many calling it a cover for wide-ranging surveillance net desired by the US government.
“Sold as an effort to stop international terror groups, the proposed measure pushes us ever closer to a complete Orwellian Police State where you are guilty without cause, evidence, or even accusation,” McGrath, founder of Wide Awake News told RT.
McGrath said the proposed law is in line with legislation like the NDAA and PATRIOT Act, what he called an “ongoing assault on liberty that has been implemented since 911.”
“The future of freedom seems quite clear,” McGrath concluded.
At the same time, experts are skeptical that the legislation would result in a significant increase in arrests of terrorist. “But more citizens could end up being caught up in the financial crosshairs,” Margaret Bogenrief, a founding partner of ACM Partners financial advisory firm told RT.
The new plan will do little to keep America safe, while potentially increasing, at least partially, the risk of an innocent or wrongly profiled individual being caught in a misinterpretation of their banking information, Bogenrief explained.
“The continued efforts to ‘keep its citizens safe,’ the US government seems be to struggling to walk that line between protection and invasion of American citizens’ privacy,” Bogenrief said. “More citizens could end up being caught up in the financial crosshairs.”
As financial institution are already over-reporting on questionable activity, this new enforcement plan “almost guarantees an abuse, whether intentional or not,” she added.
The true tragedy of this plan is that it likely will not see a significant increase in the number of arrests of high-profile criminals, Bogenrief explained: “Truly sophisticated criminals – whether they be members of organized crime, gangs, or terrorist groups – will already have the structures and teams in place that will assist these criminal groups in both skirting these rules and avoiding prosecution.”
[SEE: The Informants]
How FBI sting operations make jihadists out of hapless malcontents
Imagine a country in which the government pays convicted con artists and criminals to scour minority religious communities for disgruntled, financially desperate, or mentally ill patsies who can be talked into joining fake terrorist plots, even if only for money. Imagine that the country’s government then busts its patsies with great fanfare to justify ever-increasing authority and ever-increasing funding. According to journalist Trevor Aaronson’s The Terror Factory, this isn’t the premise for a Kafka novel; it’s reality in the post-9/11 United States.
The Terror Factory is a well-researched and fast-paced exposé of the dubious tactics the FBI has used in targeting Muslim Americans with sting operations since 2001. The book updates and expands upon Aaronson’s award-winning 2011 Mother Jones cover story “The Informants.” Most readers likely have heard about several alleged conspiracies to attack skyscrapers, synagogues, or subway stations, involving either individuals whom the FBI calls “lone wolves” or small cells that a credulous press has tagged with such sinister appellations as the Newburgh 4 or the Liberty City 7. But they may be astonished to learn that many of these frightening plots were almost entirely concocted and engineered by the FBI itself, using corrupt agents provocateurs who often posed a far more serious criminal threat than the dimwitted saps the investigations ultimately netted.
Drawing on court records and interviews with the defendants, their lawyers, their families, and the FBI officials and prosecutors who oversaw the investigations, Aaronson portrays an agency that has adopted an “any means necessary” approach to its terrorism prevention efforts, regardless of whether real terrorists are being caught. To the FBI, this imperative justifies recruiting informants with extensive criminal records, including convictions for fraud, violent crimes, and even child molestation, that in an earlier era would have disqualified them except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
In addition to offering lenience, if not forgiveness, for heinous crimes, the FBI pays these informants tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, creating a perverse incentive for them to ensnare dupes into terrorist plots. Aaronson quotes an FBI official defending this practice: “To catch the devil you have to go to hell.”
Such an analysis might make sense when police leverage one criminal to gain information about more-serious criminal conspiracies—in other words, to catch a real “devil.” But Aaronson’s research reveals that the targets in most of these sting operations posed little real threat. They may have had a history of angry anti-government rhetoric, but they took no steps toward terrorist acts until they received encouragement and resources from government agents.
Aaronson describes the case of an unemployed and practically homeless 22-year-old named Derrick Shareef, befriended by an FBI informant with an armed robbery conviction who gave him a place to live. When Shareef couldn’t (or wouldn’t) raise the money to buy weapons needed for a plot suggested by the informant, he was introduced to a faux weapons dealer who was willing to trade four hand grenades and a pistol for Shareef’s used stereo speakers. The fact that Shareef believed a real weapons dealer would accept such a barter provides a clue as to his criminal experience.
Aaronson correctly takes pains to avoid portraying those caught in the stings as completely innocent of malice. But he demonstrates that they almost universally lack violent criminal histories or connections to real terrorist groups. Most important, while they may have talked about committing violent acts, they rarely had weapons of their own and, like Shareef, usually lacked the financial means to acquire them. Yet the government provided them with military hardware worth thousands of dollars that would be extremely difficult for even sophisticated criminal organizations to obtain, only to bust them in a staged finale.
This aspect of Aaronson’s narrative is most troubling to me, as a former FBI agent who worked undercover in domestic terrorism investigations before 9/11. Prior to September 11, 2001, if an agent had suggested opening a terrorism case against someone who was not a member of a terrorist group, who had not attempted to acquire weapons, and who didn’t have the means to obtain them, he would have been gently encouraged to look for a more serious threat. An agent who suggested giving such a person a stinger missile or a car full of military-grade plastic explosives would have been sent to counseling. Yet in Aaronson’s telling, such techniques are now becoming commonplace.
My concern is partly that the artificially inflated scale of the threat in these cases seems designed to overwhelm judges, jurors, and the general public, who might otherwise view such methods as illegal entrapment. The FBI often announces these arrests with great fanfare, highlighting the scope of the damage that could have been caused by weapons provided entirely by the government. Such pretrial publicity creates a climate of fear that is likely to influence judges and jurors.
Indeed, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon severely criticized the investigation that led to the 2009 arrest of James Cromitie, a small-time ex-con from Newburgh, New York, whose apparent reluctance to join a fake missile plot was overcome when an informant offered him $250,000 to participate. At his sentencing, Judge McMahon observed that “only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.” Yet McMahon let the jury’s conviction stand and sentenced Cromitie to 25 years in prison. Of 150 defendants charged in these schemes, Aaronson documents only two acquittals.
The exaggerated significance of these manufactured terrorist plots also raises the possible penalties for those charged, due to “terrorism enhancement” sentencing provisions. The majority of defendants plead guilty to mitigate draconian penalties, raising an additional question of whether the purpose of this government tactic is to avoid judicial and public scrutiny altogether. Law enforcement has no business staging theatrical productions that intentionally exaggerate the seriousness of a defendant’s criminal conduct.
Even more unsettling is the flawed reasoning that drives the use of these methods. FBI agents have been inundated with bigoted training materials that falsely portray Arabs and Muslims as inherently violent. The FBI also has embraced an unfounded theory of “radicalization” that alleges a direct progression from adopting certain beliefs, or expressing opposition to U.S. policies, to becoming a terrorist. With such a skewed and biased view of the American Muslim community, the FBI’s strategy of “preemption, prevention, and disruption” results in abusive surveillance, targeting, and exploitation of innocent people based simply on their exercise of their First Amendment rights.
Aaronson fails, however, to recognize that these tactics are neither new to the FBI nor exclusively used against Muslims. The FBI’s earliest documented use of agents provocateurs with criminal backgrounds was revealed during congressional investigations of labor “radicals,” pacifists, and socialists in 1918. The bureau’s investigations of radicals led to nationwide warrantless raids, resulting in thousands of arrests and hundreds of deportations, yet solved no terrorist bombings and discovered less than a handful of firearms. Although reforms were implemented, decades later the Church Committee’s inquiries revealed that covert operations conducted as part of the FBI’s COINTELPRO investigations had targeted civil rights and anti-war groups because of their First Amendment–protected activities from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Recalling this history is important because in both cases, reform of these improper practices was implemented by restricting FBI intelligence activities and requiring a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before initiating investigations. These restrictions have once again been relaxed, and the rapid increase in sting operations under the Obama administration that Aaronson documents is directly attributable to amendments made to the FBI’s guidelines in 2008, authorizing the use of informants without requiring any factual predicate of wrongdoing. The FBI also has used these dubious tactics against aged anti-government militiamen and misfit anarchists, so Muslims are not the only targets in its crosshairs.
Without reforms to FBI guidelines, anyone holding unorthodox views or challenging government policies could find himself targeted by overzealous federal agents using unscrupulous informants. The FBI should be investigating violent crime, not inventing it.
[It is little wonder that the United States of America is hurtling down the road to dictatorship at warp speed, when both of our premier intelligence bureaus (both foreign and domestic services) have been built-up around solid cores of the worst Nazis available to them. Basically, the remnants of the Gestapo and the SS were absorbed by the FBI and the CIA for their anti-Communist capabilities. The CIA used them to gain access to their Russian and Eastern European networks. The FBI apparently used them for the same purposes inside the US, to infiltrate Soviet bloc expatriate communities. How could America become anything other than another brutal police state, with people like this controlling the intelligence which would guide our elected decision-makers? Things like this tend to validate our "extremist" beliefs that our current form of government must be cast-off, so that Democratic government might be returned to our floundering Constitutional Republic.]
This essay is adapted from Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America’s Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals, which was recently published by Delphinium Books.
A trove of recently declassified documents leads to several inescapable conclusions about the FBI’s role in protecting both proven and alleged Nazi war criminals in America. First, there can be no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover collected Nazis and Nazi collaborators like pennies from heaven. Unlike the military and its highly structured Operation Paperclip — with its specific targets, systematic falsification of visa applications, and creation of bogus biographies — Hoover had no organized program to find, vet, and recruit alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators as confidential sources, informants, and unofficial spies in émigré communities around the country. America’s No. 1 crime buster was guided only by opportunism and moral indifference.
Each Nazi collaborator that his agents stumbled upon, or learned about from the CIA, was both a potential spy and a potential anticommunist leader. Once they were discovered, Hoover sought them out, used them, and protected them. He had no interest in reporting alleged Nazi war criminals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Justice Department, or the State Department for possible deportation or extradition. He appeared smug in his simplistic division of Americans into shadeless categories of bad guys and good guys, communists and anticommunists.
Hoover was careful about the number of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators he placed on the FBI payroll. If Congress or its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, ever insisted on a tally, he could say with a straight face that there were only a handful of paid confidential sources and informants. But if one adds the war criminals he informally cultivated and used, the number ranges well into the hundreds. Although some of the snapshots may be out of focus, the big picture is now clear. Hoover and the FBI knew the identities, addresses, and backgrounds of up to a thousand alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators on whom he had files but did not report to INS, Justice, State, or the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) unit of the Justice Department.
Among the newly revealed Nazi collaborators that Hoover and the FBI used and protected were John Avdzej, Laszlo Agh, and Vladimir Sokolov. During the war, Belorussian John Avdzej had been installed as the Nazi’s puppet mayor of the Niasvizh district in western Belorussia, once part of Poland. His first mayoral job was to rid his district of all Poles. As a first step, he gave the Gestapo a list of 120 Polish intelligentsia that included journalists, professors, priests, and former military officers, according to recently declassified intelligence files. Then he took part in their execution, as well as in the murder of thousands of Jews under his political jurisdiction.
The Polish Home Army condemned him to death in absentia. The United States was responsible for bringing Avdzej to America. Hoover snapped him up and protected him until 1984, when OSI charged him with visa fraud. Facing trial and possible extradition for war crimes, Avdzej voluntarily left the United States for West Germany, where he died a free man in 1998.
Laszlo Agh was a wartime member of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, an anti- Semitic group of fascists responsible for the murder of 10,000 to 15,000 Hungarian Jews and the deportation to Auschwitz of another 80,000. According to 12 eyewitnesses, Agh had personally rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed hundreds of Hungarian Jews. The torture included forced calisthenics to the point of unconsciousness, burial in the ground up to the neck until dead, and orders to jump on ground studded with partially buried bayonets.
Agh intrigued Hoover. A bitterly anticommunist leader had fallen into his lap and Hoover quickly recruited him as an unofficial informant. When the INS began to investigate Agh, the FBI refused to cooperate. As a result, Agh was never tried for visa fraud. Like Avdzej, he died a free man.
Russian Vladimir Sokolov (aka Vladimir Samarin) was a senior editor and writer for Rech (Speech), a German-controlled, anti-Semitic Russian newspaper. He entered the United States in July 1951. Sokolov penned articles calling for the extermination of Russian Jews as enemies of the people. Jews advised Stalin, he wrote, started the German-Soviet war, and controlled the White House. Only Germany and its allies had the wisdom to understand the international Jewish conspiracy and the courage to fight “the Kikes of the world.” After the war, Moscow placed Sokolov on its most-wanted list, claiming it had concrete proof that he had worked with the Gestapo as a propagandist and had personally identified Jews for execution. The FBI, on the other hand, considered Sokolov a “sincere, outspoken anti-Communist [and] a potential source.”
At one point, he even taught Russian language and literature at Yale University. “How a man with no high academic credentials suddenly procured such a prestigious position is a mystery,” wrote historian Norman Goda. “It is clear that the FBI used him as an informant while at Yale, possibly to report on Russian students.”
If Sokolov was spying for a U.S. intelligence agency, he was probably an asset in Redcap, a CIA program to collect information on Soviets living and studying abroad. The CIA as well as the FBI wanted to know if a Soviet alien was a KGB mole and, if not, whether he or she could be flipped. Redcap assets were asked to collect information on selected targets. Besides a photograph and handwriting sample, Redcap wanted: a list of non-Soviet contacts; a description of personality, habits, and hobbies; his or her political vulnerability; and the planned date of return to the Soviet Union. Of particular interest to Redcap was information on extramarital affairs that could be used for blackmail.
OSI filed charges against Sokolov for visa fraud and won its case. A federal court stripped him of his U.S. citizenship. To avoid deportation to the Soviet Union, where he would face a public trial and certain execution, Sokolov fled to Canada. He died a free man in 1992.
However shocking and reprehensible, Hoover’s use of alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators is just a small part of the FBI story. To focus only on that dimension diverts attention away from a more important issue. In choosing to take the low moral ground, Hoover and the FBI betrayed the trust of Americans, living and dead. And in perpetrating a 50-year conspiracy of silence, the FBI shamed Americans and made them unwitting hypocrites in the eyes of the world. Most Americans find morally repugnant — if not criminal — the behavior of European citizens who cheered or merely stood by in silence while Nazis and Nazi collaborators dragged away their neighbors, looted their homes, shot them in the forest, or crammed them into boxcars heading east. How then must Americans judge the cadre of unelected, powerful men who welcomed some of those same murderers to America and helped them escape punishment in the name of national security?
By Conor Friedersdorf
The attorney general should be brought before Congress and interrogated about his notion of what the president could do in the aftermath of an attack.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese war planes bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Six decades later, Al Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Neither President Franklin Roosevelt nor President George W. Bush targeted and killed Americans on U.S. soil in the aftermath of those attacks. Doing so wouldn’t have made any sense.
How strange, then, that Attorney General Eric Holder invoked those very attacks in a letter confirming that President Obama believes there are circumstances in which he could order Americans targeted and killed on U.S. soil. “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws … for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” he wrote. “For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941 and on September 11, 2001.”
The very scenario to be guarded against is a president using the pretext of a terrorist attack to seize extraordinary powers. Isn’t that among the most likely scenarios for the United States turning into an authoritarian security state? To be sure, if Americans are at the controls of fighter jets en route to Hawaii, of course Obama could order that they be fired upon. If Americans hijacked a plane, of course it would be permissible to kill them before they could crash it into a building. But those are not the sorts of targeted killings that Senator Rand Paul asked about in a letter to White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, prompting Holder’s response.
If you read to the end of Holder’s letter, to the passage where he says, “Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president on the scope of his authority,” it becomes clear that, despite invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, even he isn’t envisioning a response to an attack in process, which would have to happen immediately. So what does he envision? If he can see that a “for example” is necessary to explain, he ought to give us a clarifying example, rather than a nonsensical one that seems to name-check events for their emotional resonance more than for their aptness to the issue.
Elsewhere in his letter, Holder writes that “the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.” Interesting they reject it “as a policy matter,” but aren’t willing to reject military force in the United States as a legal matter, even in instances where law enforcement would better incapacitate the threat. For the Obama Administration, conceding that the executive branch is legally forbidden to do certain things is verboten, despite the fact that an unchecked executive is much more dangerous than the possibility of a future president failing to do enough to fight back against an actual attack on our homeland*.
Any thinking person can see that Holder’s letter is non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative in its sly reassurances, right down to the rhetorically powerful but substantively nonsensical invocation of 9/11. (Being more subtle about it than Rudy Giuliani doesn’t make it right.) To credulously accept this sort of response, on an issue as important as this one, is behavior unfit for any citizen of a free country, where safeguarding the rule of law is a civic responsibility.
Rand Paul deserves tremendous credit for eliciting this response. In its wake, he needs help from his colleagues and his countrymen. The time to discuss the appropriate scope of the president’s authority is now, not in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack on the nation, as Holder suggests. The fact that he disagrees speaks volumes about Team Obama’s reckless shortsightedness.
*Does anyone imagine, in the aftermath of a future Pearl Harbor or 9/11, that Congress would refuse to authorize whatever reasonable authority the executive branch required to kill or capture the perpetrators? It is difficult to imagine anyone even worrying over so implausible an outcome.
The rhetoric and threat of domestic terrorist plots mirrors the mood observed in the six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.
The number of militias and radical anti-government “patriot” groups operating in the USA reached an all-time high in 2012, a report Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds.
The center tracked 1,360 radical militias and anti-government groups in 2012, a nine-fold increase over 2008 when the center recorded 149 such groups, the report says. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy, the center says.
“As President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify,” the center’s senior fellow Mark Potok writes in the report.
The rhetoric and threat of domestic terrorist plots mirrors the mood observed in the six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, a domestic terror attack in 1995 by anti-government militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 people, center president J. Richard Cohen says in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“In the last four years we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, anti-government groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots,” Cohen writes. “We now also are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.”
The number of anti-government groups grew 7% from 1,274 in 2011 to 1,360 in 2012, while the number of hate groups dropped slightly from 1,018 in 2011 to 1,007 in 2012.
The latest count surpasses the record number of groups formed in the 1990s in response to the 1993 passage of sweeping gun control measures in the Brady Bill and the ban on assault weapons in 1994. In 1996, the number of “patriot” groups peaked at 858, the center reports.
The center predicts the ongoing gun control debate will continue to fuel anti-government anger and swell the ranks of the radical groups. The groups generally believe the federal government is conspiring to confiscate all guns and curtail personal liberties, the center says. Some of the groups have threatened politicians who have proposed gun control measures, the report says.
The report cites examples of groups that predicted civil war and tyranny after Obama’s executive orders on gun control, including Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes who tweeted, ” Freedom ends. Tyranny begins.” and ConservativeDaily.com’s Tony Adkins, who wrote, “Martial law in the United States now a very real possibility.”
The center quotes The United States Patriots Union, which, in a letter to state legislators, called the federal government “a tool of International Socialism now, operating under UN Agendas not our American agenda.” The group said states should defend freedom and liberty “or we are headed to Civil War wherein the people will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.”
“Their rhetoric is a barometer of the rage that is building in certain quarters,” Cohen says.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the government continues to embrace a theory that adopting radical ideas is a first step toward terrorist violence. Based on this discredited model, “preventive” policies are being pursued, resulting in discrimination, suspicionless surveillance of entire communities, and selective law enforcement against belief communities and political activists. The following is the third installment in the ACLU blog series “Radically Wrong,” which highlights counterterrorism policies that are not only ineffective, but also undermine our constitutional rights.
Earlier this month, the White House blogged about its commitment to empower “members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence,” and announced the creation of a new interagency working group for that purpose. The working group will coordinate the government’s efforts and develop plans—alongside private industry—to “implement an Internet safety approach to address online extremism.”
The White House initiative raises a basic question: Is it appropriate for the government (in cahoots with private industry) to repurpose programs that, for instance, urge consumers to install anti-virus software and protect their credit card information into something that warns them against “bad” ideas?
My colleagues Mike German and Dena Sher have written at length about how “radicalization” models assume, falsely, that you can predict future violence from present sympathies for “radical” or “extreme” beliefs. As they point out, numerous studies have shown that (1) there is no simple link between the adoption of an ideology and violent action; and (2) that it’s exceedingly difficult to craft a coherent model of the kinds of ideologies or beliefs that could be expected to lead to violence (largely because of the manifold and ever-shifting nature of ideas themselves).
By ignoring these studies, efforts to identify a “radicalization” process focus on normal, everyday speech and association, generally with an ethnic or religious flavor. They do so because the whole purpose of a radicalization model is to provide a non-psychic “minority report“—a way to see into the future under the false presumption that thoughts lead directly to action. So, mosques, hookah bars and book stores become alleged “terrorist incubators.” Wearing Islamic clothes, growing a beard, joining community groups all become supposed indicators of future terrorist activity—even though thousands of people do these things and never commit a single criminal or violent act.
Dollars to donuts, the same thing is going to happen here. The White House announced that the federal consumer protection portal OnGuard Online as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s website titled “countering violent extremism” (which the government refers to by the catchy acronym “CVE”) would begin carrying precautionary “CVE information.” Crucially, even though CVE includes the word “violent,” the initiative has little to do with stopping actual conduct, and much more to do with urging the public to be alert for and report purely expressive or associational activity. The White House also announced that it will work with industry to adapt internet safety measures that help prevent fraud and identity theft to likewise address “online extremism”—whatever that means. There is no detail on what information will be posted to the government’s sites, or how these industry partnerships would work.
The problem, of course, is that countering “extremism” is a completely different animal than consumer protection. OnGuard Online, right now, hosts innocuous tips for getting rid of malware, keeping your kids safe from online fraud and securing your home network. It’s a radically different proposition—no pun intended—to use the site to prevent someone from developing sympathies for Communist Party USA (slogan: “Radical Ideas. Real Politics.”). For the latter, you literally have to warn consumers to be wary of exposure to particular ideas, arguments and opinions.
Accordingly, any government move to use consumer education tools to counter violent extremism will involve very uncomfortable judgment calls about particular groups, individuals, ideas and internet phenomena. Will it warn against people who link to certain blogs? What about people who retweet messages from a group like Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a “foreign terrorist organization” with a “paramilitary arm” and which is also a political organization? What about an individual who “friends” a conservative organization that refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the federal government? Will the program follow the hopelessly amorphous and debunked approach of a New York Police Department report, “Radicalization in the West,” where, for instance, the second supposedly “distinct” stage in the so-called process of “radicalization” involves “a cognitive opening, or crisis, which shakes one’s certitude in previously held beliefs and opens an individual to be receptive to new worldviews”? How would the government even draft that as language for OnGuard Online? Attention America: watch out for people with open minds?
The simple fact is that we all have a First Amendment right to think “dangerous” thoughts. We do not have a First Amendment right to do violent things. Many people have dangerous thoughts, but never do violent things, and it’s virtually impossible to systematically predict which “dangerous” thinkers are going to end up engaging in violence or criminal activity. The Constitution strictly limits restrictions on “radical” speech, and even speech that advocates violence, for precisely this reason. As the Supreme Court explained at another point in our history when the government sought to suppress and literally criminalize ideas:
[T]he mere abstract teaching of Communist theory, including the teaching of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence, is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.
By dressing up the CVE initiatives as consumer education and internet safety programs, the government is trying to indirectly suppress speech that it can’t directly censor. It should, once and for all, reject these misguided programs.
|Previous posts in the “Radically Wrong” series:|
|Part 1: A Counterproductive Approach to Counterterrorism|
|Part 2: Misstated Threats – Terrorism isn’t an American-Muslim Problem|
[The big unknown in all of this—
How many of us will pick our guns up, when we are ordered to lay them down?
This is the unknowable variable that induces hesitancy in the feverishly power-drunk bureaucratic minds, actually serving to keep the government at bay, so far— too afraid to declare martial law and seize our guns, for fear that they will set-off an American insurgency, which will dwarf anything that the Pentagon has so far faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the dramatic, though realistic scenario laid-out for us by Mr. Owens, beneath the following intro, we see that logically, one-percent or less of all American citizens are fully prepared to defend their Second Amendment Right to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense. A government that is hostile to the very Constitution which it claims to represent is a very real threat to all life, liberty and personal property rights, at least as great a threat as any burglar knocking-in your back door.
Such a government would no longer within the Republican parameters set for it in the Constitutional division of powers outlined by our Founding Fathers. It would have exposed itself as a Facist Dictatorship. Each and every American Patriot owes it to his Family, to posterity and to himself, to oppose such a dictatorship if one ever rises-up above us, down to his last breath and to his last bullet.
I am still breathing and I have not yet begun to run out of bullets. How about you?
Will you be one of the Last American Patriots, when the Dictatorship comes out of the closet?]
Posted by The Watchdog
It is hard to say what will happen. County Sheriffs and police chiefs vowed to stand down and not give material support or help to the federal agencies involved trying to disarm the American people. Many in the US Military will stand down like the East German Military shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. Soon after communism collapsed in Russia and eastern Europe.
It is hard to say if it will bloodless or a blood bath in the streets if the US government tries to come after the guns. It is my hope the US Government collapse flinching when the US Military and Federal Agents hesitate when ordered to disarm the American people, most of all disarm the veterans.
Blogger Bob Owens has written “What Will You See in the Rebellion,” a likely scenario how a revolt against the US government will possibly unfold.
Written By: Bob - Dec• 28•12
Let me explain, gun grabbers, how your confiscatory fantasy plays out. Let us imagine for a moment that a sweeping gun control bill similar to the one currently suggested is passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by a contemptuous President.
Perhaps 50-100 million firearms currently owned by law-abiding citizens will become contraband with the stroke of a pen. Citizens will either register their firearms, or turn them in to agents of the federal government, or risk becoming criminals themselves. Faced with this choice, millions will indeed register their arms. Perhaps as many will claim they’ve sold their arms, or had them stolen. Suppose that as many as 200-250 million weapons of other types will go unregistered.
Tens of millions of Americans will refuse to comply with an order that is clearly a violation of the explicit intent of the Second Amendment. Among the most ardent opposing these measures will be military veterans, active duty servicemen, and local law enforcement officers. Many of these individuals will refuse to carry out what they view as Constitutionally illegal orders. Perhaps 40-50 million citizens will view such a law as treason. Perhaps ten percent of those, 4-5 million, would support a rebellion in some way, and maybe 40,000-100,000 Americans will form small independently-functioning active resistance cells, or become lone-wolves.
They will be leaderless, stateless, difficult to track, and considering the number of military veterans that would likely be among their number, extremely skilled at sabotage, assassination, and ambush.
After a number of carefully-planned, highly-publicized, and successful raids by the government, one or more will invariably end “badly.” Whether innocents are gunned down, a city block is burned to ash, or especially fierce resistance leads to a disastrously failed raid doesn’t particularly matter. What matters is that when illusion of the government’s invincibility and infallibility is broken, the hunters will become the hunted.
Unnamed citizens and federal agents will be the first to die, and they will die by the dozens and maybe hundreds, but famous politicians will soon join them in a spate of revenge killings, many of which will go unsolved.
Ironically, while the gun grab was intended to keep citizens from preserving their liberties with medium-powered weapons, it completely ignored the longer-ranged rifles perfect for shooting at ranges far beyond what a security detail can protect, and suppressed .22LR weapons proven deadly in urban sniping in Europe and Asia.
While the Secret Service will be able to protect the President in the White House, he will not dare leave his gilded cage except in carefully controlled circumstances. Even then he will be forced to move like a criminal. He will never be seen outdoors in public again. Not in this country.
The 535 members of the House and Senate in both parties that allowed such a law to pass would largely be on their own; the Secret Service is too small to protect all of them and their families, the Capitol Police too unskilled, and competent private security not particularly interested in working against their own best interests at any price. The elites will be steadily whittled down, and if they can not be reached directly, the targets will become their staffers, spouses, children, and grandchildren. Grandstanding media figures loyal to the regime would die in droves, executed as enemies of the Republic.
You can expect congressional staffs to disintegrate with just a few shootings, and expect elected officials themselves to resign well before a quarter of their number are eliminated, leaving us with a boxed-in executive, his cabinet loyalists trapped in the same win, die, or flee the country circumstance, military regime loyalists, and whatever State Governors who desire to risk their necks as well.
Here, the President will doubtlessly order the activation of National Guard units and the regular military to impose martial law, setting the largest and most powerful military in the world against its own people. Unfortunately, the tighter the President clinches his tyrannical fist, the more rebels he makes.
Military commands and federal agencies will be whittled down as servicemen and agents will desert or defect. Some may leave as individuals, others may join the Rebellion in squad and larger-sized units with all their weapons, tactics, skills, and insider intelligence. The regime will be unable to trust its own people, and because they cannot trust them, they will lose more in a vicious cycle of collapse.
Some of these defectors will be true “operators,” with the skills and background to turn ragtag militia cells into the kind of forces that decimate loyalist troops, allowing them no rest and no respite, striking them when they are away from their most potent weapons. Military vehicles are formidable, but they are thirsty beasts, in terms of fuel, ammo, time, and maintenance. Tanks and bombers are formidable only when they have gas, guns, and can be maintained. In a war without a front, logistics are incredibly easy to destroy, and mechanics and supply clerks are not particularly adept at defending themselves.
Eventually, the government will turn upon itself. The President will be captured or perhaps killed by his own protectors. A dictatorship will form in the vacuum.
If we’re lucky, the United States of America, or whatever amalgam results, will again try to rebuild. If we’re very lucky, the victors will reinstate the Constitution as the law of the land. Just as likely though, we’ll face fractious civil wars fought over issues we’ve not begun to fathom, and a much diminished state or states will result, perhaps guided by foreign interests.
It will not be pretty. There will be no “winners,” and perhaps hundreds of thousands to millions of dead.
Yet, this is the future we face if the power-mad among us are not soundly defeated at the ballot box before they affect more “change” than we, the People, are willing to surrender to would-be tyrants.
[author's note: This article is just one of an evolving series of posts reacting to current events that many are interpreting as possible threats to our Republic and the Constitution. Please proceed to the main page to keep up to date. Thank you.]
By Dmitry MININ (Russia)
«Smart power» in the service of the American empire
The dissociation of the United States from a number of international problems by shifting these problems onto allies and delegating authority to them, a result of the United States’ «imperial overheating», is based on the currently popular concept of «smart power», the very emergence of which suggests that America’s former sources of power have been exhausted… The time when America’s leadership went unquestioned has passed. Nowadays, maintaining leadership demands considerable intellectual and political efforts from the rulers of the American empire.
At the official level, the name of this concept was first heard in a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the Senate on 13 January 2009 before she confirmed her candidacy for the post of Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton called for the use of «smart power» in order to maintain America’s leadership in the world, referring to the full range of tools at America’s disposal – «diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation».
The idea of «smart power» is a development of the «soft power» concept formulated in 1990 by Harvard professor and politician Joseph Nye, who successfully served as chairman of the National Intelligence Council and was a candidate for National Security Advisor in the team of John Kerry, who went on to lose in the presidential elections. Their closeness suggests that the new Secretary of State is making use of his former colleague’s suggestions with much greater enthusiasm than Hillary Clinton.
In 2004, Nye’s ideas were finalised in his book «Soft Power». Nye’s principal idea is that the United States ought to achieve its stated objectives in the international arena through «engagement» rather than «coercion». Hence the need to use social and cultural values as tools of foreign policy. The dominant power should be attractive in everything it does and offer its own example of development guidelines to others. The theory was well received in Washington and has been actively used in some places, for example in the «colour revolutions» and during the «Arab Spring», although it has since been shown as inadequate since its effect is prolonged and not always obvious. In addition, nobody was prepared to give up «hard power» based on force.
Whereupon Nye suggested combining both concepts within a universal «smart power». In 2006, the renowned research centre CSIS organised the Bipartisan Commission on Smart Power, headed by Joseph Nye and «neocon» Richard Armitage. In 2007, the Commission presented a paper entitled “A Smarter, More Secure America”, which laid out the principles for reorganising world order whilst preserving America’s power.
The concept of «smart power» gave the theory of «soft power» some strategic direction. Its leitmotif was the need for a balanced combination of the resources of both types of power, «soft» and «hard». Of course, everybody already understood what the «carrot and stick» policy is all about. The achievement of modern theoreticians has been the detailed elaboration and operationalisation of ideas that are, by and large, clear to everybody. The concept of «smart power» is not just a synthesis of soft and hard power (combining public diplomacy mechanisms with military interventions, for example), but a new philosophy of interrelations with other powers. Its bottom line is that America’s leadership position should not be realised through the single-handed resolution of international problems, but through the organisation of joint actions. Which, for example, is how America operated during the Libyan war; experts called this «leadership from behind».
«America must learn to do things that others want and cannot do themselves, and to do so in a cooperative fashion», the document reads. In the new approaches, it is also possible to detect a division of the leadership concept into two elements – spacial (control over territories) and functional (superiority in addressing problems on a global scale). The US is prepared to give up part of its spatial leadership for the sake of preserving its functional leadership in all key issues of international life.
The concept of «smart power» allows for the fact that power resources are being redistributed in the modern world and new centres of power are emerging. A complex, multi-tiered cobweb of actors is replacing the pyramidal world order with a hierarchical structure. The hierarchy between them is being preserved, just not as rigidly formalised as before. The one proving to be the most influential in this world is the one who is the most involved in widespread and interlinking networks. As another of the creators of the «smart power» concept, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, noted, «The state with the most connections will be the central player, able to set the global agenda, and unlock innovation and sustainable growth». Slaughter is the one responsible for the idea of creating «a league of democracies», a kind of super-empire on federalist principles whose members should manage the world through joint efforts. Under Bill Clinton, and on the initiative of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, an alliance like this was even established, but was not developed any further for a number of reasons, including the fact that at that time, the US was not seriously ready to share its authority to manage the world, even with its closest allies. Time has inexorably brought them back to this problem.
In line with the concept of «smart power», in 2010 Barack Obama announced the United States’ commitment to the multilateral (read: in partnership with their closest allies and satellites) resolution of all world problems and international conflicts in their newly outlined National Security Strategy. The document states that, «…we must recognize that no one nation – no matter how powerful – can meet global challenges alone». In addition, their willingness to share the burden of maintaining world order was not postulated as a way to democratise international relations, but as a method to preserve «America’s leadership» in the world under new conditions, «based upon mutual interests and mutual respect», obviously. Such «engagement» is expected to begin with their «closest friends and allies – from Europe to Asia; from North America to the Middle East», among which were named Great Britain, France and Germany.
An active transition to the adoption of this policy was clearly timed to coincide with the beginning of the president’s second mandate. In this respect, US Vice-President Joseph Biden’s speech at the International Security Conference held in Munich in February 2013 is revealing. Biden confirmed that the US was switching its attention to the Asia-Pacific Region, having called upon their European allies to be more active in their zone of responsibility «with the unfailing support of the USA». According to Biden’s assurances, «Europe remains the cornerstone and catalyst for America’s engagement with the world». Biden also spoke of the United States’ support for democratic states in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Having outlined the claims to America’s newly-established spheres of influence in this way, Biden condemned the notion itself, as usual, but in a rather remarkable way. He declared that America will not recognise the right of any state to have «a sphere of influence», linking this to the non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. And this means that the USA is not going to concede its own positions in the Caucasus alongside Caspian Oil and will continue to regard the post-Soviet world as a geopolitical space, the consolidation of which will not be tolerated.
In Europe, Biden’s speech was seen as a bid to redistribute its spheres of influence. The German newspaper Die Welt wrote: «Europeans are anticipating that, in the future, nothing will remain as it is now. Either with NATO or without this organisation, Washington is no longer able to secure them against the consequences of the weakening of their leadership role and their disorientation. The new world order is worsening the disease identified as «imperial overstretch». At the same time, a new balance is taking shape in the Pacific Region, and without its naval, air force and cyber power, it will be difficult for America to oppose the Chinese Middle Kingdom». According to Die Welt, it has fallen to Joseph Biden to «take Europeans on a journey towards the Pacific Ocean and warn them that America is no longer able, and no longer wants, to carry the burden of maintaining world order alone».
The policy of delegating authority to allies or vassals was discernible in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress on 12 February, in which he set forth his policy priorities for a second term. Having placed the main emphasis on resolving pressing social and economic problems being faced by America, the President reported that over the next year, 34,000 American servicemen will return home from Afghanistan. «This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over», Obama said. From the President’s address it follows that, from now on, America will not wage war on terrorists abroad: «to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad or occupy other nations. Instead, we’ll need to help countries like Yemen, and Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali».
And so a formula has been found: «as in Mali»! In other words, from now on America will work towards others fighting for their interests, like the «conqueror of Timbuktu», François Hollande, while they themselves will prefer to exercise «leadership from behind».
To be continued…
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
By Dmitry MININ (Russia)
«Larger spaces» versus chaos in international relations?
The recent expeditions of the French in Africa clearly smack less of neoimperialism than they do neocolonialism, and have prompted many to wonder whether the events are the start of a new cycle of world politics in which an outgoing unipolarity is perhaps being replaced by a forthcoming multipolarity not hailed by everyone, or something different, something new or maybe a repeat of history, but in new packaging? Maybe something that would allow, for example, the United States «to leave without actually leaving», to continue implementing their global plans in a more complex system of interstate relations? If so, then the imperial projects and vassal relations of by-gone eras that had seemingly vanished forever will turn out to be much in demand…
One of the first instances of this trend was noted and identified by Jürgen Habermas, a well-known German philosopher, at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first mandate. He observed, for example, that the «realistic» school of international relations that had restored its influence in Washington after Bush differed from the «neocons» not so much in its aims to preserve America’s global hegemony, as the way these aims would be realised. According to Habermas, the desired world order of this school is largely in response to Carl Schmitt’s theory of larger space (Großraumtheorie). Schmitt thought of «larger spaces» as the spheres of influence of dominant imperial powers and their «strong ideas».
One could say that America was still at a crossroads during Obama’s first mandate, leading rearguard actions to preserve its global leadership, while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of the inefficiency and onerousness of its attempts, especially amid the global financial crisis. From the beginning of his second term in office, however, Obama is starting to decisively reformat the world. The problem being faced by Washington is not only that maintaining its unipolarity is becoming impossible, but that multipolarity is undesirable. Washington is already uncomfortable with the fact that while preserving the existing order, China will eventually arrive at the point of global hegemony and could behave exactly as America itself is doing. As Habermas shrewdly observed: «It is more in America’s own interests to attempt today to bind tomorrow’s global powers to the kind of international order that no longer needs a superpower».
Meanwhile, more and more research is appearing in the West showing that a natural rebirth process of the imperial policies of a number of former parent states has begun in reaction to the devolution of America as global leader and the growing chaos of global politics, and often not in the direction that America would find favourable. The return of empires is described metaphorically in the Italian geopolitical magazine Limes: «Empires will never die so long as their roots are not dug up or covered with salt. Their spirit lives on in many generations of descendants and ascendants, as well as subordinate nations. They are ready to rise again at the first available opportunity, the moment geopolitical pressure on them begins to wane and the systems that have been declared immortal turn out to be brittle and dilapidated». Unable to withstand this «hurricane», the White House, according to proposed recommendations, should be at the head of this process and send it in the «necessary direction». It is advisable to contrast the natural formation of new empires with the organised construction of the kind of empires that America would be able to act jointly with, whilst as far as possible slowing down the creation of potentially hostile formations.
Thus in the newspaper National Interest, Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the US Department of Defense, points to «the growing triumphalism of several empires manqué». According to Zakheim, «In East Asia, China is increasingly flexing its political, economic and military muscles as a commanding power to which others must perform the kowtow ritual of subservience. In the Middle East and Central Asia, Turkey is exploiting its newfound economic and political prowess to extend its influence over the many states that once constituted the Ottoman Empire. And Russia is drawing upon the power and influence it derives from its energy resources to pursue a neo-czarist policy in Europe and in the outlying regions of the old Russian Empire. Nor should one overlook the influence in South Asia of India, whose economy dwarfs that of its neighbors and where the Moghuls once were the dominant force, and Brazil’s inheritance of the Portuguese Empire’s mantle in Africa, facilitated by its own increasing economic clout. The imperial legacies of these states have provided impetus to their nations to cut a greater figure not only within their regions but also on the world stage. When visiting these countries or meeting with their elites, one senses a growing sense that they are reverting to their traditional roles as major powers».
Most worrying to Zakheim, however, is that «all believe that the United States, and even more so Europe, no longer should monopolize decision making for the international community. They reject the post-World War II settlement as outdated and will not automatically accept American leadership on any given issue. Washington policy makers, currently obsessed with that other imperial legatee, Iran, would do well to recognize that there is more to these states than impressive economic growth, military expansion and political influence. Americans are known for their lack of historical sensitivity. They will need all the sensitivity they can muster in order to deal successfully with states whose claim to a greater role on the world stage is motivated as much by past glory as by present success». It is not difficult to see that Zakheim’s misgivings are akin to those expressed in Samuel Huntington’s prophecies regarding a future «clash of civilizations».
One of the main dilemmas being faced by the United States’ imperial policy at the present moment, according to the German academic Herfried Münkler and expressed in his book «Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States», is the discrepancy between recognising the irrelevance of further expansion and the fear that this will be perceived by others as a sign of weakness. «It is harder to put down an imperialist, civilizing, humanitarian, value-expanding mission by which an empire has defined itself, without being seen – by those within the empire as well as by others – as in decline». Another peculiarity of America, as defined by Münkler, is that America is, by nature, an «empire in a hurry», a consequence of its short four-year election cycle. «Probably, Washington’s growing tendency in recent years to use the military for problem-solving also has something to do with the time pressure built into democratic mechanisms. Military solutions offer themselves with a suggestion of speed and finality, so that an «empire in a hurry» may grasp at them more often than would be sensible or advisable».
Academics also believe distinct traces of imperial ambition are evident in the policies of the European Union. In an article entitled “The Imperial Re-Bordering of Europe: the case of the European Neighbourhood Policy” (Cambridge Review of International Affairs, June, 2012), it has been pointed out, for example, that the European Neighbourhood Policy could be interpreted as a declaration of the European Union’s imperial intentions. In particular, the fact that the EU’s neighbouring countries would be more like its subordinate subjects than equal partners, according to the plans for integrated relations laid out in the policy, could also be part of its imperial strategies. In keeping with the strategies of a multicultural empire, the European Union is using the European Neighbourhood Policy to create new borders and division lines between its neighbours following the example of the Balkans. According to the article’s author, the imperial policy of transforming borders being carried out by the European Union uses less noticeable, but more importunate instruments of control based on voluntary subordination and the acceptance of imposed regulations.
And so the construction of «larger spaces» in global politics has begun. There is undoubtedly no point in waiting for the borders of these new/old empires to be formalised or officially announced. After all, the point here is not their direct reinstatement with all the accompanying paraphernalia (that would look like a farce), but the return to an appropriate modus operandi for projecting the interests of former parent states. The future global hierarchy which is emerging at the behest of Washington will, in every way possible, avoid identifying itself with the colonial empires of former times, for fear of stirring up the memories of nations. And not just the former colonies who were subjected to ruthless exploitation, but the imperial capitals themselves, whose inhabitants are not so keen on saddling themselves with a burden they have already shaken off and who do not want to see the arrival of new and overwhelming streams of migrants from these territories. Neither is there any point waiting for conventions or agreements similar to the capitulation regimes or acts of vassalage, since modern legal bondage can be far stronger evidence of the dependence of former times. The neoimperialist renaissance of Western powers is easier to follow when it comes to the logic behind their ideas and actions, if one does not attach too much importance to the «high moral standards» they hide behind.
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
[Forced compliance with any medically unnecessary drug testing is comparable to the "loyalty oaths" which were so popular in the 1950s with the Right Wing during the McCarthy witch hunts. Forced taking of bodily fluids to prove that you are a good citizen who abides by every law is a violation of privacy and individual Constitutional rights, specifically, the 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. If it is forced upon destitute people, at their own expense, then it should also be forced upon every other citizen of the state, even the Congressmen who wrote the bill and his kids. (SEE: New Drug Screening Law In Oklahoma Takes Effect On Thursday--Updated: Oct 30, 2012).]
Rep. Sean Roberts: One of five authors of the bill, he calls it a “common sense” measure to protect tax dollars from misuse by drug addicts.
By WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Published: 2/21/2012 2:42 AM
Last Modified: 2/21/2012 7:38 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY – Drug testing would be required of people applying for public assistance if a measure approved Monday by a House subcommittee becomes law.
“This is a common-sense idea that is long overdue,” said Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy. “The law-abiding families of Oklahoma should not have their tax dollars used to subsidize someone’s drug addiction.”
Roberts is one of five authors of House Bill 2388, which would require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – TANF – to take drug tests at their own expense. Any applicant who failed the drug test would be denied assistance for one year and then would be eligible for retesting. Children of parents who fail TANF drug tests could be eligible for benefits through third parties who pass the drug testing.
A similar bill passed a state Senate committee last week.
An estimated 40,634 potential TANF recipients would be affected by the legislation, said Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, another author of the proposal.
“When a private employee tests positive for drugs, the employer can fire that person,” Bennett said. “Those receiving state services are being paid by the taxpayers of Oklahoma, and we should have the right to fire them if they abuse drugs.”
Bennett cited a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability that says a drug-testing requirement for Floridians seeking state aid resulted in denial of taxpayer-funded assistance to 9.6 percent of applicants, saving $923,000 in the first month of the law’s implementation.
“In Florida, they were seeing $5.71 in savings generated for every $1 spent to administer the drug-testing program,” Bennett said.
Opponents of the measure said it was insulting and un-American.
“When did being poor become a crime? When did having to apply for benefits mean that you’re suspected of being a drug abuser?” asked Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
Kiesel said that in Florida 2 percent of the applicants tested positive for drugs – lower than the drug-using population of the general public.
Drug testing by private employers is different from drug testing by the government as a prerequisite for benefits, Kiesel said. The Fourth and 14th amendments to the Constitution protect against suspicionless searches by the government, he said.
Requiring TANF applicants to pay for their own testing adds insult to injury, he said.
“Before they can get this assistance, they have to shell out money that they already don’t have to pay for a drug test to prove that they’re not a criminal. I think that that’s just a ridiculous proposition,” Kiesel said.
It’s too early to say whether the ACLU would challenge the proposal in court, he said.
Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, the bill’s first author, rejected the idea that there is any substantial difference between an employer testing job applicants for drugs and the government testing TANF applicants.
“I guess if they’re going to take money from the state, that’s their employer for a while,” Liebmann said. “It’s something that needs to be done. I’m tired of paying a lot of taxes – both to the state and the feds – and seeing it turned around and buying drugs.”
He said he would also push for drug tests for food stamp applicants, but that policy is prohibited by the federal government.
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, was one of two House appropriations subcommittee members who voted against the proposal Monday. McDaniel said she wasn’t convinced that the idea addressed a pressing problem for the state and didn’t want to put the support of needy children at risk without better evidence.
An Oklahoma Department of Human Services liaison told the committee that the agency already has the authority to drug-test people who receive benefits if there is reason to suspect that they are abusing drugs, McDaniel said. The liaison told the committee that about 5 percent of those tested have positive drug results, McDaniel said.
Key points of House Bill 2388
All applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would be tested for controlled substances.
In two-parent households, both parents would have to test.
Testing would be paid for by applicants.
Applicants who test positive would be ineligible for benefits for one year.
Applicants who test positive again after one year would be ineligible for benefits for three more years.
Applicants who lose benefits could reapply after six months if they complete substance abuse treatment.
TANF benefits for dependent children would not be affected. A “protective payee” who passed a drug check could receive the benefits for the child.
Rules would take effect Nov. 1 if proposal becomes law.
Original Print Headline: Drug-test bill advances
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
By WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
[Continuing to look into the negative effects of the new logarithm-based Google Panda, I have uncovered the following guideline for recovering from the Panda-inflicted losses of readers (SEE: Losing Readership Because of Google Panda Search Algorithyms?). In addition to the loss of several hundred readers a day, as outlined in the cited article above, I have noticed that under "referrals-search engines," my daily posts are no longer listed, meaning that they have been filtered out of Google searches. All that is left is the occasional link match. According to the bullet-points below, the new algorithm is keyed towards social media referrals, so if your posts aren't getting "tweeted," or belched-out on "Facebook," then don't bother looking for your usual traffic from search engines. In the usual "Catch 22" irony, how else do you reach the tweets, which the logarithm picks up, if you are not included in most searches? They don't have to force us off the Internet, if they can get the Internet to overlook us.]
Many websites that relied heavily on traditional search engine optimization tactics to drive traffic to their sites and build their audiences found themselves in deep holes earlier this year when Google rolled out its Panda and Penguin search algorithm updates. The sites that didn’t suffer were the ones that had focused less on keyword density and writing for search engines and more on writing high quality content for their audiences.
Most Authoritative Content publishers worry less about search engine optimization than creating high quality content, but that doesn’t mean that including search engine optimization in your publishing efforts should be avoided entirely. A few simple tweaks to your content can help new visitors find your site without causing potential penalties from Google.
Fuzz One Media put together a useful infographic that describes the traditional search engine optimization tactics that marketers, web designers, and content publishers were focused on before the Google Panda algorithm change earlier this year. These are the search engine optimization tactics that Authoritative Content publishers should not be using. In contrast, the infographic also provides recommended post-Panda search engine optimization tactics that Authoritative Content publishers can implement without hurting the user experience on their sites or the usefulness of their content.
Keep in mind, search engine optimization is a short-term tactic to help draw attention to your content. It can also help drive more and more traffic over time, but Authoritative Content publishers who focus on strategically creating high quality content again and again will achieve long-term, sustainable, organic growth that can outlast any Google algorithm change.
How should you prioritize your content creation efforts? Authoritative Content publishers should keep doing what they’ve been doing. In other words, they should continue to publish a lot of high quality, useful, and meaningful content that their audiences want and need. In the long run, being useful to people is a guaranteed way to keep them coming back. Using keywords is not. Pursue the audience building strategies and tactics that help you reach your goals as a publisher of Authoritative Content, and you can’t go wrong!
If you want to learn more about search engine optimization, I highly recommend SEOmoz.org, Search Engine Land, and Google Webmaster Tools. Are there any SEO resources that you would add? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Image: Sachin Ghodke
The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a decades-long project to map the inner workings of the brain.
As The New York Times points out, the project is designed “to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.”
The Times said the “Brain Activity Map” project could be part of a budget proposal to be released in March, though details — including the costs — are still being worked out.
Obama referenced the brain-mapping project during his State of the Union speech while advocating federal spending on research and development.
“Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar,” Obama said on Feb. 12. “Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s.”
From the Times:
“The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
“Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.
“Moreover, the project holds the potential of paving the way for advances in artificial intelligence.”
An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will. . . . Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.
Turley does not say much in this article about the other rail of the Police State Railway that Americans are riding to hell: the drug war, with its massive arrests, prosecution, and imprisonment of people charged only with victimless crimes and its militarization of the state and local police all over the country. (On the militarization of the police, see especially this research paper, a revised version of which will appear in the spring issue of The Independent Review.) This massive bloating of police power and legalized oppression and the corresponding suppression of individual rights have brought down to the lowest level the threats to life, liberty, and happiness that the war on terrorism has created in what most people view as a more remote and less threatening venue—”out there” somewhere, in drone-istan.
Each day, the U.S. police state grows larger, more powerful, more pervasive, and more menacing. When will the majority awaken to the realization that this threat has nothing to do with party politics, that it makes no difference whether a Republican or a Democrat occupies the presidency while our freedoms are demolished?
This country was never a paradise of liberty; it always countenanced the oppression of plenty of people, especially Indians, blacks, and socially marginalized people who did not behave as the “respectable” white elites wanted them to behave. Yet, for the majority of Americans, freedom was a reality in most spheres of life, if only because the governments of the day were too weak to crush the people’s freedoms more thoroughly.
For many decades, however, these freedoms have been smashed one after another under the pretense of protecting people from foreign enemies, criminals, and terrorists. Thus have Americans marched with little more than a whimper toward a destination that combines elements of the dystopias imagined by novelists such as Huxley, Orwell, and Bradbury with ever more high-tech innovations used to monitor our every move, whether it be financial or personal.
The question is: how much farther must we travel down this road before people will be compelled to admit that “the land of the free” is more a reassuring myth than a description of the land in which we actually live—to recognize that the freedoms to go shopping and browse the Web are not enough to make a society genuinely free?
About Robert Higgs
Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.
View all posts by Robert Higgs →
This week, the House of Representatives will consider the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act,” a piece of legislation that would allow America’s intelligence agencies to share and protect the voluminous data they collect about America’s citizens with the keepers of America’s financial infrastructure, among others. An identical bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate, despite a powerful push from a curious coalition of spies, lawyers, financiers and politicians.
As an American citizen about to be shared and protected, when you see that kind of lineup behind a power play, you may fear trouble. For many months now, the bill’s campaign has been building. It began last summer with a briefing for about 50 Washington think tankers convened by former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
That day, July 9, 2012, was a scorcher, with afternoon temperatures over 100 degrees when the audience convened in a third floor briefing room at the Senate’s Russell Office Building on Capitol Hill. Kyl had invited the American Center for Democracy (ACD) and the Economic Warfare Institute (EWI) to hold a “Super-Panel” and an open discussion on the topic of “Economic Warfare Subversions: Anticipating the Threat.”
The make up of the panel was a little peculiar; it featured a number of heavy hitters from the intelligence community, including General Michael Hayden (former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency), James Woolsey (former CIA director), and Michael Mukasey (former Attorney General for George W. Bush). But there were others. First among them was the facilitator and director of the Economic Warfare Institute itself, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, who aggressively used her academic title at every opportunity, an unusual practice in this company. Among the remaining panelists, one suggested that jihadists were setting wildfires in Colorado that summer. Another, a former Alternate Director for the U.S at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also produced a memorable presentation by envisioning complex terror scenarios not even Hollywood could produce.
In total, the panel included Dr. Ehrenfeld and eight white men. To kick off the festivities, she approached the podium. Dr. Ehrenfeld opened her remarks with the announcement that the United States was target-rich for economic jihad, apparently a new concept for only a few of us in the audience. We the uninitiated exchanged nervous glances as Dr. Rachel went on to explain the “Cutting Edge Threats” that keep her up at night. She pointed out that both Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 15, 2008 were potentially devastating to the United States. One attack was the work of al-Qaeda, a foreign enemy, and the other was self-inflicted by the management of our own financial institutions. However, Dr. Ehrenfeld said, we could not rule out the possibility that economic terrorists were: a) responsible for, or b) learning from the economic collapse that precipitated the Great Recession. She also referenced the “flash crash” of May 6, 2010 when the Dow lost over 1000 points in a few minutes, only to regain 600 of them minutes later:
Still, two years later, the joint report by the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Committee (CFTC) did not rule out “terrorism” as a possible cause for the May 2010 “flash crash,” and the entire financial industry still has no uniform explanation of why or how this event occurred.
Quite simply, Dr. Ehrenfeld was terrifying.
EWI [Economic Warfare Institute] is of the strong opinion that threats to the U.S. economy are the next great field of battle. Indeed, we are already at economic war with such state actors as China and Iran and such non-state actors as al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The future battlefield is vast: it not only includes the realms of cyber and space but also of banking and finance, market and currency manipulation, energy, and drug trafficking. The list could go on and on.
So, EWI believes that the US faces mass terror-induced economic calamity. The fact that this has not yet occurred, she cautioned us, does not mean it isn’t going to.
Shortly thereafter, General Michael Hayden, now a principal at the Chertoff Group, a lucrative security consulting firm run by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff took the floor. General Hayden stood to speak about “The Most Dangerous Tools in the Most Dangerous Hands. How much should we fear hacktivists achieving state-like capabilities?” The answer to this rhetorical question was “a lot.” Speaking as the former director of the NSA, he told us, “You want us to go to the cyber domain to defend you. But in that domain, every advantage goes to the attacker because the environment is both insecure and indispensible.” In other words, we can’t defend you without the proper weapons.
But what would those be?
By this time, some of us were alarmed. Apparently, we are completely unprotected from flash crashing at the hands of terrorist hacktivists waging economic jihad. And the next speaker was no relief. Daniel Heath, the former US Alternate Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and currently a Managing Director at Maxwell Stamp, broke the ice by suggesting that we imagine the following scenario:
A foreign country holding about a trillion dollars in US debt demands an arrangement to swap it for the agricultural production of California. Capital begins to flee the US. It’s Christmas, and a heavy snow storm hits the northeast, knocking out the power grid. An act of sabotage hits the Washington, D.C. metro, and a couple of assassinations occur, both high-value targets and random ones. Finally, a biochem incident or two occurs, like anthrax or something in the water supply.
Heath just kept on coming. Shadowy parties might manipulate the price of oil and a real economic crisis would occur – like the one of Sept. 15, 2008. He suggested that episode was actually a jihadist plot. Probably. Well, possibly.
What if terrorists aim to engineer a renewed financial meltdown? Is it possible? How would the financial system handle a massive attack on New York City? Is enough being done to buttress financial resilience—to limit the contagion of cascading failures throughout the economy? In what ways could different kinds of terrorist attacks succeed in destabilizing our financial sector and impair the real economy?
And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, David Aufhauser, former General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of the Department of the Treasury, took the floor. After his presentation – “Transnational Crime – Unholy Allies to Disorder, Terror and Proliferation” – there wasn’t a dry seat in the house (to quote Alfred Hitchcock). This guy speculated about an alliance between Iran, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Hugo Chavez. Among them, they’ll create nuclear weapons for Venezuela. Terror, psycho crime and jihad will come together for the politically purposeful annihilation of our banks. We must identify nodes in the corruption network and break the circuitry, Aufhauser claimed. If not, we’ll have WMD at our ATMs.
After a few more interventions, Mukasey wrapped it all up as the final speaker. He was talking about “legal perspectives” on economic terror. The Law needs to stay out of the way, he said. “The rules won’t work and the law is inadequate. Criminal law, he said, punishes after the act. We need to take action before the bad guys act. And the only way we can do that is to know what the bad guys are up to by “monitoring” them. Unfortunately, since we don’t know exactly who the bad guys are, we’re going to have to monitor everyone, it seems. And we’re going to ask our “Too Big to Fail” banks to help. So, the NSA, the CIA, Bank of America and Citigroup will work together to protect you and your data.
Why isn’t this a comforting prospect? Perhaps because we are still recovering from the loss of our homes, jobs and pensions that occurred as a consequence of the banks’ last exercise in risk management.
The bullet point from Mukasey was this:
In dealing with new economic threats and circumstances, the law has a strong tendency to get in the way. This is not to disparage the law but, rather, to recognize that new circumstances beg some jettisoning of old principles and the creation of new ones.
Yes, the law does have a tendency to get in the way. Which brings us back to the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.” This smart new law will clear those cumbersome old ones out of the road. It will jettison old principles and create some new ones.
And this prospect is the truly terrifying one. At GAP, where we represent whistleblowers from the NSA, the CIA and the major US banks, we’ve learned that none of these institutions can be allowed to operate with the secrecy, privileged information and latitude they already have. Using their current powers, intelligence agencies are conducting wholesale, illegal surveillance of American citizens while wasting billions in taxpayers’ money on unconstitutional boondoggle projects. For their part, private banks have been leveraging loans to a point where they’re secretly insolvent.
Whistleblowers have shown us, with convincing clarity, that all of these institutions have abused the trust and authority they already have. They’re warning us that we may not want to jettison our constitutional rights in exchange for protection from economic jihad – whatever that is.
Bea Edwards is the Executive Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.
[Police departments should absolutely NOT have their own air forces! There should be no drones under the control of civilian police departments. If drones are needed in extreme cases, then the military could be called in, to operate under civilian control, under military restrictions. If they can get away with killing Americans from thousands of feet away, using drones, then it is only one step away from dispatching snipers to city rooftops, whenever a felon is sighted.
The Police State is breathing down our neck.]
Why should the lives of law enforcement agents be risked to apprehend this suspected domestic terrorist?
A major manhunt has been underway in the Los Angeles area for Chris Dorner, the former LAPD officer, Navy reservist, and trained marksman who is the prime suspect in the murder of three people, including the daughter of an LAPD captain (who previously represented him in a disciplinary proceeding) and her fiance. A lengthy Facebook messageattributed to Dorner vows that he will continue to kill not only members of the LAPD but also their children and spouses until he receives a public apology for what he believes was his unfair firing:
“This will be a war of attrition . . . . I will utilize OSINT to discover your residences, spouses workplaces, and children’s schools. IMINT to coordinate and plan attacks on your fixed locations. . . . HUMINT will be utilized to collect personal schedules of targets. I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I’m terminating yours. . . . I know your significant others routine, your children’s best friends and recess. I know Your Sancha’s gym hours and routine. I assure you that the casualty rate will be high.”
Surveillance drones are now being used to try to locate him. LAPD are so apprehensive that they have already mistakenly shot at innocent people when they saw vehicles resembling the one they thought belonged to Dorner. Authorities suspect he’s hiding in “the icy wilderness” of Big Bear east of Los Angeles which, reported AP, is “filled with thick forests and jagged peaks, that creates peril as much for Dorner as the officers hunting him.”
Here’s my question: if the surveillance drones detect his location, should the lives of law enforcement agents be risked, along with other civilians, in an attempt to apprehend this highly-trained warrior? Why shouldn’t an armed drone instead be immediately dispatched once his location is ascertained and simply kill him?
Mayor Mike McGinn ordered the Seattle Police Department to abandon its plan to use drones after residents and privacy advocates protested.
By Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times staff reporter
ALAN BERNER / The Seattle Times
The Police Department had purchased two 3.5-pound Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech drones with money from a regional Homeland Security grant.
In a brief statement Thursday, McGinn said he and police Chief John Diaz agreed that it was time to end the program so the Seattle Police Department “can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department’s priority.”
McGinn said the two drones purchased by the city with federal funds will be returned to their vendor.
When reached for comment, Seattle police referred questions to the mayor’s office. The mayor’s office declined to elaborate on McGinn’s statement.
The announcement came one day after the city held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance outlining restrictions for the department’s drone program, which drew vocal opposition from numerous citizens concerned with intrusions into their privacy. The ordinance was expected to come up for a vote later this month.
The Police Department is among dozens of law-enforcement agencies, academic institutions and other agencies that were given approval last year by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to train operators in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. The FAA action came after President Obama signed a law that compelled the agency to plan for safe integration of civilian drones into U.S. airspace by 2015.
The Police Department purchased two 3.5-pound Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech drones with money from a regional Homeland Security grant, envisioning uses during hostage situations and search-and-rescue operations and after following natural disasters. One of the helicopters was expected to be used by the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Police said the unmanned systems would allow the city to have some of the public-safety benefits of a manned helicopter without the prohibitive costs.
But the proposed use of drones by police drew “tremendous, widespread concern among the general public,” according to Doug Honig, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington. When police introduced the program during a public presentation last fall, officers were shouted down by opponents who feared misuse.
Honig said Thursday the ACLU was pleased with McGinn’s action.
“It’s a wise decision,” he said. “Drones would have given police unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on people’s privacy and there was never a strong case made that Seattle needed the drones for public safety.”
But Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, criticized McGinn for taking “the easy way out.”
“It’s harder to define a policy where, in rare circumstances, (drones) could be useful,” said Harrell, who is running for mayor against McGinn. “We could have been a model for other cities to follow.”
Harrell had sponsored the pending council legislation that he hoped would balance the usefulness of the technology with privacy concerns.
The proposed ordinance discussed Wednesday would have banned the use of drones for general surveillance or for flights over open-air assemblies. It also would have required police to obtain a warrant before using drones for all but emergency circumstances, such as situations involving hostages, search-and-rescue operations, the pursuit of armed felons, bomb threats and the detection of “hot spots” in fires, or for the collection of traffic data.
City Councilmember Tim Burgess, another mayoral candidate, said McGinn’s cancellation of the program provides the city with an opportunity to reassess the grant money given to the city for homeland security.
But he went further, questioning the Police Department’s recent installation of 30 surveillance cameras along the city’s shoreline, from Fauntleroy to Golden Gardens. The project is funded by a $5 million federal grant aimed at increasing security at the Port of Seattle and improving the city’s ability to respond to hazards and emergencies.
Police said the cameras, which could be operational by March 31, will provide them with a sweeping view of the port facilities, Elliott Bay and the shoreline.
“We should also assess the cameras at Alki,” Burgess said. “Unfortunately, there has not been the strong, decisive leadership from the mayor on public safety so these things just occur without the kind of oversight and policy discussions we should be having.”
McGinn’s mention of “community building” comes amid police community-outreach efforts following a Department of Justice investigation that found evidence of biased policing and routine use of unconstitutional force. That finding led to an agreement calling for mandated reforms within the department.
The debate in Seattle over drones echoes one taking place across the nation as law-enforcement agencies seek to utilize drone technology. Earlier this week, Charlottesville, Va., ordered a two-year moratorium on the citywide use of unmanned aircraft. It was the first city in the nation to do so, supporters say.
Honig, the ACLU spokesman, said the organization would like to see legislation placing restrictions on the acquisition and use of drones by all Washington state law-enforcement agencies. He also said the acquisition of such technology should be driven by policies and decisions made with public input, not simply by the availability of federal funds.
When King County Sheriff John Urquhart took office last year, he said he returned his department’s drone to Seattle police.
“I came in and said, ‘We’re not going to fly that.’ We hadn’t done our homework, and I don’t think the time is right,” he said Thursday. “What’s happening to Seattle is exactly what I hoped to avoid.”
Christine Clarridge: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983.
Staff reporter Lynn Thompson contributed to this report.
[Gen. McChrystal was just quoted in the press admitting that drone murders were a bad idea, which only served to "multiply our enemies." If you have two high mucky-mucks like Gen. Stanley McChrystal and former CIA chief Gates openly making simultaneous admissions that the assassination program has a downside, then it seems obvious that the Administration believes it is running into some serious trouble. The entire assassination program is no more than a continuing series of war crimes, covered over with legal technicalities and diplomatic niceties, which were dreamed-up by a bunch of American lawyers. All of these criminal assaults were based on arguments made, which derived their assumed authority from a delusional reading of the Congressional resolution which originally authorized the use of American forces in this war, the "Authorization for Use of Military Force.''
"That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."--SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES. (a)
This single paragraph has somehow been stretched to cover all of the criminal wars which have followed the original effort in Afghanistan, beginning with Iraq, none of which had even a remote connection to the 911 attacks. The problem with that, is that the war authorization now is invoked to justify giving military support to the same "al-Qaeda" forces, who were blamed for the attacks in the original war resolution. The contradiction in this is astounding--a single war resolution, which allegedly provides the legal basis for the "Islamist" war against the Syrian government, as well as the Afghan war against the same "al-Qaeda," even though many of those same "Islamist" veterans fighting in Syria honed their skills by killing Americans in Afghanistan or in Iraq.
All of this evidence of criminal behavior in the waging of this war in the highest levels of the Federal government is coming-out during hearings for John Brennan for the next CIA director. He is currently being grilled by the Congress about his love for the deadly terminator-drones, questioning the legality and morality of their use in non-war zones. Other issues of CIA mal- and misfeasance are being raised by Senators like Lindsay Graham, who wants answers about agency wrongdoing in the Benghazi debacle. Now is the time for all of those concerned citizens of the Earth, or of the United States to make known their own objections to the criminal activities of the CIA.
Whatever protest you feel moved to make, then make it now. By the time they close their drone network over the entire United States, it will probably be too late.]
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press
FILE – In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., right, welcomes CIA Director nominee John Brennan on Capitol Hill in Washington, prior to the start of Brennan’s confirmation hearing before the committee. Lawmakers are considering whether Congress can set up a court to decide when drones can kill U.S. citizens overseas, much like the secret courts that now grant permission for surveillance. It’s another sign of the U.S. philosophical struggle over remote warfare, raised after CIA head nominee John Brennan’s vigorous defense of the drones. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite
“I think that the rules and the practices that the Obama administration has followed are quite stringent and are not being abused. But who is to say about a future president?” Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
The use of remote-controlled drones — Obama’s weapon of choice to strike al-Qaida with lethal missiles in places such as Pakistan and Yemen — earned headlines last week as lawmakers contemplated just how much leeway an American president should have in going after the nation’s enemies, including its own citizens.
“We are in a different kind of war. We’re not sending troops. We’re not sending manned bombers. We’re dealing with the enemy where we find them to keep America safe. We have to strike a new constitutional balance with the challenges we face today,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“The policy is really unfolding. Most of this has not been disclosed,” the second-ranking Senate Democrat added.
The nomination of John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser who oversaw many of the drone strikes from his office in the West Wing basement, kick-started the discussion.
During Thursday’s hearing, Brennan defended drone strikes only as a “last resort,” but he said he had no qualms about going after Anwar al-Awlaki in September 2011. A drone strike in Yemen killed al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both U.S. citizens. A drone strike two weeks later killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, a Denver native.
Those strikes came after U.S. intelligence concluded that the elder al-Awlaki was senior operational leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula plotting attacks on the U.S., including the failed Christmas Day bombing of an airplane as it landed in Detroit in 2009.
“I think it’s very unseemly that a politician gets to decide the death of an American citizen,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. “They should answer about the 16-year-old boy, al-Awlaki’s son who was killed not as collateral damage, but in a separate strike.”
Many lawmakers suggested uneasiness about the unfettered program.
“It just makes me uncomfortable that the president — whoever it is — is the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all rolled into one,” said Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine.
The potential model that some lawmakers are considering for overseeing such drone attacks is a secret court of federal judges that now reviews requests for government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases. In those proceedings, 11 federal judges review wiretap applications that enable the FBI and other agencies to gather evidence to build cases. Suspects have no lawyers present, as they would in other U.S. courts, and the proceedings are secret.
Some Republicans were wary of such an oversight proposal.
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said his members review all drone strikes on a monthly basis, both from the CIA and Pentagon.
“There is plenty of oversight here,” said Rep Mike Rogers, R-Mich.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said a separate oversight panel would be “an encroachment on the powers of the president of the United States.”
“But what we need to do is take the whole program out of the hand of the Central Intelligence Agency and put it into the Department of Defense, where you have adequate oversight,” McCain said. “Since when is the intelligence agency supposed to be an air force of drones that goes around killing people? I believe that it’s a job for the Department of Defense.”
Gates, Paul and King spoke with CNN’s “State of the Union.” Durbin appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Rogers was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” McCain was on “Fox News Sunday.”