Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ category

This Is Scary Beyond Belief

February 5, 2013

The “white paper” memo obtained by Michael Isikoff laying out the Obama administration’s targeted assassination policy, by which the POTUS has given the government permission to kill any American, on U.S. soil or not, without due process:

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the  September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

Conor Friedersdorf has the entire 16-page memo at the bottom of a post in which he asks why Pres. Obama kept it a secret from the American people:

On reading the unredacted document, ask yourself, why wasn’t this released to the public by the Obama Administration? Which part of its legal reasoning could jeopardize national security in any way? Since it reveals no national-security secrets, what possible justification could there be for willfully keeping its contents from Americans, who have a compelling interest in understanding, scrutinizing and debating the legal framework that surrounds extrajudicial killing?

And what is that legal framework?

The paper states that the US government can kill its own citizens overseas if:

(1) An informed, high level-official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.

(2) Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and

(3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

The reality is even worse than this “legal” framework makes it sound. It turns out the Obama administration defines key terms very loosely:

When the paper says “imminent threat of violent attack against the United States,” however, “imminent” means something other than what you might expect. All it means is that the executive branch of the US government must make a secret, unilateral determination that the person it wants to kill is a member of a terrorist organization: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons will take place in the immediate future,” the paper notes. Not since the torture memos themselves have we seen such a bald defiance of what words actually mean. In the white paper, the government explains its broad definition of “imminent threat” by arguing that delaying a targeted killing “until preparations for an attack are concluded, would not allow the United States sufficient time to defend itself.”

As for “feasibility of capture,” after the memo gets through with all the “but ifs,” the conditions under which capture would be feasible are essentially nonexistent:

Regarding the feasibility of capture, capture would not be feasible if it could not be physically effectuated during the relevant window of opportunity or if the relevant country were to decline to consent to a capture operation. Other factors such as undue risk to U.S. personnel conducting a potential capture operation also could be relevant. Feasibility would be a highly fact-specific and potentially time-sensitive inquiry.



In His Own Words

August 31, 2012

“Not as Ostriches”

We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well being is dependent upon the well being of other nations, far away.

We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.

We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that “the only way to have a friend is to be one.”

We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust – or with fear.

We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding and the confidence and the courage which flow from conviction.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fourth inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1945

What’s Important

March 13, 2012

Normally, we think that when we elect a president, his coat tails will carry into office a few more members of his party than if he had lost.  Sometimes his coat tails are long and he helps sweep his party into control of one, sometimes both, houses of Congress.

But, re-electing a sitting president isn’t always a slam-dunk.  The last two, two term presidents had different paths.  Clinton had a fairly easy time, W just squeaked by.

Which takes us back to the last one-term president, George H. W. Bush.  During an economic recover, the public perception lags the numbers by about six months.  On election day in Nov 1992, the recovery had started, but because the Senate Majority Leader, Senator George Mitchell (D – ME) had bottled up legislation for several months before he would let it come up for a vote.  Public perception of a recovery was non-existent.

Presently, the country, the Democrats and President Obama have three important issues to deal with that could determine the outcome of the elections this November.

They are, in order of importance;

  1. Price of gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil (shortened to ‘gas’).
  2. Unemployment rate.
  3. War in Afghanistan.

The price of gas affects everybody.  Unless you are into the “1%”,  the effect of rising fuel prices affects everything you buy.  Everything sold at your local grocery or IGA, shoes, clothing, anything at a ‘big box’ store, all the goods come in via truck and every truck uses diesel fuel.  Taking a business trip?  You can bet your sweet hat and pea coat sleeve that the airplane uses a kerosene that is derived from oil.

So, whether you drive to work, eat-out or or grow all your food in a back-yard garden, the price of gas has a serious effect on your spending habits.

Which leads to point 2, the unemployment rate.  If you are spending too much on gas, you don’t have nearly as much “discretionary” dollars to spend on items that might stimulate the economy and create more jobs.  These are items that you were planning to do, but the price of gas took away all of the money you were planning to spend on it.  All of the things that you cannot spend money on are potentially, part of a new job that could have been created.

Maybe it was 1. buy a new car, 2. put siding on your house, 3. go on vacation,  4. get braces for your daughter or 5. any one of a zillion things that people do when they feel a little flush.

An unemployment rate below 7 per sent by the 4th of July would go along way toward re-electing President Obama.

Afghanistan.  Speaks for itself.  If points # 1 and # 2 are accomplished, the war in Afghanistan will be an irritant, a thorn in the side, but it will not preclude a second term.  But, getting most of the troops out before Labor Day will be the icing on the cake towards a successful election campaign.

Arab? Persian?

October 11, 2011

Chuck Todd an NBC analyst/news person just appeared on the Martin Bashir show regarding the supposed Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Todd said that there is a lot of competition in the Arab world between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Apparently Mr. Todd does not realize that the Iranians identify as Persians, not Arabs.  Unconscionable slip up.

Both countries are in fact Muslim.   Iran is 90% Shia Muslim.  Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

If Ya Can’t Beat Them, Just Leave

September 21, 2011

Ten years ago Ahmad Shah Massoud, a man known as the Lion of the Panjshir, a man who had been the Minister of Defense under the Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Northern Alliance was assassinated.  Arab suicide bombers, thought to be al-Quaeda operatives,  posing as journalists had a camera rigged to explode which ended up killing five people.

Now ten years later, ex-President Rabbani is assassinated by the Taliban.

I have no words to express the sadness that I feel.

Why ?

July 13, 2011

How can so many things be going wrong at the same time and no one is in an uproar about it?

Certainly I must’ve misheard.  You asked, “What is going wrong?”

  • Why do we have better than 80,000 troops in Afghanistan?
  • Why do we have well over 100,000 civilian contractors in Afghanistan?
  • Why have the banksters and other Wall Street robber barons not been prosecuted?
  • Why are we using drones to kill people in Pakistan, Yemen and who knows where else?
  • Why is a Democrat POTUS putting SS and Medicare on the table?
  • Why is no one talking about the causes of the extreme weather?
  • Why is the minority in the U.S. Senate allowed to control the debate?
  • Why is POTUS against whistle blowers?

Have we witnessed our country becoming ungovernable?

I Agree With Dr. Dean

April 25, 2011

Dr. Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former presidential candidate and past head of the Democratic National Committee has changed his mind about the righteousness of the US effort in Afghanistan.