Tag Archive: Military

Dec 28 2015

Regime Change: It’s OK If You’re a Democrat

The Obama administration is hell bent to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Determined to repeat the mistakes of Iraq and Libya, and caving to congressional war hawks, the CIA began arming rebels opposed to Assad. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, apparently the CIA program was hijacked by Turkey and the weapons were diverted …

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Mar 07 2013

Answer the question, Mr. President

How much has President Obama told us about his ability to kill Americans at home?  

The question is pretty simple. The answer might not be that simple but it is an answer that is deserved by the American people, no matter how laborious it is to explain that answer clearly.

How much has President Obama himself told Americans about his claimed ability to target, detain and assassinate us?  For years, we were given no answers that I know of.

We, the public, have gotten access to a white paper (PDF), not the actual legal memos, and that was leaked by a journalist, Michael Isikoff.

Some senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) have now received several legal memos after they threatened to filibuster some of his nominees.   There are, we believe, eleven in total.  The president released two more memos for the SSCI to review.  They are not allowed to show them to their staff or make any record of them.  The review period is temporary. The public has not been given any access to them, even though, as we now know, the president, through his attorney general, told us that the president does assume the power to kill us, even at home.  But he still dodged the direct question that has been asked of him by both citizens (in a Google+ hangout session), by a formal letter from Senator Rand Paul, and by many others.  Holder gave some information, but left the question still very much up in the air.

Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic, says that Holder’s recent response is “non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative”.  I agree.  Significant pressure needs to be applied by all concerned Americans until we understand clearly what power this president has assumed, what kinds of things might get us killed, or what circumstances might put us in close proximity to someone else they might target for assassination.  Many innocent civilians have been killed overseas by this president because they were somehow associated, intentionally or not intentionally, with the target of a drone or cruise missile strike.

Aug 25 2012

CNN compares protesters to terrorist insurgents; Feds scare up reason to use drones for conventions

For the first time (that we know of) drones will be used for a political convention for “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to government agencies”.  “Wraiths” will also be used, ground-based robots that can be armed with lethal or non-lethal weapons.  The manufacturer of these vehicles has crosshairs and a skeleton as their logo.

A bulletin was issued jointly by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security on August 21st, warning law enforcement agencies about anarchist extremists and the report uses words and imagery that are usually reserved for terrorist insurgents.  They invited the media to learn about their operations control center at an “undisclosed location” and today the fearmongering and demonization of “anarchist extremists”  is blazing across the airwaves along with news about the drones that will be used.

CNN did a video report that is particularly egregious as it quotes from the report saying that the extremist anarchist protesters might use IEDs, and they explain that IEDs are the things used by terrorist insurgents in Afghanistan.  They generously supply video clips of an explosion in Afghanistan and another one that is a military vehicle being blown up, with the shoulder of a soldier in camo coming into the view of the camera at the end.  While the report explains that not all protesters are expected to be violent, CNN adds some video footage of Occupy Wall Street protesters chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and just in case you didn’t make the connection, they throw in some people in Guy Fawkes masks from some supposed Anonymous videos about the convention.  The words and imagery used by the media and the government are meant to cause conflation of Occupy Wall Street protesters and terrorists, in my opinion, and to preemptively justify the excessive use of force during the upcoming conventions and extreme use of militaristic equipment.

The report also mentions that law enforcement should look out for anarchists who might be doing weapons training or buying explosives and they mention that they have used the internet for research and organization in the past.  In the CNN video though, they say that the feds told them they are not watching any particular anarchists.  No.  And then after all of that fearmongering and set up, they say that no specific threats have been made.

It’s funny that the FBI/DHS waited until six days before the RNC convention to issue this warning, isn’t it?  This report was made for the media, in my opinion.  

Jul 11 2012

The Egyptian Game of Chicken: Morsi v. The Miltary

Egyptain Pres. MorsiJust before the last round of presidential elections in Egypt that put Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in office, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, which is still packed with the Mubarak regimes appointees, ruled that the parliamentary elections were invalid. The ruling military then dissolved the lower house until new elections could he held. Sunday, in defiance of the ruling, President Morsi decreed the the old parliament to reconvene until a new parliament was elected:

The move was the first in a series of decrees planned by Morsi against the military, according to Morsi’s former campaign media coordinator Sameh El-Essawy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. [..]

And hints of a deal seemed unlikely after Morsi’s decree, which stipulated that parliament reconvene and continue its duties until a new assembly is elected, scheduled for 60 days after Egypt drafts a new constitution. Morsi’s decree directly contradicts Scaf’s wishes, and underlines his determination to take control of the country’s executive.

Morsi’s decree is a reversal of the Scaf decision to dissolve parliament, not the SCC ruling that deemed it invalid, said El-Essawy. “He reversed the Scaf decision, using the same executive powers they had. He has not reversed the court ruling which he respects and that’s why a new parliament will be elected after the constitution,” he said.

The Egyptian Parliament reconvened for five minutes on Tuesday for just one vote:

The parliamentary speaker, Saad el-Katatny, convened a session of the lower house on Tuesday morning but it lasted only five minutes, during which time he stressed that parliament had the utmost respect for the law, and would do nothing to subvert it. MPs then voted that parliament would refer the matter of its ability to convene to the court of cassation in Cairo, and would not assemble until a judgment had been given.

As the drama was being played out, demonstrators against the dissolution of parliament gathered in Tahrir Square. Meanwhile, anti-parliament protesters congregated on the other side of town in the eastern district of Nasr City to voice their objection to its return.

Tuesday’s assembly was boycotted by a sizable number of liberal MPs while an independent MP, Mustafa Bakri, had already announced his formal resignation from parliament due to its unconstitutionality.

Then just hours after the chamber’s brief session, the Supreme Constitutional Court stepped in

“The Supreme Court has once again reiterated that the parliament is dissolved,” our correspondent said. “It’s the third decsion by them saying that Morsi’s decison to reinstate the parliament was illegal. They cannot say it in any more certain terms than that.”

“They’re saying that the parliament sessions cannot continue, which would mean legislative powers would stay in the hands of the armed forces – in this power struggle between the military and the president.” [..]

Lawyers representing Morsi criticised the court’s latest decision and said Tuesday’s ruling was a political move that would further complicate the crisis.

“This ruling is null and void,” lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told reporters while another member of the team, Mamduh Ismail, called it a “political decision”. [..]

Morsi’s decree was hailed by those who want to see the army return to barracks, but it was criticised by those who fear an Islamist monopolisation of power as a “constitutional coup”.

As noted in an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, this is just the first of many confrontations between Morsi and the military:

In reconvening the People’s Assembly, Morsi insisted that he wasn’t flouting the decision of the court but rather reversing an executive action taken by the military council in the absence of a civilian president. Indeed, the overarching issue in this dispute is whether the armed forces are prepared to yield power to the elected representatives of the Egyptian people. [..]

To some extent, the military’s power – along with economic realities – may have inclined Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to a more pluralist and moderate course. But if the generals overplay their hand, they will lose popular support and antagonize Egypt’s allies, including the United States, which provides the military with $1.3 billion a year in assistance. Both Congress and the Obama administration have put the generals on notice that those funds are in jeopardy if the transition to democracy is thwarted. An attempt to shut down a reconvened parliament would be interpreted inside and outside Egypt as just such an obstruction.

So far, the Mohamed Morsi 0 – Egyptian Military 1.  

Oct 22 2010

“The Third Time is Enemy Action”

CNN: White House deputy Valerie Jarrett dismisses scolding from DADT victim Lt. Dan Choi

From Rayne in Jane Hamsher’s Valerie Jarrett Responds to Dan Choi

Remember the James Bond movie, Goldfinger?

“Mr. Bond, we have a saying in Chicago. The first time is happenstance. The second time is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

Is this the second time or the third time for Jarrett?

What Jane said:

Number one, when did Obama say that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unconstitutional? I’m rather sure she’s putting words in his mouth, I’d be happy to be wrong about that.

Further, Judge Virginia Phillips has already ruled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional.   If the President truly does believe Don’t Ask, Don’t tell is unconstitutional, he has all of the justification he needs to let Judge Phillips’ decision stand.

But there is an extremely serious problem with having Valerie Jarrett continue to be the White House spokesperson on this matter.  I defended Jarrett earlier this week over her use of the words “lifestyle choice” when addressing the issue of LGTB teen suicide.  I said it didn’t make her a bad person, but it did show she was out of touch with the discourse in the LGBT community.  And that meant she emphatically should not be in charge of LGBT issues at the White House.

The fact that Jarrett could use a term that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to LGBT people, and still be out there as White House spokesperson on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is symptomatic of something deeply wrong.

DADT may well be unconstitutional in light of the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas sodomy laws

WASHINGTON – In an historic decision with wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Texas law that makes some kinds of sexual intimacy a crime, but only for gay people. The decision overrules the court’s 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which was widely condemned for treating gay people as second-class citizens.  It was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union as a major milestone in the fight for constitutional rights.

“”This decision will affect virtually every important legal and social question involving lesbians and gay men,”” said James Esseks, Litigation Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.  “”For years, whenever we have sought equality, we’ve been answered both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion with the claim that we are not entitled to equality because our love makes us criminals.  That argument – which has been a serious block to progress — is now a dead letter.””  Esseks added, “”from now on, cases and political debates about employment, custody and the treatment of same-sex couples should be about merit, not about who you love.””  

In sweeping language, the Court said the Constitution protects the right of gay people to form intimate relationships and “”retain their dignity as free persons.””  Gay people, the Court said, have the same right to “”define one’s concept of existence, of meaning, or the universe, and of the mystery of human life,”” that heterosexuals do.  The Bowers decision, the Court said, “”demeans the lives of homosexual persons.””.

(emphasis mine)

Oct 20 2010

Dan Choi Re-Enlisted in the Army

U.S. Military Moves to Accept Gay Recruits

The United States military, for the first time, is allowing its recruiters to accept openly gay and lesbian applicants.

The historic move follows a series of decisions by a federal judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, who ruled last month that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law violates the equal protection and First Amendment rights of service members. On Oct. 12, she ordered the military to stop enforcing the law.

President Obama has said that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “will end on my watch.” But the Department of Justice, following its tradition of defending laws passed by Congress, has fought efforts by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization, to overturn the policy.

Judge Phillips on Tuesday denied requests by the government to maintain the status quo during the appeals process.

The Pentagon has stated its intent to file an appeal in case of such a ruling. But meanwhile, it has started complying with Judge Phillips’s instructions while the dispute over her orders plays out.

With this announcement, Lt. Dan Choi, the Iraq war veteran, Arab linguist, and West Point grad turned “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal activist, decided to take the opportunity to do what he has said he has always wanted to do, serve his country in the military. First, he tried to enlist in the Marine Corps but being 29 made him one year too old. So instead, Dan went to the Army recruiters and filled out the application to re-enlist. He will return at 10 AM to begin processing as an enlisted soldier, most likely a specialist since he is a college graduate.

Dan, you rock.

Oct 12 2010

The Downward Spiral of a Great Nation

I need not say more

Glen Greenwald: Collapsing Empire Watch

t’s easy to say and easy to document, but quite difficult to really internalize, that the United States is in the process of imperial collapse.  Every now and then, however, one encounters certain facts which compellingly and viscerally highlight how real that is.  Here’s the latest such fact, from a new study in Health Affairs by Columbia Health Policy Professors Peter A. Muennig and Sherry A. Glied (h/t):

   

In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands.  The last available measure of female life expectancy had the United States ranked at forty-sixth in the world.  As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.

. . .

There is, however, some good news:  the U.S. is now in fifth place in total number of executions, behind only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and comfortably ahead of Yemen and Sudan, while there are two categories in which the U.S. has been and remains the undisputed champion of the world — this one and this one.

And the rich get richer one life at a time

Sep 21 2010

Help a Veteran, Spread the Word

Previously posted at Daily Kos as Six Degrees of Separation

Soldier Shares Story:

I was sent an email by a friend early in the year that the Army was going to retroactively pay me for the approximately one year I was “stop-lossed” while I was deployed to Iraq. My initial reaction was one born of experience: “This is not going to be easy, I’m never going to see this money.”

But he did…

This soldier was stop lossed during the Bush Administration. Then,

Under legislation President Obama signed into law last year, servicemen and women… whose service was extended due to ‘stop loss’ are eligible for $500 per month in retroactive pay for each month their service was extended.

Unfortunately, according to Admiral Mike McMullen, there is a lot of unclaimed money:

The Congress generously set aside $534.4 million to pay out those funds, but as of the end of last month only $219 million in claims have been paid.

You’ve all heard about the six degrees of separation.  You may not think you know a veteran who was stop lossed, but maybe your friend or your cousin or your sister does.

Help a veteran, spread the word.

Sep 18 2010

Iraq: Do Not Believe the Spin

Paul Rieckoff, an Iraq War veteran, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show. He spoke with Ms. Maddow about the false message the White House is sending about the end of the combat mission in Iraq and the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thank you, Paul, and I enjoy your Tweets.

Aug 09 2010

Military Suicides at an All Time High

A recent Army report released showed the rate of suicides has been on a steady increase with this past June being the worst with 32 active and reserve soldiers taking their own lives either while still deployed or after their return home. This past Sunday on This Week , Christiane Amanpour interviewed Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the general in charge of the U.S. Army’s efforts to reduce the epidemic of suicide among U.S. soldiers.

Of course the true solution to suicide prevention for the troops is to bring them home, all of them.

Listen to her interview with Gen. Chiaelli about the report, its causes and the solutions for prevention. Transcript link is here