Archive for the ‘War on Terror’ Category
Is America’s “War on Terror” Worth the Cost We are Paying in Terms of Lost Freedom, Lost Lives, and Lost Treasure?
What is relevant is what he’s told us about the information and data the NSA’s PRISIM program is collecting on every American citizen.
Snowden informs us that the NSA is . . .
- collecting all our cell phone records
- recording and storing all our cell phone conversations
- collecting all our credit card transactions and bank records
- collecting all our emails and social media posts
- tracking all our online searches via Google the search engines
Snowden also tells us, chillingly, that the NSA has the ability to track what we are thinking in real time as we are typing on our computer keyboards.
In his great book 1984, George Orwell wrote this:
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
This is the society in which we now live.
We are no longer a free people. Yes, we can live a comfortable life. We can go to work everyday and collect our paychecks. We can watch our TV shows at night and attend sporting events.
The government will even allow a certain amount of criticism of the government.
But information is power. Information is the most powerful weapon on the planet. If you knew for certain what the stock market was going to do over the next hour, you could become an instant millionaire or billionaire.
Now the government knows everything about you.
Now the government has all the information it needs at its fingertips to destroy you — erase you — at the slightest provocation. All it has to do is decide you’re a threat. Then it just has to sift through all the data its collected on you (including all your phone conversations) to find a crime, any crime, any violation of law — and you’re finished.
This is exactly what the Constitution’s FOURTH AMENDMENT was designed to prevent. It states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The courts have long interpreted this to mean that the government cannot record or listen to your phone conversations, cannot search through your car, cannot search your house, cannot read your mail, without a search warrant. And the government cannot get a warrant without probable cause.
The big purpose of the FOURTH AMENDMENT was to stop so-called “writs of assistance.”
A “writ of assistance” is a general warrant, allowed under English law.
A “writ of assistance” allows the government to conduct a general search without specifying who it’s searching, what it’s searching for, or even why it’s searching.
The FOURTH AMENDMENT requires “probable cause” to conduct a search. The courts have interpreted this to mean that the government, to get a warrant, must specify what it’s searching for and why. The government must also explain why they need to search through the belongings of this particular person — “probable cause.”
This NSA PRISM program clearly goes way beyond that by collecting and storing every cell phone call (the full conversation, not just the meta tags), email, etc on every American. That’s a general warrant (a “write of assistance”) — exactly the kind of warrant the FOURTH AMENDMENT outlaws.
The NSA’s PRISM program is also a violation of the Patriot Act — even the stronger, updated one that President Obama requested and signed into law.
The Patriot Act permits the NSA to monitor foreign communications (phone conversations, emails, etc) because foreigners are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The Patriot Act permits the inadvertent collection of data on Americans, but only if by accident, only if the American is part of the foreign phone or email traffic.
So if you are an American citizen who is taking phone calls from Yemen or Afghanistan, you would likely pop-up on the NSA’s radar screen. That’s how the Patriot Act was supposed to work.
The NSA PRISM program clearly goes light years beyond that.
So the NSA PRISM program violates both the FOURTH AMENDMENT to the Constitution and the the Patriot Act.
Is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero?
Well, Paul Revere was no doubt a traitor in the eyes of the British authorities.
We don’t know all there is to know about Edward Snowden. But I’m very happy he let us know what’s really going on.
The Obama Administration will argue that this data collection by the NSA was approved by the so-called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), a special court set up to make sure innocent Americans are not being targeted by foreign surveillance operations, including the Patriot Act.
The fact that the FISA court was derelict in its duty and approved the NSA’s tapping of, recording, and storing the phone conversations of every American citizen does not make it legal. It makes the FISA court a party to the criminal conduct.
Even the name of this special FISA court (“Foreign”) tells us what NSA was supposed to be doing — and that’s monitoring the phone and email traffic of foreigners — potential foreign terrorist threats to America.
NSA claims the PRISM program has prevented 50 terrorist attacks on America so far.
Impressive (sort of), but how are they counting?
Are they counting the same way the Obama Administration is counting how many jobs have been created and/or saved by the “stimulus”?
Are they counting the same way Obama under-estimated the cost of ObamaCare by triple (as of this date)?
No way to know, of course.
All this brings me to the question raised by this article: “Is the cost of the war on terror worth it?”
We have clearly lost our freedom. There is no such thing anymore as “privacy.”
The government knows everything about us — or can retrieve all the info if needed, including actual recordings of every phone conversation we’ve made on our cell phones and all our email correspondence.
This means the government (if it chooses to) can convict anyone of a crime because it’s impossible to live life anymore without violating a law or regulation of some kind, even if inadvertently.
This means the government can very easily target its enemies — i.e. those who want smaller government.
Well, now we also learn that the IRS has been targeting the Tea Party, conservative-leaning organizations, churches, pro-life organizations, and organizations deemed opposed to the Obama agenda. We have learned that . . .
- The IRS audited the ministries of the Reverend Billy Graham and his son Reverend Franklin Graham’s ministries in 2012 soon after Billy Graham endorsed Mitt Romney. The Graham ministries had never before been audited.
- The IRS audited and targeted more than 500 Tea Party, conservative, Christian, and pro-Israel organizations.
- Journalist Wayne Allyn Root reports that he was audited by the IRS soon after his book The ObamaCare Survival Guide was published and became a national bestseller. Mr. Root also reports that he has personally spoken with 15 donors to the Mitt Romney campaign who were audited within 90 days of making their donations.
- The IRS demanded to read the prayers of conservative churches.
- The IRS demanded copies of church membership lists.
- The IRS audited reporters and news anchors who said critical things about Obama.
- The IRS targeted Christian and conservative college interns.
- Sarah Hall Ingram, the head of the IRS division that was conducting these audits of conservatives and conservative organizations has been promoted to run the IRS office that charged with enforcing the ObamaCare mandates.
- The Obama campaign accused Mitt Romney of not paying his taxes (even though Obama and Romney paid about the same percentage of their incomes to the IRS)
- The Obama campaign accused Romney’s donors of not paying their taxes and accused them of engaging in shady activities — an obvious effort by Team Obama to intimidate Romney’s donors into not donating to Romney.
- The Obama Justice Department secretly obtained phone records and emails of more than 100 reporters, journalists, and editors — with a special focus on destroying FOX News. The purpose of this, of course, was to chill media criticism of Obama during 2012.
- The Obama Justice Department claimed FOX News reporter James Rosen was engaging in criminal activity by asking Obama Administration officials about the North Korean missile threat. Rosen is FOX News’ chief Washington, DC correspondent. The Obama Justice Department secretly seized Rosen’s phone records, emails, and tracked his movements 24/7.
This is how Communist regimes behave. This is not how the United States government is supposed to behave.
We have a government in Washington, DC, that is completely out of control.
The Obama Administration has told us that we should trust it with all of our information — that it’s just trying to keep us safe.
But look at the price we are paying for all of this safety.
Granted, the War on Terror was launched in earnest under the Presidency of George W. Bush.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a vigorous defender of the NSA PRISM program, which apparently was launched in 2007. Obama just continued, expanded, and enhanced it.
Fine. That doesn’t make it right.
George W. Bush was arguably one of the worst Presidents in American history.
He actually launched a war by mistake — against Iraq — a war that served no purpose whatsoever, a war that cost us $2-3 TRILLION, depending on whose accounting you use.
Turns out Saddam Hussein had no credible nuclear bomb program, or weapons of mass destruction of any significant nature that could threaten the United States. Turns out he was actually a bulwark against terrorism, hated al Qaeda, and was a key check against the much more dangerous Iran — a fact Ronald Reagan understood very well (which is why he supported Iraq in its war with Iran).
But let’s look further at all this War on Terror has cost us. And then let’s ask the question: Is it worth it?
3,000 Americans died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
This launched America’s War on Terror.
So the cost of the September 11th attack was 3,000 American lives. It also cost $3.8 billion to rebuild the World Trade Center.
So the cost was huge. The loss of 3,000 American lives was tragic.
But what has it cost to right this wrong?
What has it cost to “keep us safe”?
And has this wrong been righted? Are we any safer today than we were the day before September 11, 2001?
Perhaps we’re a bit safer from the terrorists. But what about safer from our own government?
Well, the cost of rebuilding World Trade Center: $3.8 Billion.
6,648 Americans died in the Iraq War — more than double who died in the September 11 attack.
Another 2,238 Americans have died in Afghanistan.
The official number of Americans wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan now stands at more than 50,000.
But brain injuries from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not counted in the official tally of wounded.
PTSD brain injuries are crippling and require lifelong treatment.
If we include PTSD injuries in the cost of these wars, the number of wounded soars to over 100,000.
Many of America’s wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan would have died in earlier wars. But our modern medical care is so good, that we’ve been able to keep many “basket cases” alive.
The combined dollar-cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars was $3 TRILLION TO $5 TRILLION, depending on whose accounting you use.
The cost is really much higher than this because we’ll have to care for these 100,000-plus wounded (including PSTD) for the rest of their lives, along with their families.
Given what we know now, was (is) all this worth it?
I certainly believe we had to do all we could to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his associates, and kill them.
But we could have done this for less than $3-5 TRILLION, plus all the loss of liberty and privacy we are suffering now.
Instead of a $25 million reward for bin Laden, why not offer $1 Billion or $10 Billion — plus $1 BILLION or $10 BILLION for each of his associates.
Surely, this would have gotten the job done.
This is how we caught criminals in the wild west days. We offered rewards. This created an industry of bounty hunters. The criminals were usually caught.
If you make the bounty (reward) big enough, we could have had the entire world looking for bin Laden and his associates.
Doesn’t a system like this make a whole lot more sense than what we are doing now?
Wouldn’t this concept make a lot more sense than setting up a massive National Surveillance State to monitor every activity and every communication of every law-abiding American citizen?
There’s no reason to sacrifice our liberty for this gargantuan Surveillance State.
America’s founding fathers had it right. The Constitution makes even more sense today than it did back then.
We have 12 aircraft carriers. China and Russia each have one.
Right now, 43 percent of the entire world’s military spending is, well, us. We are spending six times more on our military than #2 China. We are spending 14 times more than Russia.
President Eisenhower (no liberal) warned America about the “military industrial complex” and the threat it presents to our liberty and wallets and freedoms. Wow! Are we seeing this truth play out today.
It’s time to scale back this national security state we find ourselves in. It’s time we scale it way back — perhaps to one-third of what it is now.
Robespierre, you might remember, also had a Committee for Public Safety — enforced by the guillotine — in the aftermath of the French Revolution.
All tyrannies become tyrannies under the rubric of protecting the people. Every government always says what we need is more safety. That’s how governments amass more and more power — to supposedly protect us . . . from ourselves, from our enemies, from whoever and whatever.
We have a government today that mocks the Constitution, laughs at the rule of law. Everything and anything is justified under the rubric of keeping us safe. Republicans are just as much to blame for this as Democrats.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner calls Edward Snowden a traitor for telling the American people what’s really going on.
Never mind that the Constitution has an actual definition of what constitutes treason. Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason thusly:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
Snowden was not “levying war” against the United States. He was not conspiring with any enemy. He’s not selling this information for profit. He seems genuinely alarmed with the NSA’s clearly illegal unconstitutional assault on the privacy of law-abiding America.
We’re supposed to be governed with the “consent of the governed.”
How can there be consent if we don’t know what our government is doing, even in general terms?
Snowden wasn’t revealing the identities of CIA agents. He wasn’t jeopardizing America’s national security in any substantial way.
He was just telling us about an unconstitutional and illegal program that Americans (voters) had no idea exists.
He’s a whistleblower, not engaging in espionage. Big difference.
He’s just saying, “Hey, look here. Did you know your government is doing this to you?”
This is supposed to be a Constitutional Republic where citizens are supposed to know, at least generally, what’s going on.
Switzerland doesn’t seem to have a terrorist problem. Could it be that the way we are conducting ourselves around the world (like a bull in a china shop) might have something to do with with this hatred in the Muslim world toward America?
It appears that the United States of America is now the most hated country in the world.
Perhaps that’s because we’re the world’s most annoying busybody. We’re like Michael Bloomberg, trying to tell everyone how much soda they can drink.
If we scale back the war on terror, will more Americans die?
If the U.S. government wasn’t cataloguing and recording every cell phone conversation in America and capturing every email and social media post, will more Americans die?
But a lot more Americans have been dying as a result of the War on Terror.
We know statistically that 32,000 Americans will die in car crashes this year.
But we have made a decision that the freedom to drive outweighs the 32,000 lives that would be saved by banning driving.
America needs to conduct a similar cost-benefit analysis on whether this War on Terror is worth the price we’re now paying in terms of lost liberty, lost treasure, and lost lives.
The Boston Marathon bomber events present problems to the liberal worldview on three policy fronts:
Skeptics of the Marco Rubio “Gang of Eight” immigration bill being put forth are not opposed to immigration.
America is a nation of immigrants.
The Boston Marathon bombers show the need to control immigration — to make sure new immigrants have assimilated into American life, to have actually become Americans. We want to make sure those who have green cards and who become U.S. citizens actually like America.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that he did not have a single American friend, did not understand Americans.
Who were his friends? Clearly, not Americans.
Not only do we need to secure our borders. We need an immigration policy that allows the rate of immigration to be at a level where we can be reasonably be sure new immigrants are truly ready to be Americans, understand what makes America special and different from the rest of the world.
We want people here who love America.
2) Gun control
The Boston Marathon bombers showed how much murder and mayhem can be caused without guns. The al Qaeda magazine Inspire published an article titled “How to Make a Bomb in Your Mom’s Kitchen” that details how to make a powerful bomb with a pressure cooker — apparently the inspiration for these two young men.
Tim McVeigh and company blew up a federal building, killing 168 people and injuring more than 800 with a bomb made out of fertilizer.
This week, we saw the incredible devastation caused by the blowing up of a fertilizer plant in Texas. An entire community leveled. We still don’t know the number of dead and injured from that event.
So there are many ways to kill a lot of people without guns.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Guns aren’t evil. But some people are evil . . . and will find a way to kill you if they want to.
3) Radical Islam
The liberal-left were praying the Marathon Bombers were tax protesters or Tea Party types. But no. Predictably, the bombers were radical Islamists.
Salon magazine published a truly disgraceful article titled “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.”
But the truth is there is something about the Islam religion that fosters violence.
Islam is not like other world religions. We don’t fear Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or Christians.
We don’t fear Mormons, Scientologists, or Astrologers.
But there’s something at the heart of the Islam religion that is very dark.
Islam is the world’s most belligerant religion, the most warlike religion.
Certainly, not all Muslims are violent. I have some Muslim friends who are wonderful people who love America.
But I would argue that these Muslim friends of mine fall into the category of nominal Muslims. Much like nominal Christians consider themselves to be Christians but don’t actually go to church regularly, these nominal Muslim friends of mine are clearly not subscribing to the entire Muslim program.
In Muslim countries, we continue to see women stoned for adultery and lesser sins. We see Muslim converts to Christianity put to death.
Can Muslims who actually subscribe to Sharia Law ever actually assimilate to America?
Those who subscribe to Sharia Law (Islamic Law) believe those who do not convert to Islam must be put to death.
There is no such thing as religious freedom (or freedom of any kind) under Islam.
Sharia Law is incompatible with liberty — just as Nazism and Communism are incompatible with liberty and our Constitution.
Jesus Christ never told us to kill non-Christians — just try to convert them . . . through persuasion.
Islam believes in conversion through threat of the sword.
Hence Islam’s infatuation with beheading non-Muslims.
Jesus told us: “By their fruits we shall know them.”
The fruits of Islam have been poisonous.
Not much good has come from Islam. What scientific discoveries has Islam produced? What great works of art or literature? Who in their right mind would ever want to live in an Islamic country?
Every Islamic nation is an economic and human rights disaster.
With the exception of a few oil billionaires and sheiks, most people who live in these oil-rich Islamic countries live in abject poverty — on a sub-human level that makes the South Bronx look prosperous by comparison.
There is clearly something deeply barbaric about the Islamic religion — at least the pure Islamic religion.
The savage and ultra-violent nature of Islam presents a big problem for those (like Marco Rubio) who want a more relaxed path to U.S. Citizenship. We don’t need people here who hate America. We want people here who love America.
Hopefully, these jerks will get plenty of time in Leavenworth to think about this.
Is this Obama’s Abu Ghraib? Or is it still Bush’s fault?
CNBC: Front-runner Rick Perry stumbled during the Republican presidential candidates’ debate on Thursday when asked what he would do if he got a 3 a.m. call alerting him that the Taliban had gotten nuclear weapons from Pakistan.
“Well obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That’s one of the things that this administration has not done,” the Texas governor replied at the debate in Orlando, Florida.
Perry made a reference to recent U.S. military accusations that Pakistan’s intelligence service was backing Afghanistan’s Haqqani insurgent group in carrying out attacks against U.S. targets, including the American Embassy in Afghanistan.
Then he talked about the importance of improving relations with India, Pakistan’s neighbor and nuclear rival.
“So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States. For instance when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16s, we chose not to do that … The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them,” Perry replied.
“Today, we don’t have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.”
The answer raised doubts about Perry’s foreign policy expertise in the region where the United States has been at war for a decade.
Candidate Rick Santorum, who has gained little traction in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012, said Perry had failed to answer the question about the Taliban obtaining nuclear weapons.
“Working with allies at that point is the last thing we want to do. We want to work in that country to make sure the problem is defused,” Santorum said.
When this man got up to go to work that day, I’m sure he thought it was just like other day. He kissed his wife and kids goodbye, got his doughnut, coffee, and newspaper. He then got on the subway and went to his office in the World Trade Center, having no idea of the horror that awaited him in a matter of minutes.
This happened to 3,000 others who also thought this day would be a lot like every other work day.
Worst day for U.S. Casualties in Either Iraq or Afghanistan Wars.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.
The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.
NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there “was enemy activity in the area.” But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.
I smell cover-up and political agenda — both in the official version of events and the media coverage of this horror.
They are blaming one man, Anders Breivik, for detonating an enormous bomb in downtown Oslo, and then racing to the island of Utoya to gun down as many teens as he could at a summer camp.
Does this make any sense at all?
Remember, original reports focused on the liklihood that the bombing was the work of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks.
Here’s video of what Oslo looked like after the bombing . . . supposedly by the same man who then raced to an island to gun down all those teens:
As you can see, the damage to downtown Oslo was enormous.
So what we are supposed to believe is that one man did this much damage in two places by completely different means. I smell a rat. This story is just not credible.
Norway’s unpopular Labor government (desperate to hang onto power) might be eager to blame
both attacks on this supposed right wing Christian fundamentalist crazy man, thus perhaps boosting their standing in the polls.
The liberal U.S. media also loves this template. What liberals want everyone to believe is that the real threat to domestic tranquility is Sarah Palin and Tea Party types.
Remember when they tried to blame Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Arizona on conservative talk radio and Sarah Palin.
Then it turned out he didn’t listen to conservative radio, did not follow the news at all, and had no interest in politics.
Remember when the media tried to tell us that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian? Then it turned out he was an atheist.
I think something a long these lines is happening here.
MY PREDICTION: It will turn out that some Islamic terrorist group did blow up downtown Oslo. And this guy’s really not a Christian fundamentalist.
Funny how there was virtually no coverage in the mainstream media of the fact that the Unabomber had a copy of Al Gore’s book ’Earth in the Blanace’ in his shack. Gore’s book was heavily underlined with lots of handwritten notes in the margins by the Unabomber.
But not much concern by liberals about violent environmental extremists — such as Earth First.
SIDENOTE: It’s worth noting that Norway has some of the world’s toughest gun control laws. Had someone had a gun, this lunatic might have been stopped before he could kill 90+ kids. The same can be said about Jared Loughner. Had someone in the crowd had a gun, Loughner might have been stopped and lives saved.
WASHINGTON TIMES: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s ongoing release of the Guantanamo Bay prison files, and large numbers of classified State Department cables, attempts to expose what he calls American corruption.
But supporters of the George W. Bush administration’s global war on terrorism say the nearly 800 Guantanamo files show that “enhanced” interrogations of hundreds of captured operatives at secret overseas prisons and at the Cuban prison amounted to one of the most successful intelligence operations in history.
Before the interrogations, the U.S. knew little about al Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Years later, the CIA and military had accumulated a large database of ongoing plots and the identities of terrorists, the WikiLeaks files show.
Nice people, these Taliban and jihadists. How could any sane person what to be part of this movement?
U.K. TELEGRAPH: Police seized a nine-year-old and three others aged between 12 and 14 as they tried to cross into eastern Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the Afghan intelligence agency said the boy is believed to be the youngest suicide bomber ever intercepted, though children as young as five have been used to plant bombs in Helmand.
The use of child suicide bombers to target Nato troops, government officials and those working with Hamid Karzai’s government has been an insurgent tactic for several years, he said, but had increased recently.
Was Obama’s so-called ‘gutsy’ call on bin Laden killing made after 16 hours . . . or 16 months? (Good stuff in this piece)
THE INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Did a Pakistani intelligence official sell the information about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden to the US last year to get millions of dollars and relocate to a western country with a new non-Pakistani passport? All those seeking to know the full facts of the Osama episode are looking for an answer to this question.
President Barack Obama would not have agreed to go forward with the mission to kill Osama bin Laden had it not been for intense pressure from CIA Director Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, administration sources have revealed.
The advocates of the mission had “reached a boiling point”, because President Obama, hesitated for months and kept delaying the final approval. This delay was because of a close aide who suggested that this could damage him politically.