Watching the British Parliament debate British involvement in a US-led bombing campaign in Syria as a response to gas attacks, I’m hearing slippery slope and pie-in-the-sky arguments in favor, but the opposition is less articulate. Their arguments roughly break down thus:
- The conflicting demands of international law, a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention vs breaking international law by intervening in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, the latter needs to be given the greatest consideration.
- No conclusive evidence of a gas attack has been, as yet, been presented.
- There’s no real plan. “Sending a message” seems to be enough justification for conservatives, but what exactly does that accomplish?
It is also apparent that neocon baggage and what amounts to a criminal record as long as your arm in the tawdry abuse of humanitarian intervention by the West, even while both sides are skeptical of the credibility argument.
What’s not being mentioned is how the West sat back after episodes like when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on Kurds in northern Iraq.
We intend to remain seized of the matter.
“Russia can neither be grasped by the mind, nor measured by any common yardstick. Russia’s status is special: no attitude to her other than one of blind faith is admissible.”
“He who is not with us, absolutely and without reserve of any kind, is against us, and should be treated as an enemy alien.”
So much for freedom of conscience.
At 18:08 in the video: After hearing that US helicopter gunships had shot and wounded a child (there were two), we hear
“Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.
As this was happening, and just a few blocks away, Agence France correspondent Ahmad Sahib got out of the car he was traveling in, started snapping a few pictures and began to attract a crowd – which soon drew fire from an American helicopter.
It looked like the American helicopters were firing against any gathering in the area, because when I got out of my car and started taking pictures, people gathered and an American helicopter fired a few rounds, but they hit the houses nearby and we ran for cover.
One of the U.S. Marines who was caught on video urinating on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters has broken his silence to say that he’s not sorry for what he did and he’d do it again.
“These were the same guys that were killing our family, killing our brothers,” Sgt. Joseph Chamblin told ABC News affiliate WSOC in his first interview since the 2011 incident. Chamblin said he did regret any repercussions it may have had on the Marines, “but do I regret doing it? Hell no.”
Which is, we can be certain, exactly what our “enemies” think of that marine.
Here we have @james_stamulis, who describes himself thus:
proud retired veteran,infidel and conservative. dedicated to protecting and preserving our constitution and our god given individual liberties.stand with Israel
fort myers, florida
Who uses his time to tweet things like the following:
ISRAEL LEVEL GAZA NOW!!! Six Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood highups flee to Gaza, set up command post for uprising http://t.co/oGuPRTaZ0W
— modernminuteman (@james_stamulis) July 23, 2013
Did we really trust people like this with a firearm?
The Fallujah Mosque Shooting:
This update goes off topic, but it is important to note how the press centers in the US (NBC in this case) deliberately soft-pedaled the story. They failed to inform Americans that US Marines had committed a war crime. Casual brutality. Note that the commander, if not explicitly ordering the shooting, was fine with it.
The Marine(s) who shot unarmed, wounded combatants, and their commander, were never brought up on charges. While it may be true (it is debatable) that, as USMC Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski ruled that the shootings were “consistent with the established rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict” this is clearly an atrocity. To accept otherwise it to tacitly admit that your armed forces are allowed (and as this post illustrates) all too willing to commit any atrocity whenever they can get away with it.
So the next time Americans start screaming about an atrocity committed on American personnel, I’ll remind whoever that is that they have no room to complain.
It also tends to illustrate that laws written with nineteenth century set-piece warfare in mind need to be revisited. Would the US enter into any such agreements? Almost certainly not.
Americans are hysterical. This was evident in the reaction to Chris Hayes’ thoughtful question whether we should be calling American service-people “heroes” in knee-jerk fashion. We neither think straight on many issues nor are we prone to thinking slow and relying on what we know.
This hysteria is just now beginning to be questioned. In The Terror Con, Robert Scheer points out that that the official National Security apparat isn’t populated with dedicated public servants, those “extraordinary professionals” President Obama demands we praise and admire, but career revolving-door bureaucrats intent on keeping the national security gravy-train running full bore. More to the point is the Council on Foreign Relations article pointing out that the chances of any American dying or being injured from an act of terror on US soil is infinitesimally small.
Of 1856 applications to the FISA court in 2012, 1789 were for electronic sureillance. NO requests were refused: bit.ly/17AM3OD (pdf)
— Brett Blake (@papicek) June 9, 2013
Which isn’t surprising. Is there a judicial finding of fact? Nope. Evidence? Nope. Adversarial process to argue for restraint? Hell no.
— Brett Blake (@papicek) June 9, 2013
That’s how you run a kangaroo, rubber-stamp court.
— Brett Blake (@papicek) June 9, 2013
UPDATE: It would appear my characterization is shared by some on both political fringes:
- NPR: FISA Court Appears To Be Rubber Stamp For Government Requests
- Daily Caller: FISA court essentially a rubber stamp for government, report finds
- Breitbart: The FISA Court is a Rubber Stamp
And while I’ve mentioned weaknesses within the FISA court process, there is, of course, more than a whiff of the usual dynamic of self-reinforcing, institutional fulfillment at work here as well: Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced.
A guy sits at a bank of computer screens at the NSA. On one screen is a list of the target’s contacts. Who placed the call, which calls got returned, the date the calls were made, the time and duration of each call. He doesn’t know who his target is? Of course he does. He has the phone number, which he cleverly enough matched up to a name he found in a phone book. (Lets just assume for the sake of argument that the NSA’s phone books are both a lot more comprehensive and more up to date than something you or I might buy on Amazon.) Both the target’s and the party (or parties – this could be a conference call) on the other end of the line(s) appear on another screen.
Which brings up a good point.
Just because the only FISA court order we know about is supposedly restrictive (just phone call meta data) doesn’t mean that the NSA doesn’t already have all the data they need to fill in the blanks, including content. After all, there’s always the much rumored, but never confirmed ECHELON Program. As far as I know, nobody has yet asked what the phone call meta data is being matched up with.
So this NSA analyst gets a request to keep tabs on the target, and being sufficiently “sound” to pass the clearance hurdles necessary to actually sit at this desk, he’s not only more prone than just about everybody else to follow orders that he knows are wrong, but he’s far more likely to embrace a world view in which the threat is routinely exaggerated. So he got his orders, and now he’s found what he’s looking for. His target has repeatedly made contact with an “anti-American” element.
This needs to be reported!
I could have titled this, “A Fortnight of Dysfunction” except “dysfunction” isn’t exactly right. Anyways, let’s take a look at exactly what Washington has been up to lately:
On 15 April, the bombing st the Boston Marathon put everything on hold, but by the 17th, Congress got the ball rolling again. First up was the Manchin Twoomey bill mandating background checks on gun sales nationwide, especially on almost all gun show and internet sales. As the wingnut fringe went into overdrive, a lot of the usual lies resurfaced. This time around, there were claims that the bill would create a national gun registry, or that it was one step away from doing so.