Sen. Rand Paul today issued a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to incorporate various national security concerns into the comprehensive immigration reform debate in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Sen. Paul believes that comprehensive immigration reform requires a strong national security and until we can fully understand the systematic failures that enabled two individuals to immigrate to the United States from an area known for being hotbed of Islamic extremism, we should not proceed.
Paul sounds like a typical right wing xenophobe ala Peter King in his letter to Reid, which is chock full of fearmongering about our safety from "others" trying to get into America.
We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system. Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism? Were there any safeguards? Could this have been prevented? Does the immigration reform before us address this?
There should be hearings in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that study the national security aspects of this situation, making sure that our current immigration system gives individuals from high-risk areas of the world heightened scrutiny
How is any form of immigration law going to tell us if a nine-year-old boy will become radicalized after living here for ten years?
President Obama made a fairly short statement from the briefing room about the explosions at today's Boston Marathon.
We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake -- we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.
Today is a holiday in Massachusetts -- Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.
Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I'm supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way. You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. We're still in the investigation stage at this point. But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy.
The Politico went to some effort, it seems, to dismiss Rand Paul’s concerns about the drone program (as well as his threat to hold John Brennan’s nomination if and when it gets out of the Senate Intelligence Committee).
For example, Paul is one of the few people asking any questions about non-US citizens.
Do you believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil? What about the use of lethal force against a non-U.S. person on U.S. soil?
He also asks how the National Security Act and Posse Comitatus might play into a domestic strike.
Do you believe that the prohibition on CIA participation in domestic law enforcement, first established by the National Security Act of 1947, would apply to the use of lethal force, especially lethal force directed at an individual on a targeting list, if a U.S. citizen on a targeting list was found to be operating on U.S. soil? What if the individual on the targeting list was a non-U.S. person but found to be operating on U.S. soil? Do you consider such an operation to be domestic law enforcement, or would it only be subject to the president’s wartime powers?
[...] Do you believe that the Posse Comitatus Act, or any other prohibition on the use of the military in domestic law enforcement, would prohibit the use of military hardware and/or personnel in pursuing terrorism suspects—especially those on a targeting list—found to be operating on U.S. soil? If not, would you support the use of such assets in pursuit of either U.S. citizen or non-U.S. persons on U.S. soil suspected of terrorist activity?
And (here in his first letter to Brennan) Paul asks the seemingly unspeakable question: how 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki came to be killed by a US drone.
What role did you play in approving the drone strike that led to the death of the underage, U.S. citizen son of Anwar al-Awlaki? Unlike his father, he had not renounced his U.S. citizenship. Was the younger al-Awlaki the intended target of the U.S. drone strike which took his life? Further, do you reject the subsequent claim, apparently originating from anonymous U.S. government sources, that the young man had actually been a “military age male” of 20 years or more of age, something that was later proven false by the release of his birth certificate?
Paul even asks a question limited largely to Yemen experts — whether or expanding campaign there is really about counterinsurgency rather than counterterrorism.
Is the U.S. drone strike strategy exclusively focused on targeting al Qaeda, or is it also conducting counterinsurgency operations against militants seeking to further undermine their government, such as in Yemen?
Finally, Paul slips this question in, which has nothing to do with targeted killings, but has everything to do with Brennan’s seeming disinterest in the privacy of the American people.
Do you support the Attorney General’s 2012 guidance to the NCTC that it may deliberately collect, store, and “continually assess” massive amounts of data on all U.S. citizens for potential correlations to terrorism, even if the U.S. citizens targeted have no known ties to terrorism?
Now, to Politico this may be a big game. But Paul is asking a lot of questions that no one else in DC is asking (note: he may have more leeway to ask such questions than, say, Ron Wyden, who has presumably been read into some of these answers).
Which is, I guess, how the Village now defines wacko: those people who asks the questions they’re too afraid to ask.
Fox "news" Sunday added a special guest to their "Power Panel" yesterday, famed investigative reporter (and self-described Republican) Bob Woodward, in (what appeared to me) a deliberate ploy to try and get him to compare the Benghazi incident (and the imagined "cover-up" they are fake-outraged over) to Woodward's own famed "Watergate" scandal. Unfortunately for them, Woodward did not see the Benghazi incident as being anything close to the magnitude of the Watergate break-in & sub-sequent coverup:
CHRIS WALLACE: "Where do you think the so-called Libya scandal is now?"
BOB WOODWARD: "Well I think there are some serious unanswered questions, but the suggestion that they should have Watergate-style independent special committees to investigate this... I don't see that yet because the question seems to be: 'What did Susan Rice know and when did she know it?' which falls not very high on the scale of: Do we really need to get to the bottom of this?"
Woodward dismisses "What did Susan Rice know and when did she know it?" as insufficient cause for a sweeping investigation (or rises to the level of Watergate) because in the Watergate scandal, the question was "What did THE PRESIDENT know and when did he know it?", which is several hundred magnitudes more serious than what one lowly Ambassador knew & when.
"Benghazi" is "the scandal that wasn't there." General Petraeus already testified last week that, while they immediately suspected terrorism, they did NOT want that information made public for fear of tipping off the attackers, and the fact is the anti-Islam video behind the riots in Egypt WERE used as cover for the Libya attack, so the idea the attack was connected to the famed YouTube video was indeed the truth.
But Republicans have never let "facts" get in the way of a good argument. Thank your lucky stars the Senate didn't fall into GOP hands this election because we all know what happened the last time a successful Democratic president won reelection with a Republican Congress (endless partisan investigations culminating in impeachment).
Honestly, let's all stop beating around the bush. Doing some simple math, when the last the mass shooting occurred at Texas A&M, before the most recent one at the Empire State Building--yes, many were shot by police, or those who are well trained with weapons, unlike, say, your local amateur yahoo who could've oh-so-definitely prevented the Aurora movie-theater shooting--a friend calculated how many of these incidents had happened since the May 31st Cafe Racer shooting in the University District in Seattle.
Once that was done, we divided by days and came to the number 8.8. That was the average number of days between mass shootings. Yet, nothing is done because the NRA likes the status quo.
Your basic dictionary definitions of a terrorist is the following:
1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
Board members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) have, on numerous occasions, explicitly advocated both overthrowing the U.S. Government and committing mass murder. If these were positions with which they disagreed, they wouldn't have a board and executive leadership filled with half-wit authoritarians advocating these things.
I am certain it is mere coincidence that every time peaceful protesters plan a major action, police announce a vile conspiracy to blow things up. And it is even more of a coincidence that the conspirators claim to have been baited into such plans by undercover agents, who have even been known to supply material with which they can blow things up.
Because if it was not a coincidence, we'd have to admit that our own government is working against our ability to seek redress for grievances, and that couldn't possibly be true. The good guys always win, right?
Lawyers for three protesters arrested on terrorist-related charges ahead of the Nato summit have accused police of entrapping them and encouraging an alleged bomb-making effort.
The three were arrested on Wednesday night when members of the Chicago police department battered their way into an apartment in the Bridgeport area of the city.
According to court documents released on Saturday, the three men considered targeting Barack Obama's re-election headquarters and the home of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Chicago police department said the men, described as self-proclaimed anarchists and members of the "Black Bloc" movement that has disrupted international gatherings in the past, were arrested on Wednesday and charged on Friday with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive incendiary device.
The three men charged were listed as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire, and Brent Betterly, 24, from Massachusetts.
At a hearing on Saturday bail was set at $1.5m for each of the three. Their next court appearance is on Tuesday.
Supporters of the three men disputed the charges, saying the men had come to protest at the Nato summit peacefully and that the police had confused beer-making equipment with explosives.
A lawyer for the three, Michael Deutsch, said undercover police officers had entrapped them by infiltrating the group and encouraging the bomb-making effort. The Chicago police department declined to comment on the tactics employed in the case.
The Cook County state attorney's office said the three men had other weapons including a mortar, knives and a hunting bow. It said they considered attacking police stations and cars in Chicago to disrupt police operations for the two-day Nato summit that begins on Sunday.
A mortar? A kitchen mortar? Knives and a hunting bow? Yeah, they sound like hardened terrorists to me! Imagine. You can carry a loaded handgun to a presidential appearance, but apparently you can't have knives or a hunting bow without being charged with a terrorist conspiracy.
By now, the story of Rebecca Hains's frosted cupcake confiscated by an overly zealous (or possibly just hungry) TSA Security Officer at a Los Vegas airport has gone viral, leading to a satirical song, and the sudden burst in popularity at the bakery of a "traditional style red velvet cake with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla cream cheese butter cream frosting" cupcake in a jar, now re-dubbed the National (Security) Velvet Cupcake (with the packaging redesigned to make it safe for air travel). Possibly the only dangerous thing about this cupcake is what it might do to your cholesterol levels.
The rationale - if one can use that word here without sniggering - behind the confiscation of a cupcake is the Transportation Security Administration's rule enforcing the 3-ounce limit for gels in carry-on luggage, ostensibly to prevent terrorists sneaking explosive aboard an airplane. But once we're finished with shaking our heads in disbelief and having a bit of a laugh... it might be advisable to look at this incident from a slightly more serious angle.
The Transport Security Administration was created as part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act sponsored by Republican Congressman Don "Bridge to Nowhere" Young, signed into law barely a month after the 9/11 attacks, and transferred out of the US Department of Transportation and into the Department of Homeland Security itself in 2003. The stated mission of the Transport Security Administration is to protect 'the Nation's [sic] transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.' Yet since its inception, the TSA has been the focus of one idiotic bungle after another, supposedly in the name of fighting terrorism, making freedom of movement for people and commerce far harder than it's ever been - for everyone, including politicians.
Rand Paul is hardly the first US politician to finally start objecting to the TSA's intrusive security searches, although he might be one of the most hypocritical, as he was on his way to Washington DC to speak at an anti-abortion March for Life rally. Don't anyone dare even think about touching his body, but he has no problem with government telling women what they can and cannot do with theirs. Rep Sharon Cissna (D-Alaska) endured far more than what Mr Paul suffered, after refusing an 'enhanced' full-body pat-down last year after the TSA in Seattle decided her mastectomy and gel-filled prosthetic breast insert required further investigation, the second time Ms Cissna was subjected to a pat-down. She took a ferry instead from Prince Rupert, BC to Juneau rather than fly, and had been a champion for the rights of travellers since. "The freedom of travel should never come at the price of basic human dignity and pride," she said.
We are asked to believe that Iran and its skilled covert action force chose to set up an operation in which they ("they" being members of the "Quds Force" with approvals reaching up to Ayatollah Khamenei) relied on a used car salesman from Texas to recruit Mexican drug thugs to kill Adil al-Jubeir. This is a problem involving the suspension of belief. Why on earth would they create a situation in which they had to rely on this untested, untrained, unguided, and uncontrolled asset rather than their own people?[..]
None of this is "rocket science." If as FBI Mueller said, this "plot" is like a Hollywood screenplay, then it is a screenplay written by a couple of kids high as a kite on a weekend and pitched in a producer's cottage on a film company's "campus." It is trash.
The overwhelming likelihood is that this is someone's "information operation" intended to condition public attitudes for some purpose. The over riding question is that of where the ovens are located in which this confection was baked and who the bakers might be.
Listen to House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers, here with Christiane Amanpour, talks about how "action" *MUST* take place in response to a plot to assassinate someone on American soil (don't think about that too closely, Americans) and that not even military action should be off the table (because with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Uganda, we have the resources for another front.). Those words should be a red flag to us all. Prof. Juan Cole:
FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a "significant terrorist act in the United States" tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.
The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement today that the plan was "conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran" by a faction of the government and called it a "flagrant" violation of U.S. and international law.
Okay, not good. Very bad. And there's no question that the Saudis and the Iranians have had a history of aggression towards the other and that both countries sought to assert dominance and control in the power vacuum created by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the details of this plot have left questions niggling in my brain.
The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.
The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents.
The DEA office in Houston brought in FBI agents as the international terror implications of the case became apparent.
The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being "directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government," including a cousin who was "a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform," according to a person briefed on the details of the case.
So maybe I'm reading this wrong, but this is a naturalized American citizen who claims that he's acting on the behalf of high ranking members of the Iranian government. It's a little far-fetched to call this a slam dunk case of a terrorist state and not the actions of bad players who may or may not be part of a faction of a government of which he's relinquished his citizenship. According to the report, this man wanted to get arms from Mexican drug cartels but was dumb enough to try to make a deal with a US DEA informant. Iran has been reaching out to the Obama administration, so a plot on American soil seems counter-productive. What do they gain?
He also reportedly told the undercover DEA informant that his contacts in the Iranian government could provide "tons of opium" for the Mexican cartels, according to officials who have reviewed the case file.
The Iranian government--the ruling mullahs--can provide 'tons of opium'? The mullahs have taken their usual no mercy stance against drug traffickers. I'm not saying that the Iranian government is all sweetness and light, far from it. They have brutally terrorized their own citizens. It's impossible to not be inundated with anti-Iranian rhetoric in this country, but to risk military action by the US in retribution for a terrorist act on American soil to get back at the Saudis? It doesn't seem like the smartest tactic.
We're starting to get a clearer portrait of Anders Breivik, the right-wing extremist whose rampage in Norway yesterday took at least 95 lives, the vast majority of them young people attending a youth camp.
The picture that's emerging is of an ordinary right-wing man stoked into anger by theories about "Cultural Marxism" that originated on the anti-Semitic far right but have in recent years been spreading into more mainstream venues, promoted by the likes of Andrew Breitbart, among others.
Based on online posts apparently by Anders Behring Breivik circulated in Norway, the alleged terrorist opposed multiculturalism and Muslim immigrants in Norway. Breivik championed opposition to "Cultural Marxism," a right-wing antisemitic concept developed primarily by William Lind of the US-based Free Congress Foundation, but also the Lyndon LaRouche network.
... The idea is that a small group of Marxist Jews who formed the Frankfurt School set out to destroy Western Culture through a conspiracy to promote multiculturalism and collectivist economic theories. A key "Cultural Marxist" guru William Lind spoke at a Holocaust Denial conference, and worked at Free Congress Fdn. which sponsored a former Nazi collaborator, the late Laszlo Pasztor. See Bill Berkowitz article on Cultural Marxism for Intelligence Report at SPLC website .
At the core of the far right's concept of cultural Marxism are the Jews. Lind made this plain in June 2002, when he gave a speech on the subject to a Washington Holocaust denial conference hosted by the anti-Semitic journal, Barnes Review.
Although he told his audience that his Free Congress Foundation was "not among those who question whether the Holocaust occurred," he went on to lay out just who the cultural conspirators were: "These guys," he explained, "were all Jewish."