Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WikiLeaks' Collateral Murder US Soilder Ethan McCord

This is disgusting.  Life is worthless to these people.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lawless Government

Obama flouts the War Powers Resolution

By Sheldon Richman

Everyone pays lip service to the rule of law. Indeed I’ve never heard of anyone rejecting it as undesirable. (It has been called impossible under prevailing circumstances but that is a different point.) So why is the principle so flagrantly violated with almost no public outrage?
Take President Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war. Even if we grant that he could legally enter that conflict by his own unilateral decision – a big if, which we’ll explore below – the War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires him after 60 days to cease operations or ask Congress for authorization to continue. One week ago today the clock ran out on the Libyan intervention, yet Obama has neither ceased operations nor asked for authorization.
He’s violated the law. (Never mind that Obama said that Operation Odyssey Dawn would take days not weeks.)
To their credit a few members of Congress are protesting. “The president is not a king, and he shouldn’t act like a king,” Republican Rep. Dan Burton said. Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman agreed: “It’s time to stop shredding the U.S. Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional rule of law to Libya.”
Now there’s bipartisanship one can applaud.
Unilateral Authority
How one feels about the Libyan intervention should be irrelevant here. (I think it’s improper by any reasonable criterion.) What’s under challenge is the executive branch’s unilateral authority to take the country into war, putting Americans and others at risk, not to mention spending billions of dollars in borrowed money. To say the least, the founders were determined to prevent just this from happening. Thus the Constitution gives only the Congress the power to declare and appropriate money for war. But since 1942 no president has asked Congress for a declaration of war. (“Authorizations” that give blank checks to a president don’t count.) That’s why the War Powers Resolution was adopted. It was a half-hearted attempt to restore some measure of congressional authority over war-making. The problem is that no president has accepted it, and members of Congress generally have been too pusillanimous to stand up to a president. Considering the Supreme Court’s reluctance to enter this kind of dispute between the “political branches” (as if the Supreme Court were not political), the Court probably would have ducked any challenge anyway.
So presidents have repeatedly gotten away with lawlessness. Yet as Glenn Greenwald notes, that does not make new violations lawful.
Under the War Powers Resolution a president can commit troops to combat on his own say-so only in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” Thus the Libyan intervention is illegal under the Resolution. The battle between Muammar al-Qaddafi and rebel forces clearly fails to satisfy that description of “national emergency.” Obama, then, had no obvious authority whatever to lead a NATO air campaign against the Libyan government. Saving Libyan civilians from danger (even if that were a realistic prospect) cannot justify U.S. intervention. (On the dubious threat of a civilian massacre see Steve Chapman’s “Obama’s War of Choice.”)
What does the administration say? “[T]he President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of force in Libya because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest,” a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memorandum (pdf) states. “We also advised that prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration.”
In other words, if a president judges a military operation in the national interest, he may on his own commit forces. The absence of congressional authorization or even funding is of no import.
The only problem is that the War Powers Resolution says nothing like that.
Sixty-Day Rule
The past cannot be changed, so let’s move on to the next key part of the Resolution: the requirement that after 60 days a president must stop combat operations or get authorization from Congress. (A president can take 30 days more if troops would be endangered otherwise.) In 1980 the Office of Legal Counsel gave its constitutional blessing to this provision, and that apparently has not been reversed. Revealingly, according to the New York Times, “Administration officials offered no theory for why continuing the air war in Libya in the absence of Congressional authorization and beyond the deadline would be lawful.”
There you go. So it is written, so it shall be done. They don’t need no stinking theory. The closest we got to a justification came from press secretary Jay Carney, who said that the commentary about the Resolution “could fill this room, and none of it would be conclusive.” Even if that were true, shouldn’t the administration err on the side of dispersed rather than concentrated power?
The Times quoted Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who ran the Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, on the unprecedented nature of Obama’s action: “There may be facts of which we are unaware, but this appears to be the first time that any president has violated the War Powers Resolution’s requirement either to terminate the use of armed forces within 60 days after the initiation of hostilities or get Congress’s support.”
Mental Contortions
Some allies of the President have undertaken prodigious mental contortions in arguing that the Resolution doesn’t apply to Obama’s action. It’s been said that deadly drone attacks (which have killed noncombatants) and the U.S. supporting role for NATO don’t count as warfare. That’s laughable. Besides, the Times quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying just this week: “Even today, the United States continues to fly 25 percent of all sorties. We continue to provide the majority of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.”
If it looks, sounds, and smells like war, it’s war.
Some may wonder why Obama didn’t ask Congress for authorization, since he could surely have gotten it. Greenwald knows why: “The Obama White House is simply choosing not to seek it because Obama officials want to bolster the unrestrained power of the imperial presidency entrenched by [the Bush administration].”
It would behoove Obama to heed the words of a once-future president who said:
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
No more ignoring the law when it’s inconvenient. That is not who we are. . . . We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers.
That was candidate Barack Obama. The fair-weather foes of arbitrary centralized power have much to answer for.

Source: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/tgif/lawless-government/

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today's Thomas Friedman article about democracy in Egypt and the danger of it being usurped by Arabs

As usual, his editorial is well thought out and well researched - always thought provoking. Let me interject one important idea here - we don't want Democratic elections in the Arab world. Noam Chomsky spells out exactly why. The dictators follow the script we give them. But the people of the Arab world OVERWHELMINGLY disagree with us. They see us as a bigger threat to them than Iran. They think Israel is the most destabilizing force in the region, a close second to us. If they suddenly have ACTUAL Democracy, we're going to lose control. And we don't want that.

"The U.S. and Its Allies Will Do Anything to Prevent Democracy in the Arab World" - Noam Chomsky

Mission Accomplished!

An air strike called in by NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan killed 12 children and two women, Afghan officials said on Sunday, one of the worst civilian death tolls by foreign forces in months.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

“Netanyahu is the Main Obstacle to Peace”: CodePink Activist Disrupts Israeli PM Speech to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech was warmly received by Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Tuesday. According to ABC News, he received 29 standing ovations during his address—four more than President Obama received during his State of the Union address earlier in the year...

"We don't have a democracy." -- Sheldon Wolin

What the American Media will not tell you, Now Exposed by Chris Hedges

Cornel West: Obama is for big business not the jobless

Israel & Palestine are completely stuck

Israel & Palestine are completely stuck. NATO is threatening Syria over violence against protesters. Obama tells Assad he can repress democracy if he will put pressure on Hamas to back off on divided Jerusalem. Peace negotiations are done in a year with Palestinians getting nearly everything else they want. Done deal.

NYT: Senate Gadfly Who Isn’t Shy About Buzzing

Actually, Rand Paul was one of few (including dems) who stood against expanding the patriot act for four more years after promising not to without sweeping changes to it.

"Mr. Paul largely votes with his party, but stood with more Democrats than Republicans in his opposition to the Patriot Act; he was alone in voting against a bill that would penalize people for aiming laser pointers at airplanes."

NYT: After Blockade, Gazans Enter Egypt With New Hopes

You can't expect the New York Times to say what is really happening here. This is a major setback for Israeli policy. This is a huge step toward eradicating the blockage of Gaza.


NATO Launches Rare Daytime Airstrike On Tripoli

Okay, tens of thousands of people are dead, Gaddafi is still in power, NATO is spending billions it doesn't have, the rebels have proven to be equally as cruel as Gaddafi, and possibly terrorist affiliate, the no-fly zone and areas the rebels are defending are coincidentally the oil producing areas (misrata is the oil exporting port), children are being murdered in our name again, it's clear this is all about regime change. Days not weeks? This is another quagmire that will take YEARS to resolve.

African Union Calls for End to NATO Strikes on Libya

Alliance Says NATO Strikes Go Beyond UN Mandate

by Jason Ditz, May 27, 2011

An African Union summit in Ethiopia ended with a call for NATO to halt all air strikes against Libyan territory. The AU Peace and Security Commissioner insisted that the strikes are going far beyond the UN mandate 1973 and are necessary to reach a political solution.
The African Union had previously tried to broker a transition deal in Libya which would lead to free elections and the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. The Gadhafi regime even endorsed the deal, but it was halted by rebel opposition, stemming from the belief that NATO would eventually help them win the war without a negotiated settlement.
Indeed AU chief Jean Ping accused unspecified international players (presumably NATO members) of deliberately undermining the talks, saying that the nations were trying to leave the AU in “observer” status in the war.
The US once again rejected calls for a ceasefire today, vowing that the war would continue and saying that the calls were insincere. The Gadhafi government has reiterated its support for the AU talks.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/05/27/african-union-calls-for-end-to-nato-strikes-on-libya/

Welcome to the Violent World of Mr. Hopey Changey

by John Pilger, May 28, 2011

When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser "destroyed … murdered … I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt." Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven "into the gutter from which they should never have emerged." 

The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged. A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control. 

Libya is the immediate opportunity. The NATO attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus "no fly zone" to "protect civilians", is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the "rescue" of Kosovo, yet the propaganda echoes today. Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gadhafi is a "new Hitler", plotting "genocide" against his people. There is no evidence of this, as there was no genocide in Kosovo. In Libya there is a tribal civil war; and the armed uprising against Gadhafi has long been appropriated by the Americans, French, and British, their planes attacking residential Tripoli with uranium-tipped missiles and the submarine HMS Triumph firing Tomahawk missiles, a repeat of the "shock and awe" in Iraq that left thousands of civilians dead and maimed. As in Iraq, the victims, which include countless incinerated Libyan army conscripts, are media unpeople. 

In the "rebel" east, the terrorizing and killing of black African immigrants is not news. On 22 May, a rare piece in the Washington Post described the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the "liberated zones" just as visiting EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, declared she had found only "great aspirations" and "leadership qualities." In demonstrating these qualities, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the "rebel leader" and Gadhafi’s justice minister until February, pledged, "Our friends … will have the best opportunity in future contracts with Libya." The east holds most of Libya’s oil, the greatest reserves in Africa. In March the rebels, with expert foreign guidance, "transferred" to Benghazi the Libyan Central Bank, a wholly owned state institution. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the US and the EU "froze" almost US$100 billion in Libyan funds, "the largest sum ever blocked", according to official statements. It is the biggest bank robbery in history.

The French elite are enthusiastic robbers and bombers. Nicholas Sarkozy’s imperial design is for a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM), which would allow France to "return" to its former colonies in North Africa and profit from privileged investment and cheap labor. Gadhafi described the Sarkozy plan as "an insult" that was "taking us for fools." The Merkel government in Berlin agreed, fearing its old foe would diminish Germany in the EU, and abstained in the Security Council vote on Libya.

Like the attack on Yugoslavia and the charade of Milosevic’s trial, the International Criminal Court is being used by the US, France and Britain to prosecute Gadhafi while his repeated offers of a cease-fire are ignored. Gadhafi is a Bad Arab. David Cameron’s government and its verbose top general want to eliminate this Bad Arab, like the Obama administration killed a famously Bad Arab in Pakistan recently. The crown prince of Bahrain, on the other hand, is a Good Arab. On 19 May, he was warmly welcomed to Britain by Cameron with a photo-call on the steps of 10 Downing Street. In March, the same crown prince slaughtered unarmed protestors and allowed Saudi forces to crush his country’s democracy movement. The Obama administration has rewarded Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes on earth, with a $US60 billion arms deal, the biggest in US history. The Saudis have the most oil. They are the Best Arabs.

The assault on Libya, a crime under the Nuremberg standard, is Britain’s 46th military "intervention" in the Middle East since 1945. Like its imperial partners, Britain’s goal is to control Africa’s oil. Cameron is not Anthony Eden, but almost. Same school. Same values. In the media-pack, the words colonialism and imperialism are no longer used, so that the cynical and the credulous can celebrate state violence in its more palatable form. 

And as "Mr. Hopey Changey" (the name that Ted Rall, the great American cartoonist, gives Barack Obama), is fawned upon by the British elite and launches another insufferable presidential campaign, the Anglo-American reign of terror proceeds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with the murder of people by unmanned drones – a US/Israel innovation, embraced by Obama. For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalizing of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W. Bush.

The Palestinians understand all this. As their young people courageously face the violence of Israel’s blood-racism, carrying the keys of their grandparents’ stolen homes, they are not even included in Mr. Hopey Changey’s list of peoples in the Middle East whose liberation is long overdue. What the oppressed need, he said on 19 May, is a dose of "America’s interests [that] are essential to them." He insults us all.

Source: http://original.antiwar.com/pilger/2011/05/27/welcome-to-the-violent-world-of-mr-hopey-changey/