Blog Archives

Why the Obama Administration is not the Stasi

big barryThe Obama Administration is not the Stasi. After all, the Stasi notoriously created a nation-state of informants.

Instead of pesky informants, the Obama Administration prefers the “hoovering” of all electronic data, foreign and domestic, as well as the use of drones to spy on the citizenry. (And what does a drone do in such cases? It’s one of a million surveillance cameras, only it’s in the sky instead of on the ground.)

But rest assured, Barack “The Surveiller” Obama has made the determination with regards to your privacy and these programs are well worth the intrusion into every corner of the American life. It’s a small price to pay.

(The problem isn’t that these things are illegal; the problem is that they are legal.)

Send lawyers, drones, and money. It’s for your own good.

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Why the Muslim world hates Obama

Why does the Muslim world hate Barack Obama? Two possible reasons come to mind: First, he rejected Islam. Second, his global war on terror is that of George W. Bush… writ large.

… Barack Obama greatly expanded the secret war that George W. Bush began. In the fall of 2009, Obama approved a “long list” of new CIA paramilitary operation proposals, as well as CIA requests for more armed drones, more spies, and larger targeting areas in Pakistan. “The CIA gets what it wants,” said the president, approving the CIA requests, and conveying what [writer Mark] Mazzetti thinks was his first-term attitude toward the Agency. The Department of Defense also got most of what it wanted. Obama approved an initiative by General David Petraeus to expand “military spying activities throughout the Muslim world,” and gave special operations forces “even broader authorities to run spying missions across the globe” than they possessed under the Bush administration.

[snip]

In 2009, the Obama administration conducted more drone strikes in those countries than the Bush administration had done in the seven years after 9/11; and to date, it has conducted almost nine times more drone strikes there than its predecessor.

Obviously, to the Muslim world (and to the American people), the promises of Obama the candidate do not equal the actions of Obama the president. Watch what they do and not what they say and all that.

The self-evident lessons: 1) don’t trust this President whether or not his lips are moving and 2) foreign policy-wise, send lawyers, drones, and money.

While the first lesson reflects poorly on the American voting public, the second shows the Administration’s emphasis on tactics at the expense of strategy. A more appropriate strategy would be: develop energy in friendly parts of the world (the Keystone XL pipeline, North Dakota, and federal lands seem to come to mind); have other nations take more responsibility in securing the Muslim world (that is, those with self-interest); cut foreign aid to the Muslim world (unless and until human rights atrocities are effectively addressed), and; control both permanent and temporary entry (that is, have coherent and enforced immigration and visa control processes) into the United States.

Sadly, these necessary elements of strategy tend to line up poorly with the Administration’s mindset, hence their devolution towards tactics. (And no, this is not the most transparent Administration ever.)

Will the President adopt and adjust? Can the President adopt and adjust? His unrepentant passive-aggressive behavior points towards “no.”

They say hindsight’s 20/20

watch for falling missilesIn hindsight, President Obama might have gone Eric Holder on the two Boston Marathon bombers and given the pair a couple of extra-judicial death-by-drone sentences.

Think of all the human suffering, money, and time that could have been saved.

Of course there’s no way Obama would have the stones to do such a thing: the bombers could claim membership in the left’s most-favored and protected groups. If they’d only been Tea Partying, gun-totin’, anti-abortion Christians…

Based on observed history, Janet Reno would have made the call.

Bloomberg requests additional federal drone support

(New York, PMNS)

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, today requested additional drone support from the Department of Homeland Security. His rationale is that more surveillance, along with air strike capabilities, might be needed to enforce his ban on large, sugary drinks.

“The issue of obesity in the city has reached epidemic proportions and we need help with food policing resources we can’t ourselves afford,” Bloomberg said at a press conference Monday morning. “People need to understand this is for their own good and that portion size is not some sort of Constitutionally protected right.”

After Bloomberg finished, mayoral spokesman and Wall Street veteran Henry Brinks-Sachs addressed reporters and said that Bloomberg would need an additional seven drones with upgraded sensors (synthetic aperture radar, infrared, and full-motion video) and that at least four of the drones would require a full weapons load. “The mayor knows that people need help in meeting our goals for portion sizes,” Brinks-Sachs said, “and that massive retaliation is a proven obesity deterrent. Once we have enough drones for 24-hour ops, we can expand into neighboring areas, to help those who cant, or won’t help themselves against these beelzebubish Big Gulps.”

Critics of Bloomberg’s new policy quickly voiced their displeasure. Michael Spinks, a member of Citizens Against Drone Death said, “Bloomberg’s overreach and arrogance on this is typical. You’d think after he inadvertently destroyed Al Sharpton’s headquarters last week with that drone-delivered Hellfire missile, he would have learned his lesson.” Sharpton has remained silent on the issue pending a settlement and a possible run for mayor himself. He is said to be in mourning following the death of seven staff workers at his Harlem headquarters including confidant Tawana Brawley.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to approve Bloomberg’s request sometime this week.

(Joy Acton-Carnish and Philip Xerxes of the PMNS Newark translation enclave helped cut and paste this article.)

Why the Dems went all-in on Obama’s drone wars

Why did so many Dems go all-in on Obama’s death-by-drone policy?

Easy: because Obama is a Democrat.

Remember the threats of trials for former Bush officials regarding enhanced interrogation? Recall the Obama principle of terrorism being a law enforcement issue that can be addressed in the courts? One doesn’t hear too much of those in these times.

Ignored are previous and sometimes principled Democrat policy disagreement, replaced with Presidential drone-death apologists like Dianne Feinstein, here leading along John Brennan in his recent Congressional testimony:

“And, so, Mr. Awlaki is not an American citizen by where anyone in America would be proud.”

Some New Yorker comment/questioning of Feinstein’s death-by-drone proposal:

“Proud,” “upstanding,” “so-called American”—is this the basis on which the Senate is judging fundamental questions of American rights and due process? Before the hearing, I wondered what picture of Americans we were supposed to have when we heard about the executive giving itself the power to kill them. Feinstein could hardly have given a less reassuring answer.

And more:

The Obama Administration, as far as we’ve seen in a leaked Department of Justice white paper, is making a contradictory case: it claims that it is deliberate and careful, acting only when it must to say lives. But, when challenged, it descends into emotion and an abandonment of law.

The lesson of lawlessness—and hubris—here is obvious. The Administration cannot admit its crimes, its wrongs, or even its contradictions, and if you don’t believe it, just ask chief apologist Jay Carney; somehow this license to kill difficulty will end up as the fault of Congress Republicans. And waiving off such difficulties requires the help of deep-Blue state (and untouchable) Obama boosters, such as Feinstein, attempting to employ Jedi mind tricks in lieu of logic, law, and reason.

And yet while Feinstein doesn’t want you to have a 20-round 9mm clip, she’s OK with the President acting alone as policeman, judge, jury, and executioner. Welcome to the Imperial Presidency, where the king is law.

The bigger revelation? If, like Feinstein, you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

UPDATE. The last sentence should have read as follows: “If, like Feinstein, you represent only partisan politics, you’ll do anything.”

Barry and the Drones

With advance apologies to Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

B-b-b-b-b-Barry and the drones

Cool kids, shake it loose collective

The drones killed someone that was there in a directive

We bomb ’em all tonight so stick around

They’re gonna get hellfire missiles all the way to the ground

Oh Hillary and Eric did you get the brief?

Oh but they’re so tuned in

B-b-b-b-b-Barry and the drones

Oh but they’re legal and wonderful

Oh Eric they’re really keen

We got a drone patrol, a smokin’ hole

You know I saw it on uh NBC, oh-h…

B-b-b-b-b-Barry and the drones

Cool kids, plug into the faithful

Maybe they’re blinded but Barry keeps ’em careful

If no one else survives, well, that’d be a shame

When we fight Republicans now in the press, they get every bit of the blame

Oh Hillary and Eric did you get the brief?

Oh but they’re so tuned in

B-b-b-b-b-Barry and the drones

Oh but they’re legal and wonderful

Oh Eric they’re really keen

We got a drone patrol, a smokin’ hole

You know I saw it on uh NBC, oh-h…

B-b-b-b-b-Barry and the drones

Bad policy? Lawless policy? Both?

Is the President’s drone-based license to kill good policy or bad policy? Beyond that, is it lawful or lawless?

While it’s unacceptable for terrorists with U.S. citizenship to use that citizenship as a permanent stay out of Gitmo free card or way to avoid the 72 virgins, is it OK for the President’s vaporization via drone policy to be free from Congressional and judicial review?

Me thinks not, despite the Administration’s extralegal assertions. Consider the Administration’s deliberate lawlessness on a number of other topics, as well as its history of poor judgment and non-accomplishment (for example, the economy), which is a matter of record.

Similarly, as a matter of license to kill explanation, the Administration has chosen to lay out an an ill-defined and vague strategy: trust us.

The Administration’s drone-master, one or more high ranking and omniscient government bureaucrat and/or elected official, will make the American terrorist kill/don’t kill call based on pertinent intelligence products and the threat/non-threat of the terrorists intentions and their rank/non-rank within a terrorist network.

While it’s painful to highlight, consider—again—that our intelligence community doesn’t really have a great a record, at least at the strategic level. Think Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs, Soviets in Afghanistan, the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the fall of the Soviet Union, the Indian nuclear program, 9/11, the Iraqi WMD threat, the Arab Spring, etc.. At the non-strategic level, there are stories of massive drone-based collateral damage which could be argued as being well-beyond the proportionality the laws of warfare call for.

And there’s also the whole difficulty in reconciling the Administration’s cognitive dissonance of “Gitmo bad,” “enhanced interrogations bad,” and “Bush bad” with their assertion that the President’s death by drone program is a no-worries success story. Trust us. Remain calm. All is well.

Maybe—with all due respect—the next presidential Administration will consider, as the Obama Administration did for some time, the possibility of criminal trials regarding the prior Administration’s anti-terrorism policies and programs. Although the media asserts some Administrations, like this one, are more equal than others, it would be interesting to see Eric Holder and some of the President’s other minions twisting in the wind.

While I don’t subscribe to the idea of karma or cosmic payback, I do know sooner or later—maybe after they’re done twisting, maybe before—God’ll cut ‘em down.

… sooner or later…

The Audacity of Drone Kills

The Audacity of Hope? Hardly. Instead, consider The Audacity of Death. Or perhaps The Audacity of Drone Kills.

There’s this from the New York Times on the President’s self-authorized/self-certified/unreviewable license to kill:

The paper’s sweeping claims of executive power are audacious. For a threat to be deemed “imminent,” it is not necessary for a specific attack to be under way. The paper denies Congress and the federal courts a role in authorizing the killings — or even reviewing them afterward. In doing so, it cites the authorization of force that Congress granted to President George W. Bush after 9/11.

The Time’s blurb is fascinating at several levels. First, they dare to publicly question their great god, Barack Obama. Next, President Obama’s policy refers back to a Bush-based standard—while twisting it into a wholly unrecognizable shape—to justify his kill program. Finally, is the author goofing on Obama’s Audacity of Hope?

Has the Administration–and the Times–somehow forgotten Bush all bad, Obama all good?

Audacity, indeed.

Death by drone good; enhanced interrogation bad

From the New York Times regarding John Brennan’s upcoming confirmation hearing as the President’s nominee to lead the CIA. Brennan is currently the President’s drone master and some, it would seem, are concerned about the policy efficacy of death via drone-delivered Hellfire missiles:

Several former top military and intelligence officials — including Stanley A. McChrystal, the retired general who led the Joint Special Operations Command, which has responsibility for the military’s drone strikes, and Michael V. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director — have raised concerns that the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen are increasingly targeting low-level militants who do not pose a direct threat to the United States.

Perhaps “low-level militants” are in the eye of the beholder. You know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s low-level militant and all that?

So what does the President’s drone master, do? At minimum, it would seem he manages the President’s kill-list:

From his basement office in the White House, Mr. Brennan has served as the principal coordinator of a “kill list” of Qaeda operatives marked for death, overseeing drone strikes by the military and the C.I.A., and advising Mr. Obama on which strikes he should approve.

How have things gone in this arrangement? Well, as for what follows in the trailing block quote… let’s just say it doesn’t appear to have entailed a drone—cruise missiles aren’t drone-delivered—but it’s still something Obama’s predecessor would be literally (in Biden-speak) lynched for:

The first strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration, in December 2009, was by all accounts a disaster. American cruise missiles carrying cluster munitions killed dozens of civilians, including many women and children. Another strike, six months later, killed a popular deputy governor, inciting angry demonstrations and an attack that shut down a critical oil pipeline.

Hmm. By December 2009, the Administration wasn’t new to things. They would have been in place almost a year. Yes, it would seem mistakes were made, shoulda, coulda, woulda, and all that.

But what about more recent history? That is, how about the President’s death by drone program—let’s say in Yemen only—in 2013?

There have been at least five drone strikes in Yemen since the start of the year, killing at least 24 people. That continues a remarkable acceleration over the past two years in a program that has carried out at least 63 airstrikes since 2009, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that collects public data on the strikes, with an estimated death toll in the hundreds. Many of the militants reported killed recently were very young and do not appear to have had any important role with Al Qaeda.

Well. That sounds like a lot of Presidentially-directed death for those who don’t appear to have an important role with Al Qaeda. But what does the Time’s article segue into?

… some Yemenis wonder why there is not more reliance on their country’s elite counterterrorism unit, which was trained in the United States as part of the close cooperation between the two countries that Mr. Brennan has engineered. One member of the unit, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed great frustration that his unit had not been deployed on such missions, and had in fact been posted to traffic duty in the capital in recent weeks, even as the drone strikes intensified.

Since the future of warfare is largely unmanned, death by drone is with us to stay. But it’s curious, isn’t it, that the Obama standard of death by drone—including plenty of collateral damage—creates no outrage and very little discussion. Consider how that can be versus the Bush standard of behavior, where highly limited ‘enhanced interrogation’ creates massive outrage and dominates news cycles for months on end? Strange, ain’t it?

The good news, since Brennan is now owned by Obama, is that Brennan says enhanced interrogation is a thing of the past. And as it regards Brennan’s detailed knowledge of the Bush-era enhanced interrogation? That can be waived off… he’s on the right team now.

Send lawyers, drones, and money: a proclamation

A proclamation: Whereas, the Senate of the United States, recognizing the Supreme Authority of our Government in ruling all the affairs of mankind and in granting them the rights and privileges they enjoy, has, by resolution, humbly requested the President designate and set apart a special day for securing lawyers, drones, and money.

For Senator Bob Menendez, dear President, send lawyers. After being accused of consorting with underage Dominican Republic prostitutes and being forced to make $58,500 restitution for previously undeclared air travel three years ago, our dear colleague will need all the justice your faithful government can provide him. Except please, dear President, in your providence, provide no lawyers for the prosecution.

For American citizens, should they be thought to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” and regardless of whether or not there is any intelligence indicating they are engaged in active plots against the United States, dear President, send us drones from your mighty factories and from your fount of covert operations, drone operators. With Hellfires.

And for those supporting you and your post-election PAC, supreme leader and dear President, please authorize yourself and your agents the government grants, political contributions, media support, and monies needed to implement your wise vision.

Faithfully submitted this day, Douglas C. Neidermeyer, Senate Sergeant at Arms.

Send lawyers, drones, and money

How important does the President’s team think it is to burnish his national security credentials? Important enough to leak secrets which could be reasonably thought to inflict exceptionally grave national security damage.

And did you know the President was in the White House video-teleconference center when special operations forces took down bin Laden?

Finally, if you’re on the President’s kill-list and Barry Oh! and his legal team decide your death is above-the-line, is this an assassination?

Maybe (but it will be called lethal covert operations). Still, it matters little because the U.S. policy ban is only on political assassination.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, our President is practicing a form of assisted national (and political) suicide.

If this were a Republican administration, this—among other items—would be bigger than Watergate.

A drone again, naturally

LBJ was mocked for being the target-list approval authority for air strikes during the Vietnam War.

Now America has Barry Oh! doing the same thing. Charles Krauthammer suggests the President has gone drone warrior to enhance his political profile:

So the peacemaker, Nobel laureate, nuclear disarmer, apologizer to the world for America’s having lost its moral way when it harshly interrogated the very people Obama now kills has become — just in time for the 2012 campaign — Zeus the Avenger, smiting by lightning strike.

A rather strange ethics. You go around the world preening about how America has turned a new moral page by electing a president profoundly offended by George W. Bush’s belligerence and prisoner maltreatment, and now you’re ostentatiously telling the world that you personally play judge, jury, and executioner to unseen combatants of your choosing, and whatever innocents happen to be in their company.

While blessed are the peacemakers still rules the day, pay as I say and not as I pay and do as I say and not as I do have been the real hallmarks of the Administration. As such, while the President’s lack of coherence may be disconcerting, it shouldn’t be unexpected.

Closing Guantanamo, for example, would require the following: 1) a better idea than using Guantanamo, and 2) working with the Congress to make it happen.

As such, we have a Presidential version of natural (policy) selection, or better, policy de-evolution. This is caused by closing the door on other instruments of power which leaves a drone again, naturally.

By the way, I have seen the future of warfare. It’s unmanned.

no, a drone again, naturally

Send Lawyers, Drones, and Money

From the Guardian, the nuclear (powered) drones have entered the trade space:

American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.

I’m not sure how far they’ll get with this idea. After all, launching a satellite with a nuclear power plant requires Presidential approval.

And we already have unmanned weapons systems designed to deliver nuclear weapons. They’re called missiles.