Thursday, November 30, 2006

Judge Strikes Down Bush on Terror Groups

Dangerous Terror Group Pictured Above
By LINDA DEUTSCH (AP Special Correspondent)
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutional and vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.

The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."

More here

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Shell Game of Cruelty and Injustice - German Man Kidnapped by CIA; Case Was Dismissed for National Security Now He Asks for Appeal

Man Mistakenly Abducted by C.I.A. Seeks Redress

RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 28 — A lawyer for a German man who was abducted while on vacation in Macedonia and said he was tortured while in C.I.A. custody in Afghanistan urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to reinstate his lawsuit against the agency, which had been dismissed for national security reasons.

In May, a federal trial judge threw out the suit brought by Khaled el-Masri, who said he was an innocent victim of the Central Intelligence Agency’s program of transferring terrorism suspects secretly to other countries for detention and interrogation. Judge T. S. Ellis III of Federal District Court in Alexandria said that although it appeared a great injustice might have been done to Mr. Masri, he was persuaded by the government that there was no way to even begin a trial without impermissibly disclosing state secrets.

Benjamin Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told a three-judge appeals panel on Tuesday that the government’s position was absurd because what happened to Mr. Masri had hardly remained secret. He noted that the German government was openly investigating whether its officials had played a role in Mr. Masri’s ordeal, and numerous news accounts have quoted unidentified American officials as confirming what happened. More Here


In the Padilla case, the government argues that Mr. Padilla's only redress for his mistreatment while in detention is not dismissal of the charges against him, but only a civil suite for money damages. Well, in the above case of Mr. Masri, an innocent man, we see just what kind of "justice" such a detainee can expect - his civil suit was dismissed for national security reasons!

What a bizzaro version of justice: rather than the State having its case dismissed when it abuses detainees, it is the abused detainee who can expect to have his eventual civil case dismissed, even when it is clear and uncontroverted that he was mistreated.

Welcome to the "due process" shell game, where you can expect to be shifted from one legal track to another at the pleasure of the U.S. government, and government agents will not be held accountable.

In Padilla's case, the government held him for years, incomunicado, without charges, until the Supreme Court was about to review that detention. At that point, simply to avoid judicial review, the government transfered him from military to civilian custody and charged him with a crime a full THREE YEARS after his initial arrest.

In "normal" criminal law, such detention without charges would cause a prompt dismissal of the case against him. But now, in the post-9-11 world we live in, it is entirely possible that the government will be allowed to get away with such outrageous behavior and still prosecute this man for the vague charges of belonging to some jihad recruiting organization.

Stewart Rhodes

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gingrich raises alarm at event honoring those who stand up for freedom of speech

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.
"We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade," said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP's takeover of Congress in 1994. More here

Come over to the Dark Side! Freedom is dangerous and must be reduced to reduce the danger! Freedom is slavery, slavery is freedom!

Informant Says He Was Asked To Lie

There is major fallout from the Atlanta Police shootout that left an elderly woman dead – officers are put on leave and the state and the feds are investigating.Atlanta’s Police Chief announced both the FBI and GBI are investigating the shootout. Also, a narcotics team involved is now on paid leave and autopsy results reveal 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston was shot six times. More here

Rumsfeld okayed abuses says former U.S. general

MADRID (Reuters) - Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at

Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq , the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods. More here

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

John Adams (Grandpa John) R.I.P.

My father-in law, John Adams, passed away on Sunday. He was a good man. He had lied about his age to join the Marines at the age of 16 and served in the Pacific during World War II. We had all known that about him, but it was not until we were at his funeral that we saw his enlistment paperwork and found out that he had enlisted on December 10, 1941, just three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I also found out, from his son, that he had fought at Iwo Jima - which is something else I never knew. I should not have been surprised. Many of the men of that generation never talked about what they did in that war.

Once my young son, always full of questions, asked his Grandpa John "how many Japanese soldiers did you see go still in your [rifle] sights, Grandpa?" (yes, my son talks like that) Grandpa John, who usually was not at a loss for words, and never passed up an invitation to launch into a good story, just looked away for a moment, in a thousand yard stare, and then looking down at his grandson simply said "too many."

He lived a good long life and we all knew the end was coming, as it always does, but it is still sad and he will still be missed. There are so few left of that generation. So few. If you are lucky enough to have a man such as this still around, then I urge you to slow down, take the time to talk to him, hear his stories, write them down so they will not pass when he does, and learn from his long life. My wife has more about her Dad over at her blog.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rep. Rangel: Reinstate the Draft! All Youth Must Serve the Glorious Homeland! Sieg Heil!

According to John Heilprin, Associated Press Writer:

"Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 under a bill the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says he will introduce next year. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.

'There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the Administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,' Rangel said.


'If We’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft,' Rangel said."

Rangel is truly living up to ideal of the Democratic party's mascot. The one thing the neocons don’t have enough of is cannon fodder, and this monumental ass of a Democratic “leader” wants to give them just that – all the cannon fodder they can order up, by enslaving people who otherwise have the good sense to not enlist when our nation’s foreign policy is under the control of a cabal of chicken-hawks with a fetish for “pre-emptive” war and empire. Does Rangel really think a draft would have stopped the neocons from invading Iraq?

As for the notion that politicians will hesitate to go to war with a draft in place because it means kids from their own communities will have to fight, Rangel is presuming that Congress will even be consulted. Under the 2001 AUMF, and the broad grant of power Bush has claimed it gave him, he does not think he needs a vote from Congress to go to war. Bush is more likely to send in the troops first, and then ask for Congressional “support” after. And even if the President did ask Congress what it thinks prior to just starting a war, warhawks in Congress have already demonstrated, with a volunteer military, that they don't give a damn about sending kids from their own communities off to die in some sand-pit. Why should they care more about draftees? Does he really think the politician’s own children will actually be drafted and sent off to fight and die? What a fool.

So why is Rangel is so hot for a draft?

"He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, "young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.' (emphasis added).

Ah, there is Comrade Rangel's real motivation, his real wet dream - a communist-style nationalization of all us unwashed masses - the worker bees - for compelled national "service to this great republic" wherever he and his fellow travelers at Party Headquarters think we are best utilized as their resources.

Lenin, Stalin and Mao would be so proud. Of the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto, number eight was "Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of Industrial armies, especially for agriculture" and part of plank ten was the "Combination of education with industrial production."

Keep your eye on this totalitarian idea of "national service" - with all of our kids enrolled at eighteen into an American version of the Hitler Youth - it is not going away anytime soon. Would-be slave foreman Rangel is not alone in his desire that the federal government own the means of production - your kids. As William Grigg noted back in 1997, in a New American article responding to a similar idea during the Clinton Administration, the idea of National Service is a staple of statist regimes throughout history, whether they be communist (international socialist) or fascist (national socialist) in orientation.

This is where the Far Left truly raps around to meet the Far Right in total agreement that you and your children are merely resources to be exploited by the State, like so many stalks of wheat, so many bricks, or so many yards of lumber. Neo-Marxists within the Democratic Party call for a draft as a tool of "equality" (apparently, equal slavery is fine, so long as it is truly equal, and color-blind) and of course, most modern "conservatives" reflexively support a draft as being the epitome of patriotism.

Never mind that a draft is completely counter to the principles of Liberty and voluntary association which drove the American Revolution and formed the bedrock upon which our Constitutional Republic is based, and is clearly unconstitutional, as I explained at length back on September 9, 2006, when I responded to “military scholar” Edward Bernard Glick's editorial calling for a nearly identical draft for domestic 'civilian" service, as well as for military duty. You are welcome to read my historical and legal analysis in that September article. I will not repeat those arguments here. I will but quote what Ronald Reagan, the man who modern "conservatives" like to evoke as their role model, had to say about the military draft:

" rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state – not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers – to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea."

You who call yourselves "conservatives" should reflect long and hard on Reagan's words. If you still think a national draft is such a great idea, all I have to say is - of course you do!

Never have such a free people so longed for slavery.

Stewart Rhodes

(U.S. Army, Airborne, Retired).

Friday, November 17, 2006

Man Who Joked About Bomb on Singapore Flight Charged Under United Nations Anti-Terrorism Regulations

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- A 65-year-old Australian man was fined S$10,000 ($6,423) by a Singapore court for uttering the word "bomb" on a flight to Indonesia, The Straits Times reported on Wednesday .... [the man] was charged under the United Nations anti-terrorism regulations, which carry a maximum fine of S$100,000 or up to five years in jail or both. More here

That's right, this man who jokingly asked "where do you keep the bomb?" because he could not find space in the overhead compartment for his bag, was criminally charged under United Nations anti-terrorism regulations enforced by a Singapore court. Evidently, Singapore has passed something called the United Nations Act:

The United Nations Act grants the Minister for Law the power to enact regulations to implement UN Security Council decisions; the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations implement specifically UN Security Council resolution 1373 which prohibits all kinds of support for terrorist acts, be it financial or in the form of causing, assisting or promoting such activities. It also defines “terrorist act”, and a “terrorist” is “any person who commits, attempts to commit, participates in or facilities the commission of any terrorist act.” Any violation of the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations in Singapore will be prosecuted, as will the act of abetting the commission of an offense outside the country.
So now it is not just "national security" that the people of the world are commanded to worship and bow down to in servile surrender of our rights, it is also "world security" with the U.N. telling us what we must do to be "safe."

It is bad enough being subjected to any nation's vague, confusing, and elastic "terrorism" laws and regulations, enacted and enforced by home-grown unelected bureaucratic weenies with Hitler complexes, such as the U.S. bureacratic weenies that slapped felony charges, with possible 20 year sentences, on a couple for the terrorist activity of making out on a flight. But now we also must worry about violating some unknown, vague U.N. "terrororism" regulation - created by unelected bureaucratic weenies with Hitler complexes who answer to no people of no nation on this earth, because they are from the U.N., which is a non-state, wanna-be world government.

I wonder what the U.N. penalty is for such acts of terrorism by members of the "Mile-High" club (you know, that shadowy international organization of non-state-actors that terrorizes the air by subversively getting their freak on while in flight).

If this prosecution of a man in Singapore for violation of U.N. "anti-terror" regulations is any indication of things to come (and I think it is) we will soon be subject to "security" edicts with the force of law that don't even pretend to be subject to our will, as do the U.S. regulations we live under (where we can still delude ourselves into thinking We the People are in charge because we get to cast one measly little vote for either Lying Bastard A or Lying Bastard B every two years).

While I have not heard of any U.S. court applying such decrees from our benevolent masters at the U.N., the fact that any nation's court would do so is not a good sign. And, given the love affair many people in this nation have with the U.N., and the love affair of many U.S. judges with "international law" I think it is very likely that we will see it happen here too.

We are on a collision course with a future in which our lives, liberty, and property will be completely at the mercy of the whims of arbitrary, pervasive, and petty little smurf tyrants in blue helmets, and their domestic fellow travelers, who will scrutinize our every move and statement, looking for "bad" behavior that needs to be harshly corrected by threats of imprisonment, no matter where we travel on this earth. Talk about a terrorist organization of global reach!ibertarian Blogger on Enemy Combatant Status and Military Commissions Act

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nursery Rhyme Police

The nursery rhyme police - parents to take lessons in reading and singing

By STEVE DOUGHTY and JAMES MILLS Last updated at 00:12am on 14th November 2006
Parents could be forced to go to special classes to learn toto read stories or sing to their youngsters threaten their children's future and the state must put them right, Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said.

Their children's well-being is at risk 'unless we act', she declared. More here

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Clinton Era Proposal to Use Military Tribunals on McVeigh and the Militias

How the legal foundation for that plan was never laid by Clinton, but has been fully constructed by the Bush Administration
by Stewart Rhodes

NOTE: This article is a work in progress, so check back for the latest version. This article analyzes the extent to which a 1996 law review proposal to apply the law of war to the militias has actually been fulfilled by the Bush Administration after 9-11.

I first wrote this article just before I discussed this issue on the Republic Broadcast Network on Mark Dankof’s talk show. In preparation for that show, I posted the following introduction to that topic, including the relevant links to that 1996 law review article, and to an article written within weeks after 9-11 by John Dean, praising that 1996 article as providing the answer to the question of what system of laws should be applied to terrorist suspects.

When time permits, I will expand on this article.

– Stewart Rhodes

The Plan to Use Tribunals on McVeigh and the Militias

The focus in the “war on terror” since September 11, 2001 has been on Al Qaida and other Islamic terrorist organizations and individuals. Thus, few people realize that the concept of applying the laws of war to terrorists did not originate with the Bush Administration, or only after 9-11 in response to that attack.

The actual origin of this idea of applying the laws of war to terrorists (and terrorist suspects) has its origin in a 1996 law review article called Justice for War Criminals of Invisible Armies: A New Legal and Military Approach To Terrorism. That article was written by two lawyers, Spencer J. Crona and Neal A. Richardson, and was published in the Oklahoma City University Law Review in 1996. (see summary here).

Crona and Richardson proposed applying the laws of war to Timothy McVeigh and to the entire Militia Movement, in addition to Islamic terrorists, such as those involved in the first World Trade Center Bombing. Crona and Richardson asserted that the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City was an act of war, and that domestic militias were unlawful combatant paramilitary groups that were subject to the laws of war, and could be treated precisely the same as a foreign enemy in wartime, and thus had none of the rights under the Bill of Rights and could be tried by
military tribunals, rather than in civilian criminal trials. According to Crona and Richardson:

It is legally and intellectually disingenuous to provide terrorists the same rights as persons accused of ordinary crimes against society. Our Bill of Rights was designed to protect individuals in society against the arbitrary exercise of government power. It is not meant to protect commando groups warring on society through arbitrary acts of mass violence. We recognize that our proposal may have an adverse impact on the Bill of Rights. Regrettable as this may be, the demonstrable risk of harm to innocent persons posed by terrorism ... comparatively outweighs the speculative risk of such an adverse impact.

This is precisely the same argument that has been used since 9-11, by the Bush Administration and its supporters. But Crona and Richardson were not talking about members of Al Qaida, or suspected members of Al Qaida, or other Middle Eastern or Muslim terrorist suspects. The “commando groups” they talk about in their law review article are the domestic, U.S. militia groups that formed throughout the United States, in nearly every state, during the 1990s in response to the excesses of the Ruby Ridge incident and the Waco Texas Branch Dividian Siege which ended in a fire that killed 76 people, including 21 children.

The militias stated again and again that their purpose was defensive, to defend against possible future federal government abuse of the people – against more Waco style incidents. Even the FBI came to the conclusion that the vast majority of militias were purely defensive, and therefore
unlikely to initiate any violent confrontation with the government.

And yet, to Crona and Richardson, the militias - all of them - and even individuals of like-mind, should be treated as enemy warriors, and subjected to military rules of engagement – an “in kind response” – and then tried by tribunal as war criminals merely for belonging to such organizations, because, according to Crona and Richardson, those involved in setting policy, as well as those involved in actual violence, are also unlawful combatants. And, just as with the current arguments of the Bush Administration, Crona and Richardson held that citizenship is irrelevant. saying:

Citizenship of the accused poses no obstacle. What we are dealing with in the case of modern terrorists, like the saboteurs in Ex parte Quirin, are belligerent agents of either foreign powers or domestic insurrectionist groups committing war crimes.

For Crona and Richardson, citizenship and national origin mean nothing. What really counts is the viewpoint, and the self-identity of a person as belonging to such a “militia” group or merely the act of holding a similar view. That is enough to warrant their being designated as internal enemies. Once so designated, they can be treated precisely the same as an enemy soldier on a battlefield.

And how is an enemy soldier treated? Crona and Richardson did not explain the full ramifications of this doctrine. Allow me.

An enemy combatant can simply be killed on sight. This is the case with any enemy in warfare. There is no requirement that a U.S. soldier attempt to apprehend an enemy soldier. If the U.S. soldier sees an enemy, he can simply shoot that enemy on sight, whether that enemy is an immediate threat to anyone or not. That is what is known as a military rule of engagement.

It is just such a shoot-on-sight rule of engagement that lead to the tragic deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver in the Ruby Ridge Stand-Off. After Sammy was shot in the back while running away, Vicki Weaver was shot by a sniper, at long range - a range at which the sniper was not in any danger from Vicki or any other member of her family. The sniper was operating under a rule of engagement that allowed him to fire on all apparently armed individuals in the Weaver party, even if they posed no immediate threat to any officer.

That use of military style rules of engagement was later determined to have been illegal. However, if Crona and Richardson had their way, such rules of engagement would be the norm, not the abhorrent exception. The same is true of the Waco Standoff, where military tactics, equipment, and rules of engagement were used. To many Americans, that was a disaster of government excesses. But under the New Military Order Crona and Richardson envision, such methods would be not only be appropriate, they would be the only way such situations would be handed - as all such actions, against all such people, would be "war," not "law enforcement."

And, as already noted, anyone “captured” and accused of being a domestic terrorist would be considered an unlawful combatant and would not get any process whatsoever in a civilian court . That person would have none of the protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights– no right to a grand jury indictment, no right to know the charges against him, no constitutional right to a jury trial before a jury of his peers, no constitutional right to confront his accusers, no constitutional right to be secure from compelled self incrimination (including torture), and no constitutional right to appeal a conviction to a civilian court of appeals. A military tribunal, hand selected by the president, any president, would decide his fate. And if convicted, he could be executed by the military.

What if Clinton had listened to Crona and Richardson?

Thankfully for this nation, Crona and Richardson’s proposal to use the laws of war on the militia movement went nowhere back in 1996. As far as I can tell, it was not taken seriously in the legal or political community. There is scant mention of their law review article in the legal literature until after 9-11.

We can only imagine what would have happened if the Clinton Administration had actually attempted to implement this plan. If Clinton had begun declaring members of militias to be “unlawful enemy combatants” and subjected them to military trials and execution, as Crona and Richardson recommended, such an action would have been the worst fears of the militia and patriot movement come true. In such a situation, it is very likely that the militias would have seriously considered active resistance to such a military assault on them by the government.

The message from President Clinton would have been essentially this:

For you people, who oppose the federal government, who form citizen militias, the Bill of Rights is hereby forever suspended, and as "unlawful combatants" you are subject to being shot on sight wherever found, subject to indefinite military detention, under my orders, and subject to the laws of war as applied by a military commission established by me, under my authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States. If that military commission finds you guilty, you will be executed, and any possible appeal will only be to me, as the final decider of your guilt or innocence, pursuant to my independent and co-equal Article II powers as commander-in-chief.

No matter how limited the initial application of such a policy by the Clinton Administration, with the militia movement’s worst fears now confirmed they would have considered armed resistance appropriate and even necessary. Thus, even if it only began with one or two people held as unlawful combatants without trial, or one or two small groups, it is very possible that a cycle of action/reaction/action/reaction would have begun. A group resists. The government cracks down harder. More groups resist. The government cracks down harder. And on it would have gone.

But it did not happen because the extreme and dangerous proposal of Crona and Richardson received little attention. However, post 9-11, this idea suddenly came back into the limelight, and the concept of applying the laws of war to terrorists and terrorist suspects has now become official U.S. policy.

The Resurrection of the Plan Post 9-11

Within days of September 11, 2001, the article by Crona and Richardson was noticed by John Dean, former Attorney General and legal commentator on On Friday, September 28, 2001, Dean published his article, Appropriate Justice for Terrorists: Using Military Tribunals Rather Than Criminal Courts. In that article, Dean praises Crona and Richardson’s proposal and cites heavily to their 1996 article, and then tells us this:

While I have drawn on Crona's and Richardson's scholarly analysis, and considered arguments in this column, I have not been able in this space to do it justice, and it is very much worth reading in its entirety. Indeed, I found the article so helpful that I also passed it on to a friend at the Department of Justice, requesting that he pass it on to those currently examining the potential of military tribunals.

That’s right. Dean sent an article making the case for applying military tribunals to McVeigh and the militia movement on to his friend at the Department of Justice, to give it to those considering the use of military tribunals against Islamic terrorists. Thus, whereas Crona and Richardson’s arguments were not taken seriously back in the 90s, they now have been taken very seriously. It is probably impossible to know if their article actually formed the basis for the Bush Administration strategy, but the actions of the Bush Administration have been entirely consistent with what Crona and Richardson recommended." In the end, it does not matter whether the lawyers in the Bush Administration would have figured it out themselves (which is likely). What is important is that a very dangerous, and potentially explosive idea has now been given new life.

The legal, political, and military foundations for what Crona and Richardson only dreamed of in 1996 are now nearly completely in place. The very same Supreme Court case, Ex Parte Quirin, that Crona and Richardson relied on for their “new legal and military approach to terrorism,” has formed the basis for the Bush doctrine that does the same thing. And now, with the Supreme Court’s 2004 Hamdi decision, and with the Decision of the Fourth Circuit regarding the military detention of Jose Padilla (who was "captured" on U.S. soil), Ex Parte Quirin has been breathed new life, and has been applied to non-state actors, in an undeclared war on a tactic - terrorism - wherein anyone on the planet may be an “enemy.”

Thus, while it was a real leap for Crona and Richardson to argue from the application of the laws of war to eight German soldiers in Quirin (men in the armed forces of a nation with which we were in a declared war) to applying those laws to anyone accused of terrorism (to non-state actors, whether groups or individuals), that leap has now been made.

In the context of a “war on terror” against Al Qaida, the Bush Administration has applied
the laws of war to non-state actors: suspected islamist terrorists, their allies, and supporters. As if following the roadmap laid out by Crona and Richardson, the Bush Administration has claimed extraordinary, inherit, commander-in-chief powers. The most extraordinary claim is that the President, pursuant to his powers under Article II of the Constitution, may designate any person on the planet he suspects of being a terrorist, including even U.S. citizens here at home, to be an “enemy combatant” (or “unlawful combatant”). Such a designation is not made pursuant to any law enforcement powers – the president’s duty to see that the laws are executed - but is instead claimed to flow exclusively from the constitutional Article II powers of the president as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States – it is an entirely military power, not a civilian power.

Once so designated, so the argument goes, that person is deemed to be utterly without rights; with no procedural rights whatsoever under our Bill of Rights, under our laws, or under any law other than what procedural “rights” the President may grant, and devoid of any right to challenge that designation in a civilian court. Further, that person can be tried by a military tribunal hand picked by the President, and if found guilty, can be executed, with the only appeal being to the President himself. This has been the consistent claim of the Bush Administration, and the battle between its supporters and its opponents has been over the degree of this power, and also over whether any other branch of government can constrain this power.

The Administration’s lawyers have consistently claimed that this “war power” is essentially without limit, as it is a power stemming directly from Article II of the Constitution and therefore no other provision in the Constitution, not even the Bill of Rights, no other branch of government, and certainly no law, can impede this power. The claim is that in war, the enemy has always been subject to military jurisdiction and the laws of war. Military combatants - soldiers - are not dealt with by application of civilian courts or civilian laws, and do not have a right to all of the procedural protections that go with such courts. Instead, soldiers are under an entirely separate military system of justice. From this, the argument then asserts that in war, the president, as the commander in chief, the highest officer in the military, alone is the supreme commander of the troops, and he alone has the constitutional power to engage the enemy under the international laws of war, and not even Congress can impede the president’s use of his constitutional Article II powers (which are the powers to wage war successfully).

In fact, in its pure, undiluted form, the argument of the Bush Administration is that the president has an inherit and independent power to, all on his own, determine when we shall go to war, when we are at war, and thus, what is war. And, just as he has an independent power of determining when we are in a state of war, he can also determine who is the enemy.

And, so the argument goes, the attack on 9-11 was an act of war, and we are at war with terrorists and terrorism. And so, we can and must treat terrorists as a military enemy. From this, it is a short leap of logic to state that as terrorists are the enemy in wartime, they fall under military jurisdiction and are subject to the laws of war, as military enemies always have been throughout history. And so, a suspected member of Al Qaida is the same as a Japanese or German soldier during World War II.

That suspected Al Qaida member can be placed in military detention for the duration of the armed conflict (as long as the war on terror lasts) and can be tried by a military tribunal for any violations of the laws of war. Further, as the suspected member of Al Qaida does not follow the laws of war – does not wear a uniform with an insignia recognizable at a distance, is not in a chain of command under an officer responsible for his actions, does not carry arms openly, and does not comply with the laws of war. Thus, so the argument goes, such a person is always in violation of the laws of war.

When the War on Terrorism Turns Inward

What will happen, with all of the structure in place for Crona and Richardson’s plan, the next time there is a serious domestic terrorist incident, like the Oklahoma City bombing? Will a future president, say Hillary Clinton, be tempted to go all the way and apply the laws of war to suspected domestic terrorists, and to the militia movement? This is possible. In a poll taken in October of 2001, in affiliation with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, over 1,000 Americans were asked if they “Think a military tribunal should have been used to try Timothy McVeigh for bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City? 23% said yes, and 70% said no. So, five years after Oklahoma City, and right after 9-11, nearly one in four said “yes” to military tribunals for accused domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. And that was before the Bush Administration had applied the concept of enemy combatant status to U.S. citizens, and before the Supreme Court had ruled, in Hamdi, that such designations are constitutional (at least for citizens captured in Afghanistan), and this was before the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which defines an enemy combatant in extremely broad terms.

If another domestic incident like Oklahoma City occurs, it is very possible that a significant percentage of the population, when polled, will favor tribunals for the suspects. If that happens, and particularly if members of one of the militias are actually subjected to military detention and trial, we may see that cycle of violent reaction and government counter-action begin. If that happens, then God help us, because it may spiral out of control beyond what the government officials who decide such a course expect. Just as the resistance in Iraq was far stronger than anticipated, and has spiraled out of control, so too would a domestic application of the laws of war trigger a resistance that will grow, and become stronger and stronger as time goes on. And just as the Bush Administration has stubbornly refused to even acknowledge that any Iraqi resistance fighters have any legitimate reasons for resistance –and are always called “terrorists” – so too is it very possible that a future president Hillary will also stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that any militia or patriot group or activists has any legitimate reasons for resistance. She too is very likely to dismiss any and all who oppose her actions as “terrorists” or terrorist supporters, and she too is very likely to only fuel further resistance.

We must pull ourselves back from this idea of applying the laws of war to U.S. citizens (and to legal residents). If we don’t we risk not only a slow slide into a military style dictatorship or police state, as others have predicted, but a far faster slide into a civil war/domestic revolt sparked by an arrogant and foolish application of the Bush doctrine of enemy combatant status to domestic groups. This is a ticking time bomb, and if it goes off, it may be impossible to control the spiral out of control.

Stewart Rhodes

November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turn Iraq Over to the Arab League

A Rational Alternative to the Nutty-Neocon Stark Choice of an American Total Victory or Total Defeat.

Way back in President Bush’s December 18, 2005 address on the Iraq War, he declared that “now there are only two options before our country -- victory or defeat.” By "victory," Bush meant our troops staying until the Iraqi military and police are strong enough to defeat the insurgency/resistance, however long that takes, and by "defeat," Bush meant withdrawing before that point. The President declared that such withdrawal “would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us ….To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I will not allow it.”

Such a black and white, all or nothing decree from The Decider is what we have come to expect. True to neocon form, there was no room whatsoever for the involvement of anyone else in that decision, other than the President and his unitary executive cabal. Also true to neocon form, in that stark choice there was no room on the ground in Iraq for anyone else other than the U.S. (and it’s Western allies) and the fledgling Iraqi puppet “government.” The message to the Arab world was “Stand back, swarthy brown people, we Anglo-Saxons will sort this out for you!” This is precisely the plan the U.S. had for winning in Vietnam (and we all know how well that turned out).

Bush has stubbornly stuck to this all-or-nothing plan ever since. But now many of the neocon rats have jumped from the sinking U.S.S. Bush, or, in the case of Rumsfeld, have been forced to walk the plank, and the G.O.P. has been sent a pretty clear message from the voters – in the form of a boot out the door for many of them – that the voters are not at all amused.

And so, there has been a “softening” of that stark choice, and Bush is now turning to the pragmatists from that band of old-school insiders known as the Iraq Study Group for a way out of this mess. The Iraq Study Group is headed up by Republican former Secretary of State James Baker, and Democrat vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton. Other insiders in the group include Lawrence Eagleburger, Edwin Meese III, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta, and even former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In fact, Bush appointed a member of the group, former Director of Central Intelligence Robert M. Gates, to replace Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

But before we get too excited, we should recall that it was the Grand Wizard of all old-school insider pragmatists, Henry Kissinger, who helped shape the disaster of the Vietnam War with its failed plan of “Vietnamization,” and good ol Dr. Strangelove himself has been lurking around the White House of late, advising Bush that the only choice in Iraq is victory. The Iraq Study Group has made some tentative noise about a phased withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq and involving Syria and Iran in some capacity. But, because they are, after all, intervention loving Washington insiders, we are unlikely to hear much about a common sense, and eminently practical way out of this mess.

To be clear, the U.S. should never have invaded Iraq in the first place. First, it was an undeclared, and therefore unconstitutional, war. Second, it was not in our national interest to do so as Saddam was hardly a credible threat to the U.S. Third, it was a strategic blunder of mammoth proportions, which has only given legitimacy to the radical elements within Islam. Fourth, it has taken the inevitable path of empire, with the inevitable corruption of the hearts and minds of the occupiers, who become more callous and brutal in the attempt to quell the growing resistance to the occupiers, which only further fuels that resistance. And lastly, the horrors of Abu Ghraib and other human rights violations have sullied this nation’s image in the eyes of the world –perhaps permanently.

But all of that being said, here is the “practical” and politically viable way out: Turn Iraq over to the members of the Arab League. Rather than trying to achieve “Iraqization” of Iraq, we should “Arabize” Iraq. The U.S. could announce to the 22 member states of the Arab League that within a set, short period of time, say six to eight months, the U.S. will begin withdrawing its troops. The U.S. could make it clear that at that point, the Arab League (of which Iran is not a member) will be expected to take over the peacekeeping until Iraq is strong enough to stand on its own, and will be expected to oversee whatever ultimate political solution is needed, including a potential partitioning of Iraq. If the Arab League chooses to Involve Iran, so be it. I would expect that many of the member states would be hesitant to give Iran too much of a direct role, but that would be their decision.

Our withdrawal could be complete within three to four months of that changing of the guard and a total of between nine months to a year from now not a single U.S. military boot would be in Iraq. That is the way out “with honor.” Last year, Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas proposed a similar solution when he noted:

Ironically, our involvement has produced an unusual agreement among the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, the three factions at odds with each other. At the recent 22-member Arab League meeting in Cairo, the three groups agreed on one issue: they all want foreign troops to leave. At the end of the meeting an explicit communiqué was released: “We demand the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable, and the establishment of a national and immediate program for rebuilding the armed forces… that will allow them to guard Iraq’s borders and get control of the security situation.” Since the administration is so enamored with democracy, why not have a national referendum in Iraq to see if the people want us to leave?

After we left Lebanon in the 1980s, the Arab League was instrumental in brokering an end to that country’s 15-year civil war. Its chances of helping to stop the fighting in Iraq are far better than depending on the UN, NATO, or the United States. This is a regional dispute that we stirred up but cannot settle. The Arab League needs to assume a lot more responsibility for the mess that our invasion has caused. We need to get out of the way and let them solve their own problems.

In spite of the U.S. efforts to establish a strong Iraqi government and military, that ancient dispute between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds is devolving into a civil war. We would indeed be wise to leave ultimate resolution of that dispute to the Arab League. I argue that in addition to calling on the Arab League to broker a settlement, we should completely “Arabize” Iraq by announcing that those Arab states will be fully responsible for peacekeeping when we leave. In 1990-91, many of these same nations contributed well over 100,000 combat troops to the Gulf War and, as members of the “coalition of the willing,” supported the 2003 invasion to depose Saddam. They are capable of peacekeeping in the aftermath of the war many of them supported, but have let the U.S. bear that burden.

With last years Iraqi elections, and with Saddam’s recent conviction, the U.S. has achieved its two stated goals of removing Saddam and establishing a democracy (once again, presuming those were the real goals). The U.S. government can now claim it has attained victory in those achievements while leaving the inevitably uncertain future of Iraq exclusively in Iraqi and Arab hands. As for democracy, while none of the Arab League states are democracies, the democratic “cat” is already out of the bag in Iraq and would be difficult to put back in without further worsening the civil war or risking a radical Islamic takeover the Arab League likely fears even more. Even they can see that a democratic Iraq is a more stable Iraq.

But at this point, Bush should be willing to risk even ultimately losing democracy in Iraq to avoid the otherwise inevitable humiliating military defeat in the eyes of the world. If Iraq devolves into total civil war with Muslim peacekeepers responsible for security it would be tragic, but it could not be called a military defeat of the U.S. since the U.S. would no longer be the ultimate guarantor of Iraqi security.

The advantage for the U.S. would be avoiding such a perceived total defeat while the quantum difference for Muslims would be having Arab Muslim peacekeeping boots on the ground in Iraq, rather than American and British Christian boots. That is all the difference in the world when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the estimated 1.2 billion Muslims on this planet, which should be the focus in this supposed war on islamist terrorism.

There, that is the “practical,” politically viable way out of this mess. Sadly, none of this is likely to happen. I predict that the Iraq Study Group, and the new Democratic leadership in Congress, is really not interested in fully disengaging from Iraq. Like the neocons, they will want the U.S. government to maintain control, in some manner, of Iraq’s future, and of course, over all of that oil. The old-school insiders on the Iraq Study Group, and the Democratic leadership (more old school insiders) just think they can do the Iraqi Imperialism game better.

That should tell you something about the real reasons for the Iraq invasion, and it should tell you something about the false choice we were presented with in this past election.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

- Stewart Rhodes

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Newsflash! Rush Limbaugh Reveals he is Still a Real Conservative! He was only pretending to be a Neocon. Turns out that Rush was just lying to his audience, “carrying water” for the G.O.P. these past five years, for the ultimate good of America.
by Stewart Rhodes

Speaking of liars, Rush Limbaugh has finally come clean after the elections and admitted he has been lying to his listeners for years by defending as "conservative" actions by Republicans that Rush himself knew were anything but:
I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, 'Well, why have you been doing it?' Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.….

There have been a bunch of things going on in Congress, some of this legislation coming out of there that I have just cringed at, and it has been difficult coming in here, trying to make the case for it when the people who are supposedly in favor of it can't even make the case themselves -- and to have to come in here and try to do their jobs. I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, ..."

What a relief! Rush was just a water carrier! I was beginning to think Rush was actually a true believer, Jack-Booted, Big Government neocon. Turns out that Rush was still a small government conservative all along, though he defended every big government, anti-liberty measure that came down the pike.

This explains how Rush could dismiss the Abu Ghraib torture , murder, and sexual humiliation as equivalent to Frat-boy hazing pranks. Rush did not actually believe that nonsense. He was simply pursuing an ingenious long-term plan to preserve true conservative values by temporarily carrying Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld's neocon water. Such a long- suffering patriot! Such a good actor! He gave a true academy award performance. It must have been so very difficult for Rush to "get into character" as a Big Government neocon everyday before each show. I can picture him pacing back and forth, shaking out his hands, taking deep breaths, talking to himself, "OK Rush, you can do this, you can do this …you're a radio guy! This is what you do!" turning frantically to ask an assistant "what's my motivation?!" No wonder Rush was popping so many pills! Such pressure, such performance anxiety!

The Professional Liar Class of Water Carriers

(Doesn't that look like John Ashcroft? Hmmm ...)

Perhaps there is hope for conservatives after all. It may be that all the loyal Republican talking heads and minions in the media, law, and politics didn't really believe all that Unitary Executive/world empire crap was constitutional or "conservative" -they were just following orders from the top. Maybe it's all Bush and Cheney's fault and the rest of them were still "real" conservatives, but had to hold their noses and "carry water" for the White House, playing along in the hopes of one fine day being able to finally implement true conservativism.

This explains everything! Now we know why John Ashcroft had at least sounded like a small government constitutionalist before he became Attorney General, but acted like such a Nazi after he was in power. It was not that he had actually become a Nazi, like I thought. Oh, no, he was just playing one, just like Rush was, as a water carrier for his Leader.

And now I know why, back in 2000, law professor John Yoo had written a paper condemning Clinton's military actions abroad as dangerous to the rule of law and undermining separations of powers, and presented that paper at the Cato Institute (beginning at 28 minutes in the video). But then as a loyal tool of the Bush Administration, Yoo declared that Bush can unilaterally do as he pleases in foreign affairs, and even here at home, under his inherit "war powers," even to the point of torturing children. I am anxiously awaiting Professor Yoo's announcement that he too is still a real conservative and was simply doing his duty as a loyal G.O.P. water carrier, just like Rush! Perhaps that will be Yoo's defense – that he was "just following orders" - when he is prosecuted for war crimes in Germany, starting next week.

As for the other G.O.P. media hacks, perhaps Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and the entire staff of "WarNetDaily" will follow Rush's example, revealing that they too were simply following orders as loyal water carriers for the party when they defended unlimited executive war powers, perpetual undeclared war, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, military detention of Americans as "enemy combatants" without jury trial, warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, "ghost detainees," torture, etc. Now they will once again start expressing their true devotion to the Founders' principles of limited and divided government.

Rank and File Water Carriers Gone Wild!

But what about the G.O.P. rank and file? Now that the Democrats control Congress, will we see average Republicans all across America, by the millions, taking off their neocon-executive supremacist masks, like a bizzaro version of the final scene from V for Vendetta, revealing themselves to still be the good ol small government conservatives they were back before 2000? Will we all then join hands, swaying back and forth in the streets singing God Bless America, watching the fireworks?

Sorry. Not going to happen. Now that Democrats are back in control of Congress, perhaps Rush is sophisticated enough to just take off his big government cheerleader outfit and dust off his small government conservative duds as if nothing had happened this past five years. But I fear his audience has been corrupted beyond repair. While Rush and the other professional water carries may not have believed any of what they were saying, their loyal listeners did.

The rank-and-file Republicans are still under that spell. Just ask one of them what they think of the NSA spying on American citizens. You will get the same rote, robotic answer every time, as if they were reading off one of Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points: "If someone is talking to Al Qaida, we want to know why" …. "I have nothing to hide" …. "the Fourth Amendment says we can do any kind of search that is 'reasonable' and it is 'reasonable' for the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants in the war on terror" …. "the world has changed after 9-11" … "during wartime, rights have to give way to security," and my favorite, "Al Qaida nukes beat civil liberties every time" (note my comment to that last one).

Thus, after five years of propaganda from the professional liar class of water carriers, combined with the corruption of power, the great mass of rank-and-file Republicans have themselves been transformed into a massive army of true-believing water carriers for Big Government and foreign intervention, with a fetish for unrestrained executive power, so long as it is their man in the White House.

And like the out of control water carriers in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, they simply cannot be stopped. Rush and the rest of the spinmeisters cannot reverse the spell, and thus, with a few exceptions, the rank and file neo-conned water carriers will continue to carry water for the very idea of unrestrained executive power and omnipotent Big Government, long after the professional water carriers have stopped.

I predict that the neocon water carrier spell won't be fully broken until a Democrat loathed by the Right, such as Hillary Clinton, becomes The Leader and turns the "war on terror" inward, against the people the political left has always considered the real terrorist threat to America, just as they did back in the 90's, but now with shiny new executive powers to use. Then we might finally see a mass realization of just what fools Republicans were while in power, growing the omnipotent state that will be turned against them. Then we might see some real fireworks in the streets.

Stewart Rhodes

E. Stewart Rhodes
article on how Rush Limbaugh, El Rusho, has been carrying the water for the neo-conservatives, also known as neocons, who are not real conservatives, and are fake originalists. They have much more in common with the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal Supreme Court and the new dealers than they do with Reagan, Barry Goldwater, or Congressman Ron Paul. The neocons are former trotskyites, followers of Trotsky, who adhere to the theories of Leo Strauss. The Unitary Executive theory, undeclared war, such as the Iraq War, NSA spying, enemy combatant status, extraordinary rendition, torture, and abuse at Abu Ghraib all flow from neocon ideas. They pose a grave threat to our constitutional republic. It is a shame that Rush was so blinded by loyalty to the Republican Party. Stewart Rhodes.