Category Archives: War on Terror

Hackers interpret idiotic government restrictions as damage…

…and route around them

By the by, for those who don’t get the reference, it’s a paraphrase of a quote from John Gilmore – “The internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it”

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

This is Government

According to the Iranian government, the person dying below was a terrorist. No doubt all the people walking around her in apparent unconcern for there were fellow terrorists, and the people she was terrorizing were outside camera range.

She is being called Neda. The person who uploaded the video to Youtube claims that he was nearly half a mile away from the demonstrations when a sharpshooter shot a teenage girl standing nearby with her father. Within a few seconds, she was dead, her eyes turn to the camera before being obscured by the pools blood that pour out of her mouth and nose.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

Many people are arguing that this is the sort of thing that democracy is supposed to prevent. Of course, democracies also shoot people opposed to the government’s policies.

Why? because government, at its heart, is an organization that uses force to get its way. It is incapable of limiting its violence to socially beneficial causes like apprehending murderers. At some point, it points a gun at a group of people and demands they submit, and anyone who refuses gets a bullet.

This is government. Over there or over here, it is the same; the few exploit the many, and they are ready to use beatings, kidnappings and murder to get their way.

So who are the real terrorists?

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Comment of the Day: A Welcome Voice from Liberty Papers Past

Re: Mancow gets waterboarded

It’s always a treat to hear from Eric, the founder of The Liberty Papers. Its comments like this one which make me miss his “grumbles.” This comment was in response to a discussion sparked by Stephen Gordon’s post concerning waterboarding:

Interesting discussion. Chris has a very valid point about altering the meaning of the language. He also points out that waterboarding is a form of coercion and that coercion should not be used on prisoners. But, in the heated and traumatic rejection of his assertions about what torture is, the more important point he makes is lost.

The point is, coercive interrogation is wrong to do to someone who we hold prisoner. Chris said that loud and clear, but folks are so incensed that he might not agree that something is torture that they miss the fundamentally more important point. Another fundamentally important issue, if you believe in The Rule of Law, is that we don’t have clear laws on what to do with terrorist combatants and that poses a problem. One of the keys to solving the problems of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries was to promulgate clear, consistent, logically and legally sound laws and regulations for dealing with pirates.

We don’t have that for terrorists today, and that’s a problem.

P.S. adding to the point about use of language. We used to know that torture meant causing permanent injury to someone. When we talked about the police giving someone the “third degree”, it meant physically injuring someone to coerce them to do something. The reason we said “third degree” is that there were three levels of Inquisition used during the Catholic Inquisition.

1st Degree – Discussing the crimes someone is accused of and informing them that stronger methods of inquisition can be used if they don’t cooperate

2nd Degree – Showing the accused person the methods that can be used, like racks, knives, flails and other implements of torture

3rd Degree – Actually using those implements on the accused person, i.e. the Third Degree of Inquisition.

So, the very tortured definitions of torture that folks are trying to come up are actually changing the meanings of the language in ways that support the individual’s position. This is something that Orwell argued strenuously against and that most “libertarians” argue against, as well. Except, it seems, when being for it supports their personal beliefs.

Causing PTSD does not automatically make something torture. PTSD can be caused by a car accident, by seeing your sibling die, by participating in violent combat and many other things. None of which are “torture”. I suggest that we should return to the traditional definition that doing things which would be considered “the third degree” is torture. Let’s use the language right. AND we can still agree that things which are not torture, but are inhumane or coercive, or both, are wrong for US interrogators to do to our prisoners.

Comment by Eric — June 5, 2009 @ 8:24 am

Security Theatre Of The Absurd

Hey Cougars? Want to flash those pearly whites and shiny disposition when that mid-20’s waiter flatters you by asking for your ID at the bar? Well, good luck in Virginia… Smiling is forbidden:

Few places in Virginia are as draining to the soul and as numbing to the buttocks as the branch offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. And yet, until recently, smiling was still permitted there.

No more. As part of the DMV’s effort to develop super-secure driver’s licenses and foolproof identification cards, the agency has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a “neutral expression” in their portraits, thereby extinguishing whatever happiness comes with finally hearing one’s number called.

The driver’s license photo, it seems, is destined to look like a mug shot.

DMV officials say the smile ban is for a good cause. The agency would like to develop a facial recognition system that could compare customers’ photographs over time to prevent fraud and identity theft. “The technology works best when the images are similar,” said DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen. “To prepare for the possibility of future security enhancements, we’re asking customers to maintain a neutral expression.”

At a Manassas DMV branch yesterday, that translated to a simple directive: “Don’t smile.”

Now, this is unlikely to be an issue for me. Given how much I hate stupid bureaucracy, inefficiency, waiting in lines, and the government in general, I’m most certainly not smiling in my license photo. And given that I’m tall (and thus the picture is slightly shot from below), let’s just say that if the picture were used for the nightly news, it wouldn’t fit for their feel-good story.

Every time you see government security, it must be weighed against government control. For example, it has been shown and explained numerous times that the government no-fly list is useless at fighting terrorism, as a committed terrorist will quickly and easily have the means to get a useable fake credit card and ID — or fake boarding pass and real ID — to get through a checkpoint — as the checkpoint workers do not verify names against the list. Thus, the no-fly list becomes another huge government database that has the power to make your life miserable if you accidentally get on it but doesn’t actually enhance security in any meaningful way.

But you know what all this security does? It makes normal citizens, whose interaction with the government is already rare and painful, even more difficult. But instead of taking the proper lesson from this — that government is largely useless and their security is entirely for show — they come away with a different lesson. They believe that perhaps banning smiling in a photo is just what is necessary to keep us safe, and that they should do what the bureaucrats ask without question. They are learning the lesson that obeisance is the key to security, even though reason and evidence suggest otherwise. They learn that it is not necessarily personal vigilance that is required to be safe, but rather letting the government keep ever-closer tabs on us. And that’s the wrong mindset for a country that used to have the values of America.

Then, of course, the story takes its truly absurdist turn:

When asked how DMV employees are able to determine when customers might be smiling too much, Goheen explained that the process is automated. Naturally, the new software is programmed to reject attempts at exuberance or human warmth. “It will send an error message if it detects a non-neutral expression,” she said.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from science fiction, it’s that the only way that we can defeat the evil android invasion when AI is first invented is to be able to detect the androids amongst us based upon their inability to behave like a human. It appears the machines are already trying to detect whether or not we can behave like them.

Hat Tip: Balko @ Reason

Boy Scout Training: “Put him on his face and put a knee in his back”

Boy Scouts
From the “Not The Onion” files comes a tale that I can’t even believe, much less figure out how to respond to. Is this really what the Boy Scouts are becoming?

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

One participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked “the discipline of the program,” which was something he said his life was lacking. “I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are committed,” he said.

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

There is so much wrong here that I don’t know where to start. Maybe putting a 15-year-old into a bulletproof vest and running him through a course where his goal is to take down “active shooters” is one problem, since — you know — that’s such a HUGE part of the average cop’s day, would be a problem. Radley Balko, in his excellent work over at The Agitator, regularly points out the problematic aspects of training our police to be excitedly enacting para-military fantasies. There’s a fundamental difference between “to protect and serve” and seeing every person on the street as a potential “active shooter”.

When I was a kid, “troop leader” didn’t involve fatigues and a bulletproof vest.

But hey, this is the Boy Scouts, so it’s still a family-friendly environment:

Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids.

So don’t worry, fellas… You can avoid the humdrum days spent in your cubicle as a CPA or marketing nitwit by living vicariously through your kids, as they storm terrorist strongholds in Omaha, stem the illegal alien tide in California, or make the world safe from marijuana. Folks like Kathryn Johnston and Angel Raich are evil and must be stopped, and you need to bring train the next generation to bring the necessary firepower to handle them.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

DHS Pulls Report On “Right-Wing Extremism”

It was just a little over a month ago that our own Stephen Gordon was among the first to break the story about a Department of Homeland of Security report that appeared to label most conservatives and libertarians in the country as “extremists.”

Now, the Washington Times reports that DHS has officially pulled the report:

A contentious “Rightwing Extremism” report that warned of military veterans as possible recruits for terrorist attacks against the U.S. was not authorized, has been withdrawn and is being rewritten, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Capitol Hill lawmakers.

“The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed,” Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

“The report is no longer out there,” she said. “An employee sent it out without authorization.”

The report was shared with state and local law enforcement officials nationwide via the department’s internal Web site on April 7, angering Republican lawmakers and military veterans who said it unfairly stereotyped veterans.

Ms. Napolitano did not say when the report was taken off the “intel Web site” and all Homeland Security Department Web sites, but she said it is in the process of being “replaced or redone in a much more useful and much more precise fashion.”

Of course, that doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not the report reflects official thinking inside DHS as to what the difference is between a terrorist and a political protester.

The Latest Victim Of The PATRIOT Act: A 16 Year-Old Kid

Remember when we were told in the wake of the September 11th attacks that the extraordinary surveillance and investigative powers being granted to the Federal Government were intended solely to protect us from terrorist attacks ?

Well, perhaps someone can explain exactly how a 16 year-old in North Carolina constitutes a terrorist threat:

Oxford, N.C. — Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby’s bedroom in his mother’s Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere – on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.

But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.

The family was at a church function that night, his mother, Annette Lundeby, said.

“Undoubtedly, they were given false information, or they would not have had 12 agents in my house with a widow and two children and three cats,” Lundeby said.

Around 10 p.m. on March 5, Lundeby said, armed FBI agents along with three local law enforcement officers stormed her home looking for her son. They handcuffed him and presented her with a search warrant.

“I was terrified,” Lundeby’s mother said. “There were guns, and I don’t allow guns around my children. I don’t believe in guns.”

Lundeby told the officers that someone had hacked into her son’s IP address and was using it to make crank calls connected through the Internet, making it look like the calls had originated from her home when they did not.

Her argument was ignored, she said. Agents seized a computer, a cell phone, gaming console, routers, bank statements and school records, according to federal search warrants.

“There were no bomb-making materials, not even a blasting cap, not even a wire,” Lundeby said.

And yet her son remains in custody in a juvenile facility in Indiana and the government doesn’t even feel obligated to explain the charges against him:

Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to better protect the country. In part, it gives the federal government more latitude to search telephone records, e-mails and other records.

“They’re saying that ‘We feel this individual is a terrorist or an enemy combatant against the United States, and we’re going to suspend all of those due process rights because this person is an enemy of the United States,” said Dan Boyce, a defense attorney and former U.S. attorney not connected to the Lundeby case.

(…)

Boyce said the Patriot Act was written with good intentions, but he said he believes it has gone too far in some cases. Lundeby’s might be one of them, he said.

“It very well could be a case of overreaction, where an agent leaped to certain conclusions or has made certain assumptions about this individual and about how serious the threat really is,” Boyce said.

Gee, do you think ?

Here’s a report from a local television station in North Carolina about the incident:

Rick Sincere, whose post early this morning pointed me to this horrendous story, sums up all of this up quite nicely:

In addition to incompetences like this, government law enforcement agencies are extremely shy about apologizing for mistakes. (They almost never do so, unless by court order.) So Ashton Lundeby, no matter how strong the case for his innocence is, will likely be kept in jail for years as the government tries out new and more ridiculous charges against him, until they find one that sticks or they wear Ashton down so thoroughly that he confesses to crimes he did not commit (and probably did not occur).

Welcome to the new America, my friends.

C/P: Below The Beltway

Quote Of The Day

From David Rittgers, Cato@Liberty:

As I have said before, the quickest way to create an insurgent is to burn a man’s livelihood. This may be a competent counternarcotics tactic, but it is an epic failure as a counterinsurgency strategy. We can fight a war against the Taliban or we can fight the war on drugs, but we can’t do both in the same place at the same time.

Internally, libertarians can debate the merits of the Afghanistan conflict and whether the end result will be a safer or less safe America. My view is that if done properly, counterinsurgency operations can be successful over the long term, but it is situationally dependent whether they’re worth the effort.

What I think we can all agree on is that the drug war is unwinnable, and that fighting the drug war in Afghanistan is a mutually exclusive goal with our counterterrorism efforts there. If we have to give up one goal, I suggest the drug war.

UPDATE: Edited post to correctly attribute quote to David Rittgers, not Doug Bandow. My mistake and my apologies to David for the error.

Where Did The Anti-War Movement Go?

In the American Conservative, Antiwar.com editor Justin Raitmando (whom I often disagree with) has a piece detailing some more leftist hypocrisy concerning their Messiah and his plans to expand the Afghan War

The antiwar rally at the University of Iowa was sparsely attended. The below 30 degree weather might have had something to do with it, but Paul Street, a local writer and one of the speakers, had another theory, as the Daily Iowan reported:

Before the crowd of fewer than 20, Street questioned why the ‘left’ locals and university officials aren’t doing more to help in the protests against the war. ‘The big truth right now, whether this town’s missing-in-action progressives get it or not, is that we need to fight the rich, not their wars,’ he said, citing big corporations for wasting their technology and funding on war.

The big truth is that the antiwar movement has largely collapsed in the face of Barack Obama’s victory: the massive antiwar marches that were a feature of the Bush years are a thing of the past. Those ostensibly antiwar organizations that did so much to agitate against the Iraq War have now fallen into line behind their commander in chief and are simply awaiting orders.

Take, for example, Moveon.org, the online activist group that ran antiwar ads during the election—but only against Republicans—in coalition with a group of labor unions and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. Behind AAEI stood three of Obama’s top political operatives, Steve Hildebrand, Paul Tewes, and Brad Woodhouse. Woodhouse is now the Democratic National Committee’s director of communications and research. He controls the massive e-mail list culled by the Obama campaign during the primaries and subsequently, as well as a list of all those who gave money to the presumed peace candidate. These donors are no doubt wondering what Obama is doing escalating the war in Afghanistan and venturing into Pakistan.

As Greg Sargent noted over at WhoRunsGov.com, a Washington Post-sponsored site, “Don’t look now, but President Obama’s announcement today of an escalation in the American presence in Afghanistan is being met with mostly silence—and even some support—from the most influential liberal groups who opposed the Iraq War.”

In response to inquiries, Moveon.org refused to make any public statement about Obama’s rollout of the Af-Pak escalation, although someone described as “an official close to the group” is cited by WhoRunsGov as confirming that “MoveOn wouldn’t be saying anything in the near term.” A vague promise to poll their members was mentioned—“though it’s unclear when.” Don’t hold your breath.

Another Democratic Party front masquerading as a peace group, Americans United for Change, declined to comment on the war plans of the new administration. This astroturf organization ran $600,000 worth of television ads in the summer of 2007, focusing like a laser on congressional districts with Republican incumbents. Change? Not so fast.

The boldest of the peacenik sellouts, however, is Jon Soltz of VoteVets, described by WhoRunsGov as “among the most pugnacious anti-Iraq war groups.” They came out fists flying, endorsing the escalation of the Long War.

According to Soltz, there is “much to like in the plan,” but his faves boil down to three factors, which supposedly represent “a stark departure” from the bad old days of the Bush administration. He applauds the administration’s recognition that “The military can’t do it all.” Yet we’re increasing the troop levels by some 17,000, plus 4,000 trainers to babysit the barely existent Afghan “army.” We’re going to send thousands more civilians—aid workers, medical personnel, and military contractors—to build the infrastructure lacking in Afghan society and promote fealty to the central government in Kabul. Schools, clinics, roads, and shopping malls will be built with American tax dollars in order to foster trust between the Afghans, their occupiers, and their government.

The so-called “anti-war” groups that popped up before the Iraq War were never anti-war. Many of their founders and leaders cheered on BJ Clinton’s wars in the Balkans and in Haiti. They were not completely anti-American or merely “on the other side” as some conservative and neo-libertarian bloggers accused them either. The “anti-war” movement was simply a rallying point for leftists and Democrat party hacks who needed to gain traction against a popular (at the time) President Bush. They needed to sow doubt about the Iraq War (the mismanagement of the war by the Bush administration helped as well) in order to have a wedge issue against President Bush. Naturally, they rooted for more American deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and for American objectives to go unfulfilled, at least while Bush was president.

Now their Messiah has been elected and he wants to expand the Afghan War, possibly into Pakistan. What’s a leftist posing a peace activist supposed to do. Well, what all good leftists do, follow their leader, in this case the Messiah. He wants to send 17,000 more Americans into Afghanistan to bring democracy, destroy the Taliban, and put in chicken in every Afghan pot. He has not defined what “victory” is in Afghanistan, nor does he have a plan, short of nuclear war, to combat the Talibanization of Pakistan. If George W. Bush planned this, the so-called peace activists would have been the ones having Tea Parties on April 15.

Aren’t the so-called “peace activists” being just a tad bit hypocritical now that their Messiah is in the Oval Office and wants his little war?

Finally, I just want to point out, I do not intend to attack sincere opponents of US foreign policy and interventionism, like Justin Raitmando. I disagree with some of Justin’s positions and lot of his rhetoric. However I can respect Justin and most paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians as principled noninterventionists who oppose most if not all US military campaigns over the past two decades and longer.

It is the unprincipled hacks on the left who adopt the phony cause of “anti-war” when they’re out of power that need to be condemned.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

DHS Responds To Uproar Over Report On “Right Wing Extremism”

In light of the uproar that we’ve seen over the report that Stephen Gordon brought into the public light earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security has issued this press release:

Release Date: April 15, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.

I’ll leave it to others to comment more fully, but I will say that it’s worth remembering that Timothy McVeigh got his start with the so-called militia movement, and he ended up killing hundreds of people.

H/T: Little Green Footballs

Homeland Security document targets most conservatives and libertarians in the country

Thousands of racists and terrorists rally at Cincinatti Tea Party

Thousands of racists and terrorists rally at Cincinnati Tea Party

Remember that now-retracted Missouri Information Analysis Center report which stated that small-government types (specifically Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin supporters) were potential terrorist threats? According to this new Homeland Security report, all it takes to fit the terrorist profile is to have general anti-government feelings or prefer local/state government to federal control over everything.

The federal Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” contains the following definition:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Also targeted in the report are veterans, folks anticipating additional restrictions to their Second Amendment rights, and those concerned about the loss of U.S. sovereignty.

This report implies that one harboring these sorts of views is a racist as well as a potential terrorism suspect.

UPDATE: Sorry for the delay in responding to questions about the authenticity of the DHS report.  We had a freakish storm last night which blew down a lot of very large oak trees in my neighborhood.  At the moment, we are cooking on propane and charcoal, are running a 3000 watt generator to keep food from spoiling, etc.  I just rerouted all of the home networking equipment and moved it so it can be powered by the generator, so I finally have Internet access again.

With respect to the report, I have no absolute proof it is legit, but I searched around the Internet and couldn’t find any site debunking it.  It came to me from a reasonably reliable source by e-mail.  It looks authentic and passes the sniff test of someone who has read far more than his share of government reports.

I figure that if this ends up being a hoax, it’s such a clever one that it is newsworthy in and of itself.  It’s probably legit, though.  Sometimes a blogger has to go out on a limb until such things can be absolutely verified.  That’s what’s so great about the Internet — we have an open source forum to investigate matters such as this.

If someone finds anything which verifies the authenticity of this document or indicates that it’s a clever hoax, please let me know.

UPDATE II: The AmSpecBlog has picked this up, as well as RedState, PoliGazette, Homeland Security Watch, The Other McCain, Independent Political Report, Moe Lane and Cold Fury.

UPDATE III: Michelle Malkin verifies the document here.  RedState’s Moe Lane writes in an e-mail: “Heh.  I figured that document was for real after I got shunted to the fourth office at DHS.  If it was fake they would have just said so.”

UPDATE IV: The White House responds:

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

UPDATE V: A similar report seems to have been distributed by the Maryland National Guard.  This one specifically mentions Tea Party participants.

UPDATE VI by Brad Warbiany: We were getting quite a bit of hotlinking of the original PDF report (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc), and I have redirected that link to the main post.

Responding to Piracy on the Somali Coast

Somali pirates have been in the news a great deal lately, and there is a great deal of controversy as to how to deal with them.  To date, the proposed solutions seem to be a simplistic calls for a) intervention to build a stable state in Somalia, b) send in various national navies to engage and destroy the pirates, c) arm merchant ships for self defense.

The reality is, though, far more complex, and much of the proposed interventions are actually counterproductive.  To understand the scope of the problem, we must understand first why there is so much piracy in and around the gulf of Aden.

Piracy and lawlessness go hand in hand.  Piracy arises pretty spontaneously wherever relatively unprotected and valuable cargos are being transported through an impoverished area, and the inhabitants have the weapons to pull off the raid and a reasonable chance of  getting away with it.

In the case of the Gulf of Aden, piracy has long been an issue.  But, the number of people taking up piracy spiked as a result of the recent U.S. backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia.  Many people have been driven off their land, or have lost their ability to earn a living due to the economic collapse that followed the invasion and the rise of an anti-Ethiopian resistance.  Moreover, the plundering of Somali fishing grounds by foreign fishing fleets has resulted in a large pool of desperate fishermen who no longer can feed their families through honest labor.

The poverty and desperation of the Somalis, their ready access to weapons, and the existence of shipping routes connecting the valuable markets of South and East Asia with the Mediterranean running right off their coastline have predictably encouraged many locals to take up lives of piracy.  There will be no simple solution that ends the threat of piracy.  Rather the problem will persist so long as the root causes are unaddressed, and merchants are prevented from adequately defending themselves.

The first step is to listen to the merchants themselves:

TYPICAL ATTACK PROFILES AND LESSONS LEARNT

1. During 2008 significantly increased pirate attacks on merchant ships occurred throughout the GoA [aka Gulf of Aden] and off the coast of Somalia. The majority were clustered around the northern side of the GoA
but some attacks have occurred further off the east coast of  Somalia.

2. Analysis of successful attacks indicates that the following common vulnerabilities are exploited by the pirates:

a. Low speed

b. Low freeboard

c. Inadequate planning and procedures

d. Visibly low state of alert and/or evident self protective measures

e. Where a slow response by the ship is evident

3. Commonly two or more small high speed (up to 25 knots) open boats/ “skiffs” are used in attacks often approaching from the port quarter and/or stern.

4. The use of a pirate “mother ship”, which is a larger ship carrying personnel, equipment and smaller assault craft, has enabled the attacks to be successfully undertaken at a greater range from the shore.

5. Vigilance should be highest at first light and last light, as the majority of the attacks have taken place during these periods.

6. To date no successful attacks have occurred on ships at 15 knots or more.

7. The majority of attempted hijacks have been repelled by ship’s crew who have planned and trained in advance of the passage and employed passive counter measures to good effect.

Reading discussions by mariners, it is pretty clear that what mariners want are options, and the access to experts who can defend them.     Many sailors complain that when they call for help, national navies are slow to respond.  Many countries limit merchant ships entering their ports from carrying any weapons other than a side-arm locked in the captain’s safe.  Moreover, the navies can be quite destructive, sinking ships that are not engaging in piracy.

There is a nascent security industry dedicated to protecting merchant ships.  The problem appears to be manageable for prepared crews.  If they transit the area quickly, they appear to be relatively safe.

Somali motivations into taking up piracy are quite complex.  Essentially they are the product of the unwillingness of surrounding nation states to accept the existence of a stateless inhabited portion of the world. Somali piracy started out as a response to the loss of access to the rich fishing grounds off the Somali coast.  Korean, European and Yemeni fishing vessels would haul in rich catches in Somali territorial waters, effectively denying the Somali fishermen who had homesteaded those fisheries from access to their property.  Deprived of their livelihood, they turned to opportunistic piracy, using the same system as that of the Barbary Pirates (with the exception that they treat their captives well).  Unfortunately, what started out as an act of desperation has mutated into an institution:  piracy rings have turned into big business.  Pirates supply wealth and weapons to various factions fighting the U.S. backed state. Members of the U.S. backed state are also on the pirate rings’ payroll.  The invasion has disrupted the traditional economy, making people even more dependent on piracy.

“Millions in defense, not one cent in tribute” – Thomas Jefferson

Breaking up these crime rings will require a combination of concessions and steadfast resistance.  Merchant ships should be permitted to arm themselves as they see fit to defend themselves.  A few AK-47’s or .50 cal machine guns on board a maneuvering ship should be sufficient to keep small boats from closing to the point where they can board. Ships must be allowed to do what they need to do able to transit

However, the same should not be said for the large foreign vessels plundering the Somali coastal waters.  The fishing grounds are the property of the Somali fishermen who have, in a Lockean sense, homesteaded them.   Outsiders should respect those property rights.  This would not represent some dramatic special consideration given to the Somalis; under International Law, those fishing grounds are off limits to the foreign fishing fleets since they are Somali territorial waters.

The U.S. government should end interference in Somalia.  While there is nothing wrong with punitive expeditions against professional pirates, the conquest and subjugation of non-pirates who happen to live near pirates and the disruption of their farms and industries are absolutely unjustified and counterproductive.

By geography, Somalia should be a wealthy state.  It is well positioned to be an outlet of African goods being shipped to South and East Asia.  Its poverty is the product of the nearly continuous attempts by outsiders to impose external rule on a people who don’t want it – interventions that started when Mussolini sent Italian troops to conquer the Horn of Africa.

Early this year, the Ethiopian army retreated from Somalia.  The nation state that they left behind is now run by many of the same Islamist political factions that the U.S. government was trying to suppress when it arranged for the Ethiopian invasion and attempted to install a puppet state.  Accepting this ‘defeat’, and switching from a policy of nation-building to  working diplomatically with clan leaders to address and legitimate grievances they may hold against U.S. nationals, while refusing to accept crimes committed against peaceful vessels transiting the area would do much to improve the situation.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

United Nations Opposes Freedom of Religion

Some group calling itself the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution yesterday opposing what they see as the leading human rights issue of our time. You’re probably thinking, maybe they’re now addressing the situation in Darfur, or perhaps they’re talking about Communist China’s treatment of Tibetians. Perhaps there maybe a resolution about Cuba’s continuing persecution of its citizens. If you guessed any of the above, you were wrong. Instead, this little cabal decided to pass a resolution condemning “defamation of religion”.

A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

What exactly is defamation of religion? Is criticizing certain Islamic practices such as stoning adulterers defaming Islam? Is criticizing Sharia law because it is a barbaric, seventh century legal code defaming Islam?

Or is flying jetliners into skyscrapers defaming Islam? Maybe the Pakistani government should answer that instead of handing the Taliban parts of their country and demand we shut up.

Of course this is nothing more than an attempt by the nations of the Islamic conference than to further exempt themselves from the conduct of civilized nations, especially on matters of freedom of speech, thought, and coinscience. Under this resolution, just about anything from criticizing an “Islamic government” to demanding human rights for religious minorities and certain groups such as homosexuals as “defaming religion”. This resolution is nothing more than the criminalization of thought.

Another curious thought, what does the Islamic conference in particular and this cabal in general think about anti-Semitism?

Of course there was some opposition to this resolution by more civilized nations.

India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.

“It is individuals who have rights, not religions,” Ottawa’s representative told the body. “Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects.”

Perhaps Canada’s objections would have a little more merit if Canada wasn’t engaged in its own war on thoughtcrime.

Finally, a simple question of morality. Why does the world take a body seriously that calls itself the “UN Human Rights Council” that has Nigeria as its president and includes such members as Egypt, Russia, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan? Isn’t this really letting the fox guard the henhouse?

If these countries won’t protect human rights at home, why would they protect human rights around the world?

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Hope’n’Change, Jon Stewart Style

I’ve always enjoyed Jon Stewart. While I don’t agree with him politically, and occasionally some of his more sophomoric bits don’t quite resonate with me, I find his show one of the few enjoyable “news-ish” shows on TV. In fact, after Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face, on of my first thoughts was “I can’t wait to watch The Daily Show on Monday”.

One common criticism of Stewart is that he’s anti-bush and pro-Democrat. I think he’s more pro-comedy, and he’ll take his laughs where he can get them. So I was quite happy to see this:

Hope and Change, right?

UPDATE: My apologies to Comedy Central about the embed code. It must be something in the theme here that is causing it to break, and I unfortunately had to strip a few elements to make it work. Please note that this video is embedded straight from Comedy Central, and I would not have stripped out their additional elements unless I had to.

Bush Was a Dictator – And the U.S. Government Is a Dictatorship

A dictator is a monarch who is both law-maker and law enforcer, who also acts as final judicial arbiter in cases, and is not legally liable for his actions.

By such a standard, George Bush was a dictator.  He claimed the power to ignore the legislature, and to arbitrarily rewrite the law – citing the U.S. Constitution’s appointment of the president as the “Commander in Chief” of the United States Army and U.S. Navy as justification.  If the Congress passed a law he didn’t like, he refused to enforce it.  If it failed to pass a law he liked, he enacted it anyway. He successfully suppressed the courts’ power of habeas corpus throughout most of his term, effectively wielding the power to seize anyone off the street and to detain them arbitrarily with no review.  And, despite his many violations of the law, he never faced any credible threat of legal sanction.

Many of his supporters argue that since George Bush stepped down willingly at the end of his term, he was no dictator.  But a what characterizes a dictatorial government is how the leader controls the government, not how he got into power or left it.  A Roman appointed to the office of Dictator during the years of the Republic had his term expire after only a year, yet during that year no-one would argue that during that year there was no dictatorship, even though they often stepped down willingly at the end of their term. Nor do they have to come to power through violent means: witness Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Fuhrer by the German Parliament via the Enabling Act, which was all nice and legal and regularly renewed by parliament.

While many people have been outraged by Bush’s arrogation of power, there was been no serious attempt by the judiciary and the legislature to rein him in.  The judiciary did, very late in the game, start to protest against his more outlandish legal theories justifying his unilateral actions, but for the most part they deferred to the president.  In Congress, a few gadflies started impeachment proceedings, but they never amounted to anything.  To the contrary, throughout his presidency the other branches bent over backward to defer to this claim of authority.

Since he has taken office, President Obama has been busy issuing new directives limiting the power that he and his subordinates claim.  Many see this as an end to the unitary executive.  But, this personal arrogation of power is very similar to the homeowner allowing a friend to crash on the couch.  It can be rescinded at any time.  In the absence of any movement in the legislature or the judiciary, it merely amounts to the dictator announcing his intention to stay his hand, rather than a permanent abdication of power.

Furthermore, he has continued legislating by fiat, the latest of which is his executive order designed to force improvements in fuel efficiency.  Regardless of  whether one feels that this is a good or bad idea,  one must admit that the power to enact such a major change in government policy, which will likely impose billions of dollars in compliance costs, when on the shoulders of one man, is dictatorial.

In many ways, the U.S. has become the most dangerous kind of dictatorship – a democratic one.  While dictators are often quite violent and, well, dictatorial, they sometimes  do to take a long view, since they expect to experience the long-term consequences of any misrule.  On occasion, dictators can even be pretty decent,  recognizing that a hands-off approach will increase their power far more quickly that a hands-on approach.  I can think of no better example of this phenomenon in action than that of Singapore.

In the U.S., on the other hand, the rulers can only expect to stay in office for less than a decade.  Rather than worrying about long term consequences, they are far more likely to be concerned about how to maximize their use of the office in the short period they hold it. Rather than worrying about the long term health of the nation, under a democratic (the system of government, not the political party) dictatorship of limited duration, we expect to see decisions that are focused on a smaller time scale.

When the Roman Republic collapsed and was replaced by the imperial system, the old forms of the republic were maintained.  The senate appointed consuls and voted on legislation.  However, for the next few centuries, political power resided in the hands of the Emperor, who was named Dictator by the Senate.  While early emperors like Augustus had fairly sound economic policies, the history of the empire is a sad tale of failed economic policies creating new crises, of poorly though out intervention begetting stronger interventions, each multiplying the devastation of the unintended consequences of its predecessor.

The republican system of government is not completely extinguished in the United States,  It is, however, all but dead.  Absent a dramatic sea-change in the attitude the American people towards their government, we will increasingly be at the mercy of popularly elected dictators, who are not restrained by any significant limitation on their powers.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Dumbass and Authoritarians Among Us

Here are a few choice comments in response to a recent post where I argued that Ramos and Compean should not receive presidential pardons. I was aware that this was a very unpopular position to take (even among libertarians) but I was stunned and disturbed by the tone of some of the comments. I’ll let these comments speak for themselves.

It is my hope, to all you ACLU types, that an illegal drug running pimp dosn’t stop at your place of residence. After all the drug lord was only looking to put food on his families table.

Who cares if he was shot in the A$$, once again what does that prove. It proves he was shot in the A$$. So what!!! You insane pot smokin, red diaper doper babies would take the illegals side. After all his culture is far superior to ours. Why wouldn’t we want him and his countries poverty, corruption, sewage fertalizer, rampid drunk driving, rapes, and MS 13 here. It would make things so much better here. We have gone from the melting pot to the chamber pot thanks to all you ilk.

Comment by Michael — January 8, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

oh..and…too bad they didn’t blow the slimeball’s brains out! The ONLY crime Ramos and Campeon are ‘guilty’ of is not being better shots! How about this: Give them raises, Give them promotions, and teach them to shoot STRAIGHTER!

Comment by Petra — January 17, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

WAAAAA Get over it, they should have killed the dam drug dealer, They did make a mistake but with the Green card the DEMOCRAPS gave to Davila to yet again bring drugs to the USA again, not as an illegal but as a resident alien, wich is worse? I dont get you guys. No drug dealer is ever without a weapon of some sort.

In cases where there are drugs in the quantities like this case, “judge, jury, and executioner” is fine with me.

Comment by John — January 19, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

Brian, I’m guessing you work in a very safe, predictable environment, free from any real dangers. I know I do. That is why I can’t imagine what these BP agents go through on a daily basis.

There are very real dangers they face every day, and that certainly colors their world and perception of interfacing with other people. I personally am relieved that Pres Bush has commuted their sentences, and like a previous poster, am saddened only that he did not fully pardon them. They ARE heroes. They protect our country daily from scum bag, law breaking thugs that don’t care one bit for a civilzed society complete with rules and humanity.

Against the law to shoot unarmed criminals?!? So every criminal out there that can outrun the police should be allowed to just “run away” from authority to freedom, just because he doesn’t carry a gun? Ridiculous. That’s ok though, because I know there are BP agents out there along with thousands of other brave soldiers of freedom protecting our borders who continue to do their jobs to keep us safe, despite whiny verbally abusive pansies like you sitting in your safe little world sipping your cosmopolitans and spewing liberal rhetoric around like so much poison.

By the way, if you want to call me to talk politics, you won’t need to “press 1? for English. This is America; English IS OUR LANGUAGE. If you want any other language, go the Hell back to your own country!

Comment by Dennis — January 19, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

I say shoot these lazy bastards [illegal immigrants] BEFORE they infect us. What’s the problem with that? I don’t see any. And YES, pot is illegal. I don’t care how innocuous you think it may be to smoke it – it’s ILLEGAL. And smuggling it into the country is illegal and needs to be answered with any force necessary to stop it. BTW, I think many drugs that are now illegal should be legal, but until they are anyone who knowingly is involved with ANY aspect of drug use or trafficking does not deserve any sympathy or benefit of the doubt. He drove a truck into our country with 750 lbs of marijuana in it. That’s a fact and he’s an idiot. I wish the BP agents would have been a better shot and made a fatal shot.

Comment by Dennis — January 20, 2009 @ 5:26 am

Here was another response, this time to the follow-up post I wrote after President Bush commuted Ramos and Compean’s sentences.

Yet another example of the idiotic media “journalists” who publish opinion as fact. You disgust me. Here’s hoping you also have a “close encounter” with the drug smuggling illegal MY U.S. border patrol agents shot.

Comment by Daphne — January 20, 2009 @ 7:06 am

Apparently I’m not the only one at The Liberty Papers who attracts authoritarian loons. Stephen* Gordon had one commenter who doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the possibility that average Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights were routinely violated during the Bush Administration:

I’m always amused by those who fret over privacy. Just exactly what are these people afraid of? What could the Feds possibly learn that they would even care about? Do people really believe that those overworked surveilance people have the slightest interest in what some yokel in Kansas is doing? Paranoia seems to almost a national disease in this country. No wonder we can’t compete in the world – we’re worried about meaningless crap and ignore what’s important.

Comment by kent beuchert — January 22, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

So you may ask: “So you have some nutty people posting nutty comments on your posts…what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that these people vote in elections and serve on juries! Is it really any wonder we find ourselves losing more and more of our liberties? This is the mentality we are fighting against.

On a more positive note, there were also some very well-reasoned arguments by others who responded to these posts. “Brian” (from the first post) was relentlessly attacked for defending the crazy notion that suspects should be considered “innocent until proven guilty.” It’s my hope that there are a few more Brians out there than this small sample of random, (mostly) anonymous, fools.

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Good Job, Obama! Now Replace Hillary.

I’ll sure I’ll be voicing plenty of criticism about Obama over the next four to eight years, but I’d like to take this time to say thanks to Obama for shutting down Gitmo.

Hopefully, Obama is still opposed to torture, as well. As a sign of good faith, he could replace Hillary, as having to listen to her grating voice for four or more years is indeed an “act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person.”

Another Permanent State of Emergency

Many people have expressed a hope that Barack Obama will be an improvement over George Bush and that he will roll back some of George Bush’s excesses.  They see in Obama a man who understands nuanced argument, who at least acknowledges that those who oppose his policies can have good reasons and arguments for doing so.  However, those who are so hopeful are doomed to have their hopes dashed.  Barack Obama may give of good vibes, but a review of his policy papers show nothing more than a few crumbs of freedom thrown to the people.  Make no mistake, under Barack Obama’s leadership, the federal government will seize more wealth, violate more liberties and wreck the economy more thoroughly than George Bush did.  The Obama administration will permit, nay encourage, the looting of the treasury by their cronies to a degree that not even the Bush administration dared to.  Reading his policy aims, I see that he offers us no quarter, no accommodation.  He demands that the American people hand over more of the wealth they create, and threatens them with more pervasive monitoring and violence in order to ensure their compliance with his edicts.  He wishes to rework society – to impose his vision of how society ‘ought’ to be organized – using the state security apparatus to impose his dreams.

In every policy proposal, one sees the same theme, the expansion of government, in size, in scope and power.  Typical is his proposal as to how the government will begin respecting civil liberties:  rather than ordering the justice department to respect civil liberties in the court system by voluntarily complying with historical precedents governing government power, rather than announcing his intention to rip out the listening rooms used by the NSA to eavesdrop on the communications of the citizenry, he announces his intention to create a ‘civil liberties board’, with subpoena powers.  If the attorney general of the United States lacks the power to enforce respect for civil liberties, or even worse, is disinclined to respect them, how will the addition of this board alter the calculus?  No, this board will provide sinecures to political allies and something to point to when questioned about his respect for civil liberties while allowing the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to continue the business as usual, that of exercising their powers lawlessly and without limit, in furtherance of the public and private aims of the officials staffing them.

Nowhere in his policies does he announce his intention to relinquish control of anything that the government currently controls.  That which the Federal Government controls today, the government will continue to control under the new administration.  Much of which is currently out of its control today they will seek to bring under its control.

According to the Obama administration, the current economic crisis warrants expanding government spending well beyond George Bush’s record-breaking levels.  Only in passing does he acknowledge the need to raise money for this spending, which will have to be either through increased taxation, borrowing or via the printing of new money.   The U.S. economy will not provide enough in taxes or in loans to pay for this spending.  It is incapable of it.  Thus, we will see the Federal Government borrowing from anyone who will loan it money, and when those sources of funding dry up, from the Federal Reserve, which pays for the bonds it purchases with newly printed money.  The ‘inflation rate’, so called, already near 10% according to the calculation method in use in the 1970’s will rise to much higher levels.  In the meantime the standard of living will stagnate, and in all likelihood decline.  Nor is there any plan to end this spending once the economy exits the crisis.  This, like the Global War on Terror, is yet one more open-ended emergency.

And when these policies fail to have their intended effects, as unemployment continues to soar and prices continue to rise, it is inevitable that the Obama administration will blame people who it sees as standing in the way of their policies.  The Obama administration will be tempted to go after bankers, intellectual opponents, industrialists, and corporate offices in exactly the same manner as when FDR excorciated bankers and industrialists.  And, like Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Clinton, and many others, the Obama administration will be tempted to use the state security apparatus against these enemies, citing the economic state of emergency to justify it. So now the U.S. will not only be under a permanent state of emergency against external enemies, it will be in a state of emergency.  This time the enemy won’t be people living a continent away…  It will be us.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

ABC Shows Us Just How Little Anti-Terrorism The Homeland Security Apparatus Does

Reality TV junkie? Also a State-worshipper? Then you’re in luck!

Every day the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security patrol more than 100,000 miles of America’s borders. This territory includes airports, seaports, land borders, international mail centers, the open seas, mountains, deserts and even cyberspace. Now viewers will get an unprecedented look at the work of these men and women while they use the newest technology to safeguard our country and enforce our laws, in “Homeland Security USA,” which debuts with the episode “This is Your Car on Drugs,”

How much of this “epic” TV show will actually have to do with terrorism? Will this finally belie the claim that the Department of Homeland Security was created with purely “keeping us safe from evildoers” as it’s mandate, or will it be another dose of soma “reality television” for the unquestioning masses. Bear in mind, that’s a rhetorical question, we all know the answer is the latter.

Another Whimper In The Continuing Death Of Liberty

And this time, I doubt that anyone will even notice:

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

This comes despite the fact that the Posse Comitatus Act, passed all the way back in 1878 clearly and emphatically prohibits the use of American military forces in the United States as “law and order” forces in areas not already considered to be the property of the Federal Government.

The dangers of using military forces in areas that, by law and tradition, are the jurisdiction of domestic law enforcement should be manifest and, as Radley Balko predicts, it seems fairly clear that their role would, inevitably and inexorably, expand:

I predict that while now couched in terms of the necessity for a ready response to a cataclysmic terrorist attack, within five years there will be calls to use these forces for less urgent matters, such as crowd control at political conventions, natural disaster response, border control, and, inevitably, some components of the drug war (looking for marijuana in the national parks, for example).

Slowly but surely, the distinction between local, state, and federal law enforcement — all of which operate within limitations prescribed by the Constitution — and the military would be blurred.

From early days of the Republic, one of the greatest fears that the Founding Fathers had involved the creation of a standing army that would operate domestically in a manner that threatened the liberty of the people. Prior to the Civil War, that wasn’t a real concern because the standing army didn’t amount to very much. The passage of the Posse Comitatus Act sought to ensure that a larger Army would not become a threat to freedom.

Now, we’re on the verge of reversing 200 years of history.

There’s no real possibility that this new power won’t be abused.

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