Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Perverts With Power, Revisited

Doug Melvin: Sexual deviant, former Homeland Security commissar -- or do I repeat myself?

For those frequently sentenced to commercial air travel, few things are less welcome than the following thought:

The taxpayer-fed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the airport security checkpoint could be a petty thief or a sexual deviant. And the odds are pretty good that the typical batch of TSA chair-moisteners includes at least one or the other. This makes things quite uncomfortable as TSA screeners paw through one's luggage or conduct invasive personal security inspections.

About a year ago, a TSA airport screener in Ketchum, Idaho was arrested for kidnapping a young boy. Although identified as Robert Joe Harrison Jr., the screener was found to possess at least five separate identities. He was eventually acquitted of kidnapping, but found guilty of child enticement.

The Former TSA screener known as "Robert Joe Harrison, Jr."

After Mr. Harrison (as we'll refer to him for the sake of convenience) was arrested, his federal supervisor in Boise made the familiar and expected noises of outraged moral resolution.

TSA is a large organization with a large workforce, [and] unfortunately we have an individual who does things that are truly inappropriate, things that are intolerable for TSA,” stated Doug Melvin, Federal Security Director for Idaho. Melvin insisted that the TSA had a “zero tolerance” policy for behavior of this type. He didn't explain how a suspected pederast with five aliases and sets of personal ID could pass a federal background check.

Less than a year after Harrison's arrest, Mr. Melvin has been forced to resign as a result of his own public sexual misconduct.

The now former Director of the Transportation Security Administration in Boise was arrested last wee at an Idaho Falls hotel,” reported Boise's CBS affiliate KBCI last night (February 27). “Doug Melvin was busted after staff and hotel guests say they saw him walking around naked.”

The police report on the incident recorded that “Melvin entered the swimming area and removed his clothing before walking around, exposing himself.... Melvin was also reportedly masturbating while in front of the windows directly in view of the main elevator.”

Frankie "The Fig" Figueroa

This last bit of behavior resembles the conduct of Frank Figueroa, Melvin's former comrade in the Homeland Security Department. Figueroa, a former high-ranking official in the DHS's Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, was head of “Operation Predator,” a nation-wide crackdown on child sex offenders. Thus there was some kind of bizarre symmetry at work when Figueroa was arrested by Tampa police in late 2005 after he exposed and, ah, manipulated himself in the presence of a 16-year-old girl.

As I've said before: Once is an anomaly, twice a coincidence, but three or more instances constitute a pattern.

To the cases of Harrison, Melvin, and Figueroa we can add that of J. Brian Doyle, the former fourth-ranking official in DHS's propaganda directorate, who was arrested for conducting sexually explicit cyber-conversations with what he thought was a cancer-stricken 14-year-old girl. And we shouldn't forget the case of Michael Burks, the Homeland Security official snared in NBC Dateline's “To Catch a Predator” sting roughly a year ago.

The problem, of course, is not that there's a small number of perverts scattered through the DHS's personnel pool like a handful of raisins in several gallons of rice pudding. The deeper cause for concern is the culture of impunity that characterizes that elephantine bureaucracy – a sense that those who work therein are made of holier, more refined stuff than the hoi polloi.

One perfectly suitable example of this attitude can be found in the fact that the highest commendation for ethics that TSA can bestow is the “John W. Magaw Values Award.”

Who was John W. Magaw,” you ask, your brows embracing in puzzled non-recognition?

Magaw was the first director of the TSA, appointed to that gig in late 2001 after a less-than-laudable stint as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The fact that TSA named an award after a living, recently retired head of the agency is a nauseating bit of Soviet-esque sycophancy. More troubling in this specific case is Magaw's own behavior, which apparently typifies the “values” the TSA is supposed to embrace.

Magaw was head of the Secret Service's presidential detail in 1993 when Bill Clinton appointed him to head the scandal-plagued ATF following the Waco massacre. For six years, until his lateral move to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1999, Magaw did his best to delay, divert, distract, misdirect, and otherwise obstruct efforts to expose the ATF's misbehavior in the events leading up to the atrocities at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

Magaw also successfully dissipated public and congressional outrage over the 1995 revelations of the ATF's annual “Good Old Boys Roundup,” an event that “included racist signs and slogans and skits that included simulated sex acts and torture between white and black-faced participants,” as one account summarizes. Although sponsored by the ATF, this event – sort of an annual dress rehearsal for Abu Ghraib – reportedly included participants from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, US Marshals Service, and other federal agencies. Apart from one congressional hearing in July 1995, nothing of any consequence was done about the “Roundup” events.

During a 1995 Senate hearing into the slaughter at Ruby Ridge, Magaw adamantly defended the ATF informant who – according to a 1993 court verdict in Idaho – had entrapped Randy Weaver as part of a scheme to blackmail him into becoming a federal informant. Magaw insisted, once again despite vedicts to the contrary -- that the behavior of ATF officials in the Weaver case “was lawful and proper in every respect."

Asked by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) why he persisted in ignoring the jury's findings to the contrary, Magaw invoked the principle of statist solidarity: "Do you believe Randy Weaver--or do you believe the federal agents who have sworn to tell the truth and are carrying out a career in this government?"

Therein lies the true perversity at the heart of the regime Magaw served so dutifully: The conceit that those in the State's employ are innately superior to, and deserve dominion over, the “mundanes” who are not agents of the Leviathan. As one of Magaw's Soviet soul-mates put it, “To us, everything is permitted....”

This would apparently include public acts of sexual degeneracy and predation by agents of the Homeland Security apparatus, as long as those committing them aren't caught. Doug “Flash” Melvin and his erstwhile TSA comrades insist, his sudden resignation from the agency for “personal” reasons has nothing to do with his sexual exhibitionism.

(If you're interested in the previous three installments in the "Perverts With Power" series, look here, here, and here.)

A quick note: Tomorrow I will be on "Iron Sharpens Iron" with Chris Arnzen on New York City's WNYG.

And be sure to visit The Right Source for freedom-centered news and commentary.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Will Saudi Arabia Bail Out Bush Again?

The unspoken – or at least rarely spoken – consensus of establishment scholars holds that presidential “greatness” is made manifest in an aggressive disdain for the Constitution. The “great” men who dominate the presidential pantheon -- tyrants and usurpers like Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR -- ignored the constitutional limits on presidential authority, invoking wartime emergencies to justify centralization of power in the executive.

George W. Bush's accomplishments in this realm may elevate him over those three titans of the post-constitutional presidency. This isn't because he's mastered the Machiavellian subtleties of power, or devised some exotic new rationale for presidential autocracy. Rather, it's because his boundless sense of personal privilege is a perfect fit for the ideologues who surround him – war-obsessed social engineers who understand the evil symbiosis between perpetual war abroad and a dictatorial presidency on the domestic front.

Last Sunday, Secretary of State Rice dropped several gravid hints that in the event Congress seeks to reclaim its war powers – by repealing or modifying its 2002 “authorization” of war against Iraq, by withdrawing funding for the war, or by imposing conditions on the continued deployment of troops to the region -- Bush will simply ignore its enactments.

After condemning Congress for what she called “the worst of micromanagement of military affairs,” Rice was asked on Fox “News” whether Bush would consider himself “bound” by legislation requiring the withdrawal of combat troops within 120 days.

The president is going to, as commander in chief, need to do what the country needs done,” she replied, striving to craft a sentence that was at once clear with respect to the Regime's assertion of presidential power, and opaque regarding the crimes it contemplates against the Constitution.

In setting out its version of the doctrine Rice alluded to, the Organization Book of the German National Socialist Party used more elegant language, insisting that the chief executive, unlike the legislature, embodies the “collective will” of the people, and exercises power that is “independent, all-inclusive, and unlimited,” for which he is accountable “only to his conscience.”

Translated from German into soundbite-ready contemporary English, that's a pretty good summary of the Bush doctrine of executive power.

There is little appetite on Capitol Hill for a face-off on the matter of war powers: The Democrats are content to nibble at the margins of Bush's Iraq policy. And this is pretty much all they can do, since most Democrats in Congress signed off on the 2002 resolution that supposedly authorized the war in Iraq – a measure with no constitutional legitimacy through which Congress abdicated its exclusive power to commit our nation to war.

In addition to vesting the war decision in Congress, the Constitution gives the legislative branch plenary authority over funding and regulating the military. The role assigned to the president is entirely contingent and derivative. Congressional “micro-management” of a war, whatever one thinks of it from a prudential perspective, is entirely appropriate under the Constitution.

Given that the Iraq war was illegitimate from the beginning, the only suitable course of action would be for Congress to de-fund it, and order (yes, order) Bush to bring the troops home.

Were we the moral, Christian nation we advertise ourselves to be, after our troops were back Congress would issue a national apology to Iraq for the unprovoked, unjust war our government launched upon it, and order (yes, order) Bush and his handlers to travel to Baghdad to deliver it in person. It would then enact a measure providing reparations to Iraq, which is the duty of every nation that launches a war of aggression. (Reparations in this case would be a sum sufficient to repair the country's infrastructure and oil industry; this would make it economically viable once again, and would be far less expensive than continuing the war.)

This is a whole lot of ain't-gonna-happen, of course, even though it should.

What could happen, however, if opposition to the war continues to build, might be a version of the conflict that erupted at the end of WWI (described in Thomas Fleming's superb book The Illusion of Victory), when Congress threatened to issue a formal declaration ending the war. Woodrow Wilson, who by that time had descended into a state of self-enraptured megalomania rivaling that of Bush, intended to keep US troops in Europe to use in punitive action against Germany had that nation – already starving and prostrate as the result of a food embargo – resisted any provision of the Versailles Treaty.

Wilson was eventually forced to concede, and “normalcy” was restored. I wouldn't expect that the delusional man-child currently occupying the Oval Office would prove to be as reasonable were Congress to enact a binding measure ending the war.

If Congress were to cut off funding, it's possible that Bush and his cronies, who (as mentioned yesterday) include veterans of the Iran-Contra plot from the mid-1980s, would ignore the legislative branch and turn to Saudi Arabia or other shadowy sources for funds to continue the war.

After all, as Seymour Hersh points out, the Bush regime's covert operations in the Gulf region have been drawing on many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” in the words of a Pentagon consultant. “The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.”

In many of those clandestine operations, Hersh points out, the administration has left “the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.” During a “surprise meeting” in Saudi Arabia last November, King Abdullah warned Dick Cheney “that Saudi Arabia would back its fellow-Sunnis in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw.” In the interest of holding the Shi'ites at bay, one intelligence official told Hersh, “The Saudis are starting to use their leverage—money.”

Hey, get a room: Bush and Saudi King Abdullah

In the event that Congress were to cut off money for the Iraq war, would it be possible that George W. Bush – whose business career was bailed out by the Saudis – would turn to the Saudis for stopgap funding for his illegal war?

After all of the other crimes he's committed against our Constitution and national independence, why would Bush be reluctant to do this, if the occasion presented itself?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Enemy At Their Backs

The fundamental perversity of the Bush Regime's escalation in Iraq isn't found in the fact that the “surge” reinforces a failed policy. It is that the US troops being sent by Bush into Iraq are confronting a Sunni insurgency that is being materially aided by the same administration. This is perversity compounded with betrayal, and compounded once again with murderous mendacity as the Bush Regime seeks to blame Shi'ite Iran for Iraq's Sunni insurgency as a way of propagating a wider war in the region.

Flynt Leverett, a former member of Bush's National Security Council, comments about this multi-layered deception in Seymour Hersh's latest report for The New Yorker:

The administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when – if you look at the actual casualty numbers – the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude.... This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

That “open door” would most likely be exploited sometime in the coming month, reports former CIA officer Philip Giraldi in the current issue of The American Conservative:

A Kuwaiti newspaper, relying on confidential sources in the Emirate's government, predicts that the attack will take place before the first week of April, when Tony Blair steps down as British prime minister, under the assumption that he will provide political cover as well as material support in the form of minesweepers. As Kuwait's government, host to the sprawling US base Camp Doha and a prime target for Iranian retaliation, has been in the loop for planning vis-a-vis Iran, the suggested date has a high level of credibility.”

The trigger for war, Giraldi continues, might be pulled as a result of “a Gulf of Tonkin type incident in which Iran fires on or otherwise interferes with a US warship. As two carrier groups [led by the USS John Stennis and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower] will basically fill the shallow and narrow waters of the Persian Gulf, the potential for an incident is obviously very high.”

Hersh reports that “a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the president, within twenty-four hours.”

Those operational plans obviously assume that Imperator Bush can and will commit our nation to a full-fledged shooting war with Iran without congressional action of any kind, much less the formal declaration of war that is a non-negotiable constitutional requirement.

At present, the Democrat-controlled Senate is too busy dithering and equivocating about the non-declaration of war against Iraq it issued in late 2002 to forestall the Regime's transparent efforts to expand the war to include Iran.

Most of the Democratic leadership appears to be amenable to an attack on Iran: As Giraldi writes: “Those who hope that Democrats will stop the rush to war need only note the repeated excoriation of Iran by party leaders like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Charles Schumer. Howard Dean has declared that the US attack on Iraq was directed against the `wrong enemy' while Iran is the `right enemy.'”

Meanwhile, those elements of the Right that aren't full-fledged members of the Bushcult are, for the most part, ignoring the Regime's drive for war with Iran. In some cases – as with the guys leading this outfit, an organization of wonderful people whose agenda, alas, is set by someone whose trumpet is so uncertain it's most likely a Flugelhorn – even some paleo-conservatives offer equivocal support for the prospective war (or even nuclear annihilation of Iran's entire population – scroll down here for a detailed discussion of this point).

At present, the only impediments to a full-scale war are, first, the relative moderation and discipline of the regime in Tehran (contemplate, for a second, what this says about the irrationality of our rulers in Washington), and whatever countervailing influence within the Pentagon is being exercised by a group of command-level officers who have reportedly threatened to resign if the Bush Regime attacks Iran.

There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” reported a British Intelligence source to the London Times. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table,” noted the Times.

Whether or not the Regime gets its war with Iran, its ongoing war in Iraq and covert actions throughout the region have materially aided both the radical Shi'ites aligned with Tehran – who are running the government in Baghdad – and the radical Sunnis who are aligned with al-Qaeda.

Hersh's current analysis in The New Yorker points out that the Bush administration, the Saudis, and the Israelis have all thrown money and material support to elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian-born Sunni terrorist network, created in 1928, that is the ancestor of every Muslim terrorist group of any consequence. This includes the diffuse and over-rated (but undeniably murderous) fraternity called al-Qaeda.

This campaign is being carried out, according to Hersh, by the same cast of malefactors that brought us the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s – which provided military and intelligence aid to Tehran in its war with Iraq.

The Brotherhood is seen by the Washington-Riyahd-Tel Aviv axis as a surrogate in the unfolding regional war between the Sunnis and Shi'ites. The interest of Saudi Arabia's Sunnis is obvious. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, whom Hersh interviewed in Beirut, accuses Washington and Tel Aviv of instigating “fitna” -- an Arabic word referring to “insurrection and fragmentation within Islam.”

Nasrallah believes that the objective is to create a “new Middle East” in which “Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in the region,” surrounded by a relatively docile collection of small sectarian mini-states.

Yes, Nasrallah is a terrorist leader aligned with Iran. But his projections line up nicely with the strategy devised by the architects of the current Iraq war: Take down Iraq, Iran, and Syria, “democratize” Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and plant a permanent US military presence in the region.

It's not clear how long the Bush Regime has been running a covert war against Iran, and collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Sunni groups in the region. What is clear is that every US soldier who is killed or maimed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq is as much a victim of the enemy at his back in Washington – the real enemy – as he is of the insurgents who surround him.

Be sure to check The Right Source for news, commentary, talk radio, and (coming soon) information & action suggestions from a freedom-centered perspective.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Slouching Toward Martial Law

Finally, about five months too late, some “respectable” people are beginning to understand the implications of what happened on October 17, when Bush doodled his signature onto two measures that effectively destroyed our republic.

The first was the Military Commissions Act, which effectively abolished habeas corpus and laid the foundation for a military tribunal system to try those designated “unlawful enemy combatants.” Those provisions apply primarily to non-citizens, but can be applied to U.S. Citizens. Key elements of that act were upheld yesterday by a federal court. And Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has insolently stated that the ancient Anglo-Saxon principle of habeas corpus – which is literally the foundation of the American concept of due process of law – isn't protected by the Constitution.

The second republic-killer signed on October 17 was a provision in the Defense Authorization Act – call it the Martial Law Codicil -- permitting the president to seize control of state National Guard units for use in “natural or man-made disasters” -- the latter referring to disruptions of social order, including insurrection and rebellion or any activity the Regime chooses to describe as such. This measure revised two obscure but indispensable laws, the Insurrection Act of 1807 and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878; those statutes provided a critical bulwark against the centralization and militarization of law enforcement.

In a house editorial a couple of days ago, the New York Times noted that because of what happened on October 17, the president can now “override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law” by using “military troops as a domestic police force.”

Some of us less-than-respectable folks pointed this out months ago.

What makes all of this “fit to print now” is the existence of a measure co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Christopher Bond of Missouri that would repeal the Martial Law Codicil. Exhausting its annual quota of sensible conclusions, the Times editorial board urges passage of the Leahy-Bond bill, which is the very least that must be done. The MCA should likewise be demolished immediately, and Senator Leahy has co-sponsored another measure – this one with Republican Arlen Specter – entitled the “Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007” that would accomplish this, as well.

But the most important action that could be taken to prevent our descent into full-fledged despotism would be to prevent the war in Iraq from metastasizing into a regional conflict involving Iran. The Martial Law measures enacted last October make perfect sense as preparations for a broader and more painful war that would involve economic hardship, social upheaval, and at least a measure of regimentation.

Try as I might, I cannot imagine martial law in the US, except as something the population would agree to under threat from...from whom?” writes liberal commentator Jane Smiley. “Correct me if I am wrong (I know you will), but the last time martial law was declared was during the Civil War, and Americans, though the threats to the Union were profound and omnipresent, didn't like it then. I can't even imagine what would happen now.”

Without minimizing the significance of last October's Martial Law provisions, Smiley continues, “I have to wonder who Bush, Cheney [et. al.] think they are governing. Were they planning to spring these things on us? One day, we were supposed to wake up, and martial law would be declared, and we were supposed to actually pay attention to it? Where are they keeping the troops who were going to patrol our neighborhoods? Who was it who was going to disarm the population? Who was their base going to be, when they sought public support for martial law? Who was going to round us up and where were they going to put us?”

These are eminently sensible questions that are relatively easy to answer. Let's take several of them in turn:

*Where are the troops who would patrol our neighborhoods? Well, some of them are already patrolling our neighborhoods. Those particular “troops” are from nominally local police departments that are appendages of the national Homeland Security system. As I pointed out not long ago, many of them are receiving material aid through the Pentagon's Law Enforcement Support Organization (LESO), including combat weaponry, armored personnel carriers, and other assets entirely incompatible with law enforcement operations – but entirely suitable for martial law.

In the event of martial law, militarized “local” police would work in tandem with National Guard units acting under presidential orders, as well as other elements of the Homeland Security apparatus: the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement would likely play a large role, as would federally subsidized mercenary outfits like Blackwater.

*Who will disarm the population? See the answer above. Recall as well that “local” police, backed by National Guard units, confiscated firearms in New Orleans when the city was placed under martial law following Hurricane Katrina.

*Who would support martial law? When examining the antic parade of authoritarian misfits constituting the “conservative” movement, the question becomes: Who among this sorry lot would not support martial law? When neo-Trotskyite fanatics like Frank Gaffney describe criticism of the Regime's escalation strategy (commonly called the “surge”) in Iraq as a literal hanging offense, and GOP-aligned “legal scholars” like Hugh Hewitt endorse assassination of civilians by presidential decree, why does it seem unlikely that martial law would find a constituency?

*Who will round us up, and were would we be put? To answer the first question, see the first bullet item above. The correct answer to the second question is: We would be put anywhere that's convenient for those doing the round-ups. And it should be understood that this has already happened, after a fashion, in any community that has been blighted by a presidential visit in the last several years. The mechanism used to provide “security” for those visits would serve the needs of martial law quite well.

When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up `free speech zones' or `protest zones,' where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined,” explains the irreplaceable James Bovard. Those who dare to display unapproved sentiments, either on signs or t-shirts, have been arrested and prosecuted.

The Feds command, and “local” police obey in the name of “presidential security.”

Furthermore, notes Bovard, these efforts to suppress protests “become more disturbing in light of the Homeland Security Department's recommendation that local police departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists. In a May 9 [2003] terrorist advisory, the Homeland Security Department warned local law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who `expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the US government.' If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of terrorist suspects.”

Which is to say: If that view of dissent were taken literally, martial law would be considered a viable policy.

Bear in mind the date of that Homeland Security advisory; it was issued just weeks after the Regime began its war in Iraq. Should the war spread to Iran – as the Bu'ushists intend – it's reasonable to believe that dissenters would once again be viewed as gulag fodder.

This time, however, Bush would have the powers he arrogated to himself on October 17 – the ability to seize control of the National Guard, and to imprison – and torture – anyone he designates an “enemy combatant.”

Repealing the Martial Law measures is imperative, but the immediate task is to stop the Regime's plans for war with Iran.

Make sure to visit The Right Source for freedom-centered news and commentary.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"True Faith And Allegiance"?

Entangling alliances: Senator Kyl at this weekend's meeting of the U.S.-Israeli Joint Parliamentary Committee

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” (Emphasis added.)

Oath of office for US Congressmen and Senators

Over the weekend, a small delegation of American legislators was shuttled by military plane to Israel to take part in meetings of “a joint Senate-Knesset committee headed by Senator John M. Kyl, who is close to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney." In addition to Senator Kyl, the group included Representatives Jane Harman (D-California), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), and Steve Pearce (R-Arizona).

Yuval Steinitz, the Likud Party parliamentarian who hosted the American delegation, defined the purpose of the two-day visit in startlingly brazen terms: “We think that it is important that the members of the delegation feel the connection and understand Israel better. They are mostly non-Jewish and we want them to feel some obligation to the country.” (Emphasis added.)

The oath that these elected representatives took, invoking the holiest of Names, precludes them from feeling an “obligation” of any sort to any country other than our own – however laudable, or however infamous, that foreign nation may be.

I hope he's seeking forgiveness for perjuring himself in God's name: Kyl at the Western Wall

Steiniz boasts that the joint committee “has had major achievements and we hope that this visit will lead to additional feats.” The specific “feat” he has in mind is war with Iran, which was to be the focus of briefings the US legislators would receive from the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan.

In fact, there's reason to believe that this committee – a constitutionally impermissible and morally reprehensible blending of our legislative branch with that of a foreign state – was created for the express purpose of agitating for a war with Iran. It was created in 2003, and since then has left an almost imperceptible paper trail.

One of the few references to the Committee's work that Google was able to scrape up was a Christian Science Monitor account of testimony delivered before the Committee in September 2003 by State Department official Paula DeSutter, who insisted that a nuclear-armed Iran “cannot be allowed to happen.”

The Committee has been stealthily efficient: “In the past, the joint Knesset-Senate Committee helped make hundreds of millions of dollars available for Israel's missile defense shield, Arrow, which is produced in cooperation [with] Boeing in the US. In addition, according to Steinitz, the committee has in the past prevented arms sales to Arab states that would have threatened Israel's unique edge in the region; it also initiated the Iran sanctions law, which makes it illegal for governments to provide arms or aid Iran's nuclear program....”

So the Committee's work has (arguably) been beneficial to Israel, profitable for Boeing, a minor inconvenience to Arab states (who, alas, have the money and means to get arms elsewhere), and an insult to foreign governments that must find it peculiar to be told they have to obey restrictions imposed on them by a law that began as the bastard offspring of an illegitimate bi-national committee.

The question is: What benefit, if any, has this arrangement provided for the people who sent those legislators to Washington, the ones whose taxes have purchased Israel's missile shield, and whose children would likely die in the wars that are being propagated in the Middle East?

That's a question that should be posed – bluntly, forcefully, and often – to Kyl and his companions when they return from their junket.

The Bush Regime has claimed the power to take our country to war with Iran without legislative action of any kind. The Democratic congressional leadership is doing nothing about this, except to trip over its own feet and stumble over its collective tongue in its eagerness to condemn Tehran as a world-historic menace.

Iran's demented executive figurehead, and his American equivalent: Am I the only one who detects a certain ... resemblance?

It says a great deal about our predicament that now, after the public mood has turned decisively against the war in Iraq, and with little public support for expanding the war to include Iran, congressional leaders and presidential aspirants from both branches of the Establishment Party have turned to Israel for support.

This week's visit by Kyl and Company comes just a few weeks after this year's Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Herzliya Conference on `The Balance of Israel’s National Strength (hosen) and Security,'” which is billed as a summit of “the most influential Israeli and international leaders.” This year's edition included presentations from presidential aspirants Mitt Romney, John Edwards, and Newt Gingrich, all of whom focused on the “existential” threat posed by Iran.

Ironically, the most sensible thing said to the conference was said via satellite by the execrable Alan Dershowitz, to whose tongue and pen truth and wisdom had previously been total strangers.

Alas, to get to Dershowitz's kernel of wisdom we had to pick through the predictable pile of, well, Dershowitz.

Acting as spokesman for the League of the Perpetually Aggrieved, the Dersh played the victim card, insinuating that General Wesley Clark (a Democratic presidential hopeful) was dealing in anti-Semitic stereotypes by hinting “at Jewish involvement in U.S. foreign policy by saying `New York `money people are pushing the U.S. into war with Iran.'”

First of all, given that General Clark is Jewish, the anti-Semite label rubs right off. Secondly, given that there are millions of Jews who are loyal Americans, it's unavoidable that there will be “Jewish involvement” in American foreign policy. What is at issue is Israeli involvement in U.S. Foreign policy – and in light of what we've seen about the blatant co-mingling of legislative power between Washington and Tel Aviv, that case is utterly airtight.

(While we're on the subject of foreign influence on U.S. Foreign policy, somebody should corner General Clark and ask him about the role played by the Saudis in promoting NATO's 1999 terror-bombing of Serbia on behalf of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.)

In defiance of all expectations, Dershowitz somehow came to a sensible conclusion:

Israel must be prepared to lose American support in the coming years both diplomatically and economically....My message to Israel is ‘be strong’ and be prepared to go it alone.”

Irrespective of its origin, this is splendid advice, for both Israel and the United States. Israeli legislators should look after their nation's best interests, and American legislators should look after ours. At present, neither nation is being well served.

Obiter Dicta has linked to my most recent piece for The American Conservative, "Terrorists Chip In," which describes the dangers of the new RFID-"enhanced" passports.

Mark Dankof of the Republic Broadcasting Network informs me that Monday morning's interview will be posted to RBN's website as soon as their archives are up and running again. He was a gracious and very interesting host, and I really appreciated the opportunity to be on his fine program.

Next Monday (how's that for sufficient notice?) I'll be on Chris Arzen's program "Iron Sharpens Iron," on WNYG in New York, from 2:00-3:00 CST.

Last of all, and apropos of nothing, if you have about eight minutes to kill witnessing the casual virtuosity of a living master of his craft, please check this out. It's worth waiting to the end of the clip to hear his rendition of a Marty Robbins tune -- even if classic country ain't your bag.

Be sure to visit The Right Source for news, commentary, Kevin Shannon's daily radio program, and other valuable information.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Iraqi "Justice" : The Shape of Things To Come

Among the nastiest methods of social control employed by Communist regime was the old “ballot box next to the ration cards” trick. Voters in Soviet-dominated Poland, or in Castro's Cuba, were perfectly free to cast their vote as they saw fit, but the proximity of the ration cards helped focus their minds on the need to vote “correctly.”

Laith al-Ani, an Iraqi citizen who was fled his “liberated” homeland for Syria, witnessed a variation on that tactic as he was being prepared for release after more than two years in detention, without charges.

Last January 6, Ani was processed out of a jail near the Baghdad airport. He was given street clothes and had his irises scanned into a biometric database. Then “he was handed a form and asked to place a check mark next to the sentence that best described how he had been treated,” reported the New York Times.

I didn't go through any abuse during detention,” read one option, in Arabic.

I have gone through abuse during detention,” read the other.

Laith al-Ani with his daughter, Al Budur

In the room “stood three American guards carrying the type of electric stun devices that Mr. Ani and other detainees said had been used on them for infractions as minor as speaking out of turn,” continued the Times. On one occasion, Ani – as punishment for a perceived violation of some trivial rule – was seized by two guards while a third applied the stun device to his tongue.

Even the translator told me to sign the first answer,” Ani recounted. “I asked him what happens if I sign the second one, and he raised his hands” as if to say “Who knows?”

I thought if I don't sign the first one I am not going to get out of this place.”

Not surprisingly, many of those who have been through the system Ani describes have fled Iraq, but intend to return to join the guerrilla campaign against the U.S. Occupation. “The United States through its actions made people hate the Americans much more than before,” observed Ani, who doesn't express any interest in becoming a Jihadi.

The Regime has “disputed” Ani's account, without – of course -- responding to the specifics” of his case, insisting that “the facts of our detention system belie the themes of this article.” The Bu'ushist spokesdrone dismissed Ani's story as “anecdotal.” But Ani's uncontested account – by refusing to challenge it, the Regime has stipulated to it – was buttressed by a key document he showed the Times: a copy of the form he was handed while being out-processed from detention.

The Bush Regime, not content to inflict a Soviet-style “justice” system on Iraqis, was recently rebuffed in its effort to extradite an American citizen to go on trial in Iraq.

On February 9, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously against the Regime's claim that U.S. Citizen Shawqi Omar, a veteran of the Minnesota National Guard, “has a right to argue for his release before a U.S. Court,” reported the A.P. The same court, by a 2-1 vote, barred the military from binding Omar (who has been detained in US military custody in Iraq) over for trial in an Iraqi court.

Trials” in the Iraqi court system, even for capital offenses, often consist of a fifteen minute interrogation by a judge followed by a desultory plea for mercy from an inept public defender. Defendants are afforded none of the due process guarantees to which US citizens are entitled. It;'s tempting to think that the Iraqi court system is very close kindred to the system the Busheviks would impose here at home, were they permitted to.

Omar, a dual citizen of the US and Jordan, was detained by the military in 2004 as a suspected insurgent. Displaying the perverse ingenuity for which it has become notorious, the Bush Regime insisted that “Omar's detention could not be subject to judicial review because U.S. forces were holding him under the international authority provided by United Nations Security Council resolutions authorizing their presence,” in the words of a UPI account.

Omar is not the only US citizen facing the prospect of Iraqi “justice.” Mohammad Munaf, a native Iraqi who became a naturalized American citizen in 2000, “ was arrested and charged with taking part in a terrorist plot to kidnap a group of Romanian journalists,” reports the Washington Post. “He was convicted in an Iraqi court and sentenced to death, but before the sentence could be carried out, a U.S. court in October prevented the U.S. military from transferring Munaf to Iraqi custody.” Munaf's case has been scheduled for a hearing before a federal court.

As I've said before, one case of this sort could be an anomaly, two a coincidence, but three or more represent a trend. To the cases of Omar and Munaf must be added that of Donald Vance, a Navy veteran from Chicago who was detained and abused by U.S. military and security personnel in Iraq last April.

Vance went to Iraq in 2004 to work as a security contractor. He started with a Washington-based company, then joined a small Baghdad-based security company assigned to protect reconstruction workers. Alarmed over the company's corruption and ties to radical militias, Vance contacted the FBI and began feeding it information about what he found. In April, however, Vance and an associate were seized by the military. He was identified as a “threat” because of his association with the very people he was trying to expose.

Vance was released after several weeks in an Iraqi dungeon, where he was subject to relentless and abusive interrogation (although, thankfully, not of the Abu Ghraib variety).

And like Laith al-Ani, Donald Vance – a US citizen and honorably discharged veteran of the US Navy – was given an unambiguous hint that he should keep quiet about his treatment.

They asked me if I was intending to write a book, would I talk to the press, would I be thinking of getting an attorney. I took it as, `Shut up, don't talk about this place,' and I kept saying, `No sir, I want to go home.'”

To his credit, on his arrival back in Chicago Vance immediately contacted an attorney and filed a lawsuit against former Commissar for Invading and Occupying Small Countries Donald Rumsfeld.

Obiter Dicta

This is rather late notice, but tomorrow morning (Monday, February 19), I'm going to be on "Mark Dankof's America" on the Republic Broadcasting Network from 9:00-10:00 a.m. CST.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Federally-Funded Niche-Market Nazis

Your Federal Government at work: David Gletty, washed-up Roller Derby performer-turned-agent provocateur, addresses a meeting of the National Socialist Movement.

Remember: Image is important,” David Gletty, leader of the Orlando chapter of the National Socialist Movement, admonished his tiny knot of demonstrators during its February 2006 rally. “We want to stay civilized. Give these police officers the respect they deserve.”

Gletty's professionalism, if not his perceived commitment to an abhorrent cause, impressed James Carlson of the Orlando Weekly, who had embedded himself in the NSM protest.

Gletty knows what he's doing,” wrote Carlson, who described how the NSM leader shepherded the neo-Nazis through the much larger counter-protest, while keeping their spirits up with regular doses of “anti-Semitic bile.”

What he really wants is to direct: Gletty (center, back to camera) works with the road company of "Springtime for Hitler."

As it happens, Gletty did indeed “know what he was doing.” He once made his living in Roller Derby, a pseudo-sport that is close kindred to professional “wrestling”; this meant that he was possessed both athleticism and theatricality. He knew how to generate “heat” from an audience by performing a convincing “heel turn.” So it was entirely natural for the FBI to recruit him as an informant/provocateur in the NSM.

Appropriately, that fact came out in the course of a trial involving yet another federally funded farce, the "war on drugs."

Gletty's profession didn't change that much; he just switched employers and put the taxpayers on the hook for his livelihood. It's worthwhile to ask how many others in the neo-Nazi movement are drawing federal paychecks. The Minnesota-based NSM itself seems inert, more devoted to a bizarre niche marketing strategy (peddling such things as Ayran-friendly death metal and Nazi-themed “hoodies,” among other things; no, I'm not kidding) than any serious effort to propagate a mass movement devoted to resurrecting the Reich.

Neo-Nazi nebbish Bill White signs a copy of Mein Kampf

For at least four decades, people involved in “direct action” groups – whether of the “left” or the “right” -- have shared a piece of valuable folk wisdom: If someone joins your group and wants to start blowing things up, mark him down as a federal informant. During the heyday of the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, more than a few radical groups (including various Klan factions) owed their very existence to the Feds, whose informants fleshed out chapter rolls of organizations that otherwise would have died through attrition.

The Oklahoma City Bombing represented the zenith – or nadir, depending on how one looks at it – of the FedGov's role as a mole-master for informants and provocateurs. Elohim City, the rural Oklahoma white supremacist commune that served as the womb of the bombing plot, was overrun with informants; its residents could hardly throw a stiff-armed salute without nailing a provocateur in the face. And while on the subject of provocateurs, there's provocative evidence that Timothy McVeigh, rather than being a lethally disgruntled ex-federal employee, may have been a Federal asset at the time of the bombing.

Oddly enough, one of the informants at Elohim City – one-time white supremacist pin-up Carol Howe -- actually collected valuable pre-bombing intelligence that could have been used to prevent the atrocity. The Feds reacted in predictable fashion: They ignored or suppressed Howe's reports, blew her cover, and sent her back into Elohim City, apparently in the hope that she'd be disposed of.

Somehow, I fail to be terrified.

Obiter dicta

Forgive me for writing short today. Sick kids, a chronically ill (but improving -- thanks for the prayers) wife, and overlapping deadlines have combined to rob me of blogging time.

Please visit the updated and revised page for The Right Source. Today I'll be doing the regular Friday gig co-hosting Kevin Shannon's radio program.

The debut of Pro Libertate: The e-zine is nigh on arrival. I've seen the beta version and it looks great; many thanks to Eric Bearly for his terrific work on that project, as well as TRS's new website. Hopefully the debut issue will be on-line soon.

Beginning Monday, I'll be doing a regular daily radio commentary for KBGN radio in Caldwell, Idaho. I'll provide the relevant details as they become available. Bandwidth permitting, we may find room for the commentaries as podcasts on TRS's website -- but don't hold me to that.

Tom Eddlem, a former colleague of mine at The New American and the JBS, is now a colleague at The Right Source and Pro Libertate. In his blog at Dangerous Talk, Tom explains some of the reasons why he has severed his connections with The New American.

The nub of the matter:

"I’ve separated from The New American because I have limited time, and can’t afford to waste any more of my nearly non-existent free time (I have three daughters who are very active) on an organization that is not devoted to the fight for freedom. "

As the freedom-obsessed father of five, I empathize with Tom and share his priorities.