Bad Strategies Lose A Bad War On Terror
January 1, 2007
George W. Bush declared War on Terror. He threw the might, money and prestige of the US behind it. This war is not winnable. It is a misguided waste of huge resources. Hundreds die each day for no good reason. Unethical and illegal behavior damaged US influence world wide. The US entered two equally non winnable full scale wars and destabilized the whole world, in particular the Mideast. The US is viewed as a greater danger to peace than North Korea or Iran by almost the entire world.
Like most others in the US and around the World, I woke up that 9/11 2001 morning, turned on the TV and life changed. I witnessed almost 3,000 people die in one of the deadliest terrorist attack ever. Nothing I will say can diminish the horror of the crime of that day or the honor of countless courageous people. Enacting a strong policy to catch and punish the perpetrators of that act was and is the right thing. But things went very wrong.
Here is what Went wrong
George W. Bush’s War on Terrorism quickly became a War on Islam and then the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. It became an excuse to change America towards totalitarianism allowing torture, illegal detention, big brother surveillance, suppressed human rights and obstruction of long standing laws and international treaties. By 2006, anyone can see the war is (1) lost and (2) destabilizing the world.
All wisdom gained by others in their fight against terrorism over a thousand years is disregarded by George W. Bush. He favors some black and white idea about a steadfast Ranger out to clean up injustices in the world ranch land. The bad guys all are the same – they are not red blood, church going American Republicans supporting America’s right to rule as it pleases. With me or against me. Black and white. Aryan or not Aryan…. ah well, perhaps this last one goes a bit too far at this time. But the step to totalitarianism is a lot shorter than you think.
The US, mostly through CIA, set up secret but now well known or sometimes rumored international concentrations camps in Cuba, Diego Garcia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, not to mention in Iraq and the US itself.
The governments of Canada, Germany, the UK, Spain, Ireland Italy, France and Sweden officially protested various other related, illegal CIA operations on their territory. That includes the capture and detention of their citizens by the CIA.
Some of these programs are now subcontracted to foreign forces such as Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and others to neutralize the bad publicity and to avoid the explicit EU investigation into the issue. These counties are known for harsh and abusive treatment of prisoners. They are not much concerned about human rights.
George W. Bush and his loyal Cabinet, in particular Dick Cheney, consistently defend such practices as necessary in the alleged fight against terrorism. There is absolutely no proof that is true. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
In four separate but connected parts, I discuss some fundamental reasons why the War on Terrorism turned into a disaster.
This is Part 1 – Bad Strategies Lose A Bad War on Terror
Pursue bad strategies: The George W. Bush’s strategy is three fold: 1) centralize the security of the US into a huge bureaucracy, 2) fight terrorism overseas with military force, secret operations and 3) claim exceptional power to override longstanding rights of US citizens and others. The first point is yet another example of federal madness. Most of the last two points are illegal. The strategies so far cost up to $1/2 trillion, countless lives and the moral high ground required for world leadership. They saved no lives but caused a dramatic increase in terror.
Subjects in this first part of the essay:
- Bush’s goal: Preserve American Lives by Fighting Terrorism
- The knee jerk 9/11 strategy and tactics
- The Scorecard
Part 2 – Consequences of a Lost War on Terror
Deny disaster: No one has won a military war on terror because it means making war on an invisible enemy. That is especially true if the military force is not ingenious. Bush spent thousands of lives, exhausted the US military, wasted some 1/2 trillion dollars and created MORE terrorism. It backfired massively as seen by the people of the US, Congress and the rest of the world.
This post is a quick update of current events as of mid January 2007. Tonight, as I write this, Bush will give his State of the Union address. Some expect him to moderate his views some. I very much doubt it.
Part 3 – Exiting a Lost War on Terror
Botch priorities: Terrorism is an insignificant part of mortality. One of the deadliest terrorist attacks, 9/11, caused less than 3,000 casualties. As tragic as it is, that loss is limited compared to other events. Mao’s Great Leap Forward killed 70 million people. The deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler and Kim Jong-Il easily exceed 100 million. George W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon caused fewer casualties but far exceed any threat to human life from terrorists.
Jumble goals: The notion of “war” against
ideas and/or tactics is simply silly. You can declare, and win, wars on nations,
such as Panama, Grenada or Japan. You cannot declare generic wars on terrorism,
gay marriage, drugs, abortions, crime, illiteracy or AIDS. You cannot win unless
you know what specific enemy you fight, how to eliminate that specific enemy threat
and when the mission is accomplished. In five years, the White House has yet to
define what terrorism is.
Ignore failure: The resources thrown at the War on Terror are out of proportion with any possible benefits. The cost is enormous and the benefits are negative. The War sacrifices thousands of lives; it does not save lives or reduce terrorism. George W. Bush ignores the “right” ways to fight terrorism and, no wonder, fails. Can he deal with withdrawal as he must? Perhaps history can guide but probably not. George W. does not see it the way others do.
Part 4 – Preserve Life, Not War
Overlook alternatives: Instead of Mr. Bush’s policy “Protect American lives by fighting Terrorism”, act on “Protect life by fighting Death”. Stop wars and genocides. Combat famines and plagues. Protect against flooding, wind and eruptions. Fight Global Warming. Make safer and more efficient cars, ships and airplanes. Fight ordinary health hazards. Defend human rights. Stop war crimes. Place a proper priority on fighting terrorism and use the right tools.
Images in this Essay
With a few exceptions, the images in this part of the essay are my own. I shot them during a recent mock (as in film making) replica of the Seattle WTO demonstrations a few years ago. It was a rather dreary Sunday morning with the fake demonstrators marching back and forth with great enthusiasm or at least loads of patience.
I wanted to convey that, ultimately, cold and seemingly distant government acts hits real people. This essay is about civil rights violations by the American government. I felt a civil demonstration was the right thing to use. Even if the WTO subject maybe is off the mark a bit, the thought is not.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a shocked American people welcomed any decisive action by its government. Bush, after waking up from his apparent coma following the attacks, consulted his neoconservatists friends and ended up with a knee jerk, poorly defined The War on Terror. The American people and the world supported the stated concept, emotionally welcoming any action. Clearly, those responsible for the horrible acts had to be tracked down and punished. Had that simple, clear strategy been enacted and kept in clear focus, we would not be in the mess we are in, collectively throughout the world.
Over five years from that awful day, knee jerk reactions and naive revenge acts should be done with but aren’t. Osama bin Laden enjoys his freedom, taking delight in mocking a weaker and weaker US. Al Qaeda remains active. Terror surges. There are hundreds of new terrorist organizations. A few are very powerful. Iraqi insurgents, fighting a local tribal and religious civil war, now kill some 5,000 people a month. But the original goal of finding those guilty of 9/11 no longer truly matters.
Almost all attention today is on the war in Iraq. This war has no connection with 9/11 or terrorism. It is a lost cause with horrifying and very expensive consequences with no favorable outcomes for the US. The war in Afghanistan closed a few terrorist camps that probably relocated to Denmark, Cuba, Sudan, Idaho or wherever. The Afghan war, led by NATO, is heading towards defeat with Taliban controlling more and more territory. Finding those guilty of 9/11 now hardly matters.
There was a hidden strategy: Enhance Presidential power to disregard almost any law and treaty. Dominate the world by force, threats and intimidation. Protect territorial and energy interests. Show that the US can do what it pleases given aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, Marines and B-52s. Dump human rights of any one not “supporting the one and only right view”, whether guilty or not. Punish and humiliate anyone standing in the way, especially the Islam world, courts and Congress. Put reluctant allies in their proper place. Enrich friends and supporters, such as Israel, neoconservatists, the oil industry and Halliburton. All in all, show those bastards, whether congressmen or foreigners, who the Boss is.
The strategies were all deeply flawed. On whom did Bush declare the War on Terror? No one seems to know, assuring failure, best forgotten. The Iraq war became a disaster growing worse by the day. In Afghanistan, Taliban is staging its comeback. Terror is, literally, exploding.
The hidden goals failed as well. The influence of the US Presidency and that of the US declined. US political and moral leaderships are defunct. The US military does not dominate the world. Intimidating Congress and the world backfired. Friends go to jail, leave office or lose out some other way.
The man just doesn’t give in. In December of 2006, Bush wants to send perhaps 70,000 more US troops, “surging” Baghdad. James Baker’s bipartisan “Iraq Study Group” and practically the whole world want a withdrawal, the sooner the better. Bush declared his by now desperate, opposite view. A chorus on neoconservatists and others jumped all over the Baker report and “defeatists” around the globe.
The Democratic Congress may or may not demand a disengagement plan, depending on the winds de jour. Look for Bush’s resistance and vetoes to any opposition to his illusionary “Win” goal. By now, his denials are similar to those of Richard Nixon in his last weeks as President. They are no more believable than those of the famously irrational Baghdad Bob who at least was funny.
On Dec 9th, 2006, a survey states a record 71% of Americans disapprove of the Bush war strategy. The war cost Republicans control of both houses and much of local state influence. The few and only original Coalition “allies” do all they can to get out of the mess. So does the US military.
The simple and clear policy “punish the devils causing 9/11″ somehow required a total flip-flop of American policies and of international values. The Bush strategy focused on these goals:
- Create a Department of Homeland Security (to cover your behind)
- Fight overseas rather than at Home (and solve some old grievances)
- Protect national (or some one’s) interests
- Make your own laws (to protect your behind)
George W. Bush’s War on Terrorism policies ended up violating US laws and international treaties. The principal goals deteriorated into 1) heightening Presidential power, 2) rewarding friends and 3) staying out of War Criminal Tribunals. Currently debated, who is the worst President ever? Mr. Bush is leading the contest, beating Richard Nixon. The moral deficiencies of the White House encourage terrorism by showing weakness.
Recognizing that the government may be vulnerable by ignoring the many signs of 9/11 ahead of time, what better way to neutralize such an inconvenience than reorganizing all involved agencies into a totally inefficient behemoth? Hence the DHS, which is mostly known for issuing consternating alerts, vague security warnings and for harassing any one unlucky enough to be in their power. It makes air line passengers take off their shoes and dump their deodorants. People wait in endless airport queues on incompetent new federal security personnel practicing their aimless jobs. This is the outfit that could hardly find its way to a drowning New Orleans or keep track of the famous 11,000 mobile homes destined for housing relief.
Never mind that any idiot could smuggle a nuclear bomb, 10 grams of polonium (apparently capable of wiping out the whole US population – in theory) or a ton of anthrax into any US harbor. Or a thousand insurgents invading Philadelphia or Seattle in some old scow complete with Iranian missiles, AK-47s, IEDs, SAMs, mines, car bombs, suicide belts and RPGs and the rest of the stuff seen daily on the streets of Baghdad.
What can you expect from the 186,000 employee outfit with a 27 billion budget that screwed New Orleans so spectacularly after Katrina? This outfit has no apparent contingencies for truly dealing with homeland security, such as protecting chemical plants or nuclear power plants, each one capable of killing millions? Do you trust the biggest federal bureaucracy in modern history to do a credible job, considering warrant less searches, forced vaccinations, federal neighborhood snitch programs, federal information databases and an “Information Awareness Office” using military intelligence to spy on domestic citizens?
Its officials state: “we don’t do the doing, we do the coordinating”. It takes 186,000 coordinators and $27 billion to keep something or another coordinated? Who is “Doing”? The outfit spent $6.4 million on radiation detectors that claim ceramic tiles, granite, marbles, cat litter and bananas are actually nuclear bombs while missing several shipments of uranium.
Are we safer? No, we are not, only poorer.
It’s better to kill terrorists overseas than have them come here to attend flight school, collect Social Security, blow us all up and embarrass the President. That makes sense. According to Mr. Bush, thousands of terrorists have been tracked down overseas and disposed of in some manner, presumably by execution, torture or illegal detention in secret camps around the world. The bin Laden head of the serpent may remain alive but the rest is hacked off, skinned and neutralized. So Mr. Bush likes us to think.
First, if that is true, what on Earth are we doing now in Iraq and Afghanistan? How come our troops suffer from all these insurgents and suicide bombers? Why are the US troops encamped behind sand bags, barbed wire, blast walls and vehicle traps instead of spreading the gospel of Democracy and winning the hearts of the population? Why is there a need for the Green Zones? Why are private, very expensive body guards/mercenaries needed to protect any one moving around in the Mideast?
Second, quite a few terrorists/insurgents are obviously still alive and very deadly indeed. They have no difficulty enlisting additional man power (as opposed to the US Army). It is nice that these rapidly growing armies so far stay in the Mideast rather than invading the US.
Why can’t these highly financed, well managed and very skilled groups get on an airplane, ship, balloon or submarine heading for the US en masse? It’s hard to believe the 176,000 coordinators of the DHS will save us all. And how is the US war in Iraq preventing such a possibility?
There are a number of prominent US dignitaries studying the matter of the Iraq war. The Baker report spread some light on the Iraq war but is discarded due to Bush’s standard of blind sided, stubbornly closed mind. The new Democratic Congress will yelp and Bush will veto. In 2009, a new President will inherit the mess. Nowhere are there any signs that the basic, original issue of punishing the criminals of 9/11 is addressed in a credible manner.
Unfortunately, no one seems to study or even care about the War on Terror in its original form. It’s out of fashion. Could the cost of these lost wars be put to better use? After all, we talk about 1/2 trillion dollars or more. Who thinks killing perhaps 700,000 Iraqis will save the US from terrorism?
If the Iraq war is not about terrorism or the fabled WMD, what is it about? Personally, I think it is about George Bush Sr. being the target of an alleged Hussein murder plot in Kuwait 1993. George W. Bush, the son, said: “The fact that he tried to kill my father and my wife shows the nature of the man. He’s cold-blooded. He’s a dictator, and he’s a tyrant.” No kidding.
There is the Texas factor, walking with a swagger and all that. Bring’m on. All Texans know about oil. That’s valuable stuff, easily worth a few hundred thousand lives. Dick’s old Halliburton outfit could use a lift as well. How much has that poor little corporation made in Iraq? While on the subject, add its profits from Katrina to the modest total.
The Iraq Study Group, as opposed to the deafening silence of almost all others in the government and Congress, does clarify that oil is a prime reason for controlling Iraq. The report states that “It has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves”. It continues to say, in Recommendation 63:
The United States should encourage investment in Iraq’s oil
sector by the international community and by international energy companies.
The United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize
the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise, in order to enhance efficiency,
transparency, and accountability.
To combat corruption, the U.S. government should urge the Iraqi government to post all oil contracts, volumes, and prices on the Web so that Iraqis and outside observers can track exports and export revenues.
The United States should support the World Bank’s efforts
to ensure that best practices are used in contracting. This support involves providing
Iraqi officials with contracting templates and training them in contracting, auditing,
and reviewing audits.
The United States should provide technical assistance to
the Ministry of Oil for enhancing maintenance, improving the payments process,
managing cash flows, contracting and auditing, and updating professional training
programs for management and technical personnel.
This is not a hands-off policy or recommendation. It’s filled with control measures and involvement of the US on several levels. Who are the “international communities and energy companies” – Exxon, Gulf, Chevron or Shell? “Post all contracts etc on the web” – then what remedies are in effect if the numbers don’t add up? The US/World Bank is to “ensure best practices… create templates” = control business terms such as price and supply? Iraq needs “US assistance to…. organize payment processes…. manage cash flow…. set up contracting” – what a glorious business opportunity for, say, Halliburton. There are easily billions to be earned.
Who can claim oil is not a main motive to US involvement in Iraq? Add Bush’s recent statement that withdrawing US troops would turn the oil fields over to the insurgents. That is not acceptable. The bottom line is that control of the oil, less so WMD or whatever, is the major US goal.
The US invaded Iraq with some support from the UN. That support was based on vague statements of terrorist support by Saddam and very precise but untrue statements on Saddam’s WMD. The need to control oil was certainly not mentioned for good reasons. The UN would never support such a goal as it is an illegal infraction on a country’s sovereignty and assets.
Allowing control of Iraq’s oil to insurgents bent on revenge on the US is clearly not a good idea. Could it happen upon a US withdrawal? Perhaps it could, perhaps not. However, that oil will not flow without major rebuilds, the funds for which are not available in Iraq. Hence, US presence in Iraq to control the oil is just an economic goal, not one of controlling terrorism.
We are not in Iraq to control terrorism or to catch 9/11 criminals; we are there for selfish, macho and irrelevant reasons, chief of which is oil.
Since 9/11 2001, an astonishing amount of laws, acts, orders and policy statements deal with the aftermath of 9/11. They cover the wars, the treatment of detainees and abuses of the American people. A common theme throughout is deception, evasiveness and plain old protecting your behind.
Human Rights laws and War treaties come in many forms. The original idea of Habeas Corpus goes back to the 1100s and Magna Carta. In November of 2001, George W. Bush declared the right to hold anyone suspected of terrorism or of being an “enemy combatant” in custody indefinitely, without charges being filed, without court hearings and without access to legal consultants. That invalidates 900 years of justice and it’s just for starters.
The government is clearly violating all kinds of laws and treaties in the name of “protecting the American people”. The general strategy is one of drastically increasing Presidential power without any checks or balances. Judicial and legislative counter responses have largely been ineffective.
Here are some of the legislation violated: The US Constitution, The US Bill of Rights, The Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, the Hague Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, just to name a few. Surely this is a record for any US President and without parallel world wide with a few exceptions such as Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jong Il and perhaps Idi Amin and ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier.
How is this abuse preventing terrorism? Easy – it isn’t. Wiretap and spy – forget it, too easy to bypass. Torture and harsh, illegal treatment of detainees – never stopped any true terrorist. Abuse the American people’s rights – come on. Ignore longstanding laws and treaties – so do the terrorists assuming they heard of them. Control assets and flow of funds – ask the Colombian drug lords or Corporate America how effective that is. Increase security at airport or a harbor or two – every one knows both leak as sieves. Publish the vulnerability of unprotected chemical or nuclear power plants and the possible loss of millions of lives – why not send out the blue prints as well? Ban exploding shoes and nuclear shaving cream – now that’s a good idea. Exclude, by law, terrorists not only from Presidential events but also “other events” – another impressive concept.
A bunch of hardly legal, bad laws will not stop terrorism. These laws are subject to domestic and international astonishment and contempt. The laws act only to destroy the reputation, status, influence and power of the US around the world, encouraging terrorism. Ignoring longstanding international treaties and Protocols will encourage, not diminish, terrorism. Holding the moral high ground is essential in the fight against terror.
Here are the sordid details:
- The US Constitution of 1789: 1) incorporates the concept in Article 1, Section 9: “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” 2) Article 3, Section 3: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. 3) No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
- The US Bill of Rights of 1791 states: 1) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
- Authorization for the Use of Military Force of Sept 14, 2001: 1) Granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. 2) The Act is used by the administration for engaging in electronic surveillance without obtaining a warrant from Court as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
- Executive Order of Sept. 23 2001: 1) Defines terrorist and associated individuals and organizations as “Designated”, 2) blocks all property and interests in property of designated individuals or entities, 3) blocks any transaction or dealing by U.S. persons for the benefit of designated individuals or entities, 4) deters donations or contributions to designated individuals or entities, 5) heightens public awareness and knowledge of individuals or entities linked to terrorism 6) alerts other governments to U.S. concerns about individuals or entities aiding terrorism, and promotes due diligence by such governments and private sector entities operating within their territories to avoid associations with terrorists, 7) disrupts terrorist networks, thereby cutting off access to financial and other resources from sympathizers and 8 ) encourages designated entities to get out of the terrorism business.
- Financial Anti-Terrorist Act of Oct. 17 2001: 1) Increases the federal government’s powers to investigate and prosecute the financial supporters of terrorism. 2) It’s folded into the Patriot Act.
- USA Patriot Act of Oct 26, 2001: 1) … dramatically expanded the authority of American law enforcement for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism in the United States and abroad. 2) …. restricted due process for individuals involved in terrorism, 3) … private financial institutions are asked to enhance transaction transparency, to search for a common customer identification system, and to find ways to prevent their financial services from being used for money laundering or the funding of terrorism, 4) restricts immigration of certain allegedly terrorist risks and 5) criminalizes “material support” to terrorists and to foreign terrorist organizations.
- Airport and Transportation Security Act of Nov 19 2001: 1) Replaced private employees with 44,000 federal employees, 2) Provided deadlines for luggage scanning (never met), 3) Intensified checks of carry-on items, 4) Supervised air and sea security operations, 5) Improved onboard security – reinforced, locked cockpit doors, surveillance devices, security agents and 6) Improved airport security.
- Terrorism Risk Protection Act of Nov 29 2001: 1) The Act provides for the continued availability of insurance against terrorism risks and addresses multiple insurance and liability issues arising out of the September 11th attacks. 2) The bill today allows access to the frozen assets of terrorists, terrorist organizations, and terrorist sponsor states.
- Homeland Security Act of Nov. 25 2002: 1) creates the Department of Homeland Security by combining 22 government agencies. 2) I already discussed this Act above. 3) The act is updated each year as part of the budget process.
- The USA Patriot Act II, or the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of March 28 2003: 1) The government would no longer be required to disclose the identity of anyone, even an American citizen, detained in connection with a terror investigation, 2) Current court limits on local police spying on religious and political activity would be repealed, 3) The government would be allowed to obtain credit records and library records without a warrant , 4) Wiretaps without any court order for up to 15 days after terror attack would be permissible, 5) Release of information about health/safety hazards posed by chemical and other plants would be restricted, 6) The definition of terrorism would be expanded – individuals engaged in civil disobedience could risk losing their citizenship; their organization could be subject to wiretapping and asset seizure, 7) Americans could be extradited, searched and wiretapped at the behest of foreign nations, whether or not treaties allow it, 8 ) Lawful immigrants would be stripped of the right to a fair deportation hearing and federal courts would not be allowed to review immigration rulings.
- The USA Patriot Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, March 9 2006: 1) Makes most of the expiring Patriot Act permanent, 2) Permits the records of ordinary Americans to be secretly obtained without adequate safeguards, 3) Continue to gag recipients of records demands without any prior court finding, with new criminal penalties, 4) Allows sneak-and-peek searches under a broad standard; new time limits would still allow such searches to continue to remain secret for weeks, months or even years. 5) Allows secret eavesdropping and secret search orders that do not name a target or a location with enhanced court oversight, 6) Omits modest limits on a host of additional Patriot Act surveillance powers, 7) Creates additional death penalties, 8 ) llows Justice Department, not federal courts, to determine that a state has a competent death penalty system, 9) Expands the jurisdiction of the Secret Service to impose “exclusion zones” – which cannot be entered on pain of federal imprisonment – to non-Presidential events, 10) Force more organizations to check people against flawed government lists, through increased Treasury Department penalties.
- National Security Surveillance Act of 2006 (stalled): 1) permits eavesdropping by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) without the court oversight, 2) telephone calls are monitored without obtaining a warrant as required.
- Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (pending): 1) A statutory framework, with congressional and judicial oversight for the President to conduct electronic surveillance on the international communications of suspected terrorists, while protecting the rights and liberties of American citizens, 2) The bill mandates that the President obtain a warrant for surveillance on a suspected terrorist once he has sufficient evidence to do so, 3) for those unusual cases where the President does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a court order, but still wishes to conduct surveillance on a suspect, the bill requires that the Attorney General certify, under oath, that continued surveillance is necessary to protect the United States, 4) a Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittee within the Senate Intelligence Committee with the exclusive jurisdiction to oversee and monitor the details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
- Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Oversight and Resource Enhancement Act of 2006 (proposed): 1) Requiring the US Supreme Court to review all appeals of cases challenging the legality of the domestic surveillance program acknowledged by the president last December; 2) Requiring the US Attorney General to provide semi-annual reports to the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees to “fully inform” them of any electronic surveillance undertaken without a court order. Only chairmen of each congressional intelligence committee would have access to the documentation; 3) Allowing the government to conduct warrant less taps of communications between parties outside the US, even if Americans are involved in those exchanges; 4) Extending the deadline from 72 hours to 168 hours for authorities to make after-the-fact applications for warrants in “emergency” situations; and 5) Authorizing the addition of lawyers and judges to the various agencies charged with implementing and overseeing the surveillance program.
- Secure Fence Act of October 26 2006: 1) Constructs hundreds of additional miles of Southern border fences, 2) constructs more vehicle barriers and checkpoints 3) provides more electronic surveillance, including flying drones.
The above is just a sample of the various federal and state laws, acts, executive orders, policies, regulations and who knows what. Just count them: 15 separate items containing 54 more or less important points. Confusing? Well, it’s meant to be. First, much of it is a smoke screen to cover very shady and largely illegal actions by the highest echelons of government right down to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib with side trips to uncontrolled NSA surveillance and secret “terrorist” data bases. Second, it’s a vast example of protecting your butt from War Criminal Tribunes.
Here is more from various sources – clear evidence of the evasive, illegal path of the White House refusing to acknowledge the findings of the Supreme Court of the USA:
- On January 11, 2002, the United States announced that it was refusing to abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. The United States explained that the prisoners taken in Afghanistan and Pakistan [and elsewhere] were not actually prisoners of war, but were in fact “unlawful combatants.”
- On June 29 2006: The Supreme Court struck down the military commissions President Bush established to try suspected members of al-Qaeda. It emphatically rejected a signature Bush anti-terrorism measure and the broad assertion of executive power upon which the president had based it. The high court’s justices said President Bush had overstepped his power when he created a system of military tribunals for foreign-born alleged terrorists.
- On July 12 2006, The Bush administration agreed to apply the Geneva Conventions to all terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, bowing to the Supreme Court’s recent rejection of policies that have imprisoned hundreds for years without trials.
- On August 14 2006: White House worked with Congress on the military tribunals Mr. Bush invented for Guantanamo Bay. But the president remains determined to have his way on the other big issue — how jailers treat prisoners to allow interrogators to continue abusive practices plainly banned by the conventions and to make sure they cannot be held accountable.
- On Sept. 7 2006: Bush urged Congress to authorize him to wage the war on terrorism on his terms. At stake is defining how the rule of law governs the executive branch as it deals with captives who it suspects are terrorists. The Bush administration’s proposal to bring leading terror suspects before military tribunals met stiff resistance.
- On Sept. 29 2006: Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (MCA), a bill ceding enormous powers to the executive branch to name enemy combatants and “unlawful enemy combatants” potentially from among U.S. residents. It also abolishes the basic right of Guantanamo detainees to ask a judge to consider whether there is legal cause to imprison them — the right of habeas corpus. Ironically, this bill leaves potentially innocent and low-level detainees imprisoned forever, while providing military tribunals for the 14 recently-transferred and suspected al-Qaeda high-level operatives.
- On Oct 17, 2006: President Bush signed the MCA into law on October 17, amid demonstrations at the White House which resulted in arrest for 17 protesters dressed as detainees. Legal experts declared the Act to be utterly flawed, an embarrassment and plain unconstitutional.
- On December 15, 2006: U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled in support of the Military Commissions Act. He declared that detainees at the military’s Guantanamo Bay facility are not entitled to challenge their imprisonment in the normal United States court system, but must go through the process outlined in the MCA.
The point is this: there is a clear pattern of civil rights abuses through most of these Act and Orders. Most are plainly illegal and unconstitutional. Others may be border cases. But all violate the ultimate test. They do not reflect the ethical standards of America. They are utterly inconsistent with a true democracy. They abuse US citizens and citizens in all of the world’s countries. They roll back centuries of common decency, experience and liberty. What is the Supreme Court doing to defend the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Please ask them.
This being New Years Eve, I just read this “The Bill of Wrongs – The 10 Most Outrageous Civil Liberties Violations In 2006” in Slate. Read it, I’ll only repeat the Top 10 list:
- The Hubris By George W. Bush (Blame the victim with utmost arrogance)
- The Military Commissions Act of 2006
- The Abuse of Jose Padilla
- Extraordinary Rendition (Shipping alleged subjects around the world)
- Government Snooping
- The State Secrets Doctrine
- Slagging the Courts
- Slagging the Media
- Guantanamo Bay
- Attempt to get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui
That isn’t a bad list. How about adding my own:
- Escalating an illegal, expensive, deadly War in Iraq, citing a fictitious War on Terror
- Ignoring Global Warming, citing cost (see item 1)
- Allowing Torture as a Policy, leading to….
- Slagging up to a thousand US and international laws and treaties, leading to….
- Ducking War Crimes Courts by inventing new laws, then….
- Slagging the American People
- Slagging the UN
- Slagging Islam
- Slagging Everybody
- Slagging Me
The final – in this Part 1 – word and judgment on the Bush Doctrine:
- Create DHS: DHS is an 186,000 people behemoth with far more failures than successes. I know of no proven prevention of terrorist operations. I know of no lives saved. Today, you rarely hear about the Department. I hear it is almost impossible to find their offices.
- Fight overseas: How do you take a limited, targeted war to some one else’s land? Bush simply invaded a couple of them. Neither the Taliban, nor Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. The War on Terror became something entirely different: a lost, undefined cause benefiting no one but terrorists. Consequently, terrorism increased.
- Consider national interests: The War on Terror has nothing to do with the War on Iraq. Iraq was never involved in 9/11 or any other act of international terror. After years of denial, Bush admits the control of the oil is vital. The Baker Report confirms that statement. The Iraqi War is finally illegal. Terror increased dramatically following the invasions.
- Make you own laws: The US government’s preference for secret, illegal operations is an ethical, legal and international catastrophe. Bush et al stand a real and fair risk of War Crime convictions. Even US courts are fed up. The administration is desperately pushing through unconstitutional laws to defer the risks. This endorses the notion and validity of terrorism.
The score is a miserable 100% failure. That isn’t good. Part 2 (”Part2″ button below) will discuss the consequences of these failures. That is all for Part 1 of this series on the War on Terror. Stay tuned.
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