Cynical Synapse

Sun, 13 Nov 2011

“He’s Not a Terrorist Suspect…[He’s] an Enemy Combatant”

Filed under: Candidates, Global War on Terror, Justice, Legal, Media, Politics, War — cynicalsynapse @ 4:14 pm

Anwar al-Awlaki

Ever since US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a Predator drone strike on 30 September 2011, there’s been a hue and cry from the vocal minority of “due processors” calling al-Awlaki’s killing an unlawful assassination. Folks, this is not rocket science. Al-Awlaki is as much a terrorist and enemy combatant as if he’d been one of the 9/11 hijackers. Citizenship and birthplace have nothing to do with it, whatsoever.

I do not like Newt Gingrich and have not since he was Speaker of the House. Maybe it’s something to do with that position; perhaps not unlike “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Nonetheless, Gingrich clearly articulated the legality of al-Awlaki’s killing during yesterday’s debate of Republican presidential candidates.

Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law; it is an act of war, and it should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

HT: Legal Insurrection
 

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Thu, 13 Oct 2011

Undie-Bomber Pleads Guilty; Implicates al-Awlaki

Filed under: Crime, Justice, Legal, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 4:14 am

Authorities take Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab into custody

The underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airliner headed to Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009. His bomb was a mixture of chemicals in his underwear to be set off by adding another chemical with a syringe. After a loud pop and smoke from his lap, a passenger said, “Hey dude, your pants are on fire.” Other passengers subdued Abdulmutallab and flight attendants put him out with fire extinguishers.

Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, has been rather contentious and disrupting in court proceedings leading up to his trial, which began in Federal District Court on Tuesday, 11 October. Jury selection last week included at least one outburst and Abdulmutallab wearing his prison T-shirt to court.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab listens to US attorney's opening remarks

In a trial that was expected to last 4 weeks, Abdulmutallab surprised everyone by pleading guilty to all 8 charges at the start of the second day. “I’m guilty under U.S. law, but not under the Koran,” replied when Judge Edwards read one of the charges. While entering his pleas, Abdulmutallab read a 6-minute, handwritten statement, including:

We the Mujahedeen insist on attacking the United States because it promotes the blasphemy of Muhammed (PBUH), and the prophets, and because this country continues to support the Israelis in killing innocent Palestinians, in addition to many other [sic] of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Yemen, Irag, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond which this country kills.

So, Abdulmutallab saved us a lot of money by avoiding a long trial. The piece de resistance, however, is his testimony to Anwar al-Awlaki’s culpability and role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula activities.

I was greatly inspired to participate in jihad by the lectures of the great and rightly guided mujahedeen who is alive, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, may Allah preserve him and his family and give them victory, Amen, and Allah knows best.

Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Koran.

Judge Edwards set sentencing for 12 January 2012. Many of his charges carry minimum 30 year sentences, some of which must run consecutively. This may effectively equal his expected punishment of life in prison.
 


 

Wed, 12 Oct 2011

Ron Paul Indulging in a Lunatic Binge

Rep. Ron Paul

Ever since the radical, jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed 30 September by a drone attack in Yemen, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul has been crying foul. He contends al-Awaki’s Constitutional rights, as US citizen, were violated, denying him due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. ls al-Awlaki’s “assassination” a dangerous precedent. Paul stated “there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen.”

What Ron Paul misses is the fact al Qaeda declared war on the United States in 1998 and we reciprocated in 2001. A state of war has existed between the US and all the branches of al Qaeda ever since. Just because Pres. Obama changed terminology to “Overseas Contingency Operations” doesn’t mean the nature of the Global War on Terror has changed in any fundamental way.

Rep. Ron Paul

Most of us (59%) believe al-Awlaki’s killing was Constitutional. Ron Paul continues his government assassination meme, however. Last week Paul spoke to the National Press Club:

Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat? What’s going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat?

But, Paul’s fearmongering is not new, having reared its ugly head in the last presidential campaign. Today, Paul cites Timothy McVeigh and Nidal Hasan as terrorists whose right to due process was not abridged in contrast to al-Awaki. The difference, Mr. Paul, is they were not part of al Qaeda. The difference is al-Awlaki joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and actively aided and abetted the terrorist organization. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant and AQAP confirmed his importance, calling him the “mujahid heroic sheikh”.
 


 

Sat, 01 Oct 2011

Hey, Due Processers: Here’s the Smoking Underwear Bomb

remnants of underwear bomb

Almost before the smoke cleared after Friday’s Predator drone attack on US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, there’s been a popular uprising questioning the legality of killing the jihadist cleric. Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul blasted Obama for violating al-Awlaki’s Constitutional right to due process. With just 8% support in a recent Florida poll, Paul was joined by 1%-er Gary Johnson in crying fowl in “assassinating” al-Awlaki. Gag me with a spoon. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant, pure and simple. Citizenship is not part of the equation.

Since that’s clearly not sufficient for the “due processers”, consider Ibrahim al-Asiri was also killed in the Predator airstrike. Al-Asiri, then, was in the same motorcade with al-Awlaki, so there is a definite connection. And the FBI pulled al-Asiri’s fingerprint of the underwear bomb remnants. How can there be any question about al-Awlaki’s active engagement in jihad against the US, which clearly makes him an enemy combatant?

al-Asiri's cargo bomb threat

The killing of al-Awlaki, Samir Khan (also a US citizen), and al-Asiri, all members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is both lawful and justified. They were enemy combatants engaged in the fight against our way of life.

Kudos to Republican candidate Rick Perry’s praise for Pres. Obama’s commitment to hunting down terrorists. That’s a radical, and welcome, departure from Paul, Johnson, and those who thought Obama would be soft on terrorism.
 

After seeing the video, I hope the disconnect between Paul’s call for due process in al-Awladi’s case, but no need for same for 9/11 accused becomes apparent. And, forgive me, but every time I hear of Ron Paul, I can’t help but think of Ru Paul.

Update:

03 Oct 2011

It almost seemed too good to be true when I first heard al-Asiri was killed in the Predator strike on al-Awlaki and Khan. Alas, it seems it was more than we should hope for. Yemeni officials said AQAP bombmaker al-Asiri was not killed with al-Awlaki in Friday’s aerial targeting of the terrorist cleric’s motorcade. While there may no longer be a smoking underwear link, the fact remains al-Awlaki served AQAP and was at war with his native country.

Al-Awlaki’s value to AQAP was his knowledge of US culture and his ability at radicalizing, enabling, and recruiting to the jihadist cause homegrown extremists like MAJ Nidal Hassan and the Times Square bomber. Ironically, if he’d stayed in the US, he’d be a criminal (can you say conspiracy?), but since he moved in with AQAP in Yemen, he was an enemy combatant.
 

Sun, 18 Sep 2011

Constitution Day—Our Way of Life is At Risk

Filed under: Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Congress, Customer service, Government, Legal, Life, People, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 10:02 am

US Constitution

Yesterday, 17 September, marked the 224th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. Of late, it seems our Constitution is under attack and the federal government wants to expand its reach beyond Constitutional authority.

As a case in point, from my perspective, the government has no authority to require me to buy health insurance. Or anything else, for that matter. Requiring the purchase of health insurance does not fall under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. The Constitution is as the center of the political debate:

The struggle over the holiday is yet another proxy in the fight over the proper role of government. On one side are those who embrace an “originalist” view of the Constitution, where New Deal judicial activism started the country down the path to ruin. On the other are those who say that its language — allowing Congress to levy taxes to provide “for the general welfare,” to regulate commerce, and to do what is “necessary and proper” to carry out its role—affirms the broad role of the federal government that has developed over the last 100 years.

TSA montage

The fear induced by the attacks of 9/11 led to the USA PATRIOT act and subsequent losses or restrictions of civil liberties and freedoms. The most apparent aggregiousness is with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and their seemingly arbitrary and inefective rules for airport checkpoint screening.

Not satisfied with just cowing ordinary citizens, the today’s government seeks to silence internal dissenters and whistleblowers. The federal hegemonic conspiracy is no longer a Republican or Democratic construct. Rather, it is the result of the government seeking to ensure its own continued survival despite its citizens.
 

Previously on the Constitution and rights erosion:

Fri, 02 Sep 2011

Islamophobia Unchecked Equals Freedom Unprotected

Filed under: Behavior, Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Government, Legal, Life, Oppression, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 1:00 pm

Anti-Islamic grafitti

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks draws near, coming on the heals of the end of Ramadan and releases of a couple reports on Muslims in America, it’s easy for conversations to turn to jihadists—Muslim extremists. The truth is extremists of any kind are dangerous. It’s also true the majority of terrorist activities in the past decade were carried out by people hiding behind the Islamic religion. This does not make them Islamists, although some may have been. The Ayatollahs in Iran are real Islamists. Still, the end result is a very real and deliberate undertone of Islamohobia—the fear of Muslims.

A Center for American Progrss report released 26 August describes the funding and efforts fueling Islamophobia. Despite their loyalties, good work ethic, civic-mindedness, and being law-abiding, in general, there is a lot of mistrust of Muslims in the population at large.

Muslim-Americans are, generally, satisfied with current conditions “despite a feeling [Muslims] are being targeted by anti-terrorism government programs.” While we want feel and be secure, we value our rights more. Consider the Old Man’s post about concerns with the hijab:

There’s been a lot of flack over Muslim women wearing their traditional head dress out in the public here in America. One of the latest was at Rye Playland in New York where a group of Muslim women were barred from certain rides because of their headscarves. Do we, the other public, know what banning the religious head dress for a particular religious culture could lead to?

Yeah, yeah! The Old Man is fully aware of the attacks on America, and Americans abroad, by Muslims. But have we taken our revenge too far? It may be appropriate to check people, and even their clothing, for any weapons or bombs in public gatherings or boarding a public means of transportation. But think about this for a moment. If we are to ban Muslim clothing simply because a certain group of people don’t like it, what are we supposed to do about the other religions??????

Amish

Catholic Nums

Latter Day Saints

Orthodox Jew

Mon, 29 Aug 2011

Cold War vs. Cyber War—China Has Already Crossed the Virtual Fulda Gap

Filed under: China, Deceit, Government, Legal, Military, National security — cynicalsynapse @ 6:19 am

11th Cav watching the Fulda Gap

I miss the Soviets. While we didn’t think so then, they pretty much followed the rules and believed in mutually-assured destruction, just like us. While we were concerned the Soviets would come pouring through the Fulda Gap in great armored hordes, it turns out their state-planned and state-controlled economy could not have supported such an imperial expedition. Alas, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ending the bipolar balance of world affairs that had been in place for 46 years.

Post-Cold War, Russia still seeks to be a first-world power. While Russia has much potential, and much in its corner, it’s an even more distant second place than was the Soviet Union. More importantly, as the attacks on 9/11 showed, threats to our national security don’t even need to be nation states.

US 'cyber warriors'

During my studies in the Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (2000-2002), there was a lot of discussion about information technology being the next revolution in military affairs. Proponents believed this to be a strength, while I questioned the soundness of the validity of information as revolutionary. Even ten years ago, I thought connectivity was too subject to interruption.

Today, personnel systems, pay, and logistics are all managed by web-based applications in the US military. Even artillery fire depends on the connectivity of radars with fire direction centers to firing batteries. The problem, as I have always seen it, is the tenuousness of this connection.

China's BluFor

The real threat comes from China. While China is building conventional capability, the real threat is in the cyber realm. China tipped their hand in this regard about a week ago when a Chinese propoganda piece unintentionally showed cyber attack software screen shots.

Intentionally, or not, China substantiated it’s involvment in cyber warfare. If you ask me, this definitely appears to be the “smoking cursor”.
 

Previously on China:

Sat, 16 Jul 2011

Most Oppose Repealing Michigan’s Helmet Law

Filed under: Citizen rights, Driving, Government, Legal, Medicine, Michigan, Politics, Safety, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 7:38 am

helmet laws

Two recent polls yielded similar results on the degree of support for keeping Michigan’s decades-old helmet section in the vehicle code. It requires motorcyclists to wear a US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. The Macomb Daily poll found 71% say keep the helmet requirement while 26% favored repeal and 2% were undecided. A more scientific EPIC-MRA poll found 68% oppose repealing the helmet law, with 31% wanting to ditch requiring helmets and 1% undecided. The EPIC-MRA poll has a margin of error of 4%.

Motorcyclist killed

Proponents of the helmet law reduced medical costs with helmet use by bikers. Helemt use can significantly reduce injury severity. In fact, a biker who was killed in a helmet protect ride likely would have lived if wearing an approved helmet. There will be increased costs for Michigan residents, both in insurance rates and Medicaid expenses. Michigan is a no-fault state, so if a motorcyclist is hit, it’s the other party’s insurance that pays, not the biker’s.

Opponents of mandatory helmet use say wearing a helmet should be a personal choice. Here’s the rub: 49 states have mandatory seatbelt laws (only New Hampshire does not). How is that any different than choosing to wear a helmet? And yet, with more drivers on the road, traffic fatalities continue to decline, likely due to seatbelt use. It simply does not pass the common sense test to allow one group of road users to choose to stop using the one safety device—a DOT-approved helmet—with any significant chance of minimizing the severity of injuries in an accident.

Save Michigan motorcycle riders. Save your tax dollars. Save your insurance premium costs (both vehicle and health). Tell your State Representative to vote no on SB 291.

Thu, 06 Jan 2011

House Reads the Constitution

Filed under: Congress, Government, History, Legal, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 10:16 pm

US Constitution

Public officials who are sworn into office swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. It seems only fitting that they realize just exactly what they’ve sworn to. It became painfully obvious in the 111th Congress that US Representatives had no clue, nor any concern, with the content or meaning of the US Constitution.

New leadership in the House of Representatives set the tone today. From Motor City Times:

The Constitution has never been read aloud, on the floor of the House of Representatives since it was ratified in 1788 until today. As expected, most Liberals (Democrats) began screeching loudly about the idea.

They complained that reading it was a waste of time. They called it political theater and generally mocked the idea.

One example of sneering elitism comes from Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York, who thinks us simple folk don’t even know what the Constitution is:

Nadler agreed. “A lot of the tea party people, I wonder how many of them have read the Constitution,” he said. “A lot of them, they seem to think the Constitution is the Articles of Confederation.”

Nadler said he anticipates a raft of “idiotic amendments” from Republicans, such as an effort to allow states to nullify acts of Congress, that would blatantly violate the Constitution.

Suspicious and mocking as Nadler was of the Republicans’ motivation for reading aloud what he affectionately characterized as “a long, dry, boring document with details about how Congress will have power to lay imposts and taxes,” he agreed with other constitutional experts, and even the tea party, that there was a potential benefit.

“Maybe,” he said, “it will be a little educational.”

It was uncomfortable for Liberals (Democrats and some Republicans) to read aloud the Constitution because it reminds everyone that there are strict limits to the reach of the governments power.

The best quote about today’s reading of the Constitution goes to Rush Limbaugh:

Thinking about the Democrats, I was watching a little bit of the Constitution being read today on the floor of the House and I said, “This has gotta be like waterboarding to these Democrats.” It has to be torture, because the Constitution is anathema to them, the Constitution limits the power of the government, limits the size, limits the role of government, and to have to not only sit there and listen to it, but to share in the punishment of reading it. I’m sure that’s how they’re looking at this. They wouldn’t have to do this if they’d won the election. They lost, so they’re being punished. They have to read the Constitution, tantamount to waterboarding.

What a novel concept. Maybe Congressmen won’t read the bill, but at least they’ll have heard what the US Constitution says.

Sat, 18 Dec 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Is History

Filed under: Congress, Government, Legal, Military, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 9:22 pm

Gays asking to serve openly

So, the Senate passed legislation to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell today. The House passed the measure on Wednesday and Pres. Obama promised to sign it into law next week. The measure ends a prohibition on gays serving openly in the military.

Don’t ask, don’t tell prohibited asking if a servicemember was gay while also admonishing them not to say if they were. Current regulations call for discharging gay servicemembers. The policy has been in effect in since 1993.

Adm. Mike Mullens and Defense Sec. Gates testify

While key leaders seem to favor ending don’t ask, don’t tell, I predict some challenges for unit-level leaders. As you may know, I’m a member of the National Guard with 28 years of service. In my early career, I was Infantry, which excludes females. Since about 1991, I’ve been in units with females. Don’t misunderstand—females make great Soldiers. The problem is with sexuality and mixed gender units have higher potential and incidences of sexual harassment and assault. Such cases are demoralizing and challenging enough when they involve opposite sexes.

My concern with the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is two-fold. First, there is potential for increased sexual harassment/sexual assault complaints. We have separate male and female barracks in the military, but that does not account for same-sex sexual considerations. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not alledging gay people will assault people en masse because of the end of don’t ask, don’t tell. What I’m saying is separate facilities by gender attempts to reduce a potential for assault. still, eliminating don’t ask don’t tell removes a sanction for assault.

military group

Given the sexual assault argument is relatively minor, my other concern is for the breakdown of military discipline. It’s common knowledge groups tend not to tolerate behavior that’s different from their norm. Only about 8% identify as gay/lesbian/transgender. How do we prevent discriminatory, or even predatory, behavior against same-sex relationships?

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