You are browsing the archive for 2014 December 09.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Sen. Paul Questions Secretary Kerry on Constitutional Authority to go to War with ISIS

December 9, 2014 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul today attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to question Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State, known as ISIS. During the hearing, Sen. Paul highlighted the need for the Executive Branch to seek appropriate approval from the Legislative Branch to go to war, as is stated in the U.S. Constitution. A video of the exchange can be found below. Additionally, as a result of Sen. Paul’s actions in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week, the committee will be meeting on Thursday to markup additional amendments, including several from Sen. Paul. CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL QUESTION SEC. KERRY …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

Avatar of admin

by admin

How States Can Fix the Police

December 9, 2014 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

The events in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Eric Garner from a police chokehold have brought needed attention to the long-simmering problem of an increasingly militarized, militant, and distant police force that, for many communities, seems more like an occupying army than an institution tasked with protecting and serving. President Obama’s task force on police militarization has tepidly suggested increasing oversight. More oversight is not a complete solution, but reviewing existing programs and practices, as well as providing funds for wearable cameras, can mitigate some abuses.

But there are no panaceas. The problems with our police are deep, and they can’t be fixed with top-down, federal oversight. States, municipalities, and communities should help fix our broken police forces by passing laws limiting how SWAT teams are used and by requiring departments to keep records of SWAT raids. Curbing SWAT team abuses is just one of many things that can help restore trust in the police and rebuild the vital link between officers and the community.

We must reassess the power and immunity police enjoy.”

The baton-twirling Officer Friendly is a thing of the past, replaced by assault-rifle wielding Officer Rambo. Throughout the country, SWAT teams violently raid houses over 100 times each day. Since 1980, the number of SWAT raids has increased by 15 times, while the violent crime rate has dropped by nearly half. Rather than being called out to quell an active shooter or deal with a hostage situation, SWAT teams mostly execute search warrants for drug offenses. These raids are as violent and confrontational as any carried out by the U.S. Army in Iraq. Police batter down doors, shoot dogs, and toss flashbang grenades, all while wearing body armor and brandishing assault rifles.

When Congress began funneling military gear to local police departments, few people considered that it would change how police behave. There seems to be a “if we have it we might as well use it” attitude, particularly when SWAT teams have been used to raid barber shops to check for licensing compliance, to raid Gibson guitar company to check whether wood was properly imported, and to raid bars to investigate underage drinking.

Yet states have the power to limit how and when SWAT teams will be used. Laws can limit SWAT team deployments to truly high-risk situations posing an imminent threat to public safety. States should also clarify the process by which SWAT …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Confronting Our Dark Era

December 9, 2014 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

After a multi-year odyssey marked by almost nonstop partisan bickering, CIA employees hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers, and former Bush administration officials launching a pre-emptive public counterattack against the committee’s report, we finally have a summary of the CIA’s use of torture.

So what have we learned?

The committee report confirms that six days after the 9/11 attacks, “President George W. Bush signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification (MON) to authorize the director of central intelligence (DCI) to ‘undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interest or who are planning terrorist activities.’”

That decision put the CIA on the path to revive and even expand coercive interrogation techniques it had employed during the Cold War.

The use of mass surveillance and torture are the hallmarks of totalitarian governments.”

Some key facts we already knew were confirmed, most importantly that agency personnel violated U.S. and international law by repeatedly waterboarding several detainees, including 9/11 attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The summary of the report provides lurid details of “24”-like interrogation techniques, outlawed by international treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory: running power drills next to the heads of detainees, days of forced sleep deprivation and, in the words of the committee summary, “threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to ‘cut (a detainee’s) mother’s throat.’”

The committee report summary also confirms what many have long believed — that the torture program produced no actionable intelligence and did not to thwart al Qaeda’s global activities.

The former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and torture program participant Jose Rodriguez continues to claim that such intelligence was obtained, and that it did in fact save lives. The available record, as laid out by the committee, amply refutes that assertion.

And the committee summary could not be clearer about the actions of agency managers and attorneys in the expansion of the use of techniques that were clear violations of international law. According to the committee summary:

… by the end of November 2001, CIA officers had begun researching potential legal defenses for using interrogation techniques that were considered torture by foreign governments and a non-governmental organization.” CIA Director George Tenet subsequently sent a letter to Bush urging that the CIA program be exempt from Geneva Convention …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Torture Report Is a Long-Overdue First Step

December 9, 2014 in Economics

The Senate Intelligence Committee has finally released its summary of the CIA’s use of torture since 9/11. So what have we learned? According to Cato scholar Patrick G. Eddington, the report’s release is a long-overdue first step: “Whether as federal employees or political appointees, CIA personnel took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States. Instead, they chose to engage in acts that clearly violated those laws, including international treaties banning the use of torture to which the United States is not only a signatory, but a putative leader as well.”

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

Avatar of admin

by admin

Sen. Paul Speaks in Defense of Christians in the Middle East

December 9, 2014 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul today questioned Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor for the Department of State, at the Senate Foreign Relations Human Rights Subcommittee Hearing, ‘ISIL’s Reign of Terror: Confronting the Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq and Syria.’ A video and transcript of Sen. Paul’s opening remarks can be found below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL’S REMARKSTRANSCRIPT: Thank you Chairman Boxer and thank you for holding this hearing today. Given the unrelenting stream of gruesome images and reporting from the occupied areas of Iraq and Syria – this is an extremely upsetting topic to all of us. Since the emergence this past summer of the murderous Salafi jihadist group known as the Islamic State, Americans and the global community have looked on in horror as the group has sacked town after town, village after village, in the border areas of Syria and Iraq, imposing their extremist brand of Islam on tens of thousands. An obvious menace now, with tens of thousands of men under arms, the so-called Islamic State represents a clear threat to U.S. facilities and personnel in the region. But it is much more than barely a threat now to those who have not or will not be able to flee to refugee camps or safer ground. The information we have learned from those remaining in the occupied areas, who are trying to survive the Islamic State paints a desperate picture. The stories these people tell- their first hand accounts of the brutality and oppression they have endured at the hands of these radical jihadists are gut-wrenching. In particular the gentleman Canon Andrew White, who is referred to as the Vicar of Baghdad, has described some unreal and really troubling stories. He describes four Iraqi Christian children who were all beheaded by the Islamic State. They were told ‘convert to Islam, or die.’ His quote: ‘ISIS turned up and they said to the children, ‘you say the words that you will follow Muhammad.’ The children, all under 15 years of age, said ‘no, we love Yeshua,’ which is their word for Jesus. ‘We have always loved Yeshua. We have always followed Yeshua. Yeshua has always been with us.’ The Vicar of Baghdad reports: ‘And at that point, they were condemned to death and their heads were chopped off.’ I think we need to hear voices on this, not only our voice but I …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Illusion of Chaos: Why Ungoverned Spaces Aren’t Ungoverned, and Why That Matters

December 9, 2014 in Economics

“Ungoverned spaces”—areas of limited or anomalous government control inside otherwise functional states—are the latest international bogeyman cited by policymakers and academics as threats to the United States and its global interests. A new paper from Jennifer Keister argues that ungoverned spaces are actually not ungoverned, but exist under authorities other than formal states. While policymakers and academics increasingly recognize this fact, Keister argues that the failure to integrate why and how these spaces are differently governed produces problematic policy approaches.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

Avatar of admin

by admin

Exploding Protest Movement Has Gone National — People Are Demanding an End to This Era of Brutal and Racist Policing

December 9, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

This is about changing policing as we know it.


Late Saturday, hours into a protest march over police brutality in Berkeley, Calif., police were looking to make arrests and spotted Kyle McCoy. The young black man, a well-known racial justice activist and University of California-Berkeley alum was arrested on suspicion for felony assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken away and booked, but by Sunday morning he was free on bail. On Monday afternoon, when he was scheduled to be arraigned in court, a bailiff announced the criminal charge had been dropped.

That kind of routine police harrassment is partly why protests over police brutality and institutional racism continue nationwide. It is not just because ongoing deaths of unarmed black men and youths at the hands of police have struck a deep chord across America. The more you talk to protesters the more it becomes clear that this movement’s goals are crystalized by racist policing but do not stop there.

“Everyone out there is saying they can’t breathe for a lot of reasons,” said one protester who came to the courthouse to support McCoy, referring to Eric Garner’s last words before dying from a chokeheld during his arrest in New York City. “I know a lot of people who are out there [protesting]. It’s a lot of issues.”

In the Bay Area, today’s protesters are a mix of newcomers and veterans. There have been massive protests in recent years over other police killings of black men, notably Oscar Grant. There has been the Oakland-centered Occupy movement, protests over urban gentrification, rising higher education costs, and other issues with racial and economic justice underpinnings. But Cynthia Morse, an older white woman and longtime protester who came to the court to support those arrested this weekend, said police brutality was unlike other issues, especially if your family has been victimized.

“This whole issue has got to be a black people’s movement. It’s theirs. They want it. They don’t need direction from us. They need our support and that’s what most of us are really trying to do,” Morse said. “The institutional racism, the …read more

Source: ALTERNET