Category Archives: Military
Please take a moment to remember the men and women who died defending our freedoms.
President Barack Obama has the authority to use an unmanned drone strike to kill US citizens on American soil, his attorney general has said.
Eric Holder argued that using lethal military force against an American in his home country would be legal and justified in an “extraordinary circumstance” comparable to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorise the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland,” Mr Holder said.
His statement was described as “more than frightening” by Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who had demanded to know the Obama administration’s position on the subject.
“It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” said Mr Paul, a 50-year-old favourite of the anti-government Tea Party movement, who is expected to run for president in 2016.
Mr Holder wrote to Mr Paul after the senator threatened to block the appointment of John Brennan as the director of the CIA unless he received answers to a series of questions on its activities.
Mr Paul on Wednesday evening took to the floor of the Senate to launch an old-fashioned filibuster in an effort to delay a vote on the approval of Mr Brennan for CIA director. “I won’t be able to speak forever, but I’m going to speak as long as I can,” he said, before embarking on several hours of criticism of Mr Obama’s compliance with the US constitution.
Mr Obama has been sharply criticised for the secrecy surrounding his extension of America’s “targeted killing” campaign against al-Qaeda terrorist suspects using missile strikes by unmanned drones.
The secret campaign has killed an estimated 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. A quarter are estimated to have been civilians prompting anger among human rights campaigners.
According to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 474 and 881 civilians – including 176 children – in Pakistan between 2004 and last year.
Criticism within the US has focused on the implications for terror suspects who are also US citizens, after Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric born and educated in the US, was killed in Yemen in 2011.
The administration claims it has the legal authority to assassinate Americans provided that they are a senior al-Qaeda operative posing an imminent threat and it would be “infeasible” to capture them.
This justification emerged only last month in a leaked memo from Mr Holder’s department of justice. Mr Obama this week agreed to give Congress his full set of classified legal memos on the targeting of Americans.
Civil liberties campaigners accuse the president and his aides of awarding themselves sweeping powers to deny Americans their constitutional rights without oversight from Congress or the judiciary.
- Eric Holder clarifies policy on drone attacks on U.S. soil (reuters.com)
- Flashback: Obama Says Waterboarding Is Torture …(But He’ll Drop a Drone Bomb On Your Head) (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Sen. Rand Paul: I’ll end filibuster once Obama says no to drone strikes in the U.S. (rawstory.com)
- America is shamed that only Rand Paul is talking about drone executions | Amy Goodman (guardian.co.uk)
via Washington Times
Almost exactly 24 hours after Mr. Paul began his information-seeking filibuster against John O. Brennan, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor to denounce his demands and say he was doing a “disservice” to the debate on drones.
“The country needs more senators who care about liberty, but if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about,” said Mr. McCain, Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2008 — who topped Mr. Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, in that year’s primary.
And where Democrats praised Mr. Paul for using Senate rules properly to launch a filibuster, Mr. McCain said it was an abuse of rules that could hurt the GOP in the long run.
“What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused,” the Arizona Republican said.
Mr. Paul said he was filibustering to get the administration to affirm it won’t kill non-combatant Americans in the U.S. — and his effort was joined by more than a dozen other senators who said they, too, supported his effort to get answers.
Mr. Graham said asking whether the president has the power to kill Americans here at home is a ludicrous question.
“I do not believe that question deserves an answer,” Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham and Mr. McCain led a Republican delegation that held a private dinner with President Obama on Wednesday, as Mr. Paul was holding the floor with help from other GOP colleagues.
Mr. McCain even joked about Mr. Graham’s “behavior” at the dinner.
“He was on his best manners and everyone was impressed,” Mr. McCain said.
- McCain And Graham’s @SenRandPaul Temper Tantrum (thecampofthesaints.org)
- IT’S WAR: John McCain And Lindsey Graham Are Tearing Into Rand Paul Right Now On The Senate Floor (businessinsider.com)
- Rush to Rand: ‘You’re a hero’ (wnd.com)
- McCain, Graham blast Paul filibuster (politico.com)
- Moronic: Sen. McCain blasts Sen. Paul’s filibuster as ‘political stunt,’ ‘ridiculous’ (twitchy.com)
- Rand Paul’s Drone Filibuster Sparks GOP Civil War (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
Sierra Adamson interviews Chris Hedges at the hearing for the second court of appeals in the Hedges v Obama NDAA lawsuit. Hedges explains what has happened in the lawsuit to date, the next steps and what he sees in America’s upcoming future.
Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster will inevitably fail at its immediate objective: derailing John Brennan’s nomination to run the CIA. But as it stretches into its sixth hour, it’s already accomplished something far more significant: raising political alarm over the extraordinary breadth of the legal claims that undergird the boundless, 11-plus-year “war on terrorism.”
The Kentucky Republican’s delaying tactic started over one rather narrow slice of that war: the Obama administration’s equivocation on whether it believes it has the legal authority to order a drone strike on an American citizen, in the United States. Paul recognized outright that he would ultimately lose his fight to block Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief and architect of much of the administration’s targeted-killing efforts.
But as his time on the Senate floor went on, Paul went much further. He called into question aspects of the war on terrorism that a typically bellicose Congress rarely questions, and most often defends, often demagogically so. More astonishingly, Paul’s filibuster became such a spectacle that he got hawkish senators to join him.
“When people talk about a ‘battlefield America’,” Paul said, around hour four, Americans should “realize they’re telling you your Bill of Rights don’t apply.” That is a consequence of the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force that did not bound a war against al-Qaida to specific areas of the planet. “We can’t have perpetual war. We can’t have a war with no temporal limits,” Paul said.
This is actually something of a radical proposition. When House Republicans attempted to revisit the far-reaching authorization in 2011, chief Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson conveyed the Obama administration’s objections. Of course, many, many Republicans have been content with what the Bush administration used to call a “Long War” with no foreseeable or obvious end. And shortly before leaving office in December, Johnson himself objected to a perpetual war, but did so gingerly, and only after arguing that the government had the power to hold detainees from that war even after that war someday ends.
Via Yahoo! News
The White House on Tuesday defended targeted assassinations of Americans thought to consort overseas with terrorists as “necessary,” “ethical” and “wise,” as the Obama administration faced fresh questions about its sharply expanded drone war.
“We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats—to stop plots, prevent future attacks and, again, save American lives,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.”
Carney’s comments came after NBC News published a Justice Department memo that lays out a broad rationale for targeting individual Americans anywhere outside the U.S. for assassination—without oversight from Congress or the courts, and even if the U.S. citizen in question is not actively plotting a specific terrorist attack.
“Targeting a member of an enemy force who poses an imminent threat of violent attack to the United States is not unlawful. It is a lawful act of self-defense,” the document asserts.
“Imminent threat”? That seems reasonable and is a traditional standard for military action. Except, as NBC investigative reporter Michael Isikoff notes, the memo adds that “the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
Instead, that previously mentioned “high-level official” can determine that the potential target was “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of an attack and that “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.”
Isikoff notes the memo does not define “activities” or “recently,” leaving that up to the administration to determine on a case-by-case basis.
- White House: drone strikes are legal, ethical, wise (dailystar.com.lb)
- Do You Agree With White House that Drone Strokes are “Legal,” “Ethical,” and “Wise”? You Shouldn’t. (reason.com)
- DOJ memo justifies drone kills of U.S. citizens abroad (anirrationalviewoftheirrational.wordpress.com)
- Drone Strikes on US Terror Suspects ‘Legal,’ ‘Ethical,’ ‘Wise,’ White House Says (abcnews.go.com)
- White House, Congress square off over Justice Dept. rules for drone strikes (thehill.com)
- ‘Judge, jury and executioner’: Legal experts fear implications of White House drone memo (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Memo shows how Obama decides to uses drones on Americans (news.yahoo.com)
“Is terror going to raise a white flag?” Exactly. Somebody in our government must define victory in this (undeclared) war on an ideology. What does victory look like? How will we know when we are victorious? Without a definition of victory, this (undeclared) war will continue ad infinitum – an ongoing, never ending justification to infringe on more and more of our rights. Something is seriously wrong.
via Discovery News
The conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza has meant a test of Israel’s missile defenses, a system called the “Iron Dome,” which was built to protect Israel from short-range, unguided rockets on ballistic trajectories. Unlike it’s name implies, the Iron Dome is not an actual dome, but a small, mobile arsenal that consists of a radar unit and typically three launchers capable of deploying missile interceptors and missiles. It was up in running for the first time on March 27, 2011.
It works when radar picks up the signal of an incoming rocket — most of which are unguided — within an approximately 40-mile radius. The information is sent to a control center on a truck and operators check the trajectory of the rocket. If it’s headed to a populated area or a military target, an Iron Dome missile, called a Tamir, is fired. This missile is guided and therefore more accurate than the attacking missile. A solider programs the Tamir with the incoming rocket’s trajectory and then guides it with the help of radar. When the Tamir reaches the rocket, it detonates, destroying it.
There are currently five batteries of Iron Dome missiles deployed. As of this past weekend, the Israeli military reported that they had taken out hundreds of incoming rockets. Those that were headed to unpopulated areas were allowed to strike.
Iron Dome was developed by three Israeli companies: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems built the Tamir missile. Here’s a promotional video that shows how the system works. Elta, an Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary, designed the radar. Impress developed the command and control systems.
MORE . . .
- How Israel’s Iron Dome Works (news.discovery.com)
- Israeli Fans Adore Rocket Stopper Iron Dome (npr.org)
- What Is Israel’s Iron Dome? (gizmodo.com)
- Iron Dome rocket smasher set to change Gaza conflict (newscientist.com)
The Air Force admitted losing two of its 184 — make that 182 — top-of-the-line F-22 Raptor stealth fighters on Thursday. It was one of the worst days yet in what’s turning out to be a bad year for the pricey, radar-evading jet built by Lockheed Martin.
At 3:30 local time on Thursday an F-22, apparently belonging to the 325th Wing, a training unit based at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle, plunged into the ground in a wooded area inside the base perimeter near Highway 98, sparking a small fire.
The pilot ejected safely. “The cause of the crash is still under investigation and additional details will be provided as soon as they become available,” the flying branch said in a statement.
The same day, the Air Force copped to an earlier accident involving the stealth fighter, which costs as much as $678 million per copy (depending on how you crunch the numbers). On May 31, a student pilot on his second solo Raptor flight at Tyndall neglected to power up his jet’s engines fast enough after retracting the landing gear.
“Without sufficient thrust, the aircraft settled back to the runway, landing on its underside,” the Air Force explained in its official report, released on Thursday.
In June, 325th Wing spokesman Herman Bell said the incident would likely be categorized as a “class A” accident costing more than $2 million to fix.
In fact, the repair cost totals $35 million, the Air Force said yesterday. That could put the damaged stealth fighter out of action for years, assuming it gets patched up at all. The F-22 is made largely of advanced composite materials that are expensive and time-consuming to replace. The flying branch preserved the tooling from the shuttered Lockheed Raptor factory specifically for extensive repair jobs.
The recent crashes are only the latest bad news for the cutting-edge F-22, which currently ranks as the Air Force’s most accident-prone fighter. The last of the Raptors rolled out of the Marietta, Georgia, factor in December and flew into a veritable firestorm of controversy.
MORE . . .
- Russia’s Stealth Fighter Could Match U.S. Jets, Analyst Says (lookingbeyondborders.com)
- The U.S. Air Force Has Only 182 F-22s (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- China ‘makes first test flight’ of new stealth fighter jet (telegraph.co.uk)
- The secret flight of China’s new stealth fighter (killerapps.foreignpolicy.com)
- Stealth fighter jet dubbed as the J-31 reportedly tested in China (ubergizmo.com)
- Air Force F-22 Fighter Jet Crashes Near Base In Florida (youviewedblog.wordpress.com)