Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced recently that the Palestinian Authority intended to seek official recognition of statehood by the United Nations. The UN Security Council president announced Monday that the council would meet today to begin formal consideration of the Palestinian request for membership in the world body.
Predictably, the United States has announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution accepting Palestine’s application for recognition. The exercise of the veto would prevent the proposal from being placed before the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A yes-no vote in the Security Council is not expected to occur for some time, perhaps a month.
If the United States and Israel are successful in thwarting the Palestinian plan to gain full membership in the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority will likely recur to the General Assembly, where the possibility of a veto is obviated and there remain a few less desirable, though more likely, alternatives to official recognition of statehood.
Presidents Bush and Obama have created a vigorous public debate since the September 11 attacks over whether suspects in the “war on terror” are entitled to a regular criminal trial, court-martial (the regular military justice system), or a “military commission” trial, or whether they are entitled to a trial at all. A “military commission” is traditionally an executive branch (or Article II) court, created to try war criminals in a time and place where there are no criminal or ordinary military courts to try suspects. But Congress has explicitly authorized them twice since the September 11 attacks.
Bush’s and Obama’s actions since 2001 raise a number of fundamental constitutional questions: Can the President — as Bush tried to do — detain an American citizen indefinitely without trial? Can the President — as Obama claims — kill American citizens without trial? Are Bush’s and Obama’s efforts to detain foreigners indefinitely without trial constitutional? When, if ever, is a “military commission” constitutional? Can U.S. citizens be subject to a military commission? How about foreigners? Do the Bush/Obama military commissions follow the Constitution? And finally, putting aside constitutional principles, are military commissions more effective on a practical level in punishing suspected terrorists? The following are 11 constitutional principles about the trial rights of Americans and foreigners during the “war on terror.”
It became official three days ago. The military ended its ban on homosexuals serving “openly,” meaning members of the armed forces may speak openly about what Lord Alfred Douglas referred to as the "Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Homosexuals have now conquered the target-rich environment the military is for them, and the Marines, the most macho and gung-ho of the services, seem to have taken the mission to integrate homosexuals as seriously as the landing at Peleliu in 1944.
Marine recruiters, the New York Times reported, landed at a “gay community center” seeking recruits. In Tulsa, Oklahoma (home of Oral Roberts University), of all places.
The Times reported that the Marine foray into foreign territory is the Devil-Dog way of trying to be best at something:
Howard Phillips, Chairman of Conservative Caucus, discusses the proper role of our government and our armed forces in this interview with William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, at LPAC 2011 in Reno.
Item: The New York Times for August 26 reported that Chinese defense officials had “denounced” a Pentagon “report that called China’s military buildup ‘potentially destabilizing.’” The paper cited a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman saying, “The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts.” The spokesman added: “China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature.”
Correction: Peace, as it is understood by dedicated communists, is the absence of resistance to communism. Tibetans, among others, have experienced firsthand the nature of the type of “peace” imposed by Communist China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — with estimates of those killed in Tibet ranging from 600,000 to twice that number.
As noted by Jean-Louis Margolin in The Black Book on Communism (edited by Stéphane Courtois, et al., Harvard University Press, 1999), the “litany of atrocities” in Tibet “is hair-raising and in many cases unverifiable. But the eyewitness reports concur so precisely that the Dalai Lama’s assessment of this period [in the late 1950s] seems beyond challenge: ‘Tibetans not only were shot, but also were beaten to death, crucified, burned alive, drowned, mutilated, starved, strangled, hanged, boiled alive, buried alive, drawn and quartered, and beheaded.’”
The centuries-old ban on homosexuals in the U.S. military officially ended at 12:01 a.m., September 20, with celebration and jubilation in the “gay” community, and sadness among the millions of Americans who opposed the repeal as destructive to their nation’s defense and security.
“At a San Diego bar, current and former troops danced and counted down to midnight,” reported the Associated Press. “‘You are all heroes,’ Sean Sala, a former Navy operations specialist, said. ‘The days of your faces being blacked out on the news — no more.’”
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, when the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) became official, Air Force Staff Sergeant Jonathan Mills logged in to his Facebook page and posted this message for all to read: “I. Am. Gay. That is all…. as you were.” Mills later told the Times: “When I woke up this morning I felt extremely relieved and very free. Free to be able to live openly without worrying what I say or do will affect my career.”
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is not impressed with the explanations given by Attorney General Eric Holder and other Department of Justice spokesmen about Operation Fast and Furious — the gun-walker scandal in which ATF officials oversaw the transfer of 2,000 weapons across the border to brutal Mexican drug cartels, mainly the Sinaloa group. He is calling for a formal review by someone outside the government:
We’d like to have a true special prosecutor, particular when it’s obvious if Eric Holder didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know or because he wasn’t doing his job…We’d like to know who did know and why they didn’t brief the attorney general.
Holder in May said that he did not know when he first heard about the operation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed that she did not know about the operation until after some weapons sold by federal officers to Mexican drug cartels were found to have been used to murder Border Patrol agents.
During his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama boasted about the alleged successes of U.S. and international military interventions from Libya and Iraq to the Ivory Coast and Afghanistan — even calling on the UN to wage more wars to promote peace if necessary. But according to critics, the results and justifications for the operations Obama cited leave much to be desired.
After noting that American troops would be leaving Iraq by the end of the year and that an “increasingly capable” regime in Afghanistan was beginning to take charge, Obama claimed that “the tide of war is receding.” He promptly followed that statement by discussing other nations where U.S. and UN troops are either currently waging war or recently did so.
Obama then offered a list of more countries that should — in his mind, at least — be next in the crosshairs. Iran and Syria featured prominently among the future targets.
“There is no excuse for inaction,” he declared. “Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change.” Obama also mentioned — albeit much more mildly — U.S. allies such as Bahrain and Yemen, where the U.S. government has been waging a secret war for years.