What is the price of freedom? $662 billion. That’s the amount that will be spent on the defense budget for 2012 if it becomes law. For a moment, set aside the fact that the bill authorizes spending billions of dollars on the perpetuation of two unconstitutional foreign conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Set aside momentarily that the bill greases the skids for the deployment of forces into Iran (after “sanctions” fail to persuade Ahmadinejad to see things our way).
This bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that will now be sent in its conference form, will soon arrive at the House and Senate for a final vote. Then, on to the desk of President Obama for his signature or veto.
Apart from the obvious eviscerations of the separation of powers and the enumeration thereof in the Constitution, this legislation converts America into a war zone and turns Americans into potential suspected terrorists, complete with the full roster of rights typically afforded to terrorists — none.
In advance of the holiday break set to begin on Friday, Congress is hurrying to enact the defense budget with an eye-popping $662-billion price tag.
Nearing the end of nearly nine years of American military occupation of Iraq, President Barack Obama Monday warned other nations against interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
"Just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq," Obama said after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the White House. The statement is seen as a warning to Iran not to interfere in the affairs of its neighbor. Iran and Iraq warred against one another in the 1980s when Iraq was under the rule of Saddam Hussein, but forged new ties since Maliki's government has been in power in Baghdad. The United States, fearing Iran may develop nuclear weapons, is using sanctions and other means to pressure the Tehran government to abandon its nuclear program and is hoping neighboring Iraq will retain its close ties to the United States. The United States has the world's largest embassy in Iraq and will retain some 16,000 employees there. But the Baghdad government is expected to exercise its independence in relations with Iran as well as other countries in the region.
"I think that obviously the US troop withdrawal will mean that there's less influence, less US influence," Ali al-Saffar, an Iraq analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, told the French international news service Agence France-Presse (AFP).
It was billed as a "Lincoln-Douglas -style" debate on foreign policy, though there was, alas, no Lincoln, no Douglas and, apparently, not much debating when Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and John Huntsman met at the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Monday afternoon. Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and later ambassador to China, spent 90 minutes in a bloodless exchange of views that bore some resemblance to a college seminar.
We're being lied to about the purported Iranian nuclear threat, and the war party knows it.
In ways eerily reminiscent of the 2002 buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the American people are being fed a steady diet of war propaganda about Iran and its alleged quest for a nuclear weapon. As with Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, comparisons to Hitler circa 1938 abound. Max Boot, the neoconservative columnist, is just one of many propagandists working to agitate Americans into supporting a military attack on Iran. He wrote recently, "After the failure to stop Hitler and Bin Laden, among others, Westerners were said to have suffered a 'failure of imagination.' We are suffering that same failure today as we fail to face up to the growing threat from the Islamic Republic."
The message is unmistakable: Time is running out. Get Iran now before it's too late.
But despite what Boot and his ilk would have us think, there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The U.S. government's dozen and a half intelligence agencies have twice said so. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report recycled some old, discredited claims and fabricated "evidence" while nevertheless certifying that Iran has diverted none of its uranium to weapons production.
Amidst all of the controversy surrounding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Obama administration attempted to paint itself as an oppositional force against the bill, threatening to veto it if it passed. Now, however, Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), co-author of the bill, has said that the administration in fact heavily lobbied to have removed from the bill language that would have protected American citizens from some of the bill’s provisions, such as indefinite detention without trial. According to Levin, who is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee:
The Air Force has admitted that it dumped the remains of at least 274 fallen American warriors in a Virginia landfill — “far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago,” reported the Washington Post.
According to an earlier report in the Post, the Air Force had acknowledged that for years the Dover Air Force Base mortuary had disposed of the remains of soldiers in this manner, after assuring families that it would deal with the remains of their loved ones in a dignified and respectful manner. Families never knew that the remains had been dumped at the landfill, and officials said they had no plans to contact specific families now.
To say the least, there were a few red faces in the U.S. Senate following news that 93 Senators had voted for a defense authorization bill that included a repeal of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which bans soldiers from engaging in either sodomy or bestiality. At least two GOP lawmakers admitted they were not aware of the existence of the provision in the bill they voted to approve.
Now that memoirs by the late Bob Novak, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and former President George Bush have all been published, we now know much more about the Valerie Plame case than we did before these individuals put what happened to paper. (Plame, if you'll remember, was a CIA agent whose identity was leaked to the press during a newsman's investigation into George W. Bush's explanation for going to war against Iraq.) Yet, the one book that still needs to be written is a memoir by Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the VP’s assistant, the only individual indicted by the Special Prosecutor looking into the leak and found guilty in this highly controversial case.
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator and son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, single-handedly thwarted an amendment proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) drafted to advance Georgia’s application for NATO membership.
In recent months, Paul, the constitutionalist, libertarian-leaning Senator has underscored his Republican credentials, sponsoring a range of GOP-led legislation, including a jobs bill with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a bill that would prioritize smaller harbors for dredging work with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and with his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a bill that would repeal net neutrality.
But last week, Paul’s amicable collaboration with his Republican colleagues came to a halt, as he sparred with Sen. Rubio, a fellow Tea Party favorite, over a foreign policy proposal critics say could have dealt a terminal blow to U.S.-Russian relations. In a bipartisan effort, the amendment "called for the President to lead a diplomatic effort to get approval of Georgia’s Membership Action Plan during the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago," said a Rubio spokesman.