How did your U.S. Representative and Senators vote on last summer's debt deal that raised the national debt limit while promising to reduce future spending and deficit projections? How did your Representative vote on a measure that would have repealed the federal phaseout of the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb? And how did your Senators vote on an amendment to prohibit U.S. citizens from being held indefinitely in the ongoing war against terrorism without being given a trial?
The answers to all three questions above are in our latest "Freedom Index" in the January 9, 2012 issue of The New American and also available online as a downloadable PDF.
The New American's "Freedom Index" is a congressional scorecard that rates all members of the House and Senate based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. The index is published four times each two-year congressional term; each index rates Congressmen based on 10 key votes.
In response to the passage by the House and the Senate of the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (NDAA), Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, announced a national effort to recall every member who voted for the act.
Oath Keepers was founded by Rhodes to encourage current members of the military services and veterans to keep their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Members commit to following certain “orders we will not obey,” including, as especially relevant to NDAA, Number Three:
On December 22, a judge from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order granting a motion to dismiss a complaint filed by Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko, a former prisoner at the Navy’s Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in Cuba. In the suit, Janko, a Syrian national, alleges that while detained at the Guantanamo Bay facility he was subjected to torture by agents of the United States government and armed forces.
The National Defense Authorization Act will be made law with the stroke of President Obama’s pen (perhaps autopen from Hawaii?). With the enactment of the NDAA, Americans suspected by the President of having committed a “belligerent act” may be apprehended by the military and detained without recitation of charges and without access to an attorney until such time as the President decides that the “War on Terror” is over.
Majorities in both chambers of Congress voted in favor of granting the President this autocratic authority. In the Senate, only 13 members of that body stood up to defend the constitutionally protected civil liberties of Americans. In the House of Representatives, 283 of the people’s representatives violated their oath of office and voted to pass this legislation.
One of those who was true to his vow to protect the Constituiton from all enemies, foreign and domestic, has now offered an amendment to the NDAA that would “clarify the language” of the measure so as to make it explicit that no American citizen could be detained under the provisions of that act without being provided the full panoply of due process protections.
Bill O'Reilly, the provocative and usually hawkish host of The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News channel, warned Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a telecast earlier this week that bombing Iran "starts World War III."
Interviewing the former Massachusetts governor in O'Reilly's "No-Spin Zone," the host challenged Romney's stated readiness to "make sure we have military options, combined with crippling sanctions."
"Of course we we have military options," O'Reilly replied. Romney insisted the options must be "developed in a way that Iran understands we would use military options."
"You're a tough guy?" O'Reilly asked, challenging the candidate. "You're going to stare them down and say 'Look, I'm gonna use them'? If you bomb Iran, that starts World War III. You know that. They're going to try to block Hormuz. Oil will double. The unintended consequences to the United States all across the Muslim world will be horrible. That's what Iran is banking on."
The drug cartel war moves into the U.S. On Monday, November 21st, D.E.A. agents in unmarked cars were discreetly following a large chemical tanker truck carrying 300 pounds of concealed marijuana as they monitored a "controlled delivery" — a law enforcement trap for drug smugglers. Suddenly, in a secluded area of suburban Houston, at least three vehicles rapidly approached the truck, and several members of Los Zetas, a dangerous Mexican drug cartel, jumped out of the vehicles, "yanked open the passenger cab door and repeatedly shot Chapa [the truck driver], whose hands had been raised in the air," tossed his body to the street, and may have been about to drive off with the truck, when dozens of D.E.A. agents and local law enforcement converged on the scene, killed one member of Los Zetas, and arrested four others. Something had definitely gone wrong with this controlled delivery.
After the standard, one-day news blackout to give law enforcement a chance to run down any leads garnered from the arrests, various news media were reporting that "hijackers" had attempted "to take control of the truck" — thereby leaving the impression that the murdered driver was merely unfortunate collateral damage, because he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, according to Curtis Collier — President of U.S. Border Watch, with more than 20 years of law enforcement and drug interdiction experience — this incident was not an "attempted truck hijacking." It was a planned hit, designed to send a message to rival drug cartels, as well as to law enforcement.
Earlier this week, two human rights advocacy groups issued a joint preliminary report denouncing the governments of Europe for allegedly aiding the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in conducting the now infamous rendition program. Persons accused by the U.S. government of being "enemy combatants" were subject to "extraordinary rendition": capture and shipment off to one of the so-called “black site” secret prisons for questioning, where the detainees were often reportedly subjected to inhuman tactics to elicit responses from them.
Recently there has been much discussion of the eradication of the panoply of fundamental principles of liberty by the Congress and attempts to convert the President into a totalitarian dictator with historic powers to apprehend and indefinitely detain American citizens. This author has questioned whether the permission for the absolute abuse of power soon to be codified as part of the National Defense Authorization Act is not a greater act of tyranny than any perpetrated by George III that precipitated the waging of America’s war for independence.
The “long train of abuses” of which Britain’s crown was accused are enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. This historic indictment of King George III was penned principally by Thomas Jefferson and was laid out in a manner both methodical and lyrical. It stood on the rooftops and decried for the all the world to hear the despotic measures levied against the American colonies by the government of Great Britain.
As our own modern government passes one after the other laws eroding the bedrock of freedom upon which our Republic was built after the successful waging of the war against English oppression, the specific examples of the abuse of power cited in the Declaration of Independence may prove prophetic and may help to enlighten 21st-century Americans and embolden them in their efforts to restore liberty and the constitutional boundaries of government.
As the debate over the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear technology heats up, commentators are pointing out that just a few years ago, then-President George W. Bush was supplying know-how through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Middle Eastern governments that have a cozy relationship with Iran. In 2008 and 2009, for example, the Bush administration negotiated and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” to help the sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates develop nuclear energy capabilities. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice finalized the atomic cooperation deal in January of 2009.
The controversial agreement allowed the sale of U.S. nuclear technology and hardware, which can be useful in atomic weapons programs, to the UAE. And the governments of the Emirates as well as the national government have a history of allowing sensitive technologies and materials to flow into the hands of the Iranian regime and other unsavory rulers, according to analysts, who cite lax export-control laws. Several Emirates-based entities have also been implicated in supplying military equipment to Iran.
The Bush administration insisted the security risk of nuclear cooperation with the Emirates was low. Despite concerns in Congress, however, President Obama has largely maintained the same stance.
It was a ceremony to mark the official end of the American military occupation of Iraq. But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sounded more like the United States was moving in to stay when he spoke Wednesday in what the New York Times described as a heavily fortified courtyard at Baghdad Airport with helicopters hovering above.
“Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead — by terrorism, and by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself,” Panetta said. “Challenges remain, but the U.S. will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation.”
The war has been declared finally over more than eight and a half years after President George W. Bush declared the end of American combat operations in Iraq, while standing under a banner proclaiming, “Mission Accomplished.” Yet as the Times report pointed out, “insurgents continue to attack American soldiers and militants with Al Qaeda still regularly carry out devastating attacks against civilians.”