U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation this week imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s relatively unique state-owned central bank, prompting a steep drop in the value of the Iranian rial. He also added a controversial “signing statement” indicating that he would violate the law if it interfered with his agenda and purported authority.
Passed as part of the hugely unpopular (for several other, unrelated provisions) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the sanctions will eventually freeze any institution that does business with Iran’s monetary authority out of the American economy. And about half of all Iranian oil sales are currently processed through the Islamic Republic’s central bank — one of the few remaining in the world that is entirely government owned after Libya's was recently replaced.
But in a signing statement released on the White House website, Obama said that while he approved of the bill overall, he signed it despite serious reservations about some sections — especially those related to terror-war and detainment regulations. But the anti-Iran segment was also criticized in the statement.
The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) unit tracking terror leader Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, endorsed Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas for President in 2012, days before the Iowa caucus. He argued, among other points, that the top-tier GOP hopeful is the best candidate to protect America from violent Islamic extremism.
In a column entitled "Iowa’s Choice: Dr. Paul or U.S. bankruptcy, more wars, and many more dead soldiers and Marines" published on his website over the weekend, Scheuer said voting for any candidate other than Paul would help inflict further damage on an already-wounded America. It would also contribute toward the continuation of a foreign policy that will ensure total national bankruptcy, noted the 22-year intelligence-community veteran, who now serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.
“Dr. Paul’s non-interventionist policy will allow foreigners to work out their political destiny in their own way and at their own pace; prevent unnecessary additions to America’s growing list of enemies; and save countless young lives,” Scheuer wrote in his endorsement, blasting senior leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with harsh words. “Electing anyone but Ron Paul will further increase the already strong chances of widespread Islamist-conducted violence inside the United States.”
The commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Rear Admiral David Woods, has suggested a fundamental rule change regarding the military’s right to access and review written communication exchanged between Gitmo prisoners suspected of being co-conspirators in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the attorneys representing them.
According to details of the rules published by the Associated Press, all the covered correspondence sent back and forth between any of the five detainees categorized as 9/11 co-conspirators and their legal counsel would be thoroughly reviewed by law enforcement and Department of Defense personnel.
The new policy has not yet been promulgated as Woods has yet to sign it. However, he has sent a draft copy of the proposal to the appropriate lawyers and has attached thereto an order for them to sign if they agree with the changes to the currently applicable standard operating procedures.
In response to the request from Admiral Woods, the attorneys for the five prisoners have written a memo opposing the new rule based on their averment that such a scheme would violate the privilege afforded communication between attorneys and clients. Furthermore, were the rule to be enforced, their clients would be deprived of the right to counsel afforded to individuals by the U.S. Constitution.
The prayers of faithful Christians in Nigeria were interrupted by bombs detonated by Islamic militants during worship services on Christmas Day — attacks that are becoming perennial in a nation that rests on one of the theological fault lines between Christianity and Islam.
Last year, bombings in the Nigerian city of Jos killed dozens of people and wounded nearly a hundred more; this year the attacks by the Muslim group Boko Haram killed approximately 40 people. Bombs were detonated in the cities of Madalla, near the capital city of Abuja, Jos in central Nigeria, and in Damaturu and Gadaka in northern Yobe state, where fighting between the government and Boko Haram has been particularly fierce.
The name of the terrorist organization at the heart of the recent violence — Boko Haram — describes the character of its agenda: Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” Of course, Christianity is far from being a religion exclusively identified with the West; a faith that spread in its earliest days from Jerusalem throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, even as it began to make inroads European territories of the Roman Empire is hardly “Western.” But the Christmas bombings have been an annual element of the campaign of terror that members of Boko Haram have waged against Nigeria’s Christians.
“A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force.” Those prescient words of Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) are taken from his book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect OurFreedom. The tyrannical assumption of power by the President and the cession of unheralded power to him by the Congress has taken place precisely as Dr. Paul warned.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unchecked grant of dictatorial power to the President in the name of protecting the security of “the homeland.” Ron Paul described the bill (soon to be signed into law by the President) as a “slip into tyranny,” one that will almost certainly accelerate “our descent into totalitarianism.”
What of the NDAA? Are there indeed provisions contained therein that so ferociously tear at the constitutional fabric of our Republic?
Travelers hoping to retain their dignity by taking buses, trains, or cars instead of airplanes are in for a rude awakening. “The Transportation Security Administration,” writes the Los Angeles Times, “isn't just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.”
“We are not the Airport Security Administration,” Ray Dineen, the air marshal in charge of the TSA office in Charlotte, North Carolina, told the Times. “We take that transportation part seriously.”
Indeed they do. No longer content to violate the rights of airline travelers alone, the TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams “have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year,” the newspaper says. That’s 9,300 times the government has deliberately ignored the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that it have probable cause and a warrant to search someone and has instead engaged in mass searches of the traveling public. The number of individuals searched during these operations surely reaches into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Add to that the roughly 700 million airline passengers also probed by the TSA in a year, and it’s clear that, as far as the government is concerned, the Constitution is no obstacle to getting what it wants.
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:
“It’s infuriating,” Bruce Schneier remarked. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this — and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”
Schneier could, of course, have been referring to any of dozens of government programs. In this case, however, he was speaking of the federal government’s post-9/11 airport security measures — measures that Schneier, a security expert, has dubbed “security theater,” defined as “actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job.”