In June 2006, Hamas terrorists tunneled into Israel from the Gaza strip, surprised an Israeli tank crew, killed two of its soldiers, and took a third soldier, 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, prisoner. It was simply a case of deliberate kipnapping since this was not a combat situation. Shalit was taken back into Gaza and held incommunicado for five years, until Tuesday, October 18, 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. It was Egyptian mediation which made the exchange possible.
Most of the Palestinian prisoners were terrorists guilty of multiple murders of innocent Israelis. Yet, Israel was willing to release them in order to get Gilad Shalit back to his family in Israel. Was this a wise deal or an act of stupidity on the part of Netanyahu’s government? Some see it as a sign of Israel’s strength that it could agree to such an exchange. They think that it might even bring the parties closer to a peace settlement. What could be a better good-will gesture for peace than releasing all of these prisoners?
There has been a growing push from Americans, particularly those along the Mexican border, for the federal government to label the Mexican drug cartels as terrorists. On Thursday, the State Department indicated that the actions of the cartels are consistent with those considered to be “terrorism or insurgency.”
“I do acknowledge that many of the facts on the ground, the things that are being done by those organizations, are consistent with what we would call either terrorism or insurgency in other countries,” William Brownfield told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. The statement by Brownfield, who serves as the Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, came in response to the following question posed by Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) of the Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee:
When news broke yesterday that United States intelligence agencies thwarted an Iranian government-sponsored assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador, the blogosphere immediately lapsed into a frenzy sifting through the information released by the Justice Department. A number of experts have come forward questioning the data provided by the federal government, suspicious that there might be some underlying intent at play.
According to the Justice Department, Manssor Arbabsia and Gholam Shakuri conspired to murder Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir and attack Saudi installations in the United States. Targets included Israel’s embassy in Washington, as well as those of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Argentina. The Justice Department claims that the Qods Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was involved in the plot, as well as a member of a Mexican drug cartel, who turned out to be an informant of the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Likewise, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the plot “was directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government. High-up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible.”
On Wednesday, the trial of former Soviet military officer and arms dealer Viktor Bout, 45, opened in the U.S. district court in Manhattan with a strong assertions from Assistant Attorney Brendan McGuire.
“One hundred surface to air missiles, 20,000 machine guns, 20,000 grenades, 740 mortars, 350 sniper rifles, 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of C-4 explosives,” McGuire told the jury in his opening statement. “Viktor Bout wanted to provide all of it to a foreign terrorist organization he believed wanted to kill Americans. He had the experience to do it, he had the expertise to do it, he had the will do it. He wanted to do it.” McGuire asked the court, “Why — for the money?”
According to Viktor Bout’s own words, as recounted by the undercover DEA agent responsible for Bout’s capture, Louis Milione, in a television interview on the CBS show 60 Minutes, prior to his arrest Bout told Milione that he would be able to supply "anti-personnel mines. Fragmentation grenades. Armor-piercing rockets. Money laundering services. And all within the context of speaking about a shared ideology of communism and fighting against the Americans.” (Emphasis added.)
Breaking news yesterday revealed that U.S. law enforcement officials thwarted a plot to kill Adel A. Al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the story as it went viral. According to the FBI and DEA, the plot, allegedly backed by the Iranian government, was to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in a conspiracy involving a secret Iranian military unit and a citizen of the Islamic republic with a U.S. passport.
Holder reported that the plan “was directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government. High-up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible.” He added, “In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.”
President Obama has created a secret death panel to decide which American citizens should be killed without trial by our own military, and he approved a secret legal memorandum from the Office of Legal Council (OLC) that tries to justify the killings, according to Reuters and the New York Times, respectively.
Of the death panel, Reuters reported October 5,
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
The Obama administration has refused to comment officially or publicly on the existence of the death panel.
New York Times reporter Charlie Savage described the legal memorandum in detail after lengthy, perhaps administration-approved, conversations with anonymous Obama administration officials. Savage describes the document as "a roughly 50-page memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010," which means that it was drawn up about six months after the assassination list already existed. Savage continued:
An awful lot of readers will be angry at some of the things I have to say today. So before the shouting begins, let me tell you where I’m coming from, as the kids like to say.
I was raised with a profound respect for the fact that we are a nation of laws, not men: That “no one is above the law,” that a jury of our peers will decide our guilt or innocence, that we are guaranteed the right to face our accusers, that “our home is our castle,” and that we will be protected in our persons and our property.
Does that sound like the America you were taught to love and revere when you were young?
It is promises like these that made our country the inspiration of the world. They are some of the reasons we became the wealthiest nation this planet has ever seen. Even the poorest among us lived better than the majority of citizens in other countries. No wonder people dreamed of becoming Americans — so many, in fact, that we had to establish a lottery to decide who could get in.
Yes, the United States of America that you and I were born into was a very special place. We knew it and were profoundly grateful for it. We gave thanks that we were lucky enough to be born here, because we knew that no other place on earth enjoyed our freedoms, our protections and our prosperity.
Talk of an Obama impeachment reentered the political arena this week, this time for the targeted killing of American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Texas Congressman and GOP presidential contender Ron Paul declared that because of the President’s “flouting” of the law, impeachment is possible.
Early last Friday, al-Awlaki — who had not been charged with or convicted of any crime — was killed by a U.S. drone in a joint CIA-U.S. military operation in Yemen.
Ben Johnson of the White House Watch wrote of the assassination:
Although federal agents have sought al-Awlaki since the Clinton administration, and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed following 9/11 allows the president to kill anyone he “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11,” al-Awlaki’s birth in the United States has many debating the proper interplay between national security and civil liberties.
According to Rep. Paul, the assassination of an American citizen, regardless of the reason, is a movement toward “tyranny.” The longtime Texas congressman added, “I put responsibility on the President because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction. We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.”
Representative Ron Paul suggested before the National Press Club October 5 that President Obama's assassination program of alleged terrorists could grow into an assassination program for journalists who disagree with the federal government.
"Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?" the GOP presidential contender asked. "What's going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? Or a professor becomes a threat? Someday that could well happen. This is the way it works. It's incrementalism.... It's slipping and sliding, let me tell you." Paul's remarks were a reaction to a September 30 drone strike in Yemen authorized by President Obama which targeted and killed two American citizens, one of whom — Anwar al-Awlaki — had been on a presidential assassination list for more than a year.