Saturday, 12. December 2009
Not much in terms of site updates on this week’s Boiling Frogs Round Up. If you haven’t listened to our interview with Pepe Escobar, please do; click here.
Last week I failed to bring to your attention an interesting and noteworthy interview:
Peter B Collins interviewed David Krikorian, challenger to GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio, on Schmidt’s efforts to squelch Krikorian’s First Amendment rights and the infamous Turkish Lobby’s covert and overt influence of Schmidt’s campaign. Krikorian ran against Mean Jean in 2008 and got 17% of the vote as an independent. After he announced he would challenge her again in 2010 as a Democrat, Schmidt filed legal actions over Krikorian’s sharp criticism of her support from Turkish interests. Schmidt’s lawyer is Bruce Fein, an erstwhile friend of the PBC show for his support of impeachment for Bush and Cheney; Fein is counsel to the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund and an apologist for Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide.
This is a very interesting, and informative interview. You can listen to it here at Peter B Collins’ website. I’m looking forward to your feedback on this; many of you know why.
Rep. Ron Paul on the Escalation in Afghanistan
Congressman Ron Paul has written an excellent editorial piece on our war in Afghanistan and President Obama’s escalation plans now in full action. As always he makes his points clearly and sincerely: No beating around the bush, no gobbledygook stuff, and no special interests or agenda to serve.
Dr. Paul hits some of the most important key words and phrases: Perpetual War, seeking out monsters to destroy abroad, Military Industrial Complex, the War Lobby, bypassing the Constitution, nebulous & never-ending conflicts, domestic liberties, nation-building, war-racketeers…Here are a couple of excerpts:
If anyone still doubted that this administration’s foreign policy would bring any kind of change, this week’s debate on Afghanistan should remove all doubt. The president’s stated justifications for sending more troops to Afghanistan and escalating the war amount to little more than recycling all the false reasons we began the conflict. It is so discouraging to see this coming from our new leadership, when the people were hoping for peace. New polls show that 49 percent of the people favor minding our own business on the world stage, up from 30 percent in 2002. Perpetual war is not solving anything. Indeed continually seeking out monsters to destroy abroad only threatens our security here at home as international resentment against us builds. The people understand this and are becoming increasingly frustrated at not being heard by the decision-makers. The leaders say some things the people want to hear, but change never comes.
We now find ourselves in another foreign policy quagmire with little hope of victory, and not even a definition of victory. Eisenhower said that only an alert and informed electorate could keep these war racketeering pressures at bay. He was right, and the key is for the people to ensure that their elected leaders follow the Constitution. The Constitution requires a declaration of war by Congress in order to legitimately go to war. Bypassing this critical step makes it far too easy to waste resources on nebulous and never-ending conflicts. Without clear goals, the conflicts last forever and drain the country of blood and treasure. The drafters of the Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war precisely because they feared allowing the executive unfettered discretion in military affairs. They understood that making it easy for leaders to wage foreign wars would threaten domestic liberties.
I don’t know about you but I for one always seem to find myself agreeing with Dr. Paul’s view on our foreign policy and the destructiveness of the long-in-power war party. You can read the brief but effective piece here. What do you think?
President Obama: Staunch Supporter of our Domestic Enemies?
It certainly appears that way. He’s been vehemently supporting the Patriot Act and its architects & defenders; he’s been relentlessly protecting the previous administrations’ wrongdoers and culprits involved in rendition and torture…And now this: White House wants suit against Yoo dismissed
The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.
Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, worked for the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003. He was the author of a 2002 memo that said rough treatment of captives amounts to torture only if it causes the same level of pain as “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.” The memo also said the president may have the power to authorize torture of enemy combatants.
We’ve been writing and talking about many cases, issues, and points where Obama has been supporting, defending, and continuing the Bush administration’s practices and abuses. Now can we think of any cases, examples, or issues where he, Obama, has actually been opposing or challenging the previous administration’s decisions, policies, or practices? In the Human Rights area? Our civil liberties? War(s)? I didn’t think so either…
The Revolving Doors Keeps Revolving
The revolving door phenomenon has always ranked high among my list of core issues at the heart of diseases that have been inflicted on and metastasized in our nation. A while ago I wrote a piece on this issue titled: The Auctioning of Former Statesmen & Dime a Dozen Generals . Well, here is a recent relevant article on this same disease:
The Army used a loophole in federal ethics law to award lucrative contracts to two recently retired generals, departing from its standard practice for hiring senior advisers, according to public records and interviews.
During the past two years, the Army wanted to bring back two former generals, John Vines and Dan McNeill, to advise commanders as part of its “senior mentor” program. But the service’s program is run by a defense contractor, Northrop Grumman, and federal ethics law prohibits newly retired senior employees from representing a company before their former agency for one year.
That “cooling off” period is designed to prohibit “acts by former government employees which may reasonably give the appearance of making unfair use of prior government employment,” according to ethics regulations. The Army found a way around the rule. Instead of hiring them as defense company subcontractors, as it does for roughly two dozen other Army mentors, the service contracted directly with McNeill and Vines. McNeill received his contract after the Army wrote specific bid solicitations that applied to him and perhaps a few other retired generals. Vines received contracts without competition, records show.
All told, the Army paid McNeill $281,625 from December 2008 through August 2009, federal records show. McNeill told USA Today he also consults for defense firms but declined to name them. He isn’t required to tell the Army about them, either.
Anyway; here is the link to the rest of this Army Times article.
Down the Police State Lane
On Monday I’ll be posting my belated Part IV of The Makings of a Police State series. Meanwhile, here is another item, an additional ingredient, to be added to our boiling pot: Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions:
This past February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded a one-year, $2.6 million grant to the Cambridge, MA.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to develop computerized sensors capable of detecting a person’s level of “malintent” — or intention to do harm. It’s only the most recent of numerous contracts awarded to Draper and assorted research outfits by the U.S. government over the past few years under the auspices of a project called “Future Attribute Screening Technologies,” or FAST. It’s the next wave of behavior surveillance from DHS and taxpayers have paid some $20 million on it so far.
Conceived as a cutting-edge counter-terrorism tool, the FAST program will ostensibly detect subjects’ bad intentions by monitoring their physiological characteristics, particularly those associated with fear and anxiety. It’s part of a broader “initiative to develop innovative, non-invasive technologies to screen people at security checkpoints,” according to DHS.
The “non-invasive” claim might be a bit of a stretch. A DHS report issued last December outlined some of the possible technological features of FAST, which include “a remote cardiovascular and respiratory sensor” to measure “heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia,” a “remote eye tracker” that “uses a camera and processing software to track the position and gaze of the eyes (and, in some instances, the entire head),” “thermal cameras that provide detailed information on the changes in the thermal properties of the skin in the face,” and “a high resolution video that allows for highly detailed images of the face and body … and an audio system for analyzing human voice for pitch change.”
I’ll stop quoting here and urge you to go and read about this mind boggling plan. Once, if, when, it kicks in you may want to think twice before consuming your daily triple shot lattes before your departures. Ladies, you may want to plan departure dates based on your monthly cycle, since some of us know how our body temperature and blood pressure tend to fluctuate crazily during certain times of the month; those of you going through pre-menopause or menopause, you may want to consider not flying all together… I mean come on people; is this for real??!!