The Talking Dog

June 24, 2014, Killer Memo, Dude

The Grey Lady's Charlie Savage just gives us the (redacted) memo itself of the Justice Department's stated justification for the state-sanctioned murder of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by the United States government in a targeted drone strike. The memo was released as part of a court decision by the U.S. Second CIrcuit Court of Appeals in New York. Wapo has a bit more (including a citation to the wrong amendment). And for the usual spot-on analysis we get from Marcy and the gang, try this and related posts from empty wheel.

Amusingly, the author of the memo was former DOJ official David Barron, who is now serving (with life tenure) as a federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge in Boston, joining such other luminaries as "torture memo" signer Jay Bybee in the capacity of federal appellate judge.

Well, well. I don't know whether I am more offended by the targeted killing of specific human beings by their own government (which I suspect is nothing really new), or by the attempt to argue it is legally justified (which I suspect is quite new, with its antecedents in the Bush White House and John Yoo's famous "torture memos.")

This new attempt at legal whitewashing of the unspoken and unjustifiable brutality associated with war, as usual, misses the point (presumably that being "change we can believe in" by "constitutional scholar" Barack Hussein Obama). So I'll make the point: the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, simply,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
[emphasis the dog's].

How hard is that? Due process of law. No, that does not mean a determination of political expedience by politicians acting in secret, which is presumably what happened with Mr. al-Awlaki, seeing as those "proceedings" remain secret. Not to mention that due process is probably offended by the treatment of al-Awlaki's teenage son, also summarily murdered by a drone strike.

Alrightie then. Entering wars on completely false pretenses, duly whitewashed by politically cowardly toadies-to-lobbyists? Check. Torturing the prisoners sold to us during the course of said wars? Check. Detaining anyone we feel like, citizen, legal resident or alien alike, on any terms we like, "constitution" be damned? Check. And now... liquidate enemies of the state, citizen or otherwise, anytime we want, on whatever (secret) grounds we want? Checkaroony.

Seems that 9-11 changed quite a bit-- if not "de facto", certainly "de jure"... And we have to learn about it through the teeth-pulling of a lengthy freedom of information litigation, resulting in a highly-redacted release (among the redacted subjects being the specific determination associated with al-Awlaki himself, and why his actions warranted summary execution).

Ah.... so much going on with this story... so none of it boding anything good...

June 22, 2014, Welcome to summer

As we encounter our first full day of summer, I give you... a Mermaid Parade image from New York's Mayor Bill DeBlasio and family, featuring King Neptune Dante DeBlasio and Queen Mermaid Chiara DeBlasio. Having dragged my own family to said Mermaid Parade (in Coney Island) on enough occasions... nice to see Familia DeBlasio in the spirit.

Nope... nothing snarky to say here folks... move along. Too nice a day for that sort of thing (just back from the Queens 10-K... in more or less the usual time... long trip for a short race...) And perhaps Team USA will prevail in World Cup Soccer... maybe... Again... too nice a day for snark... just enjoy it...

June 15, 2014, Moscow on the Volga

I am a tad troubled that I find myself rooting for "the traitor" [Edward Snowden] and against the minions of "our side" (assuming my college classmate [President Barack Obama] is even on "our side") in this WaPo retrospective on just how extensive the efforts of the Obama Administration were to nab any and all defenders of freedom all dissidents Mr. Snowden. Of course, these efforts were monumentally futile. All it took to thwart them was anyone who had any intelligence whatever (and Mr. Snowden seemed to have oodles of intelligence in every sense of the word.)

In particular, there is a lengthy discussion of the forced landing of the Bolivian Presidential jet in Vienna, which the article confirms (via its express denial) that it was the White House that brought this about. That plane was, of course, carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, who suggested during a visit to Moscow that he might grant Snowden asylum... The heavy handed forced landing came about even though (1) Snowden would probably have had the benefit of sovereign Bolivian protection, (2) the Austrians were not likely to commit the kind of kidnapping and/or piracy that our government has become so noted for (largely because of our ham-handednes) and (3) there was no evidence Snowden was even on the plane (which took off from another airport than the one Snowden found himself jammed up in).

While publicly, President Obama suggested that he wasn't going to use "military assets" to get at "a 29 year old hacker"... I don't think that there's any doubt whatsoever that had Snowden not put himself on territory where any American action (other than loud diplomatic begging) would have likely started World War III (Chinese Hong Kong followed by Russia)... if not an outright killer drone (my bet), certainly a team would have been sent to murder him liquidate the enemies of the state bring Mr. Snowden to "justice."

But Snowden had the good sense to plant his feet on the soil of nations somewhat hostile to the United States in possession of nuclear weapons. It is unfortunate that Mr. Snowden concluded he could not get anything resembling a fair trial here, let alone, fair treatment... even more unfortunate that Snowden happens to be correct about this, of course (see "Manning, Chelsea f/k/a Bradley," "Assange, Julian" and for that matter, "Swartz, Aaron").

In the end, what I take out of the WaPo piece is the ultimate futility of the Obama Administration-- even in trying to trample upon and then urinate over any semblance of Constitutional values by trying to capture the intrepid fool who disclosed the full extent of just how psychotically evil extensive the Obama Administration's surveillance efforts actually are (and yes, boys and girls, these are the programs that John Ashcroft once refused to sign off on... Ashcroft, who announced the arrest of American Jose Padilla while he himself was in Moscow!). The same futility in misplaying Bowe Bergdahl as some kind of "national feel good moment," or in so many other misplays (see "Guantanamo, close within one year;" "Iraq," "Syria" and "Ukraine."

And so, when our allegedly liberal democratic government schemes to behave like the most ruthless of Stalinists... I get kind of mildly amused when an actual former KGB colonel seems to end up outplaying it... at virtually every turn. Ah, the irony, that someone standing up for the most basic of American values... obtains asylum in Vladimir Putin's Moscow. The one on the Volga.

June 12, 2014, "You're welcome."

Isn't "you're welcome" what we're supposed to say to the people we've "liberated," whenever the inevitable results of our magnanimous intervention in their affairs results in a gift from Wonder-Working providence? One such case is Iraq... featuring the fall of Mosul, Iraq (as well as, previously, Fallujah) to Islamist Sunni insurgents called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" ("ISIS"). One would think that, perhaps, an American embassy garrison force of some kind-- and a hell of a lot of mercenaries security contractors-- might be of some assistance... but evidently, the Iraqis are, ahem, on their own, by and large. Presumably, this is the sort of shape of things to come-- as a spent American military that has already overstretched itself breaking things is simply in no position to even attempt trying to patch them back together...

Meanwhile, of course, as world's third-largest-oil-producer Iraq is racked by an insurgency, our relations with numbers one and two (that would be Russia and Saudi Arabia-- the order is unclear these days)... aren't so good. Russia might be a little pissed about lots of things, such as our pissing in its cornflakes over Ukraine, or perhaps our apparent preparations for nuclear war (that sort of thing might piss off China too... not to mention anyone on Earth with a brain... or a pulse...) And our relations with Saudi have been somewhat hampered by... Syria...
Iran... and perhaps Iraq, now... even as we fantasize (as in "pipe dream".. or pipeline dream) of being the Saudi Arabia of fracking, or some such nonsense...

Anyway, we are being outplayed diplomatically everywhere, and honestly, while one never thinks a seemingly minor (albeit visible) plenipotentiary like "Secretary of State" matters that much, it seems replacing Hillary's Brain in Search of a Haircut with John Kerry's Haircut in Search of a Brain... has been a huge net loss for the United States... in every conceivable way.

Oh well... Does anyone remember the "Pottery Barn Rule" often espoused by Colin Powell and RIchard Armitage, to the effect of "you break it, you buy it"... referring specifically to Iraq? Well, we sure as Shell or Chevron broke it... funny how we seem to be avoiding the bill though.

"You're welcome."