War on Terror

U.S. use of unilateral “weaponization of finance” makes top ten geopolitical risks of 2015

Economic Sanctions

As much as I really wanted to write today about how confusing it is to be angry about American Sniper, especially from someone like Seth Rogen, who just had his right to freely make bad films defended by the same country Chris Kyle loved enough to protect, I might be too emotionally invested to be objective and, as this guy points out, it’s kind of a waste of breath or thought. But after I actually see it, maybe I’ll write a review…

So, instead, even though it’s less sexy, here’s the topic du jour, because I just recently came across the terminology, had no idea what it meant, and now am fascinated by the concept. Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group’s founder and president, has chosen as one of his top concerns for the coming year something he calls the “weaponization of finance”:

The U.S. is focusing largely on what Bremmer calls the weaponization of finance, one of his Top Risks for 2015. “The U.S. is becoming much more unilateral in the expression of its foreign policy and its national security. We see that with drones, we see that with surveillance. We also see it with the willingness to use the dollar and access to the American markets and the U.S. financial institutions as both a carrot and a stick.”…

Obama, once the anti-war candidate, now fully embraces the Bush doctrine of preemptive unilateral war


Democrats swept into control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections on a wave of discontent with the Iraq war and then-President Bush’s foreign adventurism. President Obama campaigned over the next two years as the explicitly anti-war candidate. He was the only Democrat running who had opposed the war in Iraq, though he wasn’t in Congress to have to vote for it at the time. Now President Obama is explicitly embracing the Bush doctrine of preemptive war to pretend he has authority to unilaterally attack the ISIS forces in Iraq.

On Wednesday evening, Obama made a primetime address to the nation to explain the strategy against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which he said he didn’t have last week. In the address and an interview on Meet the Press the Sunday before, he said he already has the authority to pursue that strategy, which John Yoo, a former Bush administration official who literally wrote the memo on Bush’s war powers, says is exactly the same as Bush’s.

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

Obama Administration backing NDAA’s indefinite detention provision in court

Barack Obama

Last year, the Congress created quite a firestorm with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained a provision that would allow for the indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorist activities, including American citizens. President Barack Obama issued a veto threat, which was strange given that the White House asked for the provision, but eventually backed off.

In May, a federal judge shot down the the NDAA because of the impact it could have on the First Amendment — you know, that fundamental civil liberty for which President Obama seems to have little regard. The Obama Administration is, of course, fighting the ruling in court because, as Lucy Steigerwald explains, not having the ability to detain people without formal charges for the entirety of an open-ended “war on terror” would hurt the United States.

Ben Swann, a Cincinnati-based news anchor, recently asked President Obama about his support of the indefinite detention provision. President Obama does explain that in signing statement he promised not to use the power to detain United States citizens. Of course, that doesn’t stop a later administration from using the provision how they see fit.

Breitbart Blogger Takes Swing At Gary Johnson, Misses Completely

Gary Johnson

William Bigelow, a blogger at Big Government, one of the many websites that is part of the “Breitbart” media empire that continues to apparently flourish after Andrew Breitbart’s death in March, has taken the trouble of coming up with a list of reasons why Republicans shouldn’t vote for Gary Johnson.

As an opening point, I should probably say that on some level Bigelow is correct. If you are truly a Republican, as in being someone who is committed to the success of the Republican Party regardless of the fact that it remains, at its core, a party devoted to expanding the power of the state, then you obviously shouldn’t vote for Gary Johnson. Governor Johnson, though he was once a member of the Republican Party, stands against everything your party exists to perpetuate whether it’s the continued expansion of unchecked Executive Branch power, subsidies via the tax code and other methods to favored industries, or an interventionist foreign policy the foolishness of which was aptly demonstrated during the Presidency of George W. Bush. If you truly believe all of these things are good things, then go ahead and vote for Mitt Romney because you can be sure that, in the increasingly unlikely possibility that he’s elected in November, he will continue all of those polices. Heck, he’s already promised increase the defense budget by $2,000,000,000,000 over a ten year period!

However, I think in his use of “Republicans,” Bigelow really means conservatives and Tea Party supporters, which makes his arguments against Johnson all the more interesting. Let’s examine each one of them in turn.

Drone Nation: Interesting Facts About Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Charles Sipe is Executive Editor of Criminal Justice Degree Schools where he manages news coverage of the latest topics in the criminal justice field. He is also a graduate of University of Washington and US Army basic training.

A groundswell of opposition and concern has risen regarding the growing military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack suspected terrorists overseas which has included American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki last fall. The idea of faceless killer machines flying overhead is no longer a figment of science fiction. Earlier this year, Congress approved the use of drones in U.S. airspace that could lead to the widespread proliferation of drones above U.S. soil. The following infographic provides some important facts that you should know about military drones.

Infographic by Criminal Justice Degree Schools

Jon Stewart on Obama’s kill list

Many conservatives like to knock Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, as a liberal that like to pick on them and their views. While it’s true that he does poke fun at them at times, Stewart has also criticized President Barack Obama for abuse of executive power, his lack of transparency, his military crusade in Libya, the Solyandra scandal, and the Summer of Wreckovery.

On Wednesday, Stewart again criticized Obama, this time on the “kill list” that the White House put together. He also laid into some of the critics of the intelligence leak, who insist that it came from the White House because it makes Obama “look good.”

Watch Stewart’s reaction to this and more below:

Indefinite Detention and the NDAA

Should our government be able to indefinitely detain and deny a trial to American citizens suspected of a crime? Given the Constitutional guarantee of due process, that question could seem a bit absurd. Yet late last year the House and Senate gave us new provisions in the NDAA, one of which is the allowance of indefinite detention of American citizens.

This isn’t some heavy handed attack on freedom levied by the Democrats. It’s not even some measure that passed narrowly in the House before Harry Reid forced it on us in the Senate. No, this attack on freedom carries much bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats support this insanity.

You can see the House’s roll call on the 2012 NDAA here and the Senate’s roll call on it here.

Last month I wrote a piece about Justin Amash, the Congressman from Michigan who is fighting to fix the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA. Amash has been outspoken on this issue, and his time to fight is coming soon.

The answer to Amash’s concerns over the 2012 NDAA was to reinforce habeas corpus “for any person who is detained in the United States.” Though that sounds pretty good, Amash addresses this answer in a letter to his Republican colleagues:

States moving to nullify NDAA?

Regardless of where you stand politically, you probably have some very strong feelings on the NDAA and it’s provision that will allow the government to indefinitely detain someone because they’re a “terrorist”.   The NDAA managed to make it through both chambers of Congress (remember that one is controlled by Democrats, the other by Republicans) and was signed into law on December 31, 2011, effectively killing due process.

However, some politicians aren’t exactly done fighting this one.  In Virginia, we have House Bill No. 1160.  That bill reads:

§ 1. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, no agency of the Commonwealth as defined in § 8.01-385 of the Code of Virginia, political subdivision of the Commonwealth as defined in § 8.01-385 of the Code of Virginia, employee of either acting in his official capacity, or any member of the Virginia National Guard or Virginia Defense Force, when such a member is serving in the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force on official state duty, may engage in any activity that aids an agency of or the armed forces of the United States in the execution of 50 U.S.C. 1541 as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (P.L. 112-18, § 1021) in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States in violation of Article I, Section 8 or 11 of the Constitution of Virginia.

Congress must shoot down the defense authorization bill

A few days ago, I wrote that the compromise is the Senate over the detainee language in the defense authorization bill was a good thing. Well, after reading more about it, it’s clear that Americans are still in danger of being detained indefinitely by their own government without formal charge, as Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Education explains at Reason:

Permit me to state the obvious: The government shouldn’t be allowed to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial. It shouldn’t be necessary to say this nearly 800 years after Magna Carta was signed and over 200 years after the Fifth Amendment was ratified.

Yet this uncomplicated principle, which is within the understanding of a child, is apparently lost on a majority in the U.S. Senate. Last week the Senate voted 61-37 in effect to authorize the executive branch to use the military to capture and hold American citizens indefinitely without trial—perhaps at Guantanamo—if they are merely suspected of involvement with a terrorist or related organization—and even if their suspected activity took place on U.S. soil.

The provision, which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, was drafted without a public hearing by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Sen. Mark Udall (D- Colo.) sponsored an amendment to remove the power, but the amendment was defeated. A related provision requires that terrorism suspects who are not citizens be held by the military rather than being tried in a civilian criminal court. (The executive branch can waive this requirement after certifying to Congress that the waiver is a matter of national security.)

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