War on Terror

Terrorists do not hate us for our freedoms

During the debate on Monday evening, Ron Paul was booed by many in the room for pointing out that our foreign policy towards the Middle East has largely served as the motive for terrorist attacks against the United States. Seeking an opportunity to score some political points by demagoguing what Paul said, Rick Santorum claimed that Paul was blaming America for 9/11 and repeated the common talking point that terrorists hate us for our freedoms. You can watch video of the exchange here.

Paul didn’t blame America for anything, and Santorum knows it. Moreover, Islamic terrorists don’t hate us for our freedoms. Anyone that has spent 10 minutes reading up on Islamic terrorism can figure that out. But if you don’t believe me, listen to Michael Scheuer; who served as head of Alec Station, commonly referred to as the CIA’s “Bin Laden Unit.”

Price tag of the “war on terror”: $4.4 trillion

Playing the part of world policeman can be pretty expensive. How expensive? A new study says that the price of our foreign intervention could reach over $4 trillion and cost 225,000 lives; including civilians:

The final bill for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could be as much as $4.4 trillion, according to a comprehensive report Tuesday.

In the 10 years since American troops were sent into Afghanistan, the federal government has already spent $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion, say the authors of the study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

The report calculates not only direct spending on the conflicts but also the long-term costs of caring for wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012-20.

At a minimum, according to the authors of the study, the final cost for these military engagements will be $3.7 trillion. But the report also points out that their estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments and other costs that cannot yet be quantified. Indeed, the report criticized the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon for poor accounting.

You can read more about the study here.

While Republicans are debating foreign policy, they’re largely missing the point. The Bush Doctrine, which has now become the Obama Doctrine, is unsustainable from an economic perspective (not to mention the human toll). This seems to be a point lost on neoconservatives, that taxpayers eventually have to foot the bill for war. That’s not to say there isn’t justification, but most of what we’ve done in the last 10 years has been unnecessary; and sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.

PATRIOT Act extension passes the Senate, heads to Obama’s desk

A day after the House passed a short-term extension of the USA PATRIOT act, the Senate followed suit, passing the controversial without much opposition:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend through May three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire later this month. The move is designed to buy time for lawmakers to fully debate and hold hearings on the controversial counterterrorism surveillance law.

The bill passed on an 86-to-12-vote, with two senators not voting. Most lawmakers from both parties voted in favor of the measure, but the opposition was also bipartisan; among the dozen lawmakers voting against it were nine Democrats, two Republicans and one independent.
The Senate had been considering several different proposals that would have extended the Patriot Act provisions permanently or through 2013. But given the time constraints — both chambers are in recess next week — Senate leaders agreed to a short-term extension through May 27 to give Congress more time to work toward a longer-term reauthorization.

On the Senate floor Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had already announced his opposition to extending the Patriot Act provisions, denounced the law as an infringement of civil liberties.

Who Hijacked American Foreign Policy?

Way back in July of 2003 Ron Paul wrote an article entitled “We’ve Been Neo-Conned” in which he laid out facts showing that the “Neo-Con” philosophy had taken over the foreign policy of the USA (For a quick primer on the Neo-Conservative movement please click the link above). As I was reading this article one question kept repeating in my head:

“How did it come to this?

The only place to start I believe is with the American person (notice I didn’t use the plural “people”). I will use myself as an example since I believe my story is common to many modern-day libertarians and members of the Liberty movement.

In short, I was raised a Reagan Republican, became a Neo-Con after 9/11, converted to a Goldwater conservative after the invasion of Iraq and became a full-fledged libertarian after finding the writings of Murray Rothbard(OK, maybe every libertarian didn’t become one because of Murray but I think many have a similar story).

But here is what I believe is key in my story and the reason why there aren’t more capital “L” Libertarians: I didn’t get their foreign policy. Like many I actually referred to myself as libertarian on social and monetary issues, but not when it came to our “enemies”. I hear the same from freedom loving people over and over again, especially in the wake of 9/11.

The reason the Neo-Cons were able to seize power is FEAR. I am not putting anybody down because of it. I can certainly relate, but we still have to figure out why the American person is allowing our government todrop bombs and declare war on anybody they want to while we cheer them on. When does fear translate to lunacy?

78% of Americans Okay With Full Body Scanners

The war on terror has inevitably led to loss of liberty.  Starting with the Patriot Act that was passed soon after 9/11 (but most certainly was written well before the attacks) which not a single legislator read before being passed, to where we are now with full body scanners likely being implemented both abroad and in the United States.

According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, an astounding 78% approve of full body scanners.

CNN recently reported that TSA documents, obtained by a privacy group, state that the machines will have image storing and sending capabilities:

The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.

In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in “test mode.”

It is amazing how quickly we forget the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” After hearing that, check out this quote below from Representaive Bennie Thompson (via Politico):

If you want safety, you’re going to have to compromise convenience,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said on TV One’s “Washington Watch.” “You’re never going to be able to travel the way you did in the past. Times are different.”

No, The Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Story Does Not Prove That “Torture Works”

The blogosphere has been abuzz over yesterday’s story in The Washington Post discussing how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the September 11th attacks, went from adversary to alleged CIA asset:

After enduring the CIA’s harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency’s secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called “terrorist tutorials.”

In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.

Speaking in English, Mohammed “seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group’s plans, ideology and operatives,” said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. “He’d even use a chalkboard at times.”

Is Obama Bringing Change in the War on Terror?

See Video

Reason magazine focusses on what has changed and what hasn’t changed in American war on terror policy under President Barack Obama.

The US Army is Getting Desperate

When the government insists on waging unwinnable wars around the world, the Army can never seem to maintain the manpower for these missions. To recruit more young Americans to fight in the war on terror, the US Army is getting creative by offering high school dropouts free GED’s if they enlist. Here is the story of one young beneficiary:

After dropping out of high school, William Kamicka, now 28, wanted to join the military, but his family talked him out of it. So the Columbiaville, Mich., native got a job. He eventually found work at a gift shop where he met his wife. They got married, and now they have four kids. Kamicka says having a family made it hard for him to get his GED.

Why the Islamic Religion is Not “Totalitarian”

The trend of labeling the Islamic religion as “totalitarian” is far too provocative to leave unanswered. Those who argue that Islam, or the Muslim faith, is by its very nature totalitarian turn a semantic gaffe into a pejorative and hostile dogma which, in turn, becomes an article of faith for the avid fans of Fox News. Given the social cost of mobilizing a large segment of the population to fear and abhor Muslims, this error must be addressed.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.