AMERICA’S POLICE: PROTECTORS OR THREAT?

Posted November 30, 2015 on 5:53 pm | In the category Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

On November 22, 2014, 12 year-old Tamir Rice made the mistake of playing with a toy gun at a playground in my old hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. A citizen called 911 to report that there was a person in the playground with what looked like a gun. Said citizen also told the dispatcher that the person might be a juvenile and that the gun might not be real. The police rolled into action with only the first part of that information, drove their car into the playground, opened the door and in the time you count one, one-hundred, two one-hundred Tamir Rice was shot, bleeding to death on the ground. The two cops stood around watching while Tamir said goodbye to his chance for a teenage birthday. When his 14 year-old sister arrived and tried to approach Tamir the cops forced her to the ground, handcuffed her and locked her in the backseat of the patrol car. The shooter was a white rookie cop who had flunked a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Deputy exam (46%, when 70% is a passing grade), had been refused employment at several neighboring towns’ police departments, had been terminated after 5 months for poor performance at another neighboring police department, and then hired by Cleveland’s PD without a proper background check.

A year later Tamir’s family waits for justice. The prosecutor hired three outsiders to investigate and report on the incident and as in almost every incident of police abuse, the reports said that while tragic, the policeman’s action were “reasonable”. Tamir’s family hired their own experts (two separate California former police officials) whose reports are highly critical of the policemen – both the shooter and his colleague, or accomplice. A sidebar to the story emerged that an off-duty FBI agent appeared on the scene while Tamir was dying and administered first aid while the two cops stood around either bewildered, or just uncaring.

So- a year after Tamir’s death a grand jury continues to consider evidence. Perhaps justice will be done, but precedence is not a cause for optimism. The dice are almost always loaded in cases involving police killing citizens; there is always some real or imagined or made-up threat. For Tamir it is that he was reaching for his “gun” so the policeman had to shoot him in less than 2 seconds after arriving.

This is only one example of what may have been an historic epidemic of white policemen shooting black males regardless of age or real threat. Much of the current public awareness results from the ubiquitous presence of videos. And the judicial system seems to have been unable to address these incidents impartially, often now in the face of overwhelming eyewitness or video evidence. Currently there are at least three high visibility cases in various stages of potential or actual prosecution. In addition to the Tamir Rice case there is the matter of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, shot by a police officer 16 times in Chicago, mostly in the back and mostly while lying on the street, and Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died while being transported to jail by Baltimore police. The Rice and McDonald cases are being presented to Grand Juries; the Freddie Gray case is being prosecuted in court in Baltimore after a Grand jury confirmed prosecution charges. These cases are tests of the American judicial system, but in a broader sense are tests of America’s basic values of judicial equity and fairness.

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The Face that Launched a Thousand Yips

Posted July 18, 2013 on 11:20 am | In the category Press, Terrorism, Uncategorized | by Jeff

So Rolling Stone magazine has Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover and the Boston Globe’s editorial page, its movie critic and many of its readers have gone over the edge. Stores are banning the magazine – a bizarre form of censorship – and the blundering herd has raised its collective voice to accuse the magazine of crimes ranging from “insensitivity” to the one of a Globe commenter gushing that the magazine’s “irresponsibility takes my breath away”. Well, I declare, we shall all pray for your recovery.

The Globe‘s editorial on the photo (which ironically is on today’s Globe front page) is a classic of on-the-one hand- this, on-the-other-hand-that commentary, saying that while Rolling Stone had the right to use the photo, they really should not have used it. Poor taste, say they! Adding to the nonsense, Boston’s Mayor Menino and Mass. Governor Patrick had to get their licks in, while so far no one seems to have read the article that describes Tsarnaev’s trip from young college student to terrorist monster which ought to be of primary interest.

As an antidote to the nonsense, the Globe did run a fine piece by Yvonne Abraham, which included this line:

“Only a pinhead would see the cover and think, ‘Oh, I thought this guy was a murderous monster, but since he looks so hot right here, I guess he’s OK.”

A commenter immediately posted a comment that began: “Once again, Yvonne is the voice of treason.” On some level it is an embarrassment to read such out of control, holier-than-thou gibberish about a magazine cover from people who apparently would like to manage what all of us can see and buy and read. Get a grip folks. It is a magazine with a history of terrific political journalism by the likes of Hunter Thompson who was, after all, rather tasteless while consistently giving us valuable insight into America’s political culture.

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Privacy vs Security: The People’s Choice???

Posted June 13, 2013 on 4:37 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, Obama, Terrorism | by Jeff

“The N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words) or to investigate them using traditional police methods. A government consultant told me that tens of thousands of Americans had had their calls monitored in one way or the other. “In the old days, you needed probable cause to listen in,” the consultant explained. “But you could not listen in to generate probable cause. What they’re doing is a violation of the spirit of the law.”…. “Nobody disputes the value of the tool,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s the unresolved tension between the operators saying, ‘Here’s what we can build,’ and the legal people saying, ‘Just because you can build it doesn’t mean you can use it.’ ” It’s a tension that the President and his advisers have not even begun to come to terms with…”  Excerpt from “Listening In” by Seymour Hersh in the May 29, 2006 issue of The New Yorker

And so it seems that both president George W. Bush and his Democratic successor, President Obama, did come to terms with the tension between having the tools to gather information on American citizens’ private phone calls and email exchanges and any legal impediments. President Obama has been quoted using the same kind of arguments that we have heard over and over since September 11, 2001. They track our phone calls and email messages “for our own good”, to protect us from “the enemy”, and it is a difficult choice between privacy rights and security. Well, maybe so, but it would have been nice if they had asked us to participate in the choice. And in doing so had offered concrete evidence that the loss of individual privacy actually increased our security.
Various leaders of the intelligence apparatus have said that the grand sweep of information had led to the interruption of several terrorist attacks on the U.S. but believing that involves trusting the sources and since they have in the past lied to Congressional oversight committees, trust is – or at least should be, elusive.

At a congressional hearing last March, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the National Security Agency (NSA) , “collect(s) any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know he was lying, but anyone who has followed Seymour Hersh’s reporting should not have been surprised. Nor can we believe that Clapper’s lie was “unwitting”. Asked last week by Andrea Mitchell why he had replied to Senator Wyden in that way, his answer was:

“I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to … stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is … not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’ ”

In some ways the Congress and the press find themselves in a difficult position. Congress is supposed to provide oversight of our intelligence operations and have either failed to do so or are complicit in supporting unconstitutional activities by what are virtually, national police forces. And if they now know they were lied to, their credibility as an oversight body requires them minimally to have Clapper removed from office.

The press shares the role of protecting the people from an overreaching government and has largely failed in that role. Seven years ago Sy Hersh sent up a warning flare in his New Yorker piece and that flare went largely unnoticed by the rest of the press, leaving them to share in Congress’s complicity. It is now predictable that they will argue both sides of the privacy vs. security argument without really arguing about their own role in what is an international embarrassment.

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Post Olympic News Blues

Posted March 4, 2010 on 3:00 pm | In the category Politics, Press, Sports, Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

The Vancouver Olympics were many things to many people – but for some they were a terrific diversion from the world of American politics. What follows is a quick and by-no-means inclusive review of some of the events driving us to the Olympics coverage:

  • Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz joined with former NY Times Columnist and Palin voyeur Bill Kristol in supporting and ad branding the Department of Justice the “Department of Jihad” and labeling 7 lawyers who had represented Gitmo detainees “The Al Queda 7”.  McCarthyism lives.
  • The South Dakota state legislature passed a bill which would require high school science courses to teach that world weather phenomena (e.g. climate change) are affected by a variety of dynamics including “astrological” dynamics.
  • Thomas Friedman reported in his NY Times column that the town of Tracy, California plans to charge residents $300 and non-residents $400 per 911 call unless they have paid a $40 annual fee. In case of severe chest pains, drive to the next town.
  • Several reports describe Wall Street investment banks’ political donations moving strongly toward Republicans. This is strange punishment of the Democrats for bailing them out of their self-induced collapse but understandable as Republicans circle their wagons to protect the same banks from virtually any serious regulations.
  • In his imitation of Fidel Castro, Glen Beck spoke for nearly an hour at the CPAC 2010 Conference, or Coven, or whatever it was called.  There are hundreds of hilarious quotes in the ramble but one sample is as much as we can stand:  “He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America — you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?
  • One U.S. Senator – Shelby of Alabama – tied up 70 of President Obama’s nominations for important federal positions because he wants a defense project built in his state.
  • OJ Simpson offered to donate to the Smithsonian the suit he wore when he was acquitted of two murder charges. In one of the few good news stories of recent weeks the Smithsonian turned him down.
  • Tea Party leader Mark Williams went on CNN and during his meltdown, said that President Obama was “an Indonesian Muslim and a welfare thug”.

BRING BACK THE OLYMPIC GAMES!

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Fox Presents: Fear and Loathing in America

Posted February 3, 2010 on 11:57 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, McCain, Obama, Politics, Press, Republican Party, Terrorism | by Jeff
  • The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason. – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

A visit to the barber today – with its typical random comments on the state of the world –provided a vivid reminder of the bizarre power of Fox News as a purveyor of misinformation and fear. That Fox is in the business of misrepresenting reality is not an original discovery since any reasonably intelligent adult who lives in the real world and reads about the real world knows that Fox’s O’Riley, Beck, and Palin etc. are clowns and buffoons – our own strange brand of Iran’s Ahmadinejad.

We have an intelligence deficit in America and it is growing. There have always been fringe movements in America – on both ends of the spectrum. But the current right wing fringe seems to be – or pretends to be – so scared of so many things that one has to wonder how they can come out from under their rocks.

Their major fear is terrorism. No one wants a screw-up the size of Bush and Cheney’s failure to act on warnings that led to 9/11. But just where does Rudy Giuliani get off working up a frenzy over Captain Underpants’ failed airline bombing when his boys Bush and Cheney totally screwed up by ignoring warnings that led to an actual, successful terrorist attack? It is not enough that he is a scumbag – what is infuriating is that the press actually gives that pathetic hack a microphone. The Rudys of the world have conspired to create a country consumed with fear of some possible event but unable to understand that 1) such an event may be inevitable, 2) that the country is doing all possible to prevent such an event – even under Obama(!) – and that 3) we are in this together and to use security threats as political currency is to be one with the enemy. Cowardice is the name to be given to those who would scare the people into giving up their liberties and their constitutional rights – tactics that give the victory to Al Quada. Shame on all of those who have set out to frighten us and shame on those who buy into it without serious thought of the loss of liberties they have accepted.

The PON (Party of No) and Fox and the ranting Tea Partiers have gained a certain power with their use of fear. We are scared to use our tried and true judicial system to bring terrorist criminals to justice – omigod – do not try them here, do not try them there – let’s eliminate the constitution and just throw them into a cell somewhere – but not here – lest we all might have to take a risk that is not even a real risk. Cowardice? No need to sell it here buddies – we got enough. We will take our shoes off in the airport; we will allow you to body search our toddlers and our grandmothers –because it makes us believe we are safe. We believe in Santa and the tooth fairy.

We are afraid to allow natural gas into our ports if it comes from Yemen – let’s live on firewood and refuse to trust the Coast Guard with our safety – they cannot be trusted.

We cannot allow gays in the military unless they lie about being gay; Congressman Hunter from California is scared that we might end up with hermaphrodites and transgenders in the military – now that is truly scary. Senator McCain is also concerned – after agreeing to support the military leadership – he has now jumped ship, illustrating the fragility of courage. The fact that Britain’s, Canada’s, Australia’s and Israel’s militaries have no problem with gays makes no impact – this is America – no gays – unless they lie about being gay. Jesus – you cannot make this stuff up.

Eight years of Bush and Cheney and Republican leadership left us with a useless unwinnable war in Iraq with hundreds of thousands dead, an untenable situation in Afghanistan, a horror show in Pakistan, a deficit of $1.2 trillion, an economy dominated by greed at the top and subservience below, a broken healthcare system, a tax system designed to protect the rich and screw everyone else, and a government committed to eliminating civil liberties. And what do we fear? –decent, affordable healthcare that mythically includes death panels; regulating banks that have royally screwed us; a centrist President Obama who some believe to be a socialist – a Muslim, a terrorist, a Kenyon, or God help us – a black. We are not supposed to consider such possibilities but it is time to grow up and smell the garbage. There is a real stink in the country.

A friend suggests that the anti fluoride folks must have been right and that it is why people are losing their sanity. They fear foreigners, immigrants – legal and illegal; any suggested change of the status quo; terrorists both real and imagined; mythical socialists, black political leaders. Fortunately for them, there is a standing army of banal and venal politicians and newscasters ready to march to the Fox Drummers. We are truly screwed.

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Interview with The Homeland Security Secretary

Posted April 22, 2009 on 2:01 pm | In the category Canada, Immigration, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

As if poor President Obama doesn’t have enough to worry about, as he considers whether it is the chaps who ordered torture in the name of homeland security or the chaps who carried out the orders – or neither or both – who should be brought to trial. And then, as a side show, his choice for protector of that same border gives an interview on Canadian national television outlining her concerns. Coming as it did upon the conclusion of a Canuck hockey game and first round sweep, the talk with an unknown woman appeared to be a perhaps somewhat heavy-handed satire about the former guardians of the US side of the Canadian border. Here was a comedienne portraying a US diplomat who was announcing that the US-Canada border must be made more impenetrable – just like the Mexican one – because the 9/11 terrorists had entered the US that way and that the currently informal border controls would have to be made much more stringent so it didn’t happen again. Well, you could walk down the street and ask almost anyone and they would know that no 9/11 terrorists entered from Canada, so this part of this routine was too nutty to really be cutting satire. The four-hour waits at the border on the last long weekend also made the second part too obvious since it was just meant to show the supposed US diplomat hadn’t crossed that border in years, if ever.

And then her name flashed on screen – Janet Napolitano, apparently a Canadian comedienne my brother and I had never heard of, though we have great connections in that field. And then her title popped up – Homeland Security Secretary of the USA. Well, that was a good one, if a bit of a cheap shot, until it turned out to be true. This birdbrain – apparently the former governor of Arizona – is in charge of US border security, and is going to cost both countries billions of dollars in lost trade, more if she builds a wall like the one on the Mexican border in the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, and she doesn’t know what country the guys came from who attacked New York. Sometimes satire just doesn’t pay.

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TORTURED LOGIC

Posted April 18, 2009 on 5:45 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, Human Rights, Obama, Politics, Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

“Thus, although the subject may experience fear or panic associated with the feeling of drowning, the waterboard does not inflict physical pain. As we explained in Section 2340A Memorandum, “pain and suffering” as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of “pain” as distinguished from “suffering.”… Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat “suffering” as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe suffering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering”….Jay Bybee, former Dept. of Justice Lawyer in the Bush Administration and current 9th Circuit Judge

Judge Bybee, a graduate of the University of Obfuscation Law School, might also have noted that chopping off a prisoner’s leg is allowable since he had two of them. He did not comment on what to do when you run out of legs but perhaps there are other body parts to consider– testicles, arms, kidneys etc. Reading the memoranda makes it clear that in this and other instances our Law Schools have helped create some monsters that would make Goebbels proud.

The release of four selected torture memoranda from the Bush Justice Department have raised two firestorms, each interesting in its own way. From the right we get the old familiar argument to screw the law and do anything we wish to anyone we think might want to hurt us, regardless of evidence and American values. A deep thinker from the Heritage Foundation reminded us on TV that in the white heat of post 9/11 it seemed clear that we needed to make sure we got the information needed to protect the country regardless of our laws or international law. He conveniently forgot that some of the memoranda were written as late as 2005 and that – in fact – we HAD the information that 9/11 was around the corner, that the information was given to Bush and National Security Advisor Rice – and ignored by both, and that there is little if any evidence that the subsequent use of torture ever improved the quality of information received.

It was not a huge surprise to see an op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, criticizing the release of the information by former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey who were apparently upset that leaking the memos’ “…effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on September 11, 2001.” They must have missed the part – referred to above – where Rice and Bush were warned well before 9/11 – a warning based on intelligence gathered via more traditional – and legal – means. But then Hayden and Mukasey both have metaphorical blood on their hands in this matter so it’s not so surprising they take this view.

The blast from the left is criticism of Obama for deciding not to prosecute Intelligence operatives for torturing prisoners with the approval, even urging, of lawyers from Bush’s Department of Justice. (a piece in today’s NY Times details one such case) This is a quandary since to say “they were only following orders” has a 1940s reminiscent stink about it, but this was clearly a decision intended to protect intelligence operatives from the consequences of the folly of their masters and to avoid harming those agencies that – like it or not – we depend on for a degree of security. As for bringing the likes of Judge Bybee and others in leadership positions to justice, it seems unlikely until and unless Obama gets a much larger majority in the Congress. And even then, he would more likely argue for a kind of Commission on Reconciliation and Truth but when looking at the Bush administration and his cronies in Congress it is hard to imagine anything like truth or reconciliation being of any concern to them. And to be credible, such a Commission would need to be bipartisan.

In other news: President Obama welcomed Texas Governor Rick Perry’s suggestion that Texas secede from the Union and offered his assistance in facilitating the process. There is a strong rumor that George W. Bush would emerge from retirement to fill the Office of Texas Monarch, leaving Perry with even less of a job than he has currently.

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Germany’s home-grown explosive experts

Posted September 10, 2007 on 12:53 am | In the category Germany, Terrorism | by Mackenzie Brothers

Exactly thirty years to the day that a group of young German extreme leftists kidnapped and eventually murdered German business chief Hans-Martin Schleyer, initiating a series of violent attacks on German civilian targets, such as Lufthansa, whose repercussions continue to make Germans nervous, a new batch of home-grown terrorists has made a dramatic entry into the headlines. Like the original RAF members, the Al-Quaida-affiliated group that had six times as much explosive chemicals stored in a garage in a remote village in the Black Forest as did the bombers of the railways in Madrid and London, was dominated by the children of middle- to upper-class German parents. They had received normal German educational training and been rather anonymous teenagers when they converted to Islam, went to training bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan and returned as explosive specialists with the intention of blowing up, apparently, the Frankfurt airport and the US air force base at Ramstein.
Since Germany refused to take part in the Iraq war and has had a rather inconspicuous role in the NATO foray in Afghanistan, preferring to leave the real fighting to middle powers like the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada, your average Fritz Schmidt felt that Germany was an unlikely terrorist goal. But these illusions have now passed as it becomes clear that the real goal of the Al-Quaida mission is the destabilization of the pillars of western society. Their leader stated in his most recent announcement, that the only way the west can be spared is by converting to Islam. It’s a sobering thought for any Judeo-Christian society and for the Germans it becomes even more threatening and disheartening when the explosive experts are named Fritz and Daniel and learned their trade during the ever-more-common coming-of-age trek through once exotic Asia.

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Intelligence Services???

Posted August 8, 2007 on 4:56 pm | In the category Politics, Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

As Congress rushed toward its August vacation it took the time to pass a far-reaching bill which allows the intelligence services to wiretap at will with no credible oversight. This is disturbing on a number of levels: it effectively ignores our constitutional rights to privacy; it eliminates effective judicial oversight of such operations; and assigns review to Alberto Gonzales, of all people. It is one more step on a slippery slope made dangerously so by the fear mongering of Bush.

But what is simply appalling is the bill’s provision of this kind of power to intelligence organizations that have consistently failed – in almost comic and cosmic ways – to fulfill their mission. Movies and books manage to suggest that our safety as a nation has depended on the brave, smart men and women who have run our agents, tortured enemy agents, analyzed secret messages, etc. Simply not true. The United States intelligence services have a record of almost blinding incompetence. With thanks to Tim Weiner’s book, “Legacy of Ashes” and reviews of same book by Evan Thomas and David Wise of the Washington Post, here is a list of some of the major (and sometimes entertaining) screw-ups of the CIA:

Failed to predict Soviet Union’s atomic bomb in 1949

In the 1950’s the CIA and British intelligence collaboration on Operation Gold, a tunnel into East Berlin that allowed listening to the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin. It was a terrific coup except that the Soviets knew about the tunnel before it was completed via George Blake, a British intelligence officer working for the Soviets.

Also in the fifties, the CIA arranged for the overthrow of Guatemala’s elected government (named “Operation Success”) to protect the interests of United Fruit. Dictators’ death squads executed an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans in following years.

In 1953 the CIA and he British worked to remove the Prime Minister of Iran from Office to protect the interests of British and American oil companies. The Shah became the ruler, instituted a new secret police (the SAVAK) and pissed off enough of his countrymen to help produce the Islamic Revolution.

The CIA failed to predict the Islamic Revolution.

The CIA did not predict popular uprisings in Eastern Europe in the 1950’s

The CIA did not predict the invasion of S. Korea in 1953

The CIA-run1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was a classic example of incompetence.

The CIA’s ridiculous attempts at executing Castro with the help of the mafia in the early 60’s.

The CIA did not predict installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962

The CIA’s support of a coup by the Baath party in Iraq in 1963, which led to Saddam Hussein coming to power.

The large-scale American escalation in Vietnam facilitated by the intelligence community’s manufacture of evidence of the so-called Gulf of Tonkin attack in 1964.

Richard Helms doing the bidding of Richard Nixon and subsequent presidents in exaggerating the capabilities of the Soviet Union to further the presidents’ political needs.

The CIA did not predict the Arab-Israeli War in 1973

The CIA did not predict the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

The CIA did not predict the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, largely because it had no credible Russian spies after the CIA mole Aldrich Ames had betrayed them all

In 1994, the Guatemalan military worked with the CIA to bug the bedroom of Marilyn McAfee, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala. She was recorded cooing endearments to “Murphy” and subsequently accused by the CIA station chief of having a lesbian affair with her secretary. Alas, “Murphy” was her pet poodle.

The CIA did not predict India’s explosion of atomic bomb in 1998

The CIA did not predict the attack of 9/11.

George Tenet’s 2003 “slam dunk” on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

These are the people for whom we are giving away our constitutional rights. Where is George Smiley when we need him?

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The War on Drugs: Nonsense and Insensibilities

Posted May 14, 2007 on 3:18 pm | In the category Canada, Immigration, Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

A short item in the NY Times today tells of a Canadian psychotherapist who was stopped at the border by U.S. immigration officials who searched his name on the Internet and learned that he had written in an academic journal about his experiences with psychedelic drugs in the  1960’s. The article continues:

He was asked by a border guard whether he was the author of the article and whether it was true. Yes, he replied. And yes.

Mr. Feldmar was held for four hours, fingerprinted and, after signing a statement conceding the long-ago drug use, sent home.

Mike Milne, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection agency in Seattle, said he could not discuss individual cases for reasons of privacy. But the law is clear, Mr. Milne said. People who have used drugs are not welcome here.

“If you are or have been a drug user,” he said, “that’s one of the many things that can make you inadmissible to the United States.”

Since the psychotherapist gave up drugs in 1974 he could hardly be deemed any more of a threat than – oh let’s say, the border guard who did a random and arbitrary internet search and added one more nail in the twin coffins of a sane immigration policy and an effective war on terror.

The good news is that this raises the possibility of extraditing known cocaine user George W. Bush to whoever would take him – maybe Iraq? Not Canada certainly.

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