All hail the commander-in-chief


English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

While most of America, those who aren’t members of the fanatic fringe, celebrate Obama’s victory let’s not forget this is still going on under his watch.

Like so many post-9/11 civil liberties abridgments aimed primarily at Muslims, this no-fly-list abuse has worsened considerably during the Obama presidency. In February, Associated Press learned that “the Obama administration has more than doubled, to about 21,000 names, its secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States, including about 500 Americans.”

Worse, the Obama administration “lowered the bar for being added to the list”. As a result, reported AP, “now a person doesn’t have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list” but can be included if they “are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security”, a vague status determined in the sole and unchecked discretion of unseen DHS bureaucrats.

But the worst cases are those like Long’s: when the person is suddenly barred from flying when they are outside of the US, often on the other side of the world. As a practical matter, that government act effectively exiles them from their own country.

 

 

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How the Right Wing bullied the Obama Administration and reinforced its racist agenda in government policy


President Obama promised change and in many cases it has been a part of his administration, but with regards to foreign policy vis-a-vis Muslims in America and Islam Obama and career civil servants in government have bowed to the prejudices of an American public towards Muslims and maintained a position that only Muslims in America are responsible for terrorism.  The Washington Post produced a startling piece on the Department of Homeland Security’s report  on Right Wing Terrorism in America and how that DHS in many cases walked back its own report and continued its almost exclusive focus on Muslims.  The article, Homeland Security Department curtails home-grown terror analysis, originally published in June, 2011 gives perspective to the reluctance found today by many to label acts like the Aurora, Colorado and Milwaukee, Wisconsin massacres as acts of domestic terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security has stepped back for the past two years from conducting its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremism, according to current and former department officials, even though law enforcement and civil rights experts have warned of rising extremist threats.

The department has cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups, the officials and others said.

The decision to reduce the department’s role was provoked by conservative criticism of an intelligence report on “Rightwing Extremism” issued four months into the Obama administration, the officials said. The report warned that the poor economy and Obama’s election could stir “violent radicalization,” but it was pilloried as an attack on conservative ideologies, including opponents of abortion and immigration.

In the two years since, the officials said, the analytical unit that produced that report has been effectively eviscerated. Much of its work — including a digest of domestic terror incidents and the distribution of definitions for terms such as “white supremacist” and “Christian Identity” — has been blocked.

The threat of Islamic-related terrorism in the United States has by all accounts captured the most attention and resources at DHS since it was formed in 2002. But a study conducted for the department last October concluded that a majority of the 86 major foiled and executed terrorist plots in the United States from 1999 to 2009 were unrelated to al-Qaeda and allied movements.

“Do not overlook other types of terrorist groups,” the report warned, noting that five purely domestic groups had considered using weapons of mass destruction in that period.

Conservatives are very good at playing the victim card, that they are plundered, misrepresented and unfairly singled out, but it would appear based on the WashPo article that conservatives during the administration of a newly elected and popular Democratic president were able to get the Obama administration to abandon its own report on domestic terrorism and pursue, rather persecute Muslim Americans even though the statistics don’t support that policy.

A look at the acts of terrorism committed  on US soil by various groups between 1980-2005 show that only 6% of them were committed  by Muslims or affiliated Muslim groups.  The only other group lower was Communists at 5%.  Yet there exists this proclivity in modern day America to base policy on the minute minority of cases that appear before government while ignoring the overwhelming majority of cases that beg for policy review and follow up.  It is also the reason why acts like Aurora and Milwaukee can get swept under the rug by government and media because the perpetrators of those crimes don’t fit the profile that has been carefully crafted by xenophobic policy wonks with an agenda to advance and a budget to get appropriated.  For them it is far easier to sell fear and loathing against what is for now an unknown, strange, eccentric group of people than  it is for people who look and sound like us.  That the GOP is leading the way in this savage attack against Muslim Americans should come as nothing new.  Unfortunately, that a Democratic administration swept into office because people wanted “Change” has decidedly not brought about that change but continued the status quo is fraudulent.

Agenda Driven Terror


America with enough manly men to populate the planet Earth is the most scared country in the world when it comes to terrorism, terrorists and terror, or at least that’s what government wants you to think.  We are a country where even our women are manly men; we have two women running for President who think they can do a better job than the present occupant and one of them has even been heard telling other men to put their man pants on before going off to work, a sort of way of encouraging men who might otherwise not be up to the task of being men.  However, when it comes to brown or funny named people we just loose all sense of proportionality and turn to government, which always solves problems by throwing money at things, to calm us down and protect us.  Tom Engelhardt talks about this phenomenon in his article, The 100% Doctrine in Washington.

…in the near decade since 9/11, while hundreds of Americans died from E. coli, and at least 30,000 from food-borne illnesses generally, only a handful of Americans, perhaps fewer than 25, have died from anything that might be considered a terror attack in this country….in the near decade since 9/11, while hundreds of Americans died from E. coli, and at least 30,000 from food-borne illnesses generally, only a handful of Americans, perhaps fewer than 25, have died from anything that might be considered a terror attack in this country.

…in only one area of life are Americans officially considered 100% scared, and so 100% in need of protection, and that’s when it comes to terrorism. Having lost its communist super-enemy in 1991, it now lives, breathes, and grows on its self-proclaimed responsibility to protect Americans 100% of the time, 100% of the way, from any imaginable terror threat. The National Security Complex has, in fact, grown fat by relentlessly pursuing the promise of making the country totally secure from terrorism, even as life grows ever less secure for so many Americans when it comes to jobs, homes, finances, and other crucial matters.  It is on this pledge of protection that the Complex has managed to extort the tidal flow of funds that have allowed it to bloat to monumental proportions, end up with a yearly national security budget of more than $1.2 trillion, find itself encased in a cocoon of self-protective secrecy, and be 100% assured that its officials will never be brought to justice for any potential crimes they may commit in their “war” on terrorism.

Right now, even in the worst of economic times, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and the sprawling labyrinth of competing bureaucracies that likes to call itself the U.S. Intelligence Community are all still expanding.….Any potential act of terrorism simply feeds the system, creating new opportunities to add yet more layers to one bureaucracy or another, or to promote new programs of surveillance, control, and war-making — and the technology that goes with them.  Every minor deviation from terror safety, even involving plots that failed dismally or never had the slightest chance of success, is but an excuse for further funding.

We have been conditioned to gasp and cry for help whenever we hear about an act of terror or an impending act, even though bin Laden is dead.  The military complex has managed to dredge up some others who are equally frightening, ominous and reason for continued vigilance at the expense of American tax dollars.  It doesn’t matter that we have placed ourselves in harms way on the soil of countries that were heretofore not our enemies but have since become after our destruction of their infrastructure and way of life.  Their anger only serves to emphasize, in some perverse way, the need for our continued presence in their country with the possibility of expansive forays into their neighboring countries. 

At a time when the opposition is talking about ways of reducing government they make no mention of pairing down the military complex that Engelhardt talks about, instead choosing to reduce the over trillion dollar deficit, much of it because of militarization on the backs of the elderly and the poor.  We’ve managed to look the other way while the Pentagon robbed us and our allies of billions of dollars as well as investment bankers like Bernie Madoff, who made the Pentagon look like petty thieves, who made away with another couple of hundred billion all under and during the fog of war on terror.  The major players of this shell game, the where did the money go, have managed to escape into obscurity untouched while finger pointing goes on in ways that are so funny it’s pathetic.   Yet there are several constants that remain throughout and that is, terror can only be committed by people of color with funny sounding names who we need to eliminate and whatever other acts of criminality take place on American soil are reason enough for an ever increasing federal government determined to grow even bigger, and less efficient at taxpayers’ expense.  There are a lot of players who are guilty of keeping you stupefied.  Please discover who they are, so you can remove the blinders.

Terrorism strikes again


Six people, as of this writing, were killed in a terrorist attack against federal officials in Arizona on Saturday.  That’s probably how the news would read if the attacker(s) were Muslim, but instead the “attack” is invariably called a “shooting spree” or merely a “shooting” and any notion that this was politically motivated is even further dispelled with descriptions of the shooter being mentally unstable, deranged, almost apolitical or so crazy that one cannot make any political sense out of what he did.

Jared Loughner, right,  is the man and there’s nothing about his identity to lead people to suspect anything other than the obvious…he quite simply is a murderer, like so many who’ve gone before him in this country.  What’s special about him is not the crime…..America is as violent as apple pie; we are a Nation steeped in violence and in many cases we inflict it on others.  Just ask the Iraqis.  What’s special about Loughner is he committed this crime at a time when we have politicized murder and led the country to believe that only a certain group of people are able to carry it out; that they lie in wait to unleash it against us and that all of our efforts should be aimed at this group of individuals exclusively to identify them, flush them out and bring them to justice.  It didn’t help that tangential notions like places of worship, choices of food, articles of clothing, ballot initiatives in Oklahoma, etc.,  got put into the mix to further confuse and infuriate us our goal was shortsighted and pretty damn near illegal.

In 2009 after Obama came into office and HIS Department of Homeland Security came into power and identified the treat to the homeland as being from right wing extremism, a hue and cry went up from those on the right lambasting government for targeting them….in much the same way as Homeland Security targeted others before Obama and it’s been denial ever since.  Perhaps even today, with the identity of this latest terrorist, captured alive I might add, there is every effort to distance him from the ideology or way of thinking he embraced. I opined somewhere that perhaps we might waterboard this captured shooter to know the extent of his act; whether he was helped in any way by others who might be ready to pounce on the next government official, since for now such a notion is likely,  and I was half joking.  Remember when “waterboarding” was considered appropriate for some in our not too distant past?

Why we aren’t more honest with one another during hard times is a case study for psychologists. Speaking of which I would like to mention one who I think has nailed down what ails us today.  In a piece entitled ‘Rudeness is a Neurotoxin’, Dr. Douglas Fields says we are a product of our environment and today’s environment is one of ‘profane language, hostilities and stress from which we adults, raised a generation ago, were carefully shielded.’  In other words the lack of civil discourse, the in-your-face, put-on-your-man pants attitude is the blowback which causes us, Americans,  to be terrorist and makes it perfectly acceptable in our minds, or rather the minds of those so affected, to kill men, women and children….there was a six year old girl killed yesterday.  After being battered for the last 10 years about the power of words and how important they are in giving ‘aid and comfort’ to the enemy when many of us rallied against government intrusion into our lives and the lives of others who were of no threat to us or our interest, we no doubt will be told how the words that rang in the ears of this latest terrorist are of no importance in talking about his heinous crime, and that, no doubt, will make us all feel better about what happened.

But really folks, what we have is an American terrorist, a murderer….all murder, especially against an unsuspecting victim is terror isn’t it?  He even used the tools of terrorism…..his suicidal confessional on his My Space page and Youtube were some of the trappings he had in common with other terrorists but he’s distinct from them in he’s more acceptable as a murderer than as a terrorist, because terrorists have a special place in the American psyche that only people of certain persuasions can occupy and therein lies the problem.  We have made race, religion, the standard by which we make things legal or illegal or how we categorize crime and criminals.  Once again, despite all the trappings of being an advanced society, mature and wiser after  all these over 230 years, we still have the inclination to either raise or lower the bar depending on who the perpetrator/victim is.  Jared Loughner is either a terrorist or a murderer, and Major Hassan Nidal is either a terrorist or a murder and they both belong on the same page in American history with the same designation applied to them and if they’re not then we still too color conscious to be just.  It’s our call America.

 

UPDATE

One has to wonder whether the news that this attempted assassination was religiously inspired, anti-Semitic in origin might make the “terrorist” label more palatable.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant.The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings.

“The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona.

In this writer’s opinion, however, all of that is irrelevant.  It is now what it was then, an act of premeditated terror which resulted in the deaths of 6 humans and the maiming of many more.  Are the parents of the 9 year old girl killed by the assassin any more relieved from their anguish and grief that because one of the survivor’s of his terror was Jewish, therefore the crime which killed their daughter should be considered an act of terrorism?   Hardly!  The broadest most inclusive definition, ‘any actions that endanger human life or violate U.S. laws’ is indeed the best.  Not that it would mean anything more in terms of a punishment, but it removes the racist element of the term and hopefully makes truly combating and solving terrorism more urgent.