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When CIA nominee John Brennan faced the Senate Select Committee on So-Called Intelligence on Thursday, countless critical and cutting questions had been prepared by bloggers and journalists. None of them were asked.
There is no fiscal crisis. There is an unemployment crisis. And there is a solution: tax the banks. The support for this argument is explained by Robert Pollin, the co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. His latest book and papers discussed during the program are here: http://backtofullemployment.org
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John Brennan's performance at his Rejection Hearing in the Senate Lack of Intelligence Committee on Thursday will likely be a contender for this year's Colin Powell Memorial Bullshit Award.
Colin Powell set the standard on Feb. 5, 2003, at the United Nations.
Powell relied on the testimony of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law to persuade us of the supposed need to attack Iraq. Powell recited his claims about weapons of mass destruction but carefully left out the part where that same gentleman had testified that all of Iraq's WMDs had been destroyed.
Monday evening I went early to my local City Council meeting in Charlottesville, Va., where the council passed a resolution I supported against drones.
Going early in order to line up to speak means conversing with a Fox News viewer or two who always go super early in order to speak first. One nice and beautifully unapathetic, but deeply misinformed woman, has on more than one such occasion let me know what a threat to our safety the evil Iranians are and how tyranical the Iranian government.
Justice Department Leaks Memo "Legalizing" Murdering Americans (But Not Some Americans Already Murdered)
Here is the memo. With a few tweaks and a more creative title -- like "Murder With Your Hands Clean" -- this memo could sell a lot of copies.
And why not? Either there's a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those "good" leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner -- perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.
The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:
"1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;"
The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official. Who is such an official? Who decides whether he or she is informed? What if two of them disagree? What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then? One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree. "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all. "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.
"2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;"
And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?
"3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."
When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.
When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don't think anyone has made such a claim to this day. And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?
The sociopaths who wrote this memo have "legalized" the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, February 4th, the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., passed what is believed to be the first anti-drone resolution in the country. According to my notes, and verifiable soon on the City Council's website, the resolution reads:
WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and
WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and
WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;
NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.
The same City Council passed a resolution on January 17, 2012, calling for an end to drone wars, as well as ground wars, excessive military spending, and any possible attack on Iran.
(Photo by Ted Strong of Daily Progress)
The wording of Monday's resolution comes largely from a draft suggested by the Rutherford institute. An initial line was deleted and two amendments were made to the final paragraph, one endorsing a two-year moratorium on drones (something that had passed in committee in both houses of the Virginia legislature as of Saturday in the House and Monday in the Senate), the other committing the City not to use drones for surveillance or assault.
The wording was not as comprehensive as the draft that had appeared in the City Council's official agenda for Monday's meeting, a draft I had authored. See it here in the city agenda or on my website.
At the previous meeting of the City Council on January 7, 2013, I and a few other residents had spoken in support of a resolution, and three of the five city council members agreed to put it on the agenda for the February 4th meeting. Some of the public comments were excellent, and the video of the meeting is on the city's website.
On Monday, citizens speaking in favor of the anti-drone resolution dominated the public speaking period at the beginning of the meeting, shortly after 7 p.m. Many were quite eloquent, and the video will be available soon on the city's site. The council members did not discuss and vote on the matter until shortly after 11 p.m. The discussion was quite brief, coming on the heels of hours devoted to other matters.
The same three city council members who had put the item on the agenda voted in favor of the resolution, passing it by a vote of 3-2. They were Dave Norris, Dede Smith, and Satyendra Sing Huja. Norris and Smith negotiated the slight improvements to the Rutherford Institute's draft with Huja, who initially favored passing that draft as it was written. Norris and Smith favored banning the City from purchasing drones, but Council Member Kristin Szakos argued that there might be a positive use for a drone someday, such as for the fire department. Kathy Galvin joined Szakos in voting No.
Norris has been a leader on the City Council for years and sadly will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.
Following the January meeting, I submitted my draft to the city, asked people to phone and email the council members, published a column in the local daily newspaper, and organized an event in front of City Hall on Sunday, the day before the vote. Anti-drone activist John Heuer from North Carolina delivered a giant model drone produced by New York anti-drone activist Nick Mottern. Our little stunt produced coverage on the two television channels and in the newspaper. I asked people to commit to attending the meeting on a FaceBook page. The room ended up packed, and when I asked those who supported the resolution to stand, most of the room did so.
No organized pro-drone lobby ever developed. We met and confronted the argument that localities shouldn't lobby states or Washington. And, of course, some people are opposed to drones in the United States but eager to see them used however the President may see fit abroad. Charlottesville's City Council ended up not including the section in my draft that instructed the federal government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing. But there was no discussion on that point, and several other sections, including one creating a local ordinance, were left out as well. The problem there, according to Smith, was that "we don't own the air."
Yet, we should. And Oregon is attempting to do so with its draft state legislation.
In the past, Charlottesville has passed resolutions that have inspired other localities and impacted federal and state policies. Let us hope this one is no exception.
Where I live in Virginia a member of the county board of supervisors was recently charged with the crime of "forcible sodomy," which carried a sentence of five years to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery and was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus probation, etc. He professed his innocence of the original charge.
But what is sexual battery if not forcible sex? The fine line drawn between 30 days and life may have less to do with the action being alleged than with the persuasiveness of the allegation, the prosecutor's confidence of winning a conviction, the schedule and budget of the court, the desire of the accuser or victim to participate in a trial, etc.
DRONES & PEACE IN THE AGE OF OBAMA with the great David Swanson at 3-4pm (eastern) Monday on HarveyW's Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show. David is one our most persistent, effective and unstoppable activists on issues of war, the environment and our Constitution. Our action-packed hour will feature some serous strategizing about ending the empire and getting to Solartopia as we celebrate an age when activists like David really do make a difference. Join us at 888-874-4888. http://prn.fm/shows/