Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon for Senate in North Carolina. On a radio talk show, Brannon refused to say that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job, alleging that “things like this have to be asked.”
“Either sit down and keep quiet or get out of here. We’re done with you.”
Chris Christie to a heckler at a town hall in New Jersey.
Actually, Chris, we’re done with you. And don’t let a piece of the World Trade Center hit you on the way out.
The CIA is prohibited from doing domestic surveillance.
Yet, the NYT has a front-page story* about four CIA officers who were embedded with the New York City police. In response to a FOIA request, the Times got a declassified executive summary of a CIA Inspector General report from December 2011 about this relationship, which apparently occurred between 2002 and 2012. They say it isn’t going on now, but how the hell do we know who and what to believe anymore?
* “C.I.A. Sees Concerns on Ties to New York Police,” Charlie Savage
The U. S. will hold direct, bilateral peace talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar in the next few days. The Taliban says it wants a political solution.
I’m not expecting much, but the sooner we leave Afghanistan, the happier I will be.
Congressman Peter King (R-NY) said on Fox News that the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted as well as Edward Snowden. He accused Greenwald of threatening to reveal the names of CIA agents, something Greenwald vigorously denies.
But most Fox viewers are going to hear only King’s wild accusation and not Greenwald’s vehement (and as far as I can tell, accurate) denial. This is a prime example of how Fox skews perceptions and polarizes this country. There’s enough here to debate and dissect without accusing Greenwald of stuff he hasn’t done.
As for King’s anti-terror bona fides, let’s not forget his support for the Irish Republican Army.
“In a democracy, people are entitled to know what techniques are being used by the government to spy on them, how the records are being held, and for how long, who will have access to them, and the safeguards in place to prevent abuse. Only then can they evaluate official claims that the correct balance between fighting terrorism and preserving individual liberty has been struck, and decide if they are willing to accept diminished privacy and liberty. If Americans have been slow to recognize the dangerous overreach of the N.S.A.’s phone surveillance, it is largely because they have scant information to judge the government’s conduct.”
“The Alarming Age of Surveillance,” NYT Editorial Board
I would add that we also have to know how successful the surveillance is, if it’s really stopping terrorist acts. If it’s not accomplishing anything, obviously we haven’t struck the right balance because we’re giving up something without getting anything in return.
This feels like a big moment to me, these Edward Snowden leaks, a moment when we have to make decisions that aren’t based, for either Dems or Republicans, on how we feel about President Obama. I don’t feel that we are up to it. After 9/11, I believe that members of both parties in Congress acted in good faith, really just wanting to do the right thing so that we wouldn’t get attacked again. You can say they went too far with the Patriot Act, but if they did, I believe their motives were honest, maybe based too much on raw emotion, but not based on partisan politics.
I believe our current Congress has a lot more crazy people in it than the Congress sitting in the fall of 2001. I have much less confidence in them to even try to act out of principle, much less reach the right result.
I worry that we can’t have a real debate because some Dems will rally uncritically around the President simply because he is so hated by the other side and so under siege on the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare, AP/James Rosen, immigration, etc. I worry that the libertarian wing of the GOP, the Rand Paul types, will use this as an excuse to make some of their more outlandish theories and beliefs part of the mainstream.
This is a moment ripe for a shift in thinking and policy one way or the other, either to accept and ratify all this post-9/11 stuff for the foreseeable future or to say, “Whoa, this tradeoff doesn’t make sense” and roll some of it back. I just hope that the wrong people don’t control the outcome of that shift.
“It is my belief, shared by many lawyers who have followed the legal battles over Guantanamo, that the president could have shut the prison down if he had really been determined to do so. One reason the prisoners can’t get out is that the courts have essentially ruled that a president has an absolute right to imprison anyone he wants during a time of war — with no second-guessing from either of the other two branches of government. by the same legal logic, a president can free any prisoner in a time of war. Had the president taken that stance, there would undoubetdly have been a court fight. but so what? Aren’t some things worth fighting for?”
Joe Nocera, “Obama’s Gitmo Problem,” NYT
The NYT reports today* that for more than ten years, the CIA has dropped off monthly bags of cash to Hamid Karzai’s office in Kabul. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars. That’s a lot of silk capes and lambskin hats, people.
Asked about the story, Jay Carney at the White House had no comment, so I’ll take that as an “abso-fucking-lutely.” It really is time to get the hell out of Afghanistan.
* “With Bags of Cash, CIA Seeks Influence in Afghanistan,” Matthew Rosenberg