It is terrifying even in the quiet moments; it is most terrifying in the quietest moments.
National Bird, a new documentary by filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck, co-produced with Errol Morris and Wim Wenders, is a deep, multilayered, look into America’s drone wars, a tactic which became a strategy which became a post-9/11 policy. To many in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world, America’s new national symbol is not the bald eagle, but a gray shadow overhead armed with Hellfire missiles.
Scattered throughout the documentary are silent images from drones and aerial cameras, sweeping, hypnotic vistas taken from above both Afghan villages and American suburbs. The message could not be more clear: the tools used over there can just as easily be used over here, not merely for surveillance (as is already happening in America) but perhaps one day soon to send violence down from the sky. Violence sudden, sharp, complete and anonymous.
As President Obama prepares to hand over the White House to a successor that will almost certainly be even worse on most issues, it is important that this doesn’t cloud our judgment of his presidency. Compared to the likely replacements, he could seem like a preferable alternative to many people, particularly those on the left who despise Hillary Clinton. But the lesser of evils is still an evil, as they say.
Many a fawning piece have and will be written about President Obama as his tenure draws to a close. And to his credit, he generally comes off as more polished and thoughtful than either of his two recent predecessors or his likely replacements.
But this is only one measure of a president, and it is in no way the most important. Rather than judging them by their rhetoric, vocabulary, personal life, or any other trifling matter, we should judge them by their policies. And since modern presidents have almost total power to control US foreign policy, this area deserves the most consideration.
Espionage works like this: identify a target who has the info you need. Determine what he wants to cooperate (usually money.) Be sure to appeal to his vanity and/or patriotism. Create a situation where he can never go back to his old life, and give him a path forward where it favors his ongoing cooperation in a new life. Recruit him, because you own him.
The FBI appears to have run a very successful, very classic, textbook recruitment on the guy above, Matt Edman, to use his insider-knowledge to defeat one of the best encryption/privacy software tools available. Aloha, privacy, and f*ck you, Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted search and seizure.
Edman is a former Tor Project developer who created malware for the FBI that allows agents to unmask users of the anonymity software.
What is it that keeps the Washington Post’s hyperventilating neocon scribbler Jennifer Rubin up at night? The fact that Ron Paul’s lifelong efforts to promote a peaceful foreign policy continue to light fires in the imaginations of his fellow Americans. Any chance her fellow neocons’ near-total control of Washington’s foreign policy might be slipping sends Rubin scurrying to her keyboard to launch another spit-bomb.
Rubin has been apoplectic for months over the possibility that Donald Trump may wind up the Republican nominee for the presidency. She followed six of the stages of grief but skipped the final one, acceptance, and quickly returned to the first one, shock. Forget about the fact that when it comes to foreign policy, there isn’t all that much for non-interventionists to get excited about when it comes to Donald Trump. He just threatened to shoot Russian planes, he wants to confront China, he wants to dump more money into the military-industrial complex, he just told Bibi to build build build more settlements on occupied Palestinian territory in Gaza, and so on.
With Trump we of course can hope for the best, and any improvement would be welcome, but realistically the yellow warning flags are taking on a distinctively red hue with each passing foreign policy proclamation.
In 1980 President Carter issued an order requiring males between 18 and 25 to register with Selective Service should a military draft become necessary. It was a response to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. At the time women were not eligible for the draft because they were not eligible for combat roles. Much has changed in the intervening 36 years, and women are now eligible for military combat. In the name of “equality,” some have argued that it is only fair for women to be forced to register for the draft as well. Unfortunately those who hold such a position are missing the main point: equality in slavery is nothing to cheer. Being forced by the government to fight and possibly die for its foreign policy goals is an idea incompatible with a free society. We do not owe the government a part of our lives to repay the “freedom” they give us, as our freedom is not a gift granted by government. What should young people facing the obligation of registering for a draft they do not believe in? We cover this and much more in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Just ten years after America was shocked at the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and just a year and a half after the Senate torture report, a recent poll suggests that three-fourths of the population would support torture of terrorism suspects. Have we so quickly forgotten the fallout from the CIA’s shameful practices, where innocents were tortured for information they did not possess? Have we forgotten that torture is a moral outrage, is itself a form of terrorism, and does not even work? Have we forgotten that the “ticking time bomb” scenario is a Hollywood fiction, not a reality? Or is the media manipulating the population into supporting Washington’s interventionist foreign policy with carefully-worded polls designed to show more support for torture than really exists. Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report: