The charges leveled against freed POW Sgt Bowe Bergdahl this week are making less and less sense the more details of Army reports emerge, as the Army had apparently concluded that Bergdahl did none of the things he’s being charged with.

Bergdahl is facing two main charges, desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The later was seen as particularly strange at the time, since the Army had already cleared him of misconduct during his near five years as a hostage months prior.

The latest details are that the Army report explicitly says Bergdahl never intended to desert, either. Bergdahl left his outpost in July 2009 to report wrongdoing, planning to walk to the nearest base to report it to senior officials.

The details of what he intended to report still haven’t come to light, but officials called them “disturbing circumstances,” adding that he “wasn’t planning to desert.” Charging him with desertion, then, makes no sense at all.

Hawks were objecting to the POW exchange last year when it happened, and have attacked Bergdahl for getting captured in the first place. It seems that this political bias against him is fueling a lot of the momentum behind the charges, as the facts that have come to light so far don’t support the charges at all.

The Intercept has a great story this morning with confidential documents revealing the official TSA warning signs.  My favorite terrorist giveaway is “excessive complaints about  the screening process.”

Ya, that was the first trick my Al Qaeda buddies told me about how to finesse airport security prior to wreaking havoc aboard a flight.

TSA-spotcheck-540x411

I have whacked TSA’s behavior detection program plenty of times in recent years. Here’s an outtake from a 2013 Washington Times op-ed:

Other TSA programs have also pointlessly harassed or subjugated Americans. Gerardo Hernandez, the TSA agent slain on Friday, was part of the agency’s “behavior-detection” program involving thousands of TSA agents who “chat down” passengers at airports and watch for “micro-expressions” that signal potential trouble. Though Mr. Hernandez may have been a model employee — competent, courteous and fair-minded — that program has failed to detect a single terrorist and has spurred the arrests of thousands of travelers.

More than 30 TSA agents complained in 2012 that the behavior-detection program at Boston’s Logan International Airport had become a “a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners, but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities,” The New York Times reported. The agents relied on “terrorist profiles” such as black guys wearing baseball caps backward or Hispanics traveling to Miami. In Honolulu, some behavior-detection agents were nicknamed “Mexicutioners” for their proclivity for harassing Mexican travelers.

The behavior-detection squad at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey engaged in such blatant stereotyping that it was derided as “Mexican hunters” by other TSA agents. Some behavior-detection officers complained that their supervisors pressured them to fabricate false charges against illegal aliens to justify reporting them to law enforcement. Last June, an inspector general slammed the behavior-detection program as a perennial flop, deriding the TSA for failing to develop “performance measures” or to “accurately assess” its effectiveness.

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I have clashed with TSA screeners plenty of times over the years.  I was cross-examined by a TSA “behavior detection” officer last year when returning from  the Free State Project Liberty Forum in New Hampshire:

As I was going through the TSA checkpoint last Sunday at the Manchester, NH airport, I was cross-examined by a TSA Behavior Detection Officer (BDO). The BDO engages in “chat-downs” of travelers to select which passengers are pulled aside for special searches or third-degree interrogation.

This BDO guy was a colicky, low-watt, middle-aged white guy who looked like he signed on with TSA after receiving a pension for spending 30 years writing parking tickets in some one-horse New England town.

He  asked if I was traveling on business or pleasure.

“Business.”

“What were doing in New Hampshire?” he grumbled.

“I was giving a speech on the TSA.”

“Huh.  How did it go?”

“It was a great audience. They seemed to really enjoy the speech.”

“Okay” –  and he shrugged and signaled I could move along.

I was waiting for his followup question – and I would have told him folks liked the speech because every person there despised his agency and would like to see him thrown out of his uniform and into the street.

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Here’s a vignette of a 2011 encounter at Baltimore-Washington Airport:

I was traveling out to a conference in Las Vegas  when I got accosted at Baltimore Washington International Airport. The culprit had epaulets and more swagger than a second-term Arkansas congressman. All the women who had warned me for years that cigars would be my downfall were finally vindicated.

I was passing through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. I was trying my damndest to be a good citizen. I had skipped going to the shooting range that morning so that my hands and shirt would not reek of cordite. I had double-checked to confirm I had not left any ammo clips in my carry-on bag. And I was not even wearing my favorite “Government Sux!” t-shirt. And I even took off my boots and send them down through the carry-on scanner.

I slipped through the magnetometer with nary a beep. But this tall prematurely balding TSA agent with bulging eyes stepped towards me, pointed, and bellowed: “WHAT’S THAT IN YOUR POCKET?!!?”

I glanced down at my shirt pocket. “It’s a cigar.”

He glared like he’d caught me smuggling a pipe bomb in my underwear.

“Let me see!!!” he barked as everyone with a 75-foot radius turned to look.

I handed it to him and explained: “It’s a brand called ‘Factory Throwouts.’ First time I tried ‘em – 20 bucks for 20 cigars, and free shipping. I like cheap cigars, but they’re too cheap even for me.”

He snorted and thrust it back at me. Perhaps he was suspicious because the cigar didn’t have a band wrapper. If it had been a Macanudo, he might have changed his attitude.

“WHAT ELSE YOU GOT IN THAT POCKET!?!”

“A business card.”

I retrieved it and showed it to him. He glanced at it the way an illiterate person looks at a map you hand him when you’re lost and seeking directions in some woebegone backwoods crossroads.

He eventually snorted that I could pass, but probably only because he couldn’t figure out whether my Cheshire Cat grin was moronic or seditious. After I passed, I turned and watched this guy for a few minutes. He was acting like a prison guard browbeating a bunch of convicts lined up to take a shower.

Following the late January guilty verdicts in the espionage trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, more proof emerged – if any more were needed – that many elite mainstream journalists abhor whistleblowers and think they should go to prison when they divulge classified information.

One would think that a business that has relied on confidential informants for some of the major investigative stories of this and the previous century would applaud whistleblowers who risk everything on behalf of the people’s right to know what its government is doing in the shadows. But looking back at cases over the last five years, we see the unedifying spectacle of some of the nation’s best-known print and broadcast journalists venting their outrage at whistleblowers’ disclosures and expressing their preference for being kept in the dark by the government in the name of national security.

Most recently, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, and an opinion writer for The Economist both weighed in critically against Sterling after his conviction. Pincus also strongly defended the integrity of the Operation Merlin program – details of which Sterling was accused of leaking to New York Times reporter James Risen – and contended that Risen gave an erroneous portrayal of portions of the program in his 2006 book “State of War.” (More about these later.)

Sterling, who has never admitted leaking any classified information, nevertheless with his conviction joined the ranks of those whistleblowers and conduits for whistleblowers who have come under fire from prominent journalists for disclosing classified information to the press – e.g., Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou, and others.

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To debunk the distortions of warmongers is not to defend tyranny.


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Nuland distributes bread to protesters next to U.S. Ambassador Pyatt at Independence square in Kiev

How should libertarians assess the crisis in Ukraine? Some would have us believe that a true commitment to liberty entails (1) glorifying the “Euromaidan revolution” and the government it installed in Kiev, (2) welcoming, excusing, or studiously ignoring US involvement with that revolution and government, and (3) hysterically demonizing Vladimir Putin and his administration for Russia’s involvement in the affair. Since Ron Paul refuses to follow this formula or to remain silent on the issue, these “NATO-tarians,” as Justin Raimondo refers to them, deride him as an anti-freedom, anti-American, shill for the Kremlin.

Dr. Paul takes it all in stride of course, having endured the same kind of smears and dishonest rhetorical tricks his entire career. As he surely knows, the price of being a principled anti-interventionist is eternal patience. Still, it must be frustrating. After all he has done to teach Americans about the evils of empire and the bitter fruits of intervention, there are still legions of self-styled libertarians whose non-interventionism seems to go little further than admitting that the Iraq War was “a mistake,” and who portray opposition to US hostility against foreign governments as outright support for those governments.

“Yes, the Iraq War was clearly a mistake, but we have to confront Putin; we can’t let Iran ‘get nukes;’ we’ve got to save the Yazidis on the mountain; we must crush ISIS, et cetera, et cetera. What are you, a stooge of the Czar/Ayatollah/Caliph?”

Some of these same libertarians supported Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, and presumably laughed along with the rest of us when the neocons tried to paint him as “pro-Saddam” for opposing the Iraq War and for debunking the lies and distortions that were used to sell it. Yet, today they do not hesitate to tar Dr. Paul as a “confused Pro-Putin libertarian” over his efforts to oppose US/NATO interventions in Ukraine and against Russia. Such tar has been extruded particularly profusely by an eastern-European-heavy faction of Students for Liberty which might be dubbed “Students for Collective Security.”

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A list of must-reads compiled by Scott Horton for the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War

On Wednesday morning (3/18/15), Google AdSense suspended ad delivery to Antiwar.com demanding that we remove our 11-year-old pages that showed the abuse by US soldiers of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. We publicized this and got a bit of coverage.

Yesterday (3/19/15) Google contacted us and told us that they had given in and would be restoring ad service to Antiwar.com shortly.

However, this morning they contacted us demanding that we remove this article.

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