Tag Archives: war on terror
“bad” guys beware!
via http://www.thenewamerican.com, 21 February 2013, by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
“He’s a guy that was born in the United States, he radicalized Major Hasan, the guy at Fort Hood,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. “He helped plan the underwear bomber attack that failed. He’s been actively involved in recruiting and prosecuting the war for Al-Qaeda He was found in Yemen and we blew him up with a drone. Good.”
Graham (pictured) was referring to the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki by an American drone. Awlaki was an American citizen, accused by President Obama, Graham, and others of promoting radical Islam, aiding the cause of al-Qaeda, and, by extension, killing Americans.
None of these charges, however, were ever formally filed against Awlaki, and he was never afforded a right to defend himself in court, as required by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Apparently, when people are “bad,” Lindsey Graham doesn’t think the Constitution applies to them.
“I didn’t want him to have a trial,” Graham said of Awlaki. “We’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war.”
Graham reiterated this position during an appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. When asked by Wallace if Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was wrong to oppose the use of drones to kill American citizens, Graham responded:
I think the worst thing in the world is to have the courts decide who to target in the war on terrorism. Courts are not military commanders.
He insisted that the law of the United States gives the president that power as commander-in-chief of the military.
“We do need drones to patrol our borders, but I don’t think you need a drone to attack an Al Qaeda operative inside the United States,” Graham told Wallace. “I very much believe we’re at war — and any American citizen who aids Al Qaeda should be treated as an enemy combatant not a common criminal.”
Graham is wrong.
Those accused of “terrorism” can (and should) be tried in federal courts. For decades, in fact, those accused of terroristic crimes have been formally charged with those crimes, had those charges heard before an impartial federal judge, and been permitted to mount a defense to those crimes.
A survey of such trials conducted by Human Rights Watch reported that “Federal civilian criminal courts have convicted nearly 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges since 9/11.”
Add to this the story of Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in June 2011 for the Oklahoma City bombing, the worst terrorist act on American soil until 9/11. Extending the full panoply of due process rights — including a trial in federal court — did not allow McVeigh or other convicted terrorists to evade justice. Furthermore, the purpose of protecting and providing civil liberties to those accused of crimes is not to set the guilty free, but to avoid punishing the innocent who are wrongly accused of crimes.
And should the president suggest that alleged evildoers cannot be apprehended, he should be reminded that “public enemy number one” Osama bin Laden was reportedly tracked and overtaken by a U.S. special operations team. Why could other less high-value targets not be similarly found by the military? Although bin Laden was reportedly killed in the raid, there is every reason to believe that a team skilled in this type of operation could have captured him alive if those had been the orders they were following.
Once in the custody of the United States, these suspects could be brought to stand trial for their alleged crimes. This would preserve, protect, and defend the fundamental concept of due process, one of the pillars of liberty upon which our Constitution is built.
The constitutional preeminence of due process is found in The Federalist Papers, where Alexander Hamilton warned against its violation in any form: “The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”
Next, Lindsey Graham is wrong to say that the United States is at war. The United States is not at war and hasn’t been legally at war since World War II. In this area and in so many others, Congress has surrendered its constitutional authority to declare war to the president.
As a result, the president can not only unilaterally decide when to put boots on the ground, but he has the final word on who is “bad” (known in the post-NDAA world as an “enemy combatant”) and when that person will be tracked, targeted, and assassinated by a drone.
That doesn’t bother Lindsey Graham, either.
“I support the president’s ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is. It’s never been done by judges before. I support the drone program,” Graham declared.
During his speech to the to the Easley Rotary Club on Tuesday, Senator Graham also revealed a quasi-official death count from the drone war.
“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham said. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda.”
This is the first time a number has put on the body count from the now decade-long drone program.
Although there have been no previous official estimates of the victims of drone strikes, private organizations have reported such calculations.
London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for example, estimates that between 3,072 and 4,756 people have been killed by drone in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
The Washington-based New America Foundation reports that the United States has carried out 350 drone attacks since 2004, the majority of which have been ordered by President Barack Obama since taking office in 2009. As for the death toll from this program, the foundation puts the range between 1,963 and 3,293, with at least 261 civilians among that number.
When contacted by The New American, Graham’s office refused to elaborate on the senator’s comments, saying only that he stood by his statements.
Photo of Sen. Lindsey Graham: AP Images
Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York City’s Commissioner of Police, Ray Kelley, announced that his department is developing a terahertz scanner that will reveal firearms through clothing… The technology is similar to infrared cameras. The major difference is the super high frequency of terahertz radiation; its wavelength is in the millimeter range. Kelly proposes mounting these sensors on patrol cars to detect illegal weapons on passersby. The commissioner reported in his annual State of the NYPD Address that 88% of all persons detained for a stop-and-frisk in the first 9 months of 2011 were determined to be completely innocent.
via http://gizmodo.com, (Jul 10, 2012) picosecond terahertz laser scanners
Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
And without you knowing it.
The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded “in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress.” According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.
Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States. The official, stated goal of this arrangement is to be able to quickly identify explosives, dangerous chemicals, or bioweapons at a distance.
The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people.
Analyzing everything in real time
But the machine can sniff out a lot more than just explosives, chemicals and bioweapons. The company that invented it, Genia Photonics, says that its laser scanner technology is able to “penetrate clothing and many other organic materials and offers spectroscopic information, especially for materials that impact safety such as explosives and pharmacological substances.” [PDF]
Formed in Montreal in 2009 by PhDs with specialties in lasers and fiber optics, Genia Photonics has 30 patents on this technology, claiming incredible biomedical and industrial applications—from identifying individual cancer cells in a real-time scan of a patient, to detecting trace amounts of harmful chemicals in sensitive manufacturing processes.
Above: The Genia Photonics’ Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner is capable of detecting every tiny trace of any substance on your body, from specks of gunpowder to your adrenaline levels to a sugar-sized grain of cannabis to what you had for breakfast.
Meanwhile, In-Q-Tel states that “an important benefit of Genia Photonics’ implementation as compared to existing solutions is that the entire synchronized laser system is comprised in a single, robust and alignment-free unit that may be easily transported for use in many environments… This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence.” [PDF]
So not only can they scan everyone. They would be able to do it everywhere: the subway, a traffic light, sports events… everywhere.
How does it work?
The machine is a mobile, rack-mountable system. It fires a laser to provide molecular-level feedback at distances of up to 50 meters in just picoseconds. For all intents and purposes, that means instantly.
The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.
The technology is not new, it’s just millions times faster and more convenient than ever before. Back in 2008, a team at George Washington University developed a similar laser spectrometer using a different process. It could sense drug metabolites in urine in less than a second, trace amounts of explosive residue on a dollar bill, and even certain chemical changes happening in a plant leaf.
And the Russians also have a similar technology: announced last April, their “laser sensor can pick up on a single molecule in a million from up to 50 meters away.”
So if Genia Photonics’ claims pan out, this will be an incredible leap forward in terms of speed, portability, and convenience. One with staggering implications.
Observation without limits
There has so far been no discussion about the personal rights and privacy issues involved. Which “molecular tags” will they be scanning for? Who determines them? What are the threshold levels of this scanning? If you unknowingly stepped on the butt of someone’s joint and are carrying a sugar-sized grain of cannabis like that unfortunate traveler currently in jail in Dubai, will you be arrested?
And, since it’s extremely portable, will this technology extend beyone the airport or border crossings and into police cars, with officers looking for people on the street with increased levels of adrenaline in their system to detain in order to prevent potential violent outbursts? And will your car be scanned at stoplights for any trace amounts of suspicious substances? Would all this information be recorded anywhere?
Above: A page from a Genia Photonics paper describing its ability to even penetrate through clothing.
There are a lot of questions with no answer yet, but it’s obvious that the potential level of personal invasion of this technology goes far beyond that of body scans, wiretaps, and GPS tracking.
The end of privacy coming soon
According to the undersecretary for science and technology of the Department of Homeland Security, this scanning technology will be ready within one to two years, which means you might start seeing them in airports as soon as 2013.
In other words, these portable, incredibly precise molecular-level scanning devices will be cascading lasers across your body as you walk from the bathroom to the soda machine at the airport and instantly reporting and storing a detailed breakdown of your person, in search of certain “molecular tags”.
Going well beyond eavesdropping, it seems quite possible that U.S. government plans on recording molecular data on travelers without their consent, or even knowledge that it’s possible—a scary thought. While the medical uses could revolutionize the way doctors diagnose illness, and any technology that could replace an aggressive pat-down is tempting, there’s a potential dark side to this implementation, and we need to shine some light on it before it’s implemented.
The author of this story is currently completing his PhD in renewable energy solutions, focusing on converting waste to energy in the urban environment. Even while most of this information is publicly available, he wanted to remain anonymous.
CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama and leaders around the globe locked down an exit path from the war in Afghanistan, affirming Monday that they will close the largely stalemated conflict at the end of 2014, a strategy that means their troops will still be fighting and dying for another two-plus years.
Gathered in Obama’s hometown, the sprawling coalition of 50 NATO members and allies declared an “irreversible transition” that will put Afghan forces in the lead of the combat mission by the middle of next year.