This Independence Day will be celebrated without one of America’s most remarkably heroes. Louis Zamperini passed away this week at the age of 97. The subject of the upcoming film “Unbroken” (directed by Angelina Jolie), Zamperini had an incredible life as an Olympic track and field star who went on to survive a harrowing two years as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II.
Archive for the ‘Military’ Category
Posted in Bizarre, Congress, Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, International, Justice, Lawyering, Media, Military, Politics, Religion, Society, Supreme Court on 1, June 29, 2014 | 152 Comments »
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy
Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.
As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.
Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam. Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled. According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)
As both Iraq and Afghanistan meltdown after spending $4 trillion and losing thousands of lives, the Obama Administration wants to pour $500 million into training and equipping the Syrian rebels. Ignore the fact that the Syrian rebels have been accused of human rights violations and atrocities (as has the regime). The government insists that U.S. weapons and money will go to the “right” forces — just ignore all those pictures of ISIS rebels driving around with U.S. equipment in Iraq.
There are reports this week that Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman, who sentenced former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to death by hanging in 2006, has been killed by rebels in retaliation for the execution. It is the nightmare of judges who could find themselves called to account for prior rulings by a mob. In this case, Rahman could see the steady territorial gains of the Sunni ISIS militants and must have known that he was at great risk.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor
Forty Billion Dollars is a heck of a lot of money. It seems like an even larger number when you realize that just one defense program spent that large sum, and it has arguably been a disaster. I am talking about the highly political missile defense system program. You have probably heard about that program. It is supposed to stop any wild-eyed dictators from successfully sending any ICBM’s into our air space. It may just be an amazingly expensive pipe dream! (more…)
We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations, President Obama declared this week that he does not need any approval or even consultation with Congress if he decides to commit us again to war again in Iraq.
North Korea remains a fascinating, if disturbing, preoccupation in the world like a country that “time forgot” out of a 1950s film. That image was on display this week when Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un visited the pride of his submarine force — a Romeo class submarine that was abandoned over 50 years ago. As someone who like to follow military history and technology, the sight of a leader on a Romeo class sub is like President Obama riding on Civil War spotter balloon as a demonstration of our continued surveillance capabilities. What is also bizarre is that, after last week giving instructions the North Korean meteorologists on how to make more accurate predictions, the Supreme Leader reportedly taught submariners “new tactics.”
Below is my column yesterday in the Chicago Tribune. It remains unclear whether Bowe Bergdahl will be charged. However, the allegations are mounting over his disappearance from his base. This column explores some interesting possible defenses and their historical context. Bergdahl returned this week to the United States, a move that will likely magnify these questions for the Administration.
The United States is mulling further intervention in Iraq as government forces flee Al Qaeda-linked insurgents and the country appears teetering on chaos. While the Administration is not ready to commit boots on the grounds, we may be moving toward a further influx of hundreds of millions or billions in military aid and even air strikes. As ISIS insurgents are seizing U.S. weaponry, the U.S. has already started to flood the country a new massive shipment of new free weapons.
Advance copies of Hillary Clinton’s new book have been distributed and the book has already created a buzz over her statements about the Iraq War, Bergdahl, and other subjects. In a statement that will be viewed as many as “too little and too late,” Clinton now says that her support for the Iraq war (and vote for the war as a Senator) was a mistake. At the time of the Iraq war, many of us opposed the vote and called on Clinton and her colleagues to hold real, substantive hearings on the war. With the exception of Russ Feingold, the members refused and eagerly jumped on the band wagon for war. After all, the war was popular and the polls were with Clinton. Then the war became unpopular, the reasons for the war exposed as untrue, and Clinton’s position began to change. She tried to offer a nuanced answer while running for President in 2008, but avoided an admission of fault or mistake on her part (as opposed to others). Now, she is coming out and offering a type of “oops, my bad.” At the same time, she has moved to separate herself from the backlash over the Bergdahl trade. With some 44 percent of Americans opposed to the trade (and only around 29 percent supporting the trade), Clinton wants no part of the scandal and insists that she was steadfastly opposed to any trade for Taliban. At the same time, Clinton has publicly stated that she and Bill also faced hard times after leaving office. It seems that when they were “dead broke” while living in the large home in New York and worried (like so many families) of how to cover tuition costs and the mortgage.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy
Carol Anne Bond was overjoyed to learn that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, had become pregnant. That joy was short-lived when she learned that the father was none other than her husband,Clifford Bond. The Philadelphia woman embarked on a course of revenge that would result in federal charges for deploying chemical weapons and a trip to the United States Supreme Court. Passed in 1998, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, enabled Congress to enforce the terms of an international treaty banning deployment of some chemical weapons. Taking advantage of that law, federal prosecutors charged Bond with obtaining two chemicals which together or separately could have killed her pregnant rival.
The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in one of the cases that I have been following closely. The Court ruled unanimously in Bond v. United States that Bond had standing to challenge the statute carrying out the Chemical Weapons Convention as violating the inherent powers of in this instance intruded on areas of police power reserved to the states. While it is not the type of case that pulls media coverage, it is very important and clearly the right result. We debated Bond in our Supreme Court class and came to the same result. On the merits, nine of us voted to reverse the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and four voted to affirm the lower court. On the prediction of what the “other” court would do, eight of us predicted a reversal and five predicted an affirmance. It proved not to be a close question in rejecting the arguments of the Obama Administration seeking to bar citizens from being able to challenge such statutes. It is a victory for standing and more importantly for individual rights.
The release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan, has been a source of celebration but also concern in Washington. While the country has long insisted that it would not negotiate with terrorists, it seems like it has been doing precisely that for years in working out a trade that ultimately led to the release of five Taliban leaders. More importantly, federal law requires notice to Congress some 30 days before a release of a detainee from Guantanamo Bay — another federal provision that the White House appears to have simply ignored in a unilateral act. I am scheduled to discuss the case on CNN on Monday morning.
We previously discussed how terribly confused Hillary Clinton appeared in discussing National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. She just could not understand why he would not have trusted the government to deal with any problems or why he would not come back to the United States. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry is offering his own brand of macho advice to the kid: “man up and come back to the United States.” Sure leaders have called for him to be tried as a traitor and either incarcerated for life or executed. Sure, he is not guaranteed to see all of the evidence used against him or even be guaranteed a federal trial as opposed to a military tribunal. However, Kerry appears ready to give him an “attaboy” on his way to solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that cut off virtually any contact with the outside world.
By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor
As I wrote on this blog a year ago, Memorial Day is the misunderstood “holiday.” Many people confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day began as Armistice Day, commemorating the Armistice signed at the eleventh hour, eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. In our political and military naivete, the Armistice was meant to be the end of the, “War To End All Wars.” Two decades later it started all over again. Veteran’s Day is on November 11 in the US. Veteran’s Day is meant to honor those who served in the military in both peacetime and war, both living and dead.
Memorial Day has a history predating Armistice Day by a half century. On May May 5, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Decoration Day was established. It was named Decoration Day because the day was set aside for the living to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30 was chosen as Decoration Day because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The tradition somehow spread to honor non-veterans as well. As a youngster, I remember churches and communities where we lived celebrating Decoration Day by placing flowers on graves in all the local cemeteries. I remember attending some of these solemn rituals as a child,. I helped out the adults by placing at least one flower on each grave. Every grave needed at least one flower. It was important to decorate the graves of those who had no relatives left, otherwise, there would be no remembrance of them. The flower was a token of remembrance, even if we didn’t know who they were. Why? Because every life needs to be remembered and honored. In 1971, Memorial Day was established by an Act of Congress. Officially, Memorial Day differs somewhat from Decoration Day as I knew it as a youngster, because it was meant by Congress to remember those who served the country in uniform and have now passed through that mysterious veil.
Now? Nothing says “honor the dead” quite like a mattress sale.