The State Department was eager to brush over miffed feelings connected to the G-7 meeting, particularly with Germany. Perhaps a bit too eager. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was striving to list examples of our close historical relationship and included the D-Day invasion. It is true that that was a key moment in our “relationship” but it was hardly a positive one.
I will be testifying today in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management. The hearing is entitled “War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Military Engagements on Federal Spending” and will address the new proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). As my testimony below discusses, the new legislation would represent an unprecedented change in the law governing war powers. The new AUMF amounts to a statutory revision of one of the most defining elements of the United States Constitution. Putting aside the constitutionality of such a change absent a formal amendment, the proposed legislation completes a long history of this body abdicating its core responsibilities over the declaration of war. Continue reading “Turley To Testify On War Powers In Senate Today”
CIA nominee Gina Haspel reportedly sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday but was convinced to continue by the White House. I have previously written extensively on my views the torture program implemented under the Bush Administration and why it was a clear violation of international laws and treaties. As I wrote recently, CIA nominee Gina Haspel has featured greatly in that torture program. Nevertheless, various Democrats continues to express a willingness to consider making her the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the meantime, Sarah Sanders has echoed the talking point that Senators will be hypocrites if they do not vote for the first woman to be nominated for this post. The problem is that she is also the first person nominated with an admitted history of torture, even though she continues to mislabel the programs as “enhanced interrogation.”
Below is my column in USA Today on the nomination Deputy Director Gina Haspel to head the CIA. While Sen. Rand Paul has declared that he will oppose Haspel over torture, some Democrats (who are being criticized for previously failing to act on torture allegations) are again hedging on whether they will oppose a nominee solely due to her involvement in the torture program. However, one promising development is an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to have Haspel’s record on torture declassified. There remains some debate over Haspel’s role on notable cases. Reports still indicate that Haspel oversaw the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the “Cat’s Eye.” However, it is not clear if she was “Chief of Base” during the torture of Abu Zubaydah. ProPublica issued a correction Thursday that she was not Chief at the time of the Zubaydah torture. There is no debate that Haspel ordered the destruction of evidence of the torture program.
Here is the column (which has been edited since its original posting):
The United States has long rejected the holding of military parades featuring tanks, missiles and other heavy weapons as a symbol of authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, North Korea and other countries. We commonly have parades with marching military and military bands in Washington. What we generally have not done is add heavy weaponry — the signature display of so many of the history authoritarian enemies of this country (though, as some have pointed out on this blog, there have been exceptions where tanks or missiles were present in inaugurations). Trump’s desire for military equipment at the presidential inauguration was reportedly rejected by the Pentagon as running counter to the long traditions of the country. Now Trump appears to be close to getting such a parade, modeled on the Bastille Day parade. A military official told The Washington Post is quoted as saying“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.” (The current results show 77 percent against such parades with around 800 polled. The Army-Navy Times is reported opposition at 89 percent). Opposition is also coming from Republicans who are calling it “cheesy” and “wasteful.” The Navy Seal who killed Osama Bin Laden has called it “third world bulls**t.”
Ironically, as many on this blog know, I am a military history buff and love to review both vintage and modern weaponry. However, I like our tradition in not holding such military parades. Our military has long maintained its apolitical and professional distance in our system. We celebrate and honor our military but do not use heavy weapons as props. We also avoid the high costs associated with such parades. However, people of good faith can disagree and I wanted to ask the blog about the consensus (if any) on this issue below.
There is a rumor of more members being axed in the coming week over sexual harassment as Washington prepares for the final tax vote. Ok, it was just an excuse to show this incredible picture from a Leningrad gas mask drill in 1939.
We have hit another milestone today with over 33,000,000 views. We are also expected to reach 35,000 followers on Twitter. That hardly makes us competition for the largest sites but it is still an impressive collection of people seeking a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories). We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world.
As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Darren Smith, Kimberly Dienes, and Cara Gallagher (particularly Darren who continues help up with periodic technical problems etc).
I particularly want to thank our regular commentators and readers. We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible. Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues. We have had to delete a handful of comments with personal attacks or profanity but the number remains quite low for a blog of this size. The success of this blog is due to the fact that we offer something more than the all-too-common troll-driven, angry, and insulting commentary of the Internet. Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments. Continue reading “RES IPSA HITS 33,000,000”
It seems that Naval Aviators are taking a cue from their Air Force counterparts and “aiming high.” In what may be the greatest example of male exaggeration, a Naval pilot drew a giant phallus in the skies above Okanogan, Washington. I am ready to represent the pilot and argue that this is really nothing more than a cowboy hat and that the suggestion of anything more is merely an example of sexual repression revealed in an aerial Rorschach test. UPDATE: The pilots have been disciplined but will keep their “wings.”
We recently discussed the controversy over U.S. taxpayers giving billions to Egypt as that country persecutes homosexuals, including its recent ordering of anal examinations of suspected gay men. Now a new report indicates that the United States suspended aid temporarily when it learned that the Egyptian government was knowingly circumventing international trade bans with North Korea. While North Korea was threatening the world with nuclear war and specifically targeting the United States, our “ally” was secretly trying to pay North Korea $23 million for over 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades.
The only thing worse than Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government appointing Chelsea Manning as fellow was the school’s withdraw of the fellowship. The school today succeeded in demonstrating to the world that its fellowships have zero intellectual content by first appointing Manning without a clear explanation of her expected academic contributions and then terminating the appointment under pressure. As academics, we are not supposed to remove academic appointments because individuals are controversial or unpopular. If Harvard was sticking by its academic reasons for the appointment, it should stick by its appointee.
The incendiary and uncivil politics that has gripped the nation has been a long focus on this blog. I am honestly worried about how the insulting and personal attacks from both sides will change political dialogue in this country for a generation. These include some past comments made by President Trump as well as his political opponents. As the father of four children, I emphasize the need to maintain civility, but that lesson is undermined every time the kids watch the news. The latest such incident involves Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who made troubling statements about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, including calling the highly decorated veteran a “disgrace to the uniform.” The reason was that Kelly somehow did not prevent President Donald Trump from rescinding DACA. This age of rage appears to have given people license to vent their most insulting and unfair criticisms at one another. We can no longer have a simple disagreement over issues like immigration. People have to be labeled “terrorists” or white supremacists if they think DACA should be decided by Congress or oppose amnesty programs. Calling this man (who lost a son in the military service) a “disgrace to his uniform” is a sad moment for our country.
As many on this blog know, I am a military history nut so the one story this weekend was particularly exciting: the crew of billionaire Paul Allen has located the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, which sank 72 years ago. We last discussed the Indianapolis during my visit to Tinian where it dropped off the atomic bomb parts in World War II. The ship rests in the Philippine Sea some 18,000 feet below the surface. Of 1,196 crew aboard the ship, only 317 survived.
It appears that Qatari will be left “waiting for Gadot” for some time after the government banned the move “Wonder Women.” The reason is that lead actress Gal Gadot (who plays Diana Prince) is Israeli. The government joins Lebanon and Tunisia in banning the film. The Muslim countries appear to agree with Wonder Woman in saying ” It’s about what you believe.” Gadot believes in the Torah and that is enough for the Qatar government. (Of course, Wonder Woman added “And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”) That part is clearly not part of this decision.
For those hoping that Russians will gradually reject the authoritarian rule by Vladimir Putin, a new poll will be a disappointment. Russians have long favored the strongman leader and that taste for authoritarianism has not greatly diminished. A new poll shows that Russians place Stalin at the top of the list of the greatest historical figures of all time. Putin tied with poet Alexander Pushkin for second place. The poll was conducted by the Levada Centre.