Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

Domestic Terrorism

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on June 11th, 2009

The attacks on our country on September 11, 2001 dramatically alerted our nation to the threat of international terrorism.  Our lawmakers responded by authorizing attacks on the country that had harbored the 9/11 terrorists, and anti-immigration measures to keep the terrorists out.  The threat of internatimages.jpgional terrorism is real, but recent events remind us that Muslim extremists from across the globe are not the only terrorist threat facing us.  Before there was 9/11, there was Oklahoma City and Timothy McVeigh, and we still are plagued by right wing extremists in this country.  Yesterday, a vocal anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, James Von Brunn, killed a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial.  As bad as the incident was, it could have been much worse.  Crowds of people were inside the museum, some waiting to attend the premier of a new play about anti-Semitism and racism, Anna and Emmett.  NPR reports that among those expected to attend was Attorney General Eric Holder.  Two weeks ago, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder murdered George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who provided late abortions.  Now Roeder is warning of more violence, claiming that there are “many other similar events planned around the country.”  Other anti-abortion activists say this is wrong, but do they really know?

Both Von Brunn and Roeder are well known for their outspoken extermist views.  Moreover, these events are particularly disturbing given that gun sales have surged since Barack Obama was elected president.  What are our lawmakers doing about it?  Nothing.  Instead of acting to protect us, Congress recently authorized the possession of concealed weapons in national parks.  It’s about time that we started taking the treat of domestic terrorism seriously, before more innocent people are hurt.

The Cowardice of the Fringe Anti-Abortion Movement

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on June 5th, 2009

Why is it that the fringe anti-abortion movement target physicians who perform abortions at the rfinal-5.jpgequest of woman, not the woman themselves. (Of Course, I’m not advocating targeting either.) The fringe movement calls these physicians “murders, ” “butchers,” “terrorists,” and so forth. The problem here is that physicians who perform abortions do not force themselves upon women and compel them to undergo abortions. For the most part, women seeking abortions are making informed, thoughtful choices at least as informed and thoughtful as most of the choices adults make. Targeting physicians, of course, from the perspective of the fringe anti-abortion movement, is good policy. No one would tolerate attacking women seeking abortions. Good policy or not, it is cowardly in the extreme and condescending toward women.  Why isn’t this point recognized and revealed for what it is?

Taking Responisbility for Domestic Terrorism

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on June 2nd, 2009

Rachel Maddow’s interview with Frank Schaeffer deserves wide spread dissemination and consideration.  Both Maddow and Schaeffer should be commended for their courage and insight.

“Rachel Maddow Show: Frank Schaeffer on How Hate Speech Leads to Violent Acts

By Heather Tuesday Jun 02, 2009 10:00am

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Rachel Maddow talks to author of Crazy for God Frank Schaeffer about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Schaeffer apologized for his and his father’s role in contributing to the death of Dr. George Tiller in his article at The Huffington Post How I (and Other “Pro-Life” Leaders) Contributed to Dr. Tiller’s Murder. From the article:

In the late 1970s my evangelical pro-life leader father Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop (who soon become Surgeon General in the Reagan administration) went on the road with me taking the documentary antiabortion film series I produced and directed ( Whatever Happened to the Human Race?) to the evangelical public. The series and companion book eventually brought millions of heretofore non-political evangelical Americans into the antiabortion crusade. We personally also got people like Jerry Falwell, Ronald Reagan and countless Republican leaders involved in the “issue.”

In the early 80s my father followed up with a book that sold over a million copies called A Christian Manifesto. In certain passages he advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler’s Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. I said the same thing in a book I wrote (A Time For Anger) that right wing evangelicals made into a best seller. For instance Dr. James Dobson (of the Focus On the Family radio show) gave away over 100,000 copies.

Like many writers of moral/political/religious theories my father and I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, walked into a Lutheran Church and pulled the trigger on an abortionist. But even if the murderer never read Dad’s or my words we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.

[….]

Angry speech has become the norm in American religion from both the right and the left. Words are spoken which — when taken seriously — lead directly to violence by the unhinged and/or the truly committed.

Schaeffer addressed the hateful rhetoric from those like Bill O’Reilly during the interview and O’Reilly’s unwillingness, unlike Schaeffer, to take responsibility for his words.

Schaeffer: And when you look at what happened to Dr. Tiller, there’s a direct line connecting the rhetoric that I was part of as a young man and this murder. And so people like me are responsible for what we said and what we did and the way we raised the temperature on this debate out of all bounds. And so when O’Reilly talks about the fact that these people of the far left are against Fox or against him or trying to muzzle debate, he’s telling a lie.

I am not a member of the far right. Until I voted for Barack Obama in the last election I was a lifelong Republican and I am still pro-life. I also believe abortion should be legal, but I agree with Barack Obama when he says we ought to find ways to help women, help children, give contraceptives, sex education to lessen the number of abortions. I think abortion is a tragedy. But I also think that pretending that you can call abortion murder and Tiller the baby killer, etc., etc., etc. and that these words don’t have an impact is crazy. So this is what helps unhinge a society, talking like that. And I apologize and I will apologize again. I am sorry for what I did.

I commend Frank Schaeffer for speaking out and bringing some sanity to the conversation and acknowledging how the right has hijacked the religious community for political gain, and just what the consequences of that political decision have been.”

Is Obama Proposing Preventive Detention?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on May 22nd, 2009

Preventive detention is incarcerating someone considered too dangerous to be permitted walk freely in Ameff.jpgrican society. Such an individual cannot be tried either because he or she has not committed a crime or because for one reason or other they cannot be convicted in a court of law. The reason for incarcerating such villains is to protect the innocent. This is clearly a noble and righteous goal that any responsible government should pursue. There’s only one problem. Indefinitely incarcerating someone whose not been convicted of a crime is anathema to American constitutionalism, fundamental American rights and values, and the rule of law.  It’s precisely the sort of practice that is arbitrary, tyrannical, and intolerable in any constitutional democracy worth the name. Moreover, it’s the sort of practice President Obama campaigned against. So can the president now be contemplating instituting a practice that was one of the central elements in the Bush administration’s lawless regime?  Consider Obama’s remarks from his May 21st speech:

I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture — like other prisoners of war — must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. And other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.

It’s difficult to see how any of these standards designed to create a system of prolonged (aka preventive) detention can conceivably comport with the rule of law. Perhaps the president has deluded himself into believing that it’s possible to construct “an appropriate legal regime” that enables us to transform preventive detention into a constitutionally permissible practice. But it can’t be done. No matter what “safeguards” are conscientiously put in place in such a legal regime when you put lipstick on a pig, to borrow from the campaign rhetoric used by both sides of the electoral contest, you still have a pig. All the clever contrivances designed to make preventive detention appear benign and consistent with the underlying reasons for launching the American republic in the first place will fail and with it the constitutionally grounded hope Obama had promised the American people.”Yes, we can” didn’t stand for “yes, we can violate the Constitution.” Did it?

The Big Lie?

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on April 30th, 2009

Just before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, I had an argument with a friend of mine who supported the invasion.  I tocheney.jpgld him that I did not think there was any reason for the United States to invade Iraq.  He asked me whether I thought that the President was lying about weapons of mass destruction, and was astounded by my answer.  My friend was astonished that I believed that  the President of the United States, leader of the free world, would lie to the American People about such an important issue.   Oh, what an innocent time that seems now!  Now, we know that not only was President Bush lying then, but that members of his administration continued to lie about the reasons we were in Iraq after it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction.  Most notably, Vice President Cheney spoke often about the supposed link between Sadam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, even though no such link was ever established.

The release of the torture memos last week gives us an upsetting glimpse into the inner workings of the Bush administration during that time, and may provide evidence that the administration was involved in an even bigger lie.  Why would the US intelligence officials use torture on terrorist suspects when not only were those methods prohibited by US and international law, but those methods had never been proven to work better than other interrogation techniques?  We have now learned that the torture methods used by US intelligence officials were modelled on methods used by the North Koreans to illicit false confessions from captured members of the US military.  Why would our government want to illict false information?  Could it be that our government used torture to try to manufacture a link between Iraq and 9/11, betwee Al Qaeda and Sadam Hussein?  If so, then our government was using inhumane interrogation methods such as waterboarding, that we have prosecuted as war crimes in the past, not to protect us, but to keep us in the dark.  It’s a shocking proposition, to be sure, but given what we have learned, we need proof that it’s not true.  That’s why we need an investigation into the Bush administration’s torture policies – to make sure our leaders didn’t use torture to support their lies, and to keep from telling the Big Lie to us again in the future.

Was the Bush-Cheney Regime Guilty of Torture?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on March 24th, 2009

Occasionally, a literary piece emerges that provides poignant insight into some troubling issue in politics or culture.  Mark Danner has written such a piece that every American should read before embracing any position of whether the United States under Bush-Cheney was guilty of flagrant war crimes, including torture. Here’s the introductory paragraph:

We think time and elections will cleanse our fallen world but they will not. Since November, George W. Bush and his administration have seemed to be rushing away from us at accelerating speed, a dark comet hurtling toward the ends of the universe. The phrase “War on Terror”—the signal slogan of that administration, so cherished by the man who took pride in proclaiming that he was “a wartime president”—has acquired in its pronouncement a permanent pair of quotation marks, suggesting something questionable, something mildly embarrassing: something past. And yet the decisions that that president made, especially the monumental decisions taken after the attacks of September 11, 2001—decisions about rendition, surveillance, interrogation—lie strewn about us still, unclaimed and unburied, like corpses freshly dead.

Thus compelling narrative should be read, reread, and then invoked whenever the subject of Bush-Cheney torture arises. To read further click here.

Yes, the U.S. Does Torture

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on October 17th, 2008

Over the past few years various governmental officials, including President Bush, have categorically denied that his administration engages in torture.  The truth is now out. WE DO TORTURE. Consider the following: “The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s utmpphpg1ubkz1.jpgse of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.  . . .  The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’s interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.  . . . The memos were the first — and, for years, the only — tangible expressions of the administration’s consent for the CIA’s use of harsh measures to extract information from captured al-Qaeda leaders, the sources said. As early as the spring of 2002, several White House officials, including then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney, were given individual briefings by Tenet and his deputies, the officials said. Rice, in a statement to congressional investigators last month, confirmed the briefings and acknowledged that the CIA director had pressed the White House for ‘policy approval.'” Click here for further information.

A nation is measured by the moral content of its ideals and how well it puts these ideals into practice. The time to take this measure is when there’s a price to pay for adhering to these ideals, not when commitment to one’s ideals t’s merely rhetoric. According to this standard, the Bush-Cheney administration has besmirched our ideals and has disgraced the nation.

Fixing Pakistan’s Broken Constitutional and Political System

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 31st, 2007

In the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination last week in Rawalpini, one complex solution emerges to the problems endemic to Pakistani political and social organization. Without reform of the military, intelligence, and security forces in Pakistan, the democratization of Pakistani is unlikely to take root. What does this mean? First, these agencies, especially the military, must be brought completely under civilian control. If the military maintains its veto power over Pakistani politicians, its corrupt control of Pakistani politics will persist. Second, a national purge of the terrorist sympathizers within these agencies must begin in earnest. Military and intelligence services remaining independent of civilian control will prevent democratic institutions from playing their appropriate role in a society aspiring to democracy. While there’s still time for change in Pakistan, the doomsday clock is ticking inexorably. International assistance is essential to the transformation of a quiet (and not so quiet) dictatorship into a republican democracy or any kind of democracy at all for that matter. South Asia, the United States, and the rest of the world are depending on the stability of Pakistan. Should these poisonous institutions persist, permitting and even advocating political assassination, Pakistan’s on the road to becoming terror central. True, civil society has taken route in Pakistan. But that is not an antidote for terrorism. A major error in this calamity was invading Iraq diverting troops and money from one required war to a discretionary war. Coming to terms militarily with the virtually independent tribes in Northwest Pakistan that provide safe-haven to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban must be the critical priority for both the Pakistani and American governments. And that means ending any significant presence in Iraq. Perhaps, the next president can remedy a catastrophic mistake that need not have happened.

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Campaigning for President Makes Fearmongers of Democrats Also

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 30th, 2007

Don’t think the Republicans have corned the political market on fear mongering. Although President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are expert in appealing to the possibility of terrorism–“World War III” andtelling voters a vote against his wife is a vote for tragedy during the first eighteen months of the next president’s tenure. Although the former president is smoother than the current administration– he’s not as crass or obvious in playing the fear-card–his intent is just the same: frighten grandma and grandpa into voting for his wife just in case Al-Qaeda plans to blow up the Lincoln and Tad monument in Des Moines or a tsunami suddenly hits the landlocked Iowan corn fields. Democratic voters should keep in mind that when “the good guys”–in this case, Democrats–adopt the methods of the bad guys, then they become the bad guys.

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“nuclear holocaust” fighting them there and not here–to squeeze the last few remaining votes from the undecided in a trembling electorate–the Democrats are no minor leaguers in playing the fear-card. With campaign minutes counting down until the Iowa caucuses, Bill Clinton, the Manipulator-in-Chief, is now

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 27th, 2007

Former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, the first democratically elected woman of a Muslim nation, was gunned down today at a rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. A suicide bomber shot Mrs. Bhutto then blew himself up killing 20 other people. Click here for further details. Then watch the following encapsulated story of her life prior to today’s assassination.
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This tragedy will prove as devastating to peace in the region as the assassination of Yitzak Rabin was to the Middle East. It is not known yet who is responsible, but the cast of possibilities include Prime Minister Musharraf, members of the military and the intelligence services, Islamists, indigenous terrorist groups, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. One conspicuous absence from this list is President Bush and his foreign policy or lack of one. Had Mr. Bush finished the war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan instead of embarking on his imprudent and immoral invasion of Iraq, the Northwester Territories of Pakistan might never have become a safe-haven for terrorists. As a result, if the murderers turn out to be terrorists or radical Islamists who find refuge in the Territories, Mr. Bush owns some of the responsibility for her death and the destabilization of Pakistan. In the final analysis Mrs. Bhutto may have been the last hope of democracy flourishing in Pakistan, something Mr. Bush has claimed to be his goal throughout the area. An unstable Pakistan, a nation that clearly possesses nuclear weapons, might just turn out to be the first major Sunni Islamic nation to be captured by the Al-Qaeda and other Jihadists and Islamists. Mr. Bush’s reckless invasion of Iraq based on little or no evidence that Iraq then possessed weapons of mass destruction will be seen as one of the major causes of enabling a terrorist-controlled Pakistan to come into existence. Nice work Mr. Bush.

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