Ron Paul on the Wiretap Bill

Ron Paul explains why he is opposed to the “compromise” FISA wiretap bill (June 20):

Mr. Speaker, I regret that due to the unexpected last-minute appearance of this measure on the legislative calendar this week, a prior commitment has prevented me from voting on the FISA amendments. I have strongly opposed every previous FISA overhaul attempt and I certainly would have voted against this one as well.

The main reason I oppose this latest version is that it still clearly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution by allowing the federal government to engage in the bulk collection of American citizens’ communications without a search warrant. That US citizens can have their private communication intercepted by the government without a search warrant is anti-American, deeply disturbing, and completely unacceptable.

In addition to gutting the fourth amendment, this measure will deprive Americans who have had their rights violated by telecommunication companies involved in the Administration’s illegal wiretapping program the right to seek redress in the courts for the wrongs committed against them. Worse, this measure provides for retroactive immunity, whereby individuals or organizations that broke the law as it existed are granted immunity for prior illegal actions once the law has been changed. Ex post facto laws have long been considered anathema in free societies under rule of law. Our Founding Fathers recognized this, including in Article I section 9 of the Constitution that “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” How is this FISA bill not a variation of ex post facto? That alone should give pause to supporters of this measure.

Mr. Speaker, we should understand that decimating the protections that our Constitution provides us against the government is far more dangerous to the future of this country than whatever external threats may exist. We can protect this country without violating the Constitution and I urge my colleagues to reconsider their support for this measure.

Update: Amy Goodman interviews Sen. Russ Feingold on his reasons for opposing the FISA bill.

Iran War Resolution May Be Passed Next Week

Introduced less than a month ago, Resolution 362, also known as the Iran War Resolution, could be passed by the House as early as next week.

The bill is the chief legislative priority of AIPAC. On its Web site, AIPAC endorses the resolutions as a way to ”Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program” and tells readers to lobby Congress to pass the bill. In the Senate, a sister resolution, Resolution 580, has gained co-sponsors with similar speed. The Senate measure was introduced by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh on June 2. It has since gained 19 co-sponsors.

The bill’s key section “demands that the president initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran” can be read to mean that the president should initiate a naval blockade of Iran. A unilateral naval blockade without UN sanction is an act of war.

Resolution 362 has already gained 170 co-sponsors, or nearly 40 percent of the House. It has been referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has 49 members, 24 of whom, including the ranking Republican, are co-sponsors. The Iran Nuclear Watch Web site writes, “According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to ‘pass like a hot knife through butter’ before the end of June on what is called suspension – meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate. It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is non-controversial.”

Our national legislators deem it non-controversial to recommend to a president known for his recklessness and bad judgment that he consider engaging in an act of war against Iran. Those of you who consider this issue controversial can go to the Just Foreign Policy Web site and tell your representative to oppose this resolution.

Thanks to Geoffrey V. Gray for this submission.

Neo-Con Rage

A very good summary of how hard-line neo-conservatives see the world — and especially Israel’s place in it — can be found in an interview at the National Review Online’s (NRO’s) website by Kathryn Jean Lopez of Caroline Glick, the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post who also serves as the Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP). What comes through the interview is how hard-liners like Glick see the relationship between the U.S. and Israel (”the war against Israel and the war against the U.S. are one and the same”); the Manichean nature of the world (”freedom” versus “the forces of slavery and jihad,” “good” versus “evil”); how they conflate different threats (”al Qaeda and Iran” as a single “enemy” whose “ultimate aim …is global domination and the destruction of the U.S.”); their contempt for Europe (its “refusal to accept the true lessons of the Holocaust”); their Islamophobia (”genocidal anti-Semitism …has taken over the Islamic world”); and their need for an “enemy” to give order to their world (Obama “refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as an ‘enemy’ in international affairs. And as a consequence, he is unable to understand what an ally is.”) Glick is also furious with Condoleezza Rice and the State Department for their presumed influence over Bush and efforts to force Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. The title of the interview is “Shackled Warrior: Israel in Bondage.”

It’s worth repeating: Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at CSP, an organization whose board of advisers have included over the years, among many other senior Bush foreign-policy officials, the current deputy national security adviser charged with Middle East policy, Elliott Abrams. Now I don’t think Abrams is quite as radical as Glick or Gaffney, but the association is not one he’s ever renounced or distance himself from). Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy and protege of Richard Perle (another member of CSP’s board of advisers), has rejoined the board, and John Lehman, an adviser to John McCain, has long served on it. (Gaffney, Abrams, Feith, Perle and Lehman all worked in the office of former Washington State Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson” at one time or another during the 1970s.)

There is one other document that I have cited before which I think summarizes the hard-line neo-con worldview particularly succinctly. It’s by Dennis Prager, a California talk-show host who has stood by John Hagee despite McCain’s repudiation, and it can be found here.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

On Attacking Iran, Lally Weymouth Won’t Take No For an Answer

I don’t follow the politics of the Washington Post’s Graham family, but Lally Weymouth (daughter of Philip and Katherine, mother of Katharine Weymouth, the newspaper’s current publisher) specializes in touring the globe, performing exclusive interviews with consequential world leaders, publishing them in Newsweek, for which she is a senior editor, and the Post, and thus helping to define conventional wisdom in Washington. Almost as much as her brother Donald, so far as I understand, she has contributed to the steady rightward drift of the Post’s editorial line over the past two decades, a drift that, in my view, made the paper one of the most influential, if often overlooked, “enablers” of Bush’s first-term neo-conservative foreign-policy trajectory in Washington.

It now appears that Weymouth is trying to “enable” an attack on Iran. Consider her latest interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah published in the Sunday Post’s “Outlook” section. While the king repeatedly warns that the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process poses the greatest threat to stability and moderation in the region, Weymouth seems impervious to this analysis and instead keeps returning to Iran throughout the interview. To almost comical effect, she simply won’t take no for an answer. Consider the three Qs and As:

Q. Is [the] Annapolis [peace process] dead?

A. I’m actually very concerned since President Bush’s visit to the region, to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I think the peace process has lost credibility in people’s minds in this area. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been in the region and is working very closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians to move the process forward. . . . We’re all very pessimistic at this stage.

Q. Do you view Iran as the number one threat in this region?

A. I think the lack of peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] is the major threat. I don’t see the ability of creating a two-state solution beyond 2008, 2009. [And] I think this is really the last chance. If this fails, I think this is going to be the major threat for the Middle East: Are we going to go for another 60 years of “fortress Israel,” or are we going to have a neighborhood where Israel is actually incorporated? That is our major challenge, and I am very concerned that the clock is ticking and that the door is closing on all of us.

Q. But aren’t you concerned that Iran is a threat both to your country and to other countries in the region?

A. Iran poses issues to certain countries, although I have noticed over the past month or so that the dynamics have changed quite dramatically, and for the first time I think maybe I can say that Iran is less of a threat. But if the peace process doesn’t move forward, then I think that extremism will continue to advance over the moderate stands that a lot of countries take. We’ve reached a crossroads, and I’m not too sure what direction we’re heading in.

But she’s clearly not satisfied with the king’s answers, and, after a few questions about intra-Palestinian politics, Iraq, Jordan’s own economic challenges, and the region’s interest in nuclear power, she returns to her bete noire, even as Abdullah insists on the primacy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Q: I remember a couple of years ago, you warned against the danger posed by Iran to moderate Arab regimes. Aren’t Iran and Syria the big winners today in this region?

A: If we look at what happened in Lebanon [last month when Hezbollah routed government-backed forces in street fighting to win major political concessions], I think the perception here is that that round was won by Iran and her proxies. We just have to be careful as to what happens in round two. Again, this is why I am so concerned about the peace process.

Then, after a few more questions about Hamas and Lebanon and whether Saudi Arabia might reduce the price of oil, she abruptly returns to and concludes with her idee fixe, like a moth to flame:

Q: So you’re not in favor of military action against Iran?

A: I am not in favor of military action against Iran. I think you’d be playing with Pandora’s box.

Q: So you’re willing to live with a nuclear Iran?

A: What do we mean by nuclear Iran? Some people are saying they have a nuclear weapons program, and some people are saying they don’t. The latest American intelligence estimate released a couple of months ago was that their nuclear program has diminished or stopped. Now the British-Israeli view of that is not as positive as the American one, so I’ve been told.

Q: The American view was that the military program was diminishing in 2003, but not that it had stopped. [Ed’s note: This, of course, is a very debatable assertion, since the U.S. intelligence community concluded last December that the military program had indeed stopped in 2003 and since re-iterated that view.]

A: I think that you need to engage with the Iranians. A military strike in Iran today will only solicit a reaction from Iran and Iranian proxies, and I don’t think that we can live with any more conflicts in this part of the world.

One of the most remarkable things about the interview is that Weymouth fails to ask Abdullah a single question about his views regarding the Turkish-mediated talks between Israel and Syria and whether he believes that Damascus can be persuaded to distance itself from Tehran if given sufficient concessions by Israel. After all, if she is persuaded that Iran poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the region, then Israel’s engagement with Syria — which could result in an unprecedented summit between Olmert and Assad in Paris next month — could be critical to reducing that threat. But she doesn’t even raise it.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Bush Slanders Freedom

In a Tuesday interview in Britain, Sky News editor Adam Boulton asked George W. Bush: “There are those who would say look, lets take Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib, and rendition and all those things and to them that is the complete opposite of freedom.”

BUSH: “Of course, if you want to slander America.”

This is the same tripe Bush has been shoveling ever since the Abu Ghraib photos first surfaced in 2004. Anyone who accurately labels Bush’s policies slanders America.

Sadly, there are still some Americans who swallow this crap. Unfortunately, Bush has gotten away with bastardizing American freedom for six years now.

It’s great that a British journalist had the guts to ask Bush the kind of question that American White House correspondents almost never touch. [h/t Think Progress]

Anti-Terrorist Raids

Any given day in Iraq includes a distressingly long list of casualties, but what about the stories behind those incidents? Here’s one from today which I thought warranted some expounding on:

Under the headline Terrorist hideout destroyed, a military press release touts the raid of a suspected “terrorist hideout”, the killing of a “terrorist” and the capture of 15 men.

How do we know it’s a terrorist hideout? Surveillance determined that the building contained “stockpiled food”, 12 bedrolls, and perhaps most damning of all, “men’s clothing”. How do we know the slain man was a terrorist? Well he was “near the target building” and made an unspecified sudden movement before being killed. Oh, and those 15 men who were captured? Well 3 of them were actually “wanted” for some crime or another. That would imply the other 12 were “unwanted”, wouldn’t it?

Here’s something conspicuously absent: weapons. Nowhere in the report is it alleged that this vitally important terrorist hideout, the destruction of which would, according to the story, “further degrade al-Qaeda’s terror network”, contained any IEDs, or explosive components, or the dreaded Iranian EFPs. Not one of these hardened al-Qaeda members was reported to be armed, and the story contains not one mention of a weapons cache, or even a single round of ammunition being present in the house: just food, and clothing.

And that “threatening” man somewhere near the building, the one so ably gunned down by Coalition forces? There is nothing in the story to suggest that he had a gun, or a suicide belt, or even a really pointy-looking stick. Just a guy, standing somewhere in Mosul, who made a sudden movement after being accosted by an unknown number of foreign troops. Now and forever though, he is a “killed terrorist”.

Says MNF Spokesman Major Hall “Our pursuit of these terrorists will continue to disrupt their ability to hinder the security, stability, and growth that Iraqi citizens are entitled to” Yet one must wonder how 15 unarmed guys in a building containing food and clothing posed such a dire threat to the citizenry of Iraq.