Osama’s Legacy in the U.S (w/Photo)

Found this over at CopBlock.org, one of the most fearless law enforcement watchdog sites I’ve ever come across. This “standoff” was staged recently by the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (SSERT) in Oak Forest, Illinois in response to a call from a “concerned friend” that a man might be fixing to do himself in with a gun. Turns out the man in question wasn’t home, but watching the entire thing from a bar stool at Beggar’s Bar. Says Copblock, ” Who can blame him for not telling the police, ‘hey, I am down at Beggar’s Bar’ when he can see on T.V. that several heavily armed men and their itchy trigger fingers have come to do what at most should have been a ‘wellness check.'”

Employees at the bar finally called when the news showed the 50 officers surrounding the property breaking the windows and inserting pepper spray into the home.

More from CopBlock:

When it became apparent that (Mark) Fitch was not in the house the media began to call the whole thing a “hoax”, pinning the blame for the botched operation on Fitch, but even Chief Anderson explained that “He didn’t actually dupe us. He just was not in the house at the time when we thought he was based on the information – the best information we had at the time.” …..

…Despite the fact that even the Chief of Police has stated that Fitch did not commit a crime, the mayor and many residents want him to pony up for the cost of the standoff.  Estimates for the whole thing have been anywhere from $10,000-$75,000, mostly because of overtime pay for police officers.  Courts have rule over and over that the police have no obligation to protect someone, but bureaucrats like Mayor Hank Kuspa seem to think that when they do decide to respond to a call for help, even in the most ridiculous, over the top fashion, the person they were sent to help somehow has a obligation to pay for the cost of that response simply because he was not where the police believed him to be.

I suspect that their outrage is less about taxpayer’s money and more about the fact that the police looked foolish, not because of anything Fitch did, but because of their own over zealous use of their fancy toys.

Fancy toys indeed, the proliferation of which we have seen all over the country, in towns big and small, beginning during the Clinton administration when all that money started flowing through COPS (Community Oriented Policing) grants. It really surged with a vengeance after 9/11 — now law enforcement really had a reason to play Navy SEAL and G.I Joe. If you think it’ll ever go back to the way it was — 9/11 mastermind or no — we have a modest family home to sell you in Abbottabad.

We Got Him — Time to Bring the Troops Home

Even before we knew the details surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden, his demise was being hailed as the “end of an era.” The Global War on Terrorism, which we’ve been fighting for the last decade in several theaters simultaneously, has been defined in terms of catching and killing this iconic figure. Now that he’s dead – with the US reportedly in possession of the body – can we declare victory and go home?

Of course not. You didn’t think the Powers That Be would let us get off quite so easily, now did you?

In his speech to the nation, the President twice cautioned that this doesn’t mean the end of the fight, and the pundits have followed through, declaring that “of course” the battle isn’t over. Aside from all the chest-thumping and victorious howling rising from the crowds, and the politicians who delude them, the sudden absence of this devil figure — this looming spectral threat perpetually lurking somewhere in the shadows – leaves a gaping hole in the rationale for our eternal “war on terrorism.” A new devil will no doubt be found, but there aren’t many credible candidates, or at least none with the penumbra of menace surrounding the founder of al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden’s demise delivers a smashing blow to al-Qaeda – and, perhaps, a fatal one. For the succession to the leadership is now up for grabs, and this is one situation the jihadists have never had to face. Beheaded, the organization could very well be torn apart by an internal struggle, with various factions vying to claim the al-Qaeda franchise.

Even as we hear the familiar chants of “USA! USA!” and the talking heads on television assure us that this is the proof that we’re still No. 1, the political implications of this event do not bode well for the War Party.

A war-weary American public is preoccupied with issues of internal decline, and is no longer so easily frightened. The idea that we have to keep fighting in Afghanistan to destroy a leaderless and demoralized organization is not going to resonate. Al-Qaeda faces not only the death of its leader and founder, but the discovery of a massive organizational headquarters, no doubt filled with intelligence about the terrorist network, in effect has sounded al-Qaeda’s death knell. Sure, they may launch new attacks in an effort to show they’re still a force to be contended with, but these amount to the death rattle of the organization, as it splinters and falls to pieces.

What’s interesting is that the compound where bin Laden was hiding wasn’t in Waziristan, the “tribal” wildlands of Pakistan, but rather in Abbottabad, which is being described as an affluent suburb of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Although the President credited the Pakistanis with providing the initial tip that led to bin Laden’s death in a raid by US Special Forces, the fact that Abbottabad is known as a military town, the prime base of the Pakistan security forces – and that bin Laden was hiding in their very midst – is bound to cause friction between the two countries. The logical question is: how could the Pakistanis not have known? After all, the compound where bin Laden had taken refuge wasn’t exactly unobtrusive: eight times bigger than any structure in the area, and surround by extraordinary security – a high wall topped with barbed wire, no doubt manned by guards – it would have been hard to miss.

All that aside, however, the death of al-Qaeda’s founder, the author and chief perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in US history, marks the end of what was, essentially, a war of vengeance. With bin Laden gone, the target of our rage is gone, and the desire for revenge sated. Our leaders are already telling us that this is no time to relax our efforts, but the missing  emotional charge of invoking the terrorist leader’s name will let much of the air out of War Party’s tires.

As a war-weary nation confronts the fact of its own bankruptcy, and faces internal problems the severity of which can no longer be denied, a war they told us was going to be “generational” at the very least is coming to an end – without anything really to show for it except the dead body of a single man, which we will now display to the world in a primitive demonstration of American power.

If the death of bin Laden can be counted a “victory” in the war on terrorism, then surely it is a Pyrrhic one. For all the chauvinistic posturing and the President’s invocation of the vaunted “unity” that supposedly blessed us in the wake of 9/11, the costs of pursuing and killing the terrorist leader have been dear. Bin Laden, in one of his messages, once boasted that he would bankrupt America, and indeed his prophecy is in the process of coming true. In response to 9/11, we launched two major wars and several less obtrusive military operations, rampaging through the Middle East and reaching deeply into Central Asia. It took us ten years, and trillions of dollars, to track down and eliminate a single man. Although we eventually got our man, who was the real winner in this battle?

In response to the events of September 11, I wrote a column entitled “Kill ’em — and get out!” Well, now we’ve killed him — and it’s time to bring the troops home, now.

Susan Rice’s Viagra Hoax: The New Incubator Babies

On Thursday, US ambassador Susan Rice announced that Libyan government troops were being issued Viagra and told to rape as a terror weapon. She made the comment as part of a debate with another envoy to highlight that “the coalition is confronting an adversary doing reprehensible things.” Several diplomats said Rice provided no evidence for the Viagra allegation, which they said was made in an attempt to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight in which Gadhafi is not afraid to order his troops to commit heinous acts.

However, today, MSNBC was told by US military and intelligence officials that there is no basis for Rice’s claims. While rape has been reported as a “weapon” in many conflicts, the US officials say they’ve seen no such reports out of Libya.

This sort of tactic is nothing new. It is reminiscent of the incubator babies story. In the run-up to the first gulf war in 1990, a tearful Kuwaiti girl testified before a congressional committee that she had witnessed Iraqi troops removing premature babies from incubators and stealing the incubators, levaing the babies to die. The story was used to promote the attack on Iraq, and continues to be cited as a reason for going to war in 1991.

However, the story has been widely debunked. The girl who made the allegations turned out to the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador the US, a resident of Washington, DC. Investigations by human rights groups and others found no evidence that the event ever occurred, or that the ambassdor’s daughter was even in Kuwait at the time.

My guess is that the Viagra story will still be repeated years from now as a reason we attacked Libya.

Truth is the first casualty of war.

As Arab Spring Grows, Superman Renounces US Citizenship

Its never really been clear to me why comic book storylines have such an ability to rile up political factions, but after the bizarre row over the French Muslim ally of Batman it should have come as no surprise when Action Comics #900 included a story about Superman, of all people, renouncing his American citizenship, that a huge furor erupted. Incredibly, Superman’s American citizenship survived Lex Luthor’s term as President, but not the Arab Spring.

The story is a short one, and just one of several in the issue. The (fictional) US National Security Adviser dresses down Superman for his attendance at a major public protest in Tehran, complaining that since Superman is a US citizen it was causing a diplomatic incident. Superman tells the story of what happened at the protest – 1,000,000 attendees at Azadi Square and no shots fired.

Superman then makes his announcement, declaring “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy. Truth, Justice and the American Way — It’s not enough anymore.”

Of course within the context of the DC Universe, Superman often WAS being used as an instrument of US policy. He’s worked for the US State Department regularly in the modern era, and that’s not counting his military role in WW2.

It seems odd that the administration would care if Superman attended a protest in Iran, of all places, but the National Security Advisor is clearly angry, and even makes a show of having snipers prepared to assassinate him with Kryptonite bullets during the meeting if things go poorly. Because apparently the administration didn’t realize that Superman is notoriously difficult to kill.

In his comments, however, Superman makes reference to “civil disobedience” and “nonviolent resistance,” which shows a level of nuance that the usually jingoistic Man of Steel has seldom exhibited. This story is far afield from the Superman who, following a terrorist attack on Metropolis, single-handedly invaded the fictional nation of Qurac and destroyed virtually their entire military.

Which brings up what seems the most awkward aspect of the story to me: the use of Iran as the site of the protests when the nation isn’t having major protests at the moment. Printed comics have some lead time, surely, but the message would’ve made a lot more sense if Superman was in Yemen or Bahrain. The identical story could have been told with a conceivable reason for the administration being so mad at Superman’s interference (which was more attendance than interference).

DC Comics has tended to use real locations sparingly when overseas since the Cold War, and fictional nation-states like Qurac (which played the role of surrogate Iraq in the early 1990s) and Modora have usually been used instead of real “enemy” nations.

Interestingly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is mentioned by name by Superman, who refers to the government as “Ahmadinejad’s regime” (suggesting Clark Kent is no more aware of internal Iranian politics than most reporters). Nothing really happens at the protest however, and it ends on a hopeful note, with a protester handing a single rose to a Revolutionary Guard soldier.

Which is in stark contrast to the last time Iran came up in the DC Universe. In that case (December 1988), Ayatollah Khomeini makes a brief (and odd) appearance, appointing the Joker as the Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations as a reward for the Joker’s help in arming an unnamed Arab militant faction in Lebanon (presumably Hezbollah) to attack Israel. The move granted the Joker diplomatic immunity (which he needed because he’d just beaten Robin to death with a crowbar), but was short-lived because he attempted to kill the entire UN General Assembly during his first speech with Joker toxin. After being foiled the Joker went underground (and presumably gave up the position, which was never mentioned again).

Veterans for Peace: Obama Declares Manning Guilty

From Veterans for Peace:

Obama Declares Manning Guilty Before Trial
Can Military Officers Judge Him Impartially and Contradict Their Commander-In-Chief?

President Barack Obama said on April 21 that PFC Bradley Manning “broke the law.” This statement casts serious doubt on whether Manning can receive a fair trial from officers subordinate to Obama, their Commander-in-Chief.

“Members of the military are trained to follow orders. President Obama is the commander of all armed forces,” said Elliott Adams, president of Veterans For Peace. “Any officer who wants to advance in his military career would be wise not to contradict their commander-in-chief, especially after the military’s brutal treatment of Manning this past year. The President seems to have forgotten what he taught his constitutional law classes about being innocent until proven guilty.”

The government has already violated Bradley Manning’s due process rights by keeping him in pretrial solitary confinement for nearly a year and the President bears ultimate responsibility for the abusive treatment Manning has endured since July 2010 at Quantico Marine Base, and possibly before that in Kuwait. He has been confined to a 6-by-12-foot cell for 23 hours a day, prevented from sleeping during the day, denied exercise, woken up constantly, given limited access to books and writing materials, stripped at night and forced to endure inspection naked, and deprived of his eyeglasses. Many mental health professionals characterize this as psychological torture. President Obama could have stopped this mistreatment at any time with one phone call.

The President made another critical misstatement in his comments. He claimed that Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, was less culpable because the documents he leaked were “not classified in the same way.” In fact, the Pentagon Papers were classified at the highest level of secrecy while the WikiLeaks documents were at the lowest level.

“It’s time to free Bradley Manning and pin a medal on the man. He has already been punished beyond constitutional limits and now President Obama has made a fair trial impossible,” said Leah Bolger, vice-president of Veterans For Peace. “If indeed he’s the one who released those documents, he is a hero for blowing the whistle on war crimes and other misbehavior by U.S. officials.”


Obama: “So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works. And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law. We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.” [Emphasis added]

Q: “Didn’t he release evidence of war crimes?”

Obama: “What he did was he dumped…”

Q: “Isn’t that just the same thing as what Daniel Ellsberg did?”

Obama: “No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.”

The video can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/IfmtUpd4id0

Libya Gaffe: US Death Toll Estimate Won’t Be Accurate ‘Until’ Ground Troops Arrive

Ambassador Gene Cretz’s estimate for a death toll in Libya today was 30,000 which, if I’m remembering correctly, is about as much as the US was willing to cop to for the entire Iraq War until the WikiLeaks documents showed that to be a deliberate (and dramatic) undercount.

The real story wasn’t so much the surprisingly high death count, however, but Cretz’s admission that the toll was likely inaccurate, and his subsequent admission that an accurate figure wasn’t possible “until we really get more hands-on experience on the ground.”

Note he didn’t say “if” US troops end up on the ground, he says “until,” suggesting it is carved in stone that it will happen at some future date. Something the administration has repeatedly been insisting won’t happen.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even went so far as to rule this out “as long as I’m in this job,” an assurance that is far less meaningful with officials saying he will be gone by the end of June.