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Threatening China Over Korea: Grandstanding...Or Wise Diplomacy

Just days before President Trump is set to meet Chinese Premier Xi Jinping he let loose with a threat: either China "solves" North Korea or the US will do it. One way would be good for China, the other would not, he added. But how much sway does China really have over Kim Jong-Un and his nuclear policy? Could Trump be miscalculating? What's at stake? We look at the possibilities in today's Liberty Report...
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Does it Matter Who Pulls the Trigger in the Drone Wars?

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We’re allowing a mindset of “anything Trump does is wrong” coupled with lightening-speed historical revisionism for the Obama era to sustain the same mistakes in the war on terror that have fueled Islamic terrorism for the past 15 years. However, there may be a window of opportunity to turn the anti-Trump rhetoric into a review of the failed policies of the last decade and a half.

A recent example of “anything Trump does is wrong” has to do with his changing the rules for drone kill decision making. In May 2013 President Obama self-imposed a dual-standard (known as the “playbook”) for remote killing. The White House, including Obama himself reviewing a kill list at regular meetings, would decide which individuals outside of the “traditional war zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan would be targeted.

Meanwhile, in America’s post-9/11 traditional war zones, military commanders then made, and now make, the kill decisions without civilian review, with the threshold for “acceptable civilian casualties” supposedly less strict. Of course the idea that any of this functions under “rules” is based on the bedrock fallacy that anything militarily done by the last three presidents has been legal under the never-updated 2001 authorization for war in Afghanistan. For perspective, remember Islamic State never existed, and Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen had stable governments at the time Congress passed that authorization.
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Yes, Let’s Allow The Syrian People To Decide For Themselves

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Is common sense beginning to creep into US policy in the Middle East? Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the longer-term status of Syrian President Assad would be “decided by the Syrian people.” The media reported this as a radical shift in US foreign policy, but isn’t this just stating what should be obvious? What gives any country the right to determine who rules someone else? Washington is currently paralyzed by evidence-free rumors that the Russians somehow influenced our elections, but no one blinks an eye when Washington declares that one or another foreign leader “must go.”
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The Sleazy Origins of Russia-Gate

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An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp’s contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump’s; it was Hillary Clinton’s.

And, awareness of this activity doesn’t require you to spin conspiracy theories about what may or may not have been said during some seemingly innocuous conversation. In this case, you have open admissions about how these Russian/Kremlin claims were used.
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Ron Paul Rewind (1999): 'Our Foolish Policy in Iraq Invites Terrorist Attacks Against US Territory'

Ron Paul went to the House Floor in 1999 to blast President Clinton's claim that a 1991 UN resolution gave him authority to launch an air war against Iraq. It could have been 2017, the president could be Trump, the claim of authority could be the 2001 authorization to use military force, and the air war could be against Yemen, Syria, Iraq, etc. The circumstances are identical. Rep. Paul also predicted that, "our foolish policy in Iraq invites terrorist attacks against US territory and incites the Islamic fundamentalists against us. As a consequence, our efforts to develop long-term, peaceful relations with Russia is now ending." Administrations come and go, but US foreign policy keeps making the same mistakes over and over. As Ron Paul predicted.
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There Was No 'Russian Hacking' of the 2016 Election

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The “cyber-security” firm that everyone is depending on to make the case for Russia’s alleged “hacking” of the 2016 presidential election, CrowdStrike, has just retracted a key component of its analysis – but the “mainstream” media continues to chug along, ignoring any facts that contradict their preferred narrative.

As Voice of America – hardly an instrument of Russian propaganda! – reports:
US cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.
This retraction pulls the rug out from under CrowdStrike’s identification of the hacking group that supposedly broke into the Democratic National Committee’s server.
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Mosul: Where Obama’s Last Gambit Could Ruin Trump

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Here’s why the bombing has to stop and what US journalists are not telling you: hundreds are dying in Mosul, not at the hands of ISIS, but through a failed military strategy which no one, it seems, has the guts to tell President Trump cannot achieve its objectives.

Does Trump actually really know what he is doing in Mosul or is he wildly deluded? There is a military solution to killing ISIS there, but who will be the one to present it to him?

Hugh Hewitt is a card. The pro-Trump American radio host recently told the BBC a disturbing anecdote about the US president. Apparently, Hewitt interviewed him before the US elections, and Trump told him, “Obama created ISIS.” Hewitt tried to help the (then) Presidential candidate out with his messaging: “Surely you mean Obama allowed the vacuum to develop in the Middle East which created ISIS?” to which Trump defiantly replies: “No, I mean Obama actually created ISIS.”

This, perhaps, would have been disturbing enough. But immediately after the interview, days later, Hewitt amiably noted that Trump had told other US media that, “Obama had created the vacuum,” which allowed ISIS to flourish. Even as a staunch Trump supporter, Hewitt is stunned by how both misinformed the US president is, but more how easily his thoughts can be changed by just merely talking to anyone who has the nerve to challenge him.
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War Between US And China Brewing in South China Sea?

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Adding fuel to an already highly combustible situation in Southeast Asia, Reuters reported Tuesday that China has “largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea,” and that the Asian superpower “can now deploy combat planes and other military hardware there at any time.”

Citing satellite imagery analyzed by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of Washington, D.C.’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, the news agency writes that “work on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands included naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.”

Sticking to the mainstream narrative that China is an aggressor in claiming sovereign rights to the majority of the South China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross says the new images confirm what the U.S. military already knows.

“China’s continued construction in the South China Sea is part of a growing body of evidence that they continue to take unilateral actions which are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he told Reuters.

China, as it has repeatedly, downplayed this notion and stuck to the position that it’s simply erecting defensive infrastructure within its own borders, as would any nation.
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Constitutional Q&A: The Legality of Stop and ID Procedures

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We are not supposed to be living in a “show me your papers” society.

Despite this, the US government has recently introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations. These actions fly in the face of longstanding constitutional safeguards forbidding such police state tactics.

In 2017, for example, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents boarded a plane at New York’s JFK Airport and demanded that all persons on board show “documents” identifying themselves before they would be allowed to leave the plane.[2] While such a demand might be legal if made to a person trying to cross the border into the United States, it plainly violates the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures to stop and demand identification from persons who are already legally within the country.

Government agencies insist that such stop-and-ID procedures are necessary to combat illegal immigration, especially at border crossings. But border crossings are unique circumstances in which the government may legally demand that travelers identify themselves and subject them to “routine” searches of their belongings. Nevertheless, the government has opened itself up to serious legal challenges by making the dubious claim that border agents also possess the authority to demand travelers divulge the passwords for their social media accounts and electronic devices in order to search for evidence of wrongdoing, regardless of whether agents have any suspicions whatsoever. By exploiting a loophole in the Fourth Amendment for border searches, government agents are now seeking access to virtually all digital records for the purpose of conducting criminal investigations and intelligence surveillance.
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