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US Protects Saudis From Terror Suits, Yet Backs Suits Against Iran

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Intense debate and international diplomatic blackmail has dominated the discussion of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bipartisan bill which would open up civil lawsuits against any foreign nations if they are found to be involved in the funding of a terrorist attack occurring on US soil.

It’s not totally clear what the bill’s authors initially had in mind, but with the text explicitly started the liability under the act at 9/11/01, it is quite clear that the September 11 attacks in New York City are the big, obvious use of this bill, particularly since there aren’t exactly a lot of major terror attacks within the US since then, lat alone ones in which foreign nations are implicated.

The bill puts a big target on Saudi Arabia’s back, however, and the Saudis don’t like that. Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir was reported to have informed administration officials on Sunday that, if the bill was allowed to pass, Saudi Arabia would immediately move to sell $750 billion in US treasury assets, an amount which would cause US interest rates to spike, badly damaging the US dollar and the American economy.

It was all the Saudis had to do, it seems, because by Monday the White House was talking about vetoing the bill to protect "taxpayers," and there was growing opposition within Congress, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC), a co-sponsor, putting a hold on the bill, citing concern that the bill would come back to "bite us."
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Saudis To Kerry: We Created ISIS...And CIA Knew

It was US intervention in the Middle East, say the Saudis, that led us to create first al-Qaeda and then ISIS. The US attack on Iraq tipped the balance in the region in favor of Iran and counter-measures needed to be taken. This is nothing new. The CIA helped create and back the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to counter the 1979 Soviet invasion. And the CIA knew about (at the least) Saudi plans to counter Iran's rise in the region and the uncertainty produced by US-instigated "Arab Spring" beginning in 2011. The lesson? Interventionism has consequences, some intended and some unintended. Usually counter to the stated objectives. Trying to order the world, the central planners have only created chaos...
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Collateral Damage - Obama OKs More Civilian Drone Deaths

Civilians will continue to pay a heavy price in the ongoing US war on at least seven other countries. According to a recent article, the Pentagon has issued new rules permitting a strike on a target even if up to ten innocent civilians may also get killed. Additionally, the "signature strikes" (whereby any male of military age is considered a target regardless of his actions) that were supposed to be phased out, have continued unabated. Will all this killing of innocents overseas make us more, or less, safe?
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Sue Saudis for 9/11…and the US For All its Wars

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President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry 
say that allowing family members of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for its complicity in that crime would set a terrible precedent that would open the United States up to lawsuits from abroad.

Wonderful! Let the lawsuits rain down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!

Suing Saudis over 9/11 will only set a precedent if it succeeds, which is to say if there is evidence of Saudi complicity. We know that there is, according to former Senator Bob Graham and others who have read 28 pages censored from a US Senate report. Pressure is building in Congress both to reveal those 28 pages and to allow lawsuits. And yet another Senate bill gaining support would block further US arming of Saudi Arabia.

The precedent of allowing international victims to sue those complicit in murder would not place you, dear reader, or I at risk of any lawsuits. It would, however, put numerous top US officials and former officials at risk of suits from many corners of the globe, including from the seven nations that President Obama has bragged about bombing: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya. It's not as if any of these wars is legal under Kellogg-Briand or the UN Charter.
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Nation-Building: Global Hegemony Without Local Knowledge

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In 1974, when Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics, he used his acceptance speech to deliver a warning to the world. Do not again fall for “the pretense of knowledge,” he counseled.

Hayek was singling out economic policymakers who presume to possess the knowledge needed to confidently predict and design market outcomes, much as engineers precisely predict and design mechanical outcomes.

Yet, as Hayek surely recognized, such epistemic arrogance is rampant throughout all social thought, and not just economics. It particularly plagues the realm of foreign policy.

Consider how impossible it is to know exactly what is going on in anyone else’s mind. Nobody can predict with certainty an individual’s future choices, and the preferences those choices reveal. The mind of even a single person is to a great degree opaque. Now take that opacity and multiply it by the millions of minds that make up an economy or a country. That is a hell of a lot of ignorance and unpredictability.
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Enemies Everywhere - The US War On The World

The USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis combat system, recently found the Russian air force unwelcoming as the US conducted military maneuvers just 50 miles from Russian soil. The Russian flyover was greeted in Washington with howls of "aggression!" But why was a US Naval vessel whose purpose is to target enemy missiles -- nuclear and conventional -- conducting exercises so close to Russia? Is that not also provocative? And what about the US Navy in the South China Sea? And near North Korea? And the Black Sea? Is the US at war with the world really the best idea for our security, or is Washington more interested in the financial security of the military-industrial complex?
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Washington’s War Against the World

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Secretary of War Ash Carter is concerned about America’s posture. No, it’s not about sitting with your back straight up and your knees placed primly together. It all has to do with how many enemies there are out there threatening the United States and what we have to do, globally speaking, to make them cry uncle. Ash outlined his views at a “posture hearing” before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 17th, part of a process intended to give still more money to the Pentagon, $582.7 billion to be exact for fiscal year 2017.

I respect Ash at least a bit because he once studied Medieval History at Yale, though he apparently has forgotten about the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses. Both devastated winners and losers alike, a salutary lesson for those who are concerned about what the United States has been up to for the past fifteen years. Yet Ash, who is characteristically no veteran and for whom war is an abstraction that must be supported by counting and piling up sufficient beans, thinks that more is always better when it comes to having fancy new toys to play with. Since his proposed budget will be giving the Navy a few tens of billions worth of Ohio class subs the Air Force will have to get its own strategic bombers so no one will feel cheated. Just wait until the bill from the Army comes in.

Ash justified all the needless spending by telling the Senators that there are five “security challenges” confronting the United States – terrorism, North Korea, China, Russia and Iran – before lapsing into Pentagon-speak about why more money is always better than less money. He attacked any attempt at sequestration, which would require budget cuts across the board, because it risks the “funding of critical investments.”
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The Terrorist iPhone Snow Job

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It all started so “harmless.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted to access the information of a person being investigated for mass murder so, the FBI said, it could try to prevent more terrorist attacks.

A couple months later this has morphed into a situation where the FBI is offering to help police departments across America access secured information of any electronic device connected to criminal investigations and where members of the United States Senate are moving forward with legislation to force technology companies to give the government access to secured, including via encryption, electronic devices information.

First, the FBI’s bumbled handling of an iPhone connected to a mass killing in San Bernardino provided an opening for the FBI to seek a precedent-setting court order to require Apple to assist the government in overcoming the phone’s security. Rather convenient, one might say, for a government agency determined to search and seize with the minimum possible constraint. Then, when Apple resisted the court’s order that was obtained ex parte (without Apple being afforded an opportunity to present its opposing arguments), the FBI dropped the case, claiming it found people who helped it bypass the iPhone’s security. This is after the FBI had told the magistrate judge that the FBI needed Apple’s help to accomplish the task.
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After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington

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Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Sunday voted to impeach the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff, sending the removal process to the Senate. In an act of unintended though rich symbolism, the House member who pushed impeachment over the 342-vote threshold was Dep. Bruno Araújo, himself implicated by a document indicating he may have received illegal funds from the construction giant at the heart of the nation’s corruption scandal. Even more significantly, Araújo belongs to the center-right party PSDB, whose nominees have lost four straight national elections to Rousseff’s moderate-left PT party, with the last ballot-box defeat being delivered just 18 months ago, when 54 million Brazilians voted to re-elect Dilma as president.

Those two facts about Araújo underscore the unprecedentedly surreal nature of yesterday’s proceedings in Brasília, capital of the world’s fifth largest country. Politicians and parties which have spent two decades trying, and failing, to defeat PT in democratic elections triumphantly marched forward to effectively overturn the 2014 vote by removing Dilma on grounds that, as today’s New York Times report makes clear, are, at best, dubious in the extreme. Even The Economist, which has long despised the PT and its anti-poverty programs and which wants Dilma to resign, has argued that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” and it “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.”
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Saudi 9/11 Blackmail: 'We'll Dump Dollar!'

Over the weekend, the Saudi foreign minister threatened to sell $750 billion in US dollar holdings if Congress passes legislation removing the kingdom's sovereign immunity from liability should Saudi official involvement in the attacks of 9/11 be demonstrated. What would happen to the dollar should a huge dump like this occur? It would have significant impact on global markets, says Ron Paul in today's Liberty Report. Why are the Saudis so nervous? Will their blackmail keep the 28 pages of the 9/11 Report secret? What will Obama say in Riyadh on Wednesday?
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