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Has the Dept. of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army?

ICE VEHICLE

If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.

A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.
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How to Evolve an Exit Strategy From America’s Foreign Policy Shambles — The Polk Report

Territorial Control Of The ISIS Svg 600X4581

In a nutshell, recent events in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Ukraine show there is no grand-strategic focus to America’s increasingly militarized foreign policy. A German officer in the old imperial army might say, ''kein Schwerpunkt''!

What we call foreign policy and grand strategy in the 21st Century — i.e., that ‘you are either with us or with the terrorists’* — has devolved into a self-righteous welter of bluster, threats, arms transfers, puny demonstrations (e.g., deployments of two or three B-2s), proxy wars, and bombing (especially, targeted liquidations with drones from a safe distance instead of a bullet in the back of the head), all aimed ad hoc in reaction to any crisis du jour. The pattern is more like a giant whack-a-mole game than a sensible grand strategy aimed at ending conflicts on favorable terms, while paying due regard to strengthening our bonds at home and with our allies, undermining the cohesion of our adversaries, and coping efficiently with the internal constraints limiting our actions.

Consider, please, the following: Last month President Obama announced we would extend our stay in Afghanistan — a war we have clearly lost — until the end of 2016. Last week, Mr. Obama, after months of procrastination, said he was considering sending weapons to the Syrian Sunni insurgents fighting President Assad. The most effective of these insurgents are the ISIS Jihadis who are fighting and defeating, as well as stealing or buying weapons from the other insurgents.
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America’s Middle East Delusions

USS GHW Bush

The explosive ascendance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) underscores the thoroughgoing failure of America’s political class to devise an effective and sustainable strategy for the United States after 9/11. The failure cuts across Democratic and Republican administrations, with the most self-damaging aspects of each administration’s policies roundly endorsed by the opposing party in Congress.

Both sides deny responsibility for unfolding catastrophe in Iraq: Republicans criticize Obama’s marginal modulations of Bush’s approach to the Middle East while Democrats blame Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. (Republicans also criticize Maliki, but not so much that it might exculpate Obama.) Foreign policy elites also ignore a more urgent and ongoing flaw in America’s post-9/11 Middle East policy that is directly linked to Iraq’s current crisis—Washington’s recurrent partnership with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to arm, fund, and train Sunni militias.

America’s turn to jihadi proxies did not start with Bush’s strategic malpractice in Iraq. It was born on July 3, 1979, when President Carter signed the first directive to arm jihadists in Afghanistan, before Soviet forces invaded the country. For U.S. policymakers, collaborating with Riyadh to launch transnational jihad in Afghanistan seemed a clever way to undermine the Soviet Union—by goading it into a draining occupation of Afghanistan, which Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hoped to make Moscow’s Vietnam.
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Stop Calling the Iraq War a 'Mistake'

Kucinich

As Iraq descends into chaos again, more than a decade after "Mission Accomplished," media commentators and politicians have mostly agreed upon calling the war a "mistake." But the "mistake" rhetoric is the language of denial, not contrition: it minimizes the Iraq War's disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation's foreign policy disaster. The Iraq War was not a "mistake" -- it resulted from calculated deception. The painful, unvarnished fact is that we were lied to. Now is the time to have the willingness to say that.

In fact, the truth about Iraq was widely available, but it was ignored. There were no WMD. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The war wasn't about liberating the Iraqi people. I said this in Congress in 2002. Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war -- and even leveled with the spurious charge of "not supporting the troops."
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Haven’t We Already Done Enough Damage in Iraq?

In 2006, I invited the late General Bill Odom to address my Thursday Congressional luncheon group. Gen. Odom, a former NSA director, called the Iraq war “the greatest strategic disaster in American history," and told the surprised audience that he could not understand why Congress had not impeached the president for pushing this disaster on the United States. History continues to prove the General’s assessment absolutely correct.
 
In September, 2002, arguing against a US attack on Iraq, I said the following on the House Floor:
No credible evidence has been produced that Iraq has or is close to having nuclear weapons. No evidence exists to show that Iraq harbors al Qaeda terrorists. Quite to the contrary, experts on this region recognize Hussein as an enemy of the al Qaeda and a foe to Islamic fundamentalism.
Unfortunately, Congress did not listen.
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Iraq Blows Wide Open

Bush

The late Saddam Hussein was certainly right when he predicted that America’s invasion of Iraq would become “the Mother of All Battles.” Eleven years later, it continues.

This week saw the collapse of two divisions of Iraq’s government army, a full 30,000 men running like chickens before the relentless advance of the fighters of ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Shams(Syria). The same puppet army trained and equipped for a decade by the US at a cost of $14 billion. An evil portent of what awaits Afghanistan’s US-led  army and police.

Remember when President George W. Bush boasted, “mission accomplished?” Was not the wicked Saddam Hussein lynched by US Shia allies? Wasn’t the dreaded al-Qaida defeated and its leader, Osama bin Laden, assassinated? Remember all that crowing from Washington about “draining the swamp” in Iraq?

As soon as the US knocks down one challenger to its domination of the Mideast – which I call the American Raj -  another rises up. The latest: ISIS, a fierce jihadist force that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS is a combination of Sunni jihadist groups fighting the Shia-backed Damascus government of Bashar Assad (a US enemy backed by Shia Iran), and resurgent units of Saddam’s old Ba’athist army, led by Izzat Ibrahin al-Douri, the last surviving member of Saddam’s inner circle, and a handful of al-Qaida in Iraq.
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Don’t Compound the Damage Already Done in Iraq by Doubling Down in Syria

The debate over America’s Middle East policy has reached a new level of surreality. In the wake of President Obama’s West Point commencement address last month — in which he pledged to “ramp up” U.S. support for Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad — Washington elites are exhorting the Obama administration to do much more. Former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford urges intensified training and more advanced weapons for “moderate” opposition fighters; others argue for direct U.S. military involvement. At the same time, Washington has been stunned by the success of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and several other strategic targets, and is drawing close to Baghdad.

Washington elites are effectively compartmentalizing these stories — but, in fact, they are intimately related, and policymakers need to understand the connection to avoid another disaster in the heart of the Middle East.
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Once Again Into The Breach: U.S. Shipping More Weapons and Preparing More Military Aid To Iraq

Type 69 Iraq

The United States is mulling further intervention in Iraq as the government forces flee Al Qaeda-linked insurgents and the country appears teetering on chaos. While the Administration is not ready to commit boots not the grounds, we may be moving toward a further influx of hundreds of millions or billions in military aid and even air strikes. As ISIS insurgents are seizing U.S. weaponry, the U.S. has already started to flood the country a new massive shipment of new free weapons.

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIS is on a roll and nearing the capital. It is an al-qaeda linked terrorist group following the Wahhabi movement, the extreme religious view advanced by our ally Saudi Arabia.

So let’s take stock. We replaced a dictator based on lies in a massive invasion ordered by George W. Bush. We then spent over $2 trillion (the cost is over $4 trillion when you include Afghanistan). Both President Bush and President Obama continued to pour hundred of billions of dollars in the country despite massive corruption and billions that simply disappeared. That the same time we have been cutting back on our own educational, environmental, scientific, and social programs due to a lack of money. Consider what $4 trillion would have done.
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Ron Paul Rewind: 'Do Not Attack Iraq!' (2002)

On the eve of President Bush's war on Iraq, as the House debated the authorization for the use of force that it ultimately gave the president, then-Rep. Ron Paul stood up to oppose the coming war from every possible angle. The process was wrong; the precedent set by launching a pre-emptive war would come back to haunt us; the age-old Christian "Just War" doctrine had not been met, thus the war was immoral; the war would cost a fortune; and so on. He tried every approach to get his colleagues to listen.

With the rapid fall of Iraq to an al-Qaeda affiliated army, the ISIS, in progress this week — an al-Qaeda that did not exist in Iraq before the invasion — we can look back and wish that the rest of the Congress and the president had listened to Ron Paul's warnings and pleas...
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Ground Hog Day in the Drug War

Groundhog

A news article this week entitled “South Laredo Trafficking Group Indicted” caught my attention. That’s because Laredo is my hometown. I spent 26 years there, including 8 years practicing law, most of which was in partnership with my father.

That newspaper article is about the drug war. It reports that an indictment was returned against 24 Laredoans for violations of federal drug laws. The indictment charges the defendants with distribution of cocaine, crack, and marijuana in the Laredo area.

As I read the article, I got the distinct impression that I was living “Ground Hog Day,” because this type of article was standard fare in Laredo when I was in high school in the late 1960s and then also when I returned to Laredo to practice law in 1975.

In fact, my very first trial, right out of law school, was a federal drug case in U.S. District Court in Laredo. Since the defendant could not afford a lawyer, the federal judge appointed me to represent him. My client was claiming he was innocent and went to trial. The jury acquitted him.

When I was in high school, my father served as U.S. magistrate. The line of people brought before him on federal drug charges (including Timothy Leary) always seemed to me to be endless. Part of the reason for this, my father told me, was relayed to him by the federal judge, who suspected that federal agents at the international bridge were planting drugs on long-haired hippies returning from Mexico. It was my first exposure to the corrupting nature of the drug war.
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