Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:31:54 GMT Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:31:54 GMT Five Minutes Five Issues: Audit the Fed, Healthcare Bill, Veterans’ Guns, Bomb Threats, Police Cameras Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

At a Thursday hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the United Sates House of Representatives, Norman Singleton of the Campaign for Liberty linked the growth of the “welfare-warfare state” to the Federal Reserve in his presentation in favor of HR 24.

HR 24 is this Congress’ version of the Audit the Fed legislation Ron Paul previously sponsored as a House member.

Preventing war is one of the reasons Paul wants to audit the Fed as well as end the Fed. As Paul declares in his book Swords into Plowshares, “[w]ithout the power over the creation of money and credit employed by the politicians and central bankers working in secret, most wars could not be fought.”

Issue two.

In 2010, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said people would learn what was is in the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, after Congress passed it. This week, an effort to pass legislation before people had a chance to understand it was taking place again in the House, this time with a major healthcare bill marketed as repealing and replacing Obamacare. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a House member and a Ron Paul Instituted Advisory Board member, said in a statement, “the rushed, behind-closed-doors process they’ve used is shameful,”

The new bill, unable to gain sufficient support, was withdrawn Friday afternoon without a vote.

Issue Three.

Last week, the US House of Representatives approved HR 1181, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. The bill concerns protecting the right to bear arms. It also concerns protecting due process, the right to privacy, and the right not to be databased by the government for punishment based on bureaucrats’ decisions.

HR 1181 is intended to prevent US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decisions regarding veterans’ mental health, even just their ability to handle their finances, from resulting in veterans being listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) list of individuals prohibited from purchasing or possessing guns. The legislation states that such a determination requires instead an order or finding from “a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”

HR 1181 must also be approved by the US Senate for the bill to reach President Donald Trump for signing or a veto.

There is reason to expect that HR 1181 will become law. As I mentioned in the March 4 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, earlier this year Congress approved and Trump signed into law H.J. Res. 40 that prohibits the implementation of regulations that would have allowed the US Social Security Administration to take similar actions against people receiving Social Security benefits.

Issue four.

On Thursday, a Jewish teenager with US and Israel citizenship was arrested in Israel for allegedly making many of the bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions we have heard about in the news lately. The teenager’s lawyer says a brain tumor may have caused irrational behavior.

Earlier this month, Juan Thompson was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri for allegedly making some more of the threats against Jewish organizations. The allegations say Thompson sometimes made the threats in the name of a former girlfriend and other times in his own name and then claimed she was framing him.

Issue five.

Police body cameras have provided evidence of police brutality. But, Ava Kofman wrote Wednesday at The Intercept that, as real-time face recognition technology advances and photo databases grow, those body cameras along with other police cameras may be used more and more to conduct mass surveillance.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:31:54 GMT
Cornerstone of Afghan Reconstruction Effort — Roads — is Near-Total Failure Peter van Buren

One of the planned cornerstones of the 15+ year Afghan Reconstruction Effort was to be an extensive, nationwide network of roads.

The United States’ concept was roads would allow the Afghan economy to flourish as trade could reach throughout the country, security would be enhanced by the ability to move security forces quickly to where they were needed, and that the presence of the roads would serve as a literal symbol of the central government’s ability to extend its presence into the countryside.

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its audit of the Department of Defense’s and USAID’s $2.8 billion investment in Afghanistan’s road infrastructure.

The project has been a near-total failure. The audit notes:

— An Afghan Ministry of Public Works’ (MOPW) official stated 20 percent of the roads have been destroyed and the remaining 80 percent continue to deteriorate.

— USAID estimated that unless maintained, it would cost about $8.3 billion to replace Afghanistan’s road infrastructure, and estimated that 54 percent of Afghanistan’s road infrastructure suffered from poor maintenance and required rehabilitation beyond simple repairs.

— SIGAR inspections of 20 road segments found that 19 had road damage ranging from deep surface cracks to roads and bridges destroyed by weather or insurgents. Some 17 segments were either poorly maintained or not maintained at all.

— MOPW officials noted that Afghanistan’s road infrastructure plays an important role in the country’s development and governance, and if the Kabul to Kandahar highway were to become impassable, the central government would collapse.

— MOPW officials stated it will cost $100 million annually to carry out the necessary maintenance on Afghanistan’s road infrastructure. However, between 2011 and 2016, MOPW received only an average of $21.3 million annually from its American patrons.

— According to a former U.S. official, the Afghan government would always sign the required memorandum acknowledging it had the capability to sustain a project, despite not having the capability to do so. American advisors would always accept the memorandum despite knowing the Afghans did not have the capability to do so.

BONUS: Who in America would not want to see $2.8 billion of American taxpayer money spent on roads here in the Homeland?

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 16:22:45 GMT
Is a National Government Necessary for National Defense? Robert Higgs

Gordon Tullock used to taunt anarchists by asserting that if the USA abolished its government, people would not have to worry about the Russians taking over the country because “the Mexicans would get here first.”

This little story actually incorporates a common objection to anarchy—namely, the idea that because, if a country abolished its government, other countries would not necessarily follow suit, the governments of those other countries would be free to, and would, simply take over the country that, lacking a government, also lacked an effective means of defending itself against takeover by a foreign power.

This thinking presumes at least two critical ideas: first, that defense of a population requires a government that rules that population; and, second, that if a government has the power to take over another country, it will do so.

As for the first assumption, it seems clear that a national government may prove an ineffective means of defense in any event, as many governments have demonstrated through the ages. Moreover, it is certainly conceivable that decentralized measures of defense, such as pervasive guerrilla groups operating more or less independently, might prove effective in preventing a foreign takeover.

As for the second assumption, the persistence of many small countries with weak governments, even in today’s world, certainly calls into question the idea that effectively defenseless countries cannot persist. Surely Brazil has the means to conquer Uruguay, but it does not do so. Surely Germany or France has the means to conquer Belgium, but neither does so. And so forth in regard to many other countries. Governments have various good reasons for refraining from such possible conquests.

Thus, even if the Mexicans could get to the USA first, it is by no means certain that they would choose to do so. And if they did invade the USA, it is by no means certain that they would succeed in the conquest they sought.

Reprinted with permission from the Independent Institute.]]> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:21:44 GMT
Reports: US Airstrikes Killed 230 Civilians in Mosul Overnight Jason Ditz

As the US airstrikes in the Iraqi city of Mosul are increasingly concentrated around densely populated neighborhoods in the city’s west, the death toll from those airstrikes in spiraling rapidly out of control, with the most recent figures out of the area suggesting around 230 civilians were killed overnight in US and coalition strikes in just a single neighborhood.

That’s an enormous toll, of course, but is reported from several sources telling largely the same story, including that a single US airstrike against a large building full of civilians in Mosul killed over 130 people, while the other 100 or so were killed in the surrounding area.

Central Command said that they were “aware of the loss of life” and were carrying out “further investigation,” while insisting that all of their strikes against Mosul overnight “comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.” Centcom’s official report for the overnight strikes claimed they’d hit “11 fighting positions” and didn’t mention killing hundreds of civilians.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the civilian death toll was mostly women and children, saying that the bulk of the bodies were pulled from just three adjoining residences in the Jadida neighborhood. They speculated the civilians were “human shields” for ISIS snipers in the area.

That would be an awful lot of human shields, of course, and there wouldn’t be much point of stashing them inside buildings where the US forces clearly either didn’t know where they were or didn’t feel it amounted to a deterrent to bombing those buildings anyhow.

If the toll is ultimately confirmed by Centcom, which is a huge “if” given how often well documented incidents never end up on their official reports, it would roughly double the number of civilians the US has admitted to killing in Iraq and Syria over the ISIS war. NGOs have suggested the US strikes have killed well over 2,000 civilians already, and that’s not including last night’s massive toll.
]]> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:17:46 GMT
Tillerson: US Forces Will Stay in Iraq After Defeat of ISIS Robert Wenzel

Imagine my surprise.

US military forces will remain in Iraq after the military defeat of the Islamic State in order to avert another resurgence of the terrorist organization, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Wednesday.

"The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS," Tillerson said in comments at the State Department before a meeting of "the global coalition to defeat ISIS."

In perfect doublespeak,  Tillerson said the soldiers will not be engaged in "nation-building," but described a process of "stabilization" and "normalization" that would lead to the development of a strong "civil society" in the war-torn region.

This, in other words, will be a multi-decade U.S. nation-building occupation---launched by President Trump.

Reprinted with permission from Target Liberty.]]> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:47:24 GMT
Revealed: Intelligence Community Collected and Shared Information about Trump Transition People Adam Dick

Early information arising from a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigation into possible United States government spying on Donald Trump and people associated with him appears to show that information about individuals associated with Trump and his presidential transition was collected through surveillance by, and was widely distributed in, the US intelligence community.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that “on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition” and that “details about US persons associated with the incoming administration — details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value — were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”

Nunez also stated in a press release Wednesday that he has “asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15 letter, and to provide a full account of” related surveillance activities.

Nunes’ discussion of the information being “incidentally collected” and then being widely distributed despite having little or no apparent foreign intelligence value highlights a reason to reject the common claim that people who have done nothing wrong have no reason to worry about mass surveillance. When you allow surveillance to run wild, then information that has nothing to do with the supposed purposes of the surveillance, such as protecting Americans from terrorist attacks, can be easily and frequently swept up and shared.

It is naïve to believe that none of the people who obtain the surveillance-derived information will then use it to their advantage, even if that results in harm to the people “incidentally” surveilled. It is also naïve to assume that surveillance efforts will not be adjusted here and there to make sure that more of the desired, but definable as “incidentally collected,” information is obtained and shared.]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:34:34 GMT
Honor the Great Peace Warrior, Ron Paul Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. undefined

Join the Mises and Ron Paul Institutes for a symposium on war and peace in the age of Trump. We’ll meet in Ron’s hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas, on Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9am-1pm.

Speakers include Dr. Paul, David Stockman, Phil Giraldi, Jeff Deist, Dan McAdams, and me. The price, which includes luncheon, is just $40 per person. Register here.]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:30:49 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Phone Searches, War Guidelines, Michael Brown, Guilty Pleas, Assassination Secrets Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

Searches of United States citizen’s phones at US borders increased much in the final years of the Obama administration and continue in high numbers in the new Trump administration. A Monday report from NBC provides numbers from the Department of Homeland Security showing there was a fivefold increase in the searches “from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016” and that 5,000 searches occurred in February of this year.

Maybe you think you can exercise your right, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, not to have your phone searched. Good luck with that. The NBC report relates this story of a US citizen who, after his phone had been searched at the border when he had returned from a previous trip to Canada, refused to allow another search of his phone when he was again at the US/Canada border:
"One of the officers calls out to me and says, 'Hey, give me your phone,'" recalled [Akram] Shibly. "And I said, 'No, because I already went through this.'"

The officer asked a second time.

Within seconds, [Shibly] was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone.
Issue two.

Guidelines for ordering US military attacks, including targeted killings, in the Global War on Terror may soon be loosened.

Citing unnamed senior government officials, Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung wrote Monday in the Washington Post that the Trump administration “is close to finishing a review that would make it easier for the Pentagon to launch counterterrorism strikes anywhere in the world.”

In particular, the Post writers note that potential changes include the nixing of the requirement of presidential approval of attacks, thus leaving the decision to military leaders, and the scrapping of “the ‘near-certainty’ standard of no civilian deaths for strikes outside war zones.” They also write that “a standard that potential terror targets outside war zones pose a continuing and imminent threat to Americans” could be eliminated.

Issue three.

Be suspicious of reports of the bad character and violent actions of people who have been killed by police. Sometimes, certain information is selectively made public to make such individuals seem violent and of bad character while other information indicating that the truth is otherwise is withheld. Such may be the case with the widely reported allegation that Michael Brown, who in August of 2014 was shot dead by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, had stolen cigarillos from a store. The allegation was somewhat backed up with video from the store. What people did not see was video from earlier that may show Brown offering to trade with store employees a bag containing something — maybe marijuana — for cigarillos and, instead of walking out with the cigarillos, leaving them at the store to pick up later. The new documentary Stranger Fruit includes some of the additional video.

Issue four.

According to the United States Sentencing Commission’s 2016 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, in the years 2012 to 2016 only 2.7 to 3.1 percent of individuals charged in federal criminal cases had a trial. The remaining 97 percent just pled guilty. Are all the individuals in the 97 percent guilty? Certainty not. If the system is stacked against you, pleading guilty to a crime you did not commit can seem like the best option.

Issue five.

Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger wrote this week that thousands of pages of government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are scheduled to be released in October. But, Hornberger notes that some important documents are not included and that President Trump has the power to selectively keep secret, based on a “national security” justification, information scheduled to be released in October.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.]]> Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:56:37 GMT
Syria: The Micro World War Jack Perry

Wow, who knew that the Israeli air force was running ops in Syria? In the news Friday, Israel is bragging that they intercepted and downed a Syrian SAM that was sent up after one of its planes. Israel says they’re in Syria to hit Hezbollah’s version of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Okay, now we’ve got Israel running its own airstrikes in there, Turkey also from time to time, Russia we know, the United States we know, and Iran when they find spare parts for their F-4 Phantoms. Plus the Syrian air force, of course. Hmmm…several nations involved in one war. Sounds like a micro world war to me.

Now this is just all up in the air, so to speak. But let some of those aircraft bump into one another, and someone panics and turns loose of a AAM or a burst from his 20mm cannon and this little air show could turn into dogfight city with detours through SAM Alley. You can’t have this many aircraft all operating in there before, sooner or later, something is going to happen. But more to the point, Israel in there is the joker in the deck that could really heat things up.

Israel can pull off ops like when they took out Saddam’s Osirak nuclear power plant. While they couldn’t say so out loud, most of the Arab states were quietly relieved that Saddam couldn’t get a hold of a nuclear weapon. But as far as sticking its mitts into a war that is in Syria and does not concern Israel, that could blow up badly. Israel SAYS this is about Hezbollah, but can they be believed? If that SAM had caught up with that Israeli plane and the pilot punched out and got captured by Syrian ground forces, we’d have seen some serious escalation. And that is exactly what’s going to happen if Israel is not ordered out of the pool ASAP.

Not that Israel being told to leave the party will stop this world war from continuing and escalating. The United States now has at least one heavy artillery firebase in Syria running 155mm howitzer fire missions. They came in there with up-armored Humvees and Stryker APCs, too. Plus, there’s a U.S. military “reaction force” squatting over in Kuwait on stand-by. And this all began because Assad needed to be removed??!! Oh, come on! There’s got to be more to it than that.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 18 Mar 2017 14:20:40 GMT
Lawrence Wilkerson Warns US Generating Enemies Beyond its Capacity to Deal With Adam Dick
In the interview, which is largely focused on some individuals’ effort to influence US foreign policy toward creating intensified animosity between the governments of the US and Russia, Wilkerson explains further his concern about the long list of US enemies. Wilkerson states:
What I can't fathom right now is why anyone would want, with the situation the way it is right now in this country, another enemy. You know that old conservation of enemies theory: You don't want any more than you can handle at any given time. Look at who we're lining up, Paul. We're lining up China. We're lining up Iran and all that goes along with Iran, including Hezbollah in Lebanon. We are lining up with North Korea. We are lining up with Russia. This is absurd. John McCain and Lindsay Graham can pontificate all day long, but I'm going to tell you that they're idiots. We do not need an enemy list that is beyond what we could even in the most wild moment contemplate handling. We don't have the military forces to handle all these enemies, and, yet, we're bearding them, as it were.
Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board Member at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.]]> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 21:41:58 GMT
Raqqa and Manjib Not Central to Assad Michael S. Rozeff

The Syrian military strategy of President Assad is well-known. It is explained hereand here. This strategy has succeeded. The Assad coalition of forces is defeating his opponents. They are continuing steadily to clear remaining opposition forces from Syria.

Raqqa has not been central to Assad. Neither has Manjib. They remain to be “cleaned up”, but they were not of strategic importance to Assad and still aren’t.

Trump’s introduction of US boots on the ground adds a new layer of conflicting territorial objectives and conflicting political control over certain contested cities and villages. He has gotten the US directly involved or more directly involved in another war than Obama had already done. Yet more involvement or escalation is now inevitable; the US has already bolstered its force in Kuwait.

The US desire for territorial and political control in this portion of Syria remains to be seen. It is one thing to shoot howitzers from a distance. It is another thing to move troops into contested areas and become involved in the administration of cities and villages. It is another thing to be politically dealing with half a dozen and more different groups: Kurds and Kurd factions, Turks, Arab-supported factions, Russians, Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians, and Muslim factions.

If Trump had stayed out of Syria or withdrawn existing contingents of US forces from Syria, this would not have satisfied his own anti-Iran policy, the anti-Russia elements of the deep state, the beneficiaries of military spending and war, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Israel.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 11 Mar 2017 19:41:23 GMT
Ron Paul Calls WikiLeaks Revelation of CIA Documents ‘Fantastic’ Adam Dick
Watch Paul’s complete interview, in which he also talks about potential dangers related to technology, here:

]]> Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:11:06 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Telescreens, Surveillance Elitism, Arizona Gold, Trump Pat-Down, CIA Truth Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

WikiLeaks revealed this week thousands of United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents. The documents include information concerning the government hacking some televisions so they become surveillance devices for listening to people.

This brings to mind the telescreens in the dystopia of George Orwell’s novel 1984. Here is part of the description of telescreen surveillance in the first chapter of 1984:
Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he would be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any given wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all of the time.
Issue two.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump expressed indignation that the US government subjected his presidential campaign to electronic surveillance. Yet, earlier in the week, an anonymous White House official was quoted in a Reuters article saying the administration supports reauthorizing, with no limitations added, US mass surveillance law provisions that are set to expire.

Is this the elitist approach we are to expect from the Trump administration — surveillance of Trump and his associates is wrong, but surveillance of the common people is OK?

Issue three.

On Wednesday, Ron Paul testified at an Arizona State Senate Finance Committee hearing. The topic of Paul’s presentation was his support for sound money and, in particular, for HB 2014, a bill being considered in the Arizona legislature that defines certain coins containing precious metal as legal tender. The bill also eliminates the state’s taxation of capital gains from the exchange of such coins for US dollars. The bill has passed in the Arizona House of Representatives, and, after the hearing at which Paul spoke, it was approved by the Senate committee.

Issue four.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began employing a “universal pat-down” procedure this week that will result in the more invasive frisking of many individuals, including people who are randomly chosen for frisking, as well as people who either refuse to stand in a full-body scanner or for whom a full-body scanner’s results indicate they should be frisked.

The TSA calls the friskings “pat-downs,” a phrase that may make the action involved sound less offensive. Whatever you call it, the TSA is subjecting people, who just want to travel from point A to point B, to mandatory invasive touching and searching similar to what people are subjected to before being taken to jail on a criminal charge or while serving a sentence in prison.

In the Tuesday episode of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, Ron Paul strongly criticized the worsening TSA friskings. Paul also declared that he would like to see President Trump wait in an airport TSA line and be publicly subjected to the new type of frisking. Maybe that experience, Paul suggested, would lead Trump to respect our rights more.

Issue five.

On Thursday, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spokesman Jonathan Liu wrote in a statement to media that “Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.” Strange, that sounds more like a description of the CIA than of Assange or his WikiLeaks organization.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 22:51:15 GMT
'Bomb the Sh*t Out Of Them!' - Trump Drones Yemen More in One Week Than Obama in a Year Daniel McAdams

Undeterred by the disastrous commando raid on Yemen in the first days of his Administration, where plenty of civilians were killed but the target got away, President Donald Trump has escalated US military involvement in the tragic Yemen conflict to an unprecedented level. In fact as Foreign Policy reports, the US President has bombed Yemen more in the past week than President Obama (no peacenik) has bombed in a year.

But although the US escalation in Yemen is sold back home as another aggressive front in the war against al-Qaeda, in fact US operations in Yemen are actually helping al-Qaeda as well as its chief sponsor, Saudi Arabia.

The problem is that because his advisors are increasingly drawn from the neocon camp, the advice he is given is filtered through the "noble lie" that the neocons view as the central tenet of their faith. Thus even though the main enemies of al-Qaeda in Yemen are the Houthis, because Trump has been sold the neocon lie that the Houthis are Iranian proxies Trump is droning Yemen back to the stone age to the advantage of al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia, who are on the same side.

While it is arguable that the President has authority under the authorization for the use of military force against those attacked us on 9/11 to attack al-Qaeda in Yemen, very few would argue that such authorization extends to actually helping al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Meanwhile, US drone attacks are killing civilians in Yemen and contributing to the genocide of the Yemeni people whose only crime is to have rejected a president who ran unopposed -- a US-backed "Arab Spring" candidate -- and who immediately approved US drone strikes on his own country.

The Trump State Department is going all in. A sale of anti-Houthi weapons to Saudi Arabia that even the Obama administration rejected was hastily approved by the new Administration and soon will be deployed in Saudi Arabia's war of aggression against its neighbor.

The Trump Administration is doubling down on all of President Obama's mistakes. Siding with al-Qaeda in Yemen on the false notion that it is fighting a proxy war against Iran.

The neocons are running circles around the new US President. Deal-maker? On foreign affairs, he's more like a vulnerable rube walking into a used car lot populated by shark car salesmen. 

By the way, the Pentagon just finished investigating the Pentagon over the disastrous Yemen raid -- where scores of civilians were gunned down by the US military in cold blood but they missed the claimed target. It may shock you, but the Pentagon found that the Pentagon had done nothing wrong. Investigation complete!]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 01:16:33 GMT
Trump Invades Syria
US forces in Manbij, Syria. March 5, 2017.

Although the Syrian army, with its ally Russia, has made significant gains against ISIS over the past week or so, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that President Trump has for the first time sent regular US military personnel into that country in combat positions. This is an unprecedented escalation of US involvement in the Syrian war and it comes without Congressional authorization, without UN authorization, and without the authorization of the government of Syria. In short it is three ways illegal.

According to the Post, US Marines have departed their ships in the Mediterranean and have established an outpost on Syrian soil from where they will fire artillery toward the ISIS "headquarters" of Raqqa. The Post continues:
The Marines on the ground include part of an artillery battery that can fire powerful 155-millimeter shells from M777 Howitzers, two officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deployment. The expeditionary unit’s ground force, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, will man the guns and deliver fire support for U.S.-backed local forces who are preparing an assault on the city. Additional infantrymen from the unit are likely to provide security.
On March 5th, RT ran footage of a US military convoy entering Syria near Manbij. The US mainstream media initially blacked out the story, but the Post today confirmed that the troops were from the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Stryker vehicles.

What is important to understand about this sudden escalation of US involvement is that if this "race to Raqqa" is won by the US military rather than by Syrian government forces, the chance that the US will hand the territory back to the Assad government is virtually nil. In other words, this is an operation far less about wiping ISIS out from eastern Syria and much more about the United States carving out eastern Syria as a permanent outpost from where it can, for example, continue the original neocon/Israeli/Saudi plan for "regime change" in Syria. 

The United States is making a military bid for a very large chunk of sovereign Syrian territory. Something even Obama with his extraordinarily reckless Middle East policy would not dare to do.

How will the Russians react to this development? How will the Russians react if increased US military activity on the ground in Syria begins to threaten Russian military forces operating in Syria (with the consent of that country's legal government)?  With President Trump's "get along with Russia" policy lying in the tatters of a Nikki Haley at the UN and a Fiona Hill at NSC Staff, how differently might the Russians see US actions in Syria than they might have only a month or so ago?

Make no mistake: this is big news. And very bad news.
]]> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 00:01:50 GMT
Can Public Opinion Check Presidential Power? Adam Dick

The concentration of power in the United States presidency has had a good run over the last few decades. This concentration of power is evident in presidents pursuing war after war without the constitutionally-required congressional declaration of war or even a congressional vote on an authorization for use of military force (AUMF). It is also evident in presidents using executive orders and regulations to bypass the legislative process.

President Barack Obama was up-front about his desire to use expansive executive power to bypass the Congress when he said before a Cabinet meeting in January of 2014, “I've got a pen, and I've got a phone.” The pen, Obama explained, he could use to “sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions” without any involvement of Congress. The phone, he said, he could use to build support for his unilateral actions.

Yet, there does appear to be significant disapproval of increasing presidential power. Pew Research Center poll results indicate large majorities of Americans questioned in August and February said that it is too risky to give US presidents more power to deal directly with many of the country’s problems.

But, something interesting is revealed when the numbers are broken down by party affiliation. In August, when a Democrat was president and most polls and pundit predictions were saying a Democrat would win the November election, the opposition to increasing presidential powers was much higher, at 82 percent, among Republican and Republican-leaning individuals than the 66 percent among Democratic and Democratic-leaning individuals. Move forward a few months to February after a Republican became president and the numbers just about reverse to 65 percent on the Republican side and 87 percent on the Democratic side.

If people would be steadfast in their opposition to increasing presidential power instead of shifting to become proponents of power expansion when their “team” is in charge, there would be much more reason for optimism that the growth of presidential power will stop expanding or will even be cut back. Such a firming of conviction against increasing presidential powers would deprive presidents, whatever their political parties, of much of the power of “a phone” that Obama said is important in asserting unilateral executive power.

One thing that could cause the opposition to increasing presidential power to solidify is more people coming to understand that presidents, irrespective of their party labels, seek to increase power to benefit the few at the expense of the many. A president can be counted on to throw a few scraps now and then to the people who identify with his party to keep their support. But, he can also be counted on to focus on using government power to achieve the goals of himself, people connected to his administration, and powerful special interests.
]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 19:07:12 GMT
US Airstrikes Continue in Yemen, Killing Former Gitmo Detainee Jason Ditz

Heavy US airstrikes that began Thursday and continued through the weekend have not halted yet, with at least one strike reported on Monday, with the drone strike destroying a car and killing both people within, labeled “suspected terrorists,” though both were burned beyond recognition and unidentified.

On the other hand, we finally do have one identified victim among the flurry of strikes in the past five days, with reports that former Gitmo detainee Yasir al-Silmi was slain. Officials say they think he was part of al-Qaeda, though they say he was not a “high-value” target.

It is still unclear why the US launched this sudden flurry of attacks, though Pentagon officials maintain that the targets were all selected before President Trump’s inauguration, and had nothing to do with the failed January ground raid in the country.

Yemeni officials say they believe the operation will be “sustained,” and “open-ended,” though the dozens of strikes reported on Thursday have been reduced to just a couple a day over the weekend, and by all accounts, just one on Monday.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:41:46 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Anti-Marijuana Sessions, War Propaganda, No Guns List, Military Spending, Prostitution Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

In a Tuesday speech at a Washington, DC meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Well, the scenario Sessions mentioned sounds great to me. Legalizing such widespread sales of marijuana would respect freedom more than does the relatively-restrictive licensed marijuana sales allowed in early states’ legalization efforts. Such widespread sales already work fine for beer in many states now.

Issue two.

The portion of President Donald Trump’s Tuesday speech at the US Capitol Building that was dedicated to talking about a US military member who died while taking part in a commando raid in Yemen was “standard fare in U.S. war propaganda.” That is the assessment of Glenn Greenwald, writing at The Intercept. Greenwald elaborates, stating, “[w]e fixate on the Americans killed, learning their names and life stories and the plight of their spouses and parents, but steadfastly ignore the innocent people the U.S. government kills, whose numbers are always far greater.” As examples, Greenwald points to similar comments regarding wounded US troops in speeches at the same venue by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Greenwald writes that such propaganda is important to recognize because the propaganda “keeps Americans supporting endless war” by ensuring “that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it.”

Issue three.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed into law H.J. Res. 40. As I explained at the Ron Paul Institute website last month, the legislation prohibits the imposing of certain regulations published in December. Those regulations define a process by which the Social Security Administration unilaterally determines individuals have sufficient mental health problems for the US government to restrain them from purchasing and possessing guns.

The enactment of H.J. Res. 40 is a rare example of the president and Congress tearing down one of the US government’s many privacy-invading programs that database us to restrict our activities.           

Issue four.

Ron Paul Institute Academic Board Member Lawrence Wilkerson has seen the military-industrial complex up close, including during his 31 years in the Army from which he retired as a colonel.

This week, in an interview with Paul Jay at the Real News Network, Wilkerson recounted an example of how military spending comes about. Speaking of his work in the 1970s on developing the Army’s Humvees program, Wilkerson described the process that results in huge military spending with widespread congressional support. Wilkerson said:
I was told by the Congress to go back to Fort Benning at the time and I had a 400 million dollar program, and they said: “You gotta have a bigger program, gotta have a bigger program; It’s gotta be in every state you can get it in.” I went back, developed a 9 billion dollar program for a 59,000-vehicle buy, and sold the program. That was in the late ’70s. It’s mushroomed majorly since then. Now we have helicopters and fighter planes and ships and other things built, a component of which is built in every state.
Issue five.

A Michigan legislator is drafting legislation to end a state exemption from prosecution for cops who have sex with prostitutes in the course of an investigation.

Here is a better idea: Legalize prostitution. And while you’re at it, legalize drugs and gambling too. Stop introducing dangers to nonviolent activities by making those activities illegal, and tell the cops to focus on crimes with victims.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

]]> Mon, 06 Mar 2017 14:59:43 GMT
James Clapper Denies Obama Wiretapped Trump Tyler Durden

The former Director of National Intelligence under the Obama administration, James Clapper, denied there was a secret court order for surveillance at Trump Tower. Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press, Clapper said that in the national intelligence activity he oversaw, "there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign."

Clapper was asked if he would be aware if something like that had happened. "I would certainly hope so ... Obviously I can't speak officially anymore," "But I will say that for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity." Clapper said that as intelligence director he would have known about a "FISA court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it."

Clapper also said he would know if a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order existed for "something like this."

"And at this point you can't confirm or deny whether that exists?" host Chuck Todd asked.

"I can deny it," Clapper said in response. "There is no FISA court order," Todd asked. "Not to my knowledge," Clapper responded.

Clapper left the White House on January 20 when Trump took office.

Clapper's comments come after President Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the last stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, and at the same time as the White House announced it would request a Congressional probe into whether Obama abused "executive branch investigative powers."

Some have pointed out the irony of relying on Clapper's word to deny Trump's - so far unsourced - allegations.

In addition to his political role in firing Michael Flynn from the directorship of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, Flynn is perhaps best known for his March 2013 appearance in Seante, months before Snowden provided extensive NSA data documenting sweeping domestic and international communications dragnets, in which Clapper engaged in a back and forth with Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee.

Wyden asked Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?”

Clapper replied, untruthfully: “No sir,” rubbing his head. “Not wittingly.”

After Snowden's documents confirmed Clapper lied, the former intelligence director offered a shifting series of explanations for his publicly uttered falsehood. He first said it was the “least untruthful” answer he could provide in an unclassified hearing. Later he said he misunderstood which particular communications collection program Wyden was asking about – despite Wyden’s staff alerting Clapper’s before the hearing as to the question – and apologized to the committee.

Later, Clapper's lawyer, Robert Litt, would deny that Clapper lied and said the director simply forgot. Litt would also say that Clapper finds open intelligence-committee hearings, a requirement of congressional oversight, as annoying as folding fitted sheets, citing a distinctive turn of phrase used by his boss.

In November 2016, some lawmakers renewed their calls for perjury charges to face perjury charges. As USNews reported last year, "to his critics, Clapper lied under oath, a crime that threatens effective oversight of the executive branch. In an apology letter to lawmakers, however, Clapper said he gave the “clearly erroneous” answer because he “simply didn’t think of” the call-record collection. Clapper later told MSNBC he considered the question akin to asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?” and so gave the “least untruthful” answer."
No charges were filed against Clapper, but his critics say the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump could change that. Trump frequently railed against a 'rigged system' on the campaign trail, alleging powerful people such as Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, avoid criminal charges thanks to a corrupt legal system.

'No one is above the law. Officials who commit perjury or lie to Congress should be held accountable,' Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold tells U.S. News by email.

'Given the implications, a cursory examination of the facts to date under a less biased DOJ is in order,' says Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks. 'I will withhold my judgment contingent on those findings.'
Then-outgoing Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said that Clapper could have sidestepped Wyden’s question but chose not to do so and further faults him for not issuing a prompt correction.  “This lie was particularly egregious because the answer actually affected the lives of every American,” Grayson says. “Clapper’s subsequent attempts at rationalization are no different from what Richard Nixon said: ‘When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.’ If we want to call ourselves a nation of laws, then it is important that Clapper be prosecuted, and convicted.”

For the time being, it's Clapper words versus that of Trump. Should Trump persist with his demand for a Congressional probe into Obama's alleged wiretapping, it is almost certain that Clapper will once again be called in to testify. It is unknown if he will again commit perjury and lie to Congress.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 21:18:18 GMT
NATO’s scaremongering about ‘Russia threat’ to Baltic States ‘is all about money’ RT

The US security establishment is trying to justify its existence, says Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, commenting on a new report which lists how NATO can help the Baltic States counter Russian "hybrid warfare."

The American global policy think-tank, the RAND Corporation, published a report that claims NATO should do more to counter the potential Russian threat and strengthen the Baltic countries' forces. The US government-funded body issued a report titled, “Hybrid Warfare in the Baltics: Threats and Potential Responses.”

The document raises concern over “Russian use of “hybrid warfare” best understood as covert or deniable activities, supported by conventional or nuclear forces, to influence the domestic politics of target countries.”

The author of the report, Andrew Radin claims “these tactics are of particular concern in the Baltic countries of Estonia and Latvia, which have significant Russian-speaking minorities.” He warns that there is concern Russia will seek to use these minorities to gain influence in the region, “use covert action to seize territory, use subversion to justify a conventional attack, or otherwise use deniable or convert means to gain influence in the Baltics and undermine the EU and NATO.”

RT discussed the report with McAdams and asked him why potential “Russian aggression” is in the spotlight again. Is there a real threat?
In his view, what we are seeing is just another example of the national security establishment in the US “having to justify its existence.” 

McAdams said:
The report itself outlines many things that NATO has to do to help the Baltics. The Baltics are absolutely irrelevant to the security of NATO. Their only relevance is geographic. They are close to Russia. Therefore, NATO can hold exercises on Russia’s border to provoke Russia. As far as the Baltics, look at Latvia, for example, if it is so concerned about Russian warfare or hybrid warfare, why do they spend 0.9 percent of their GDP on defense? They are clearly not worried. It really is just a ploy to get more free things from NATO. And for NATO to keep itself alive after it should have been shot down.
In his opinion, “hybrid warfare” – the report refers to - is a term used when there’s no evidence that Russia has done anything wrong.
'It was hybrid warfare when Russia "invaded Ukraine." And that is just because we didn’t see any Russian military in Ukraine. It was hybrid warfare with "the little green men" in Crimea. Well, those little green men in Crimea were already there legally as part of the leased base in Sevastopol. All of these things are made up, it’s part of NATO’s ongoing aggression toward Russia, provocation of Russia and it is desperate to keep itself alive, to keep its budgets raising,' the analyst said. 'And sadly, unfortunately, we are seeing that the US president who was rightly critical of NATO, calling it outdated, said in his recent speech to Congress that he loves NATO and thinks it’s great. So, unfortunately, it looks like it is going to be propped up for a while longer. And yes, it is about money,' he added.
Reprinted with permission from RT.]]> Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:48:08 GMT