Hagel Out: A New Obama In?

Chuck Hagel was all but officially fired from his post today as the Secretary of Defense.

With the “shellacking” that the Democrats took in the Midterm elections this month, coupled with a fact that the move seems to be motivated by “Foreign Policy,” could this mean that there may be a strategy shift coming with the War on Terror — specifically, with ISIL?

After playing artful dodger for several weeks on his continued tenure in the White House and at the Pentagon, he told PBS recently, “I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I’ve had the last two years to work every day for the country and for the men and women who serve this country. I don’t get up in the morning and worry about my job. It’s not unusual by the way, to change teams at different times,” but added also that “I serve at the pleasure of the President.”

With these things in mind, do we now have a path that could lead to a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ policy when it comes to ISIL? Could there be a shift on defense policy coming — or is this just simply post-second-midterm-personnel reshuffling beginning?

I lean toward no on the last part of that question. It’s been noted that President Obama “asked” for his resignation — which is akin to a firing. Why request someone relieve themselves of their job if you have their confidence? Particularly in gridlocked-Washington. I think the following the confirmation of his successor, we may see some kind of drastic shift in Defense and Foreign Policy — particularly centered around the Middle East.   With the loss of the Democratic leadership in the Senate, confirmations will be interesting to say the least, and the hard-line that Obama is taking with Executive Action on Immigration seeming to push Republicans away, the ancient Chinese curse of “May you live in interesting times…” certainly seems apt today.

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Gag Order includes your Defense?

Courtesy drivebyplanet.com

Courtesy drivebyplanet.com

Ladar Levison started the email service Lavabit ten years ago; taking a significant amount of his adult life building his business.  While it’s understandable some in the government could be concerned over the use of non-government interceptable communications (is that even a phrase?) being used by terrorists or other people bent on causing whatever, this fact isn’t what disturbs me.

What deeply disturbs me, is he was forced to close, then under a gag order of the United States Government, isn’t allowed to discuss it at all — not even with his LAWYER.

Has it come to such a point where the United States will use legal scare-tactics to not only shut down threatening interests, but even deny those people (when they, themselves, have done nothing wrong) the right to not only defend themselves against it, but silence them?

I get that Lavabit was seen as a threat by the US Government, I’m not denying that.  Stuff like that CAN a threat.  It’s that they went after the owner, who has business interests in keeping people’s private information PRIVATE, and they essentially scared him into silence to such a point, he can’t even legally consult his lawyer.

Deeply disturbing.

Zardari leaves Pakistan with a legacy…

English: Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

In the last week, Pakistan has held it’s Presidential elections in which PML (N) nominee Mamnoon Hussain won in a landslide 432 to 77 against Pakistan Movement for Justice party nominee Wajihuddin Ahmed.

Why is the election of Hussain such a big deal?  Political handoffs take place all the time.

This is the first, in Pakistani history, that a democratic change, by the will of the people has come.  For Pakistan, a nation nearly a century old, this is it’s first true democratically willed exchange of power.

Pakistan itself was conceived in 1930 by a proclamation by British Indian politician Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the nation itself formed in 1940 as a sovereign state for Muslims that was originally part of British-controlled India.  Since then, it has been fraught with political problems and disaster that left many wondering if Pakistan would ever become democratically governed.

Pakistan received official independence on 14 August, 1947 from British India, becoming a British controlled dominion under control of King George V of the United Kingdom, under the title of “Emperor of India.”  He later renounced this role and styled himself as the “King of Pakistan,” a title passed to his daughter, the incumbent Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who styled herself as the Queen of Pakistan.

In 1956, a revolution created and installed an Islamic Parliamentary Republic, which was supposed to be civilian run, but in the process, a military coup took over the revolution and installed the army’s commander-in-chief, Ayub Khan, as the ruler of Pakistan.

Pervez Musharraf

Former Chief Executive and President General Pervez Musharraf

In 1970, free elections were held, heralded as a transition from a military junta to a democratically elected civilian government, but the sitting military government refused to hand power to the elected successor.  Internal fighting in the nation sparked an independence movement which led to a secession of east Pakistan into the nation now known as Bangladesh.

Power was handed to a civilian government which didn’t last long, and Pakistan soon found itself under martial law again with the coup led by army General Zia-ul-Haq.  Zia, who died in a plane crash 1988, was succeeded by Pakistan’s first female Prime MInister, Benazir Bhutto, followed by Nawaz Sharif after a scandal which cost her her seat.  During Sharif’s time in office, Pakistan’s military nuclear weapons testing led to destabilization and the Kargill War of 1999, in which point Army Chief of Staff General Pervez Musharraf assumed power in a bloodless coup.

Ruling as both civilian and military leader of Pakistan, he executed his duties often under one title, as a civilian or commander in chief independently, theoretically, while being the same person.  He resigned from his Army post amid massive protests for elections, but continued on as President of Pakistan until the return of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, returning from a self-imposed exile to see that Musharraf’s dictatorship was unseated.  Assassinated in the twilight hours of 2007, Musharraf heeded calls for an election, which saw him replaced with Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari.

President Zardari took the helm of Pakistan during some of it’s most trying times –and became a friend of the United States in the war on terror, which was extremely unpopular amongst voters in Pakistan, particularly since the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, which took place in an initially secret strike in Abottabad.

Which leads to today.  For the first time in it’s history, a democratically elected government of Pakistan is set to hand authority and power over to a new democratically elected government.  This is history in the making, particularly for a newer, nuclear-powered nation.  What can the future hold for a stable, and flourishing Pakistan?

Guantanamo Bay Prison — The 21st Century Manzanar?

ImageThe more and more I give thought to it — the more and more I wonder if history will look back on our generation, and judge the indefinite imprisonment of those at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as our version of Manzanar.

Japanese Issei, Nisei or Sansei were often the most targeted group for forced relocation during World War II — relocated almost strictly due to their lineage, family ties, or just because they even looked Japanese.  Other groups were forced to relocate as well, but Japanese Issei and Nisei were the groups targeted the most.

Thankfully, none of the prisoners at Guantanamo are children or family members; but many similarities exist: they are not afforded a civil trial, as the prisoners have been designated as “unlawful military combatants,” in that while they are not a member of a recognized, uniformed military service, they either conduct, have been trained to conduct, or otherwise engage in or support militarized warfare.  However, interestingly enough, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Human Rights Watch maintain that the United States has not held the Article 5 tribunals required by the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that, “Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.”

I do give the United States Intelligence Community credit when I say that they are privy to information about these people that we, as civilians, do not know.  It’s quite possible these people are as dangerous as the US Government says they are — why otherwise hold them?  But…  why is there a[n apparent] lack of jurisprudence for these people?  Do those who fall between the cracks of the law just sit there, and wait for a trial that may never come?  Will history look back on Guantanamo Bay Detention as a necessary evil, and something that kept the United States safe?

Or…

Image

…will it be a stain of blood on our hands that even time can’t wash away?