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Charles Goyette Interviews Eric Garris

The great Charles Goyette, host of the morning show on KFNX 1100 AM in Phoenix, Arizona, interviewed 7 different guests – including Antiwar.com founder and managing editor Eric Garris – Thursday, on the subject of the possibility of military conscription in the United States.

Check out the description of the three-hour show along with the guests.

Listen to the mp3s here: First Hour Second HourThird Hour

6:00 am-6:30 am Bill Galvin Center on Conscience

6:30 am-7:00 am Jon Soltz VoteVets.org

7:00 am-7:30 am David Zieger Sir, No Sir!

7:30 am-8:00 am Debbie Hopper Mothers Against the Draft.org

7:30 am-8:00 am Jeff Deist Congressman Paul’s Office.

8:00 am-8:30 am Eric Garris Antiwar.com

8:30 am-9:00 am Nancy Lessin Military Families Speak Out

The Real Abraham Lincoln – A Debate

Thomas DiLorenzo versus. Harry Jaffa (it should have been Charles Adams)

Via Stephan Kinsella

Also via LRC blog:

Terry Gross interviews Michael Ledeen, William Arkin’s analysis of Rumsfeld’s declaration of war against the media (more on that here), and Laurence M. Vance has the best David Rockefeller quote ever:

“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as “internationalists” and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

Spike Lee’s new documentary about Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermanth. I’m not really sure what all to write about it. I feel like I could write a thousand words, but really I could simply boil it down to: government is evil, and worse, a stupid idea. Insurance companies suck. Governments are incalcubly worse. Any one who wants anything from them is a fool. And what happend to New Orleans is a sad, sad story.

If you don’t have HBO, have a friend tape it for you like I did.

Me on the Radio

The KAOS Report, hosted by me. This afternoon at 5pm Texas time.

That’s 92.7 and 95.9 FM in Austin, TX. Stream it live from KAOS959.com.

Okay, here is the mp3. Only the first minute and a half have the bad audio.

The War at Home

Horton wants me to read Antiwar daily without regard to my fragile psyche. Meanwhile, we are in the last days of the old Republic, screaming without concern for who might be listening. Apparently, no one.

A former colleague of mine from 91.7 FM KOOP made a stunning defense of TSA‘s no toothpaste policy over beers with crusty punks. Keep in mind, this is an educated intelligent left liberal. What idiocy or lack of hygiene will we endure in the name of the faux-freedom/full security state?

As much as I rag on CPAs and chicks, Karen De Coster does have the answers.

Modest Proposal: Waterboard Congress

Maybe White House-favored interrogation techniques would coax lawmakers to tell the truth about U.S. anti-terror policies.

By James Bovard, JAMES BOVARD is the author, most recently, of “Attention Deficit Democracy” (2006).

(As edited by Scott Horton)

August 27, 2006 IN RESPONSE to the Supreme Court’s June decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, the Bush administration has proposed a new Enemy Combatant Military Commissions Act. If passed by Congress, this act would revolutionize American jurisprudence.

The White House wants military tribunals hearing the cases of terrorism suspects to be able to use “coerced” confessions. As Acting Asst. Atty. Gen. Steven Bradbury helpfully assured Congress last month, “there are gradations of coercion much lower than torture.”

Because many in the administration and Congress feel strongly that coerced confessions constitute the “best practice” to get truth from people suspected of bad things, then, under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, American citizens should be permitted to use the same method to pry the truth out of their elected representatives.

One such method is waterboarding: strapping someone to a board and pushing him underwater to make him feel like he’s drowning. Since then-CIA Director Porter Goss assured Congress last year that this was a “professional interrogation method,” not torture, citizens should be permitted to bring splintery planks, leather straps and water tanks to expedite discussions with any member of Congress who continues to insist that things are going swimmingly for the U.S. military in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has during his tenure approved the use of a dozen extreme interrogation methods above and beyond those previously permitted by the Pentagon, including, but not limited to, hooding, disrobing, placing detainees in stress positions and exploiting their “fear of dogs.” When the resulting Abu Ghraib photos leaked out in 2004, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declared that he was more “outraged by the outrage” than by the actual evidence of detainee abuse.

So: Inhofe should be blindfolded, put in a straitjacket and left in a room full of crazed German Shepherds until he explains why he believes that the U.S. military should not be constrained to follow the laws of the land, such as the Anti-Torture Act.

The iconic photo from the Bush/Rumsfeld interrogation era is that of the Iraqi detainee covered in a shroud, standing on a box, with wires attached to his body. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) spearheaded the coverup of the CIA’s use of secret prisons throughout Eastern Europe, so he could stand on his own box wired to a massive electric charge until confessing why he believes that the Geneva Convention prohibition on making detainees “disappear” is null and void.

Exposure to extreme cold and heat is another method routinely used by U.S. interrogators. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) has been the biggest Democratic apologist for Abu Ghraib in the Senate, so he should be beaten and thrown in a vat of ice water until he’s almost dead or until he explains how using “coercion” helps the United States win hearts and minds in the Muslim world.

Public interrogations of elected representatives should use the same rules Bush favors for tribunals

What exactly does the 1st amendment mean by “no law”?

And how patriotic can an act which defies the Constitution be?

The Times:

“Federal prosecutors who charged a man on Thursday with providing Hezbollah television access in New York made unusual use of a law more often employed to bar financial contributions to terrorist groups, legal experts said yesterday.”The broadly defined statute, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, is also used frequently to block the importation of goods and services that would directly support terrorist operations.

“The law, which went into effect in 1977, was meant to put legal teeth in international trade embargoes with other nations, but once it was amended by the Patriot Act after 9/11, the government began to use it far more frequently against particular groups and individuals.

“The use of the law, however, to focus on television broadcasts seemed to fall under an exemption laid out in a 1988 amendment to the act, several experts said, and it raised concerns among civil libertarians and some constitutional scholars about limiting the free marketplace of ideas.

“The exemption covers publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact discs, CD-ROM

Campaign Wishes and Libertarian Dreams

Will the LP be the Texans or the Mexicans in this year’s electoral Alamo?

by Brian Doherty Reason

Tom DeLay’s political career really is over. The Texas courts won’t let the Republican party simply replace DeLay on the ballot, even after the former majority leader went to the trouble of hammering several pipsqueak primary opponents for the right to cut and run.

DeLay’s crisis has robbed the GOP of a candidate in Texas’s 22nd congressional district and presented an unusual opportunity to the Libertarian Party. The LP is now facing what some party insiders see as an almost-realistic chance at achieving something the 34-year-old old political party (America’s third largest!) has never known: a seat in Congress. (1988 LP presidential candidate Ron Paul does currently sit in Congress, as a Republican, from Texas’s 14th district abutting the 22nd.)

So now Bob Smither, a 60-year-old self-described “semi-retired” electrical engineering consultant, a former Goldwater Republican who felt his party left him and glommed on to the Libertarian Party in its first year of operation, 1972, has the weight of decades of party expectations on his shoulders. He is up against Democrat Nick Lampson, himself a former congressman, in a district that gave John Kerry a paltry 36 percent of the vote.

Smither is bearing up well, and isn’t nearly as triumphalist as you might expect: “Well, it certainly is a change in circumstance,” he tells me. “I got into this for basically the same reason many libertarians decide to run [for office], to get libertarian ideas out there. And now the opportunity to talk is much greater and that’s a good thing. But the concept of actually winning? I don’t know how seriously to take that. There are certainly some good signs that I will do better than Libertarians in this district, this area have done before.” If the record of other LP candidates running against only one other major party candidate is used as a benchmark, Smither could never venture beyond his front porch and still collect 15 percent or so of the vote.

But what’s on the minds of many LP activists and leaders, from the national office to the state party to its National Committee, is making sure the party faithful unite and ensure Smither outperforms expectations

Is there even a terrorist threat to this country at all?

And is that a strange question to be found in the pages of Foreign Affairs?

Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?
By John Mueller

From Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006


Summary: Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable — but rarely heard — explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. John Mueller is Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University and the author of “The Remnants of War.” He is currently writing a book about reactions to terrorism and other perceived international threats that will be published early next year.

THE MYTH OF THE OMNIPRESENT ENEMY

For the past five years, Americans have been regularly regaled with dire predictions of another major al Qaeda attack in the United States. In 2003, a group of 200 senior government officials and business executives, many of them specialists in security and terrorism, pronounced it likely that a terrorist strike more devastating than 9/11 — possibly involving weapons of mass destruction — would occur before the end of 2004. In May 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft warned that al Qaeda could “hit hard” in the next few months and said that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on U.S. soil were complete. That fall, Newsweek reported that it was “practically an article of faith among counterterrorism officials” that al Qaeda would strike in the run-up to the November 2004 election. When that “October surprise” failed to materialize, the focus shifted: a taped encyclical from Osama bin Laden, it was said, demonstrated that he was too weak to attack before the election but was marshalling his resources to do so months after it.

On the first page of its founding manifesto, the massively funded Department of Homeland Security intones, “Today’s terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon.”

But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?

One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered.

HUFFING AND PUFFING

Instead, Americans are told — often by the same people who had once predicted imminent attacks — that the absence of international terrorist strikes in the United States is owed to the protective measures so hastily and expensively put in place after 9/11. But there is a problem with this argument. True, there have been no terrorist incidents in the United States in the last five years. But nor were there any in the five years before the 9/11 attacks, at a time when the United States was doing much less to protect itself. It would take only one or two guys with a gun or an explosive to terrorize vast numbers of people, as the sniper attacks around Washington, D.C., demonstrated in 2002. Accordingly, the government’s protective measures would have to be nearly perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the monumental imperfection of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI and National Security Agency programs to upgrade their computers to better coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems far-fetched. Moreover, Israel still experiences terrorism even with a far more extensive security apparatus.

It may well have become more difficult for terrorists to get into the country, but, as thousands demonstrate each day, it is far from impossible. Immigration procedures have been substantially tightened (at considerable cost), and suspicious U.S. border guards have turned away a few likely bad apples. But visitors and immigrants continue to flood the country. There are over 300 million legal entries by foreigners each year, and illegal crossings number between 1,000 and 4,000 a day — to say nothing of the generous quantities of forbidden substances that the government has been unable to intercept or even detect despite decades of a strenuous and well-funded “war on drugs.” Every year, a number of people from Muslim countries — perhaps hundreds — are apprehended among the illegal flow from Mexico, and many more probably make it through. Terrorism does not require a large force. And the 9/11 planners, assuming Middle Eastern males would have problems entering the United States legally after the attack, put into motion plans to rely thereafter on non-Arabs with passports from Europe and Southeast Asia.

If al Qaeda operatives are as determined and inventive as assumed, they should be here by now. If they are not yet here, they must not be trying very hard or must be far less dedicated, diabolical, and competent than the common image would suggest.

Another popular explanation for the fact that there have been no more attacks asserts that the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, although it never managed to snag bin Laden, severely disrupted al Qaeda and its operations. But this claim is similarly unconvincing. The 2004 train bombings in Madrid were carried out by a tiny group of men who had never been to Afghanistan, much less to any of al Qaeda’s training camps. They pulled off a coordinated nonsuicidal attack with 13 remote-controlled bombs, ten of which went off on schedule, killing 191 and injuring more than 1,800. The experience with that attack, as well as with the London bombings of 2005, suggests that, as the former U.S. counterterrorism officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon have noted, for a terrorist attack to succeed, “all that is necessary are the most portable, least detectable tools of the terrorist trade: ideas.”

It is also sometimes suggested that the terrorists are now too busy killing Americans and others in Iraq to devote the time, manpower, or energy necessary to pull off similar deeds in the United States. But terrorists with al Qaeda sympathies or sensibilities have managed to carry out attacks in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the past three years; not every single potential bomb thrower has joined the fray in Iraq.

Perhaps, some argue, terrorists are unable to mount attacks in the United States because the Muslim community there, unlike in many countries in Europe, has been well integrated into society. But the same could be said about the United Kingdom, which experienced a significant terrorist attack in 2005. And European countries with less well-integrated Muslim communities, such as Germany, France, and Norway, have yet to experience al Qaeda terrorism. Indeed, if terrorists are smart, they will avoid Muslim communities because that is the lamppost under which policing agencies are most intensely searching for them. The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were ordered generally to stay away from mosques and American Muslims. That and the Madrid plot show that tiny terrorist conspiracies hardly need a wider support network to carry out their schemes.

Another common explanation is that al Qaeda is craftily biding its time. But what for? The 9/11 attacks took only about two years to prepare. The carefully coordinated, very destructive, and politically productive terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004 were conceived, planned from scratch, and then executed all within six months; the bombs were set off less than two months after the conspirators purchased their first supplies of dynamite, paid for with hashish. (Similarly, Timothy McVeigh’s attack in Oklahoma City in 1995 took less than a year to plan.) Given the extreme provocation of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, one would think that terrorists might be inclined to shift their timetable into higher gear. And if they are so patient, why do they continually claim that another attack is just around the corner? It was in 2003 that al Qaeda’s top leaders promised attacks in Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen. Three years later, some bombs had gone off in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan (as well as in the unlisted Turkey) but not in any other of the explicitly threatened countries. Those attacks were tragic, but their sparseness could be taken as evidence that it is not only American alarmists who are given to extravagant huffing and puffing.

TERRORISTS UNDER THE BED

A fully credible explanation for the fact that the United States has suffered no terrorist attacks since 9/11 is that the threat posed by homegrown or imported terrorists — like that presented by Japanese Americans during World War II or by American Communists after it — has been massively exaggerated. Is it possible that the haystack is essentially free of needles?

The FBI embraces a spooky I-think-therefore-they-are line of reasoning when assessing the purported terrorist menace. In 2003, its director, Robert Mueller, proclaimed, “The greatest threat is from al Qaeda cells in the U.S. that we have not yet identified.” He rather mysteriously deemed the threat from those unidentified entities to be “increasing in part because of the heightened publicity” surrounding such episodes as the 2002 Washington sniper shootings and the 2001 anthrax attacks (which had nothing to do with al Qaeda). But in 2001, the 9/11 hijackers received no aid from U.S.-based al Qaeda operatives for the simple reason that no such operatives appear to have existed. It is not at all clear that that condition has changed.

Mueller also claimed to know that “al Qaeda maintains the ability and the intent to inflict significant casualties in the U.S. with little warning.” If this was true — if the terrorists had both the ability and the intent in 2003, and if the threat they presented was somehow increasing — they had remained remarkably quiet by the time the unflappable Mueller repeated his alarmist mantra in 2005: “I remain very concerned about what we are not seeing.”

Intelligence estimates in 2002 held that there were as many as 5,000 al Qaeda terrorists and supporters in the United States. However, a secret FBI report in 2005 wistfully noted that although the bureau had managed to arrest a few bad guys here and there after more than three years of intense and well-funded hunting, it had been unable to identify a single true al Qaeda sleeper cell anywhere in the country. Thousands of people in the United States have had their overseas communications monitored under a controversial warrantless surveillance program. Of these, fewer than ten U.S. citizens or residents per year have aroused enough suspicion to impel the agencies spying on them to seek warrants authorizing surveillance of their domestic communications as well; none of this activity, it appears, has led to an indictment on any charge whatever.

In addition to massive eavesdropping and detention programs, every year some 30,000 “national security letters” are issued without judicial review, forcing businesses and other institutions to disclose confidential information about their customers without telling anyone they have done so. That process has generated thousands of leads that, when pursued, have led nowhere. Some 80,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants have been subjected to fingerprinting and registration, another 8,000 have been called in for interviews with the FBI, and over 5,000 foreign nationals have been imprisoned in initiatives designed to prevent terrorism. This activity, notes the Georgetown University law professor David Cole, has not resulted in a single conviction for a terrorist crime. In fact, only a small number of people picked up on terrorism charges — always to great official fanfare — have been convicted at all, and almost all of these convictions have been for other infractions, particularly immigration violations. Some of those convicted have clearly been mental cases or simply flaunting jihadist bravado — rattling on about taking down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch, blowing up the Sears Tower if only they could get to Chicago, beheading the prime minister of Canada, or flooding lower Manhattan by somehow doing something terrible to one of those tunnels.

APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION?

One reason al Qaeda and “al Qaeda types” seem not to be trying very hard to repeat 9/11 may be that that dramatic act of destruction itself proved counterproductive by massively heightening concerns about terrorism around the world. No matter how much they might disagree on other issues (most notably on the war in Iraq), there is a compelling incentive for states — even ones such as Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Syria — to cooperate in cracking down on al Qaeda, because they know that they could easily be among its victims. The FBI may not have uncovered much of anything within the United States since 9/11, but thousands of apparent terrorists have been rounded, or rolled, up overseas with U.S. aid and encouragement.

Although some Arabs and Muslims took pleasure in the suffering inflicted on 9/11 — Schadenfreude in German, shamateh in Arabic — the most common response among jihadists and religious nationalists was a vehement rejection of al Qaeda’s strategy and methods. When Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979, there were calls for jihad everywhere in Arab and Muslim lands, and tens of thousands flocked to the country to fight the invaders. In stark contrast, when the U.S. military invaded in 2001 to topple an Islamist regime, there was, as the political scientist Fawaz Gerges points out, a “deafening silence” from the Muslim world, and only a trickle of jihadists went to fight the Americans. Other jihadists publicly blamed al Qaeda for their post-9/11 problems and held the attacks to be shortsighted and hugely miscalculated.

The post-9/11 willingness of governments around the world to take on international terrorists has been much reinforced and amplified by subsequent, if scattered, terrorist activity outside the United States. Thus, a terrorist bombing in Bali in 2002 galvanized the Indonesian government into action. Extensive arrests and convictions — including of leaders who had previously enjoyed some degree of local fame and political popularity — seem to have severely degraded the capacity of the chief jihadist group in Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiyah. After terrorists attacked Saudis in Saudi Arabia in 2003, that country, very much for self-interested reasons, became considerably more serious about dealing with domestic terrorism; it soon clamped down on radical clerics and preachers. Some rather inept terrorist bombings in Casablanca in 2003 inspired a similarly determined crackdown by Moroccan authorities. And the 2005 bombing in Jordan of a wedding at a hotel (an unbelievably stupid target for the terrorists) succeeded mainly in outraging the Jordanians: according to a Pew poll, the percentage of the population expressing a lot of confidence in bin Laden to “do the right thing” dropped from 25 percent to less than one percent after the attack.

THREAT PERCEPTIONS

The results of policing activity overseas suggest that the absence of results in the United States has less to do with terrorists’ cleverness or with investigative incompetence than with the possibility that few, if any, terrorists exist in the country. It also suggests that al Qaeda’s ubiquity and capacity to do damage may have, as with so many perceived threats, been exaggerated. Just because some terrorists may wish to do great harm does not mean that they are able to.

Gerges argues that mainstream Islamists — who make up the vast majority of the Islamist political movement — gave up on the use of force before 9/11, except perhaps against Israel, and that the jihadists still committed to violence constitute a tiny minority. Even this small group primarily focuses on various “infidel” Muslim regimes and considers jihadists who carry out violence against the “far enemy” — mainly Europe and the United States — to be irresponsible, reckless adventurers who endanger the survival of the whole movement. In this view, 9/11 was a sign of al Qaeda’s desperation, isolation, fragmentation, and decline, not of its strength.

Those attacks demonstrated, of course, that al Qaeda — or at least 19 of its members — still possessed some fight. And none of this is to deny that more terrorist attacks on the United States are still possible. Nor is it to suggest that al Qaeda is anything other than a murderous movement. Moreover, after the ill-considered U.S. venture in Iraq is over, freelance jihadists trained there may seek to continue their operations elsewhere — although they are more likely to focus on places such as Chechnya than on the United States. A unilateral American military attack against Iran could cause that country to retaliate, probably with very wide support within the Muslim world, by aiding anti-American insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq and inflicting damage on Israel and on American interests worldwide.

But while keeping such potential dangers in mind, it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed since 9/11 by al Qaeda or al Qaeda

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