John R. Houk
© March 19, 2012
Much to the chagrin of many of my fellow Conservatives I have been a National Security guy over the Right to Privacy guy in terms of the embroilment in war. And yes I believe America is in a state of war even though there has been no formal Declaration of War.
Frankly the times have changed that makes a formal Declaration of War difficult in some instances. One instance is the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). There simply is no guideline available to Declare War on transnational terrorist organizations that have no sovereignty and no allegiance to a national government. Thus when an ideology is well financed by individuals that may or may not be directly involved in the governing status of a nation there is a problem of using our military instrumentality against terrorists that might be harbored intentionally or unintentionally by a foreign government. In these days of the need of the smoking gun proof even with the ample circumstantial evidence to draw a conclusion it is simply difficult to justify military action in an international forum of nations.
After 9/11 American authorities knew that the responsible terrorists resided in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban government. Following international protocol the first step was to demand the Afghan government turn over al Qaeda leadership responsible for the transnational terrorist authorization of the attack on American soil. In this case the big dog was Osama (or Usama) bin Laden. After a bit of stalling Taliban leader Mullah Omar (Here is a more scathing profile of Omar that slights his intelligence. I don’t think Omar is stupid or he wouldn’t be around still, but I like the characterization of the American enemy) refused to give up bin Laden.
This is the point that President Bush should have asked Congress to Declare War on Afghanistan rather than simply acquiring the huge Congressional support that was easily forthcoming. This is the point that America informally entered the Global War on Terrorism with Islamic terrorists primarily of the transnational non-governmental organization nature.
There is no Declaration of War in a decade long GWOT and yet there is a war being fought. No matter how Leftists attempt to propagandize American minds from the fact we are at war by changing the definitions to less hostile words, we still are at war. Believe me there is no dumbing down of the terminology from the Islamic terrorist perpetrators of war.
In realizing that America’s enemies are Islamic terrorists that hate the American way of life and in following their purist examples of Islamic holy writings, Americans must realize the war perpetrated on America is serious and is more than overseas battles. The Islamic terrorists do not have the technological access to weapons to directly overcome the American military. In the AfPak war zone Islamic terrorists are relegated to guerilla warfare of strike and retreat into inaccessible geographical areas and repeat. Hence the continuation of a decade long war because Americans are unwilling to use the full might of the Military that undoubtedly would cause the collateral deaths of the civilian population which hates the presence of Americans anyway.
Here is a sidebar: America has fairly successfully carved out the instruments of an organized government in Iraq. Rather or not that government is remains an ally to America after American troop withdrawal is another story. – End of sidebar
There has been no success in carving out a bona fide government in Afghanistan. If America pulled out today, the corrupt government of Karzai would probably lose a civil war to a popular Taliban purist Islamic movement. It is evident that America’s goals for Afghanistan must change.
For example if the goal changes from defeating the inaccessible Taliban to killing or capturing the people responsible for planning the attack on American soil, military success has greater viability. It took a decade but Osama bin Laden has been killed. In my mind that is a more than half way to winning military engagement in Afghanistan. The capture or killing of Mullah Mohammed Omar would cement that victory for me.
Because of the nature of Islamic teachings on a Muslim Ummah, there is a problem that extends beyond the battlefields of the AfPak area. Radical Islam is alive and well in America. That means there are Radical Muslims in America that have a Fifth Column mentality to infiltrate Local, State and Federal governments and/or perpetrate acts of terrorism on American soil in a continuation to war for Allah against the infidel (i.e. the unbelieving kafir). So America has organized cells of Islamic terrorists and Islamic purist believing individual Muslims inspired by the teachings of Radical Islam that take upon themselves to perpetrate acts of terrorism.
This is where I get in trouble with Conservatives and Leftists alike. I believe civilian safety is more important than some Liberties in a time of war. Make no mistake there a GWOT going on in the shadows on American soil. Light must shine into those shadows in order to protect the Life and Liberty of Americans that believe in the Constitutional government established by our Founding Fathers.
This is where it gets tricky. When Communism was the overt enemy of American constitutionalism it was relatively easy to separate that fine line between security and Liberty. When the old Soviet Union collapsed under the uselessness of Communist ideology during the Reagan years there was a sense Homeland Marxists were discredited enough that they were no longer a threat to constitutional government. This is especially the case since the powerful spy/insurgent apparatchik of USSR infiltration was rendered disorganized with the end of the Soviet government. In the Western sense Islam is a religion and thus protected by the First Amendment in Religious Freedom.
Unlike Christianity, Islam is as much political as it is religious. Now Christianity has a history of political interaction in government from the days of Constantine made the Christian faith a State religion in the early 300s AD. History shows that Christian ecclesiastical individuals attained significant political authority. Clerical political authority began to diminish and became relegated to theological authority only. This ebb and flow of political authority within the Christian Church could occur because Christian Scriptures provides for political suzerainty when King Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God among the nations of earth.
In Islam theological and political authority are encoded as part and parcel of religion and the rule of law. Thus the conquering Caliphs that followed Mohammed in authority in Islam were just as much rulers of land as they were authorities on theology. Hence Islam is a theo-political religion by design rather than by Clerical assumption.
In America, the Constitution guarantees Religious Freedom by instructing Congress can make no laws restricting religion; however the Constitution also demands that the government cannot establish a State Religion. Refusing the existence of a State Religion is categorically antithetical to the theo-political religion of Islam.
Muslims dedicated to the purist tenets in the Quran, Hadith and Sira will seek to destroy America as we know it and replace secular republican government with an Islamic Caliphate under Sharia Law.
As long as Radical Muslims receive monetary support from outside of America the effects of the GWOT will be a threat to Liberty in America within the American homeland. As long as the Radical Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabi Saudis or al Qaeda/Taliban-like believes it can and must destroy America, there will be a danger to American lives of all religions and atheistic ideologies.
Because of the inherent threat that is on American soil and the fine line between Religious Freedom for Islam and political restrictions for Political Islam to the threat of American Constitutional government, religious profiling should be an acceptable policy for preserving public safety.
I believe First Amendment Freedoms must be preserved and guaranteed except where profiling shines a light that individuals are planning to subvert the Constitution and public safety.
SO I have mixed feelings about the newest National Security Agency’s (NSA) tool to keep an eye on threats from foreign and domestic cooperation with foreign aspirations to harm America. The technology tool has been dubbed Stellar Wind. This Stellar Wind technology has the ability to monitor indiscriminately communications between people through phones, mobile phones, emails and etc:
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” (bold emphasis mine) It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.” (bold emphasis mine)
In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. (bold emphasis mine) It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.
Before yottabytes [SlantRight Editor: Here is an idea of how big a yottabyte is] of data from the deep web and elsewhere can begin piling up inside the servers of the NSA’s new center, they must be collected. To better accomplish that, the agency has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks (bold emphasis mine), a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. (bold emphasis mine)Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn’t revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.
For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind (bold emphasis mine), in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. … READ ENTIRE POST
I have a problem with the government having indiscriminate power to watch any American for no cause. That is way too intrusive in a war like this unconventional fight against global terrorism. AGAIN this is why profiling must become an accepted practice in preventing foreign threats and domestic threats aligned with foreign ideology even if that ideology is theo-political like Islam.
Profiling must become acceptable especially aimed at non-citizens where there is the potential to a nefarious terrorist connection. Thus would include narco-terrorists since in many cases narco-terrorism and Islamic terrorism are black market buddies (SA Ettinger Report) to finance nefarious and GWOT activities. So yes, profiling would include profiling connections between foreign Hispanics and domestic Hispanics especially in cases of illegal aliens.
When the GWOT is marginalized to an ineffective violent movement much like Soviet Communism has been neutralized then security/safety nature must be drawn back to more peaceful parameters in which traditional search warrants protect the rights of American citizens.
It should be noted that the National Security Agency has a long history of questionable domestic spying that should be unconstitutional. A brief article written in 2009 provides a decent picture of NSA intrusion.
For a view that opposes any form of usage of Stellar Wind in a domestic sense there is a good article at American Thinker by