"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Flying Cheap

I just watched the documentary, PBS FrontLine: Flying Cheap, which is available on Netflix streaming. It outlines the corporate and cultural problems with regional carriers that led to the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407. What I found not surprising was that those who saw the problems, who warned of those problems, were punished and silenced. One FAA regulator mentioned the red flags concerning a "corporate culture that needed to be looked at." There were signs, as there always are.

All passengers and crew on that flight died due to pilot error. Americans paid for a service, and they expected competence rather than a blurb from a public affairs staff. But they died, not just from an excusable pilot error, but from gross pilot error from two pilots who induced a problem from nothing, and then should have easily corrected the problem once recognized. Instead of correcting the problem, they continued to apply the exact wrong response. The enormity of the mistake appears to be on the same level as a driver who sees he is heading towards an obstruction because he let the car drift to the left, and then recognizes the problem, and fails to turn right to avoid it.

Reminds me of a warning I gave to an Air Force commander about flying operations. A commander who was part of a similar corporate culture in the Air Force, who then presided over a Class A mishap for pure pilot error weeks later.

The Air Force has its own corporate culture without a doubt. It is characterized by the ladder that marks any corporation, and which fogs the minds of those who are more interested in climbing it for themselves, than meeting the business mandate of the shareholders and customers. Somehow they confuse their progression up that ladder with the progression of those who pay their salaries to deliver a product.

Cost cutting at the expense of safety. This lesson doesn't bode well for the Air Force as it kicks out its experienced pilots to meet projections on a slide, while already being severely undermanned. What will be the Flight 3407 of the United States Air Force? I shudder to imagine it.

Assassinating the Constitution

Excellent video. The words of Justice Scalia quoted in it are outstanding, and extremely relevant in this "new" era of warfare some say we are in. This short video is worth your time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

True Transformation Needed to Avoid a Big Blue Enron

I recently read an outstanding article by Gregory D. Foster, "True Transformation: America's Military is Overdue for a Dramatic Overhaul," printed in the Armed Forces Journal in December 2009. I believe in just the first two of his several points, he has accurately identified the most important challenge in our military, the one entrenched flaw that stands to bring our nation to its knees and invite our enemies to trample us, as Enron executives invited bankruptcy. I've reproduced Mr. Foster's first two points below:
1. From dutiful followership to assertive leadership. The future, considering its expected complexity, ambiguity and turbulence, will demand extraordinary leadership — especially strategic leadership — throughout the military. This wouldn’t be an issue if the prevailing mythology that the military is in the business of producing leaders coincided with reality. But the reality is that what the military actually nurtures and rewards is dutiful followership. Those who succeed in the military, who make it to higher rank, are those who show themselves to be the most dutiful — silent, compliant, unquestioning, can-do — followers. Mavericks, iconoclasts and renegades who challenge established orthodoxy and authority, or impede stoic execution, need not apply. The generals and admirals who, by virtue of rank and position, command a measure of public attention are typically assumed by the public to be leaders, even when, as is often the case, they actually aren’t. The problem is that those who are thoroughly socialized over time to follow dutifully, to invariably seek direction (and approval) from higher authority before acting, eventually lose the capacity and the inclination for boldness, vision, initiative and moral courage — the stuff of true leadership. Moreover, those who are inculcated only with the transactional, superior-subordinate, tactical leadership the military emphasizes, similarly lose the capacity to exercise the transformative, predominantly intellectual, strategic leadership required at senior levels, where the name of the game is motivating equals with minds of their own, not directing submissive subordinates.
2. From blind obedience to responsible dissent. Inherent in the leadership the future will demand of the military will be the concomitant need for responsible dissent from those in uniform. This imperative for dissent of course flies in the face of the military’s deeply ingrained ethos of obedience to authority. The ethos of obedience underlies and reflects the enlistment oath and the officer’s commissioning oath — both of which bind those in uniform to support and defend the Constitution, and, either explicitly (in the case of the enlistment oath) or implicitly (in the case of the commissioning oath), to obey the lawful orders of their superiors in the chain of command. From this constitutional commitment come the implicit requirements for civilian control of the military — the expectation that uniformed personnel must necessarily defer to properly constituted civilian authority — and political neutrality — the associated principle that the military must eschew involvement in partisan political affairs (even to the extent, many think, of desisting from openly opposing policy, though not, paradoxically, from openly supporting policy). These conjoined imperatives, almost universally internalized and embraced, frequently serve as justification (or rationalization) and moral cover for those in uniform not to speak out, even when circumstances demand that they do so. They also suppress the equally important, but constitutionally unspecified, responsibility of the military to act as an institutional check and balance against the strategic illiteracy and ineptitude, militaristic impetuosity and arrogance, and ulterior partisan political motives of civilian authorities who display such traits.

The ethos of obedience also is born of the primacy of command in military culture and the military’s largely unquestioning and unquestioned conflation of command and leadership. Though the two should be essentially synonymous, they often aren’t — command frequently taking the form of unilateral, authoritarian edicts from commanders who expect their orders to be obeyed unquestioningly. Just as the military conflates command and leadership, so too does it correspondingly conflate dissent and disobedience. Few in uniform, if they are to avoid sanction and thereby succeed, can (or care to) resist the slippery slope from obedience to unquestioning obedience to blind obedience. The result of perpetual obedience, like the crippling effect of perpetual followership, is that those who bear responsibility for speaking up to those in authority and when necessary speaking out in public, are robbed of their ability and willingness to do so.

What an outstanding article, and he has a great deal more to say beyond these two points. I suggest every service member read this article, and every civilian who pays them.

His diagnosis explains, in my opinion, why the Air Force recently botched its VSP program, and followed it up a few days ago with an amazing Reduction in Force (RIF) - ie booting out highly qualified officers who sacrificed a decade or more during war time. It is really the only way to explain such behavior by leadership, to cut the people who get the mission done during a time when the mission suffers and the force is severely undermanned. But anything to lower the number on a Power Point slide, I suppose. I literally would not be shocked to see Air Force airplanes being sold to the highest bidder on Ebay next week. The insanity has no end, and I truly fear the United States Air Force will go the way of Enron, and for essentially the same reasons.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Answer to Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry asked during the Constitutional Convention debates, "Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? It was but yesterday, when our enemies marched in triumph through our country. Yet the people of this country could not be appalled by their pompous armaments: they stopped their carer, and victoriously captured them."

It appears we may have found that American spirit. Anonymous, a force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests, is calling on people to move their money from banks, to their local non-profit credit unions this Fifth of November. Such a run on the banks could leave those entities barren, and expose the problems with fractional reserve banking. While such a move would not end fractional reserve banking itself, it would send a clear message to the banks that should have failed before governments stepped in to save them.

This is the American spirit. Legal and creative strategy to combat the forces that make government unaccountable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Rain-Covered-Man A-10

Colonel Frank Fitts (ret) - A Rain Covered Man

Today, I have been accused of being a sleeping Major Nidal Hasan, a traitor, just waiting to take violent action against those I serve with in uniform. My accuser? A retired Air Force Lt Colonel. It's not surprising, as this same man months ago went on an online crusade to convince others that I was a psychopath who would turn my weapons on my own troops, and that I was plotting violence against my government, and that I was certain to have a mental breakdown that would result in collateral damage against those around me. He said he hoped that my commander was made aware of my mental issues, and that I was taken off the flying schedule.

This was several months ago. So why his tirade today? Because he discovered my blog post that took him to task for his comments on using Air Force munitions against American protestors. So, of course, he decided that he must illuminate what a threat that makes me to America.

It makes sense, just ask him.

He levies serious charges against me. Awhile back I blogged about the Active Shooter program and how its academically lacking precepts could be used to punish legitimate reformers in the Air Force. Now this former weapons officer and A-10 pilot, continues his diatribe against me online and in front of those I know and work with. How did Dr. "Rainman A-10" reach his diagnosis? That's a great question, and I'll get to it, but I'd like to first provide the credentials of Dr. Rainman. Picture him in his white coat, with his medical degree on the wall, and consider some of his works published in the most reputable medical journals.

Actually disregard my last, he doesn't have any of those credentials. But he does publish quite a bit, and he knows the Air Force and what is right and wrong with it, and he goes out of his way to mentor as only he knows how. For example, he once provided some mentoring to a female Air Force cadet from MIT, who tried very hard to measure up in his eyes, in her apparent hopes to one day be a military pilot like him. She should consider herself lucky to have a retired colonel, a former commander, make himself so accessible to her. In a thread regarding a young female officer trying to fit in with her male counterparts while attending Air Force pilot training, Dr. Rainman opened up his overflowing font of wisdom by stating that, "Pussification of the USAF started with reactions to shit like this. This is exactly what happened to the USAF I joined as an Iron Ass Reagan Baby as soon as we let girls into fighter squadrons." The MIT cadet responded that the "pussification" of the Air Force was not just the result of women serving, but also of the men who ran the Air Force. Dr. Rainman responded to her:
STFU, bitch. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about and even less credibility to to [sic] make such comments. Get a decade of experience in a fighter squadron and I'll talk to you about this. Until then, shut your manpleaser.
The cadet followed up with a witty response, stating "Fair enough, but by the time I have a decade of experience, you will be back in diapers." All thought this a funny and appropriate response, well played. Except for the good Colonel, who had what some might call a psychotic break in response:
The odd thing is you're a fucking cunt cadet who has not served your country for one fucking day, let alone ever flown a military aircraft, and you're talking shit like you have an actual point of view that is anything near valid. In the real world that's how bitches get slapped. Know your role and get on your knees, bitch.
The young cadet spars back and forth in her attempt to show that she can fit in, and that she's just playing the game, by the rough and tumble thick-skin rules that have been stated for the Squadron Bar. It's easy to see the disillusion in her posts, and her participation on the board drops significantly. The lesson is clear, submit to the sacred cows of the group who do not practice the rules they preach, or be gone. She hadn't yet submitted (though she ultimately did and thanked Dr. Rainman for his advice), so the good Colonel gave her a nice parting shot, saying "OK, I've given fair warning...have at her boys. I don't think this is going to last long...they never look all that great once the mascara and lipstick start to smear after five or ten ATM face shots." The crowd obliges, and the "advice" is reinforced by several others who demonstrate how well they fit in with their own contributions, following the lead of The Old Man.

Dr. Rainman raises one thing that is worthy of discussion. Points of view that are nowhere near valid. That brings us to his assertions that I am the next Maj Nidal Hasan, and that the Air Force should take notice.

Before continuing to point out the diagnosis offered, the reader might very well ask why I would blemish my blog by responding to somebody who is quite clearly an idiot of epic proportion, and who appears to be incredibly insecure. After all, this is the internet, and there are many insecure idiots who populate it. The answer is two part. First, the charges he continues to make against me are deadly serious. Second, he has a prominent voice online, and his voice and views have a sizable role in shaping the culture and expectations of the officers we recruit. He is considered "the godfather" of the BaseOps.Net forums, something of a mascot. He enjoys a special place on those forums due to his real world relationship with the men who own and run the forum, and for better or for worse, the forum has actual significance to the Air Force aviation community. Particularly concerning cadets who hope to understand what the Air Force requires of newly minted pilots, who look to current pilots to mirror, so that they can fit in and join the fraternity one day. His voice is therefore significant.

It is a training ground for the next generation of Air Force officers, and Dr. Rainman is the star of the faculty. He successfully taught the young female MIT cadet what was required to fit in and succeed. If you want to be a part of us, you will swallow your pride even when you are right, never pass up the opportunity to remain silent when told to do so, and most importantly, regardless of right or wrong, you will submit.

Put another way, as Dr. Rainman instructs in a thread on leadership, "You've got to pick your battles and you need to maintain your self-preservation instinct."

If self preservation is the priority, then it makes sense to pick no battles at all. That is the lesson many on the board learn and imitate, resulting in de-fanged pretend warriors, who play a part as if in a musical. Bit by bit they are trained to be submissive, to not display courage, or to stand for principle. Like the MIT cadet who learned to take a beating, and then tuck tail in submission, and then to praise her instructor for the lesson. Dr. Rainman's lesson is not without value. Being submissive certainly does help maintain self preservation. The American citizen, however, is not paying for submissive military officers who preserve themselves at the expense of the nation. Such public servants are recognized as cowards at best, and frauds at worst. So rationalizations like "pick your battles" are taught to them to help them justify their value choices to themselves, while a false bravado is taught in order to disguise the truth of their character to others. America's sword is dulled by this subtle training, and the cleverly wrapped lessons from a Colonel who presents an unauthentic replica of the swagger of Robin Olds, but fails to model his substance. Without the substance, the swagger is just fantasy and role playing.

The good Colonel tried to teach me his wisdom. Months ago, after that forum found my blog and posted it with praise, I was prompted to join and get into the discussion, and did so to try to prevent the pitchforks that were inevitable once they found my master's thesis. I took it upon myself to bring the Constitution, and our need to defend it, into the discussion. It's an important topic. I was hoping it would be warmly received. After all, there are many self proclaimed conservatives on the board, and conservative or not, we all should take our oaths seriously.

It began well enough, in threads that have now been deleted, but that I preserved, and many thought I made good points and my board reputation steadily climbed. Several mentioned that the threads I was engaged in formed the best discussion BaseOps.Net had seen in awhile. Several others private messaged me and said they were glad I was posting on the board. But Dr. Rainman found my thesis, and thought I had no business critiquing the fighter pilot or corporate cultures (he was part of both cultures, he said). The fact that I had done so meant I had no credibility in any discussion. After his off topic objection, the discussion continued on the importance of refusing an unconstitutional order if given one. I mentioned my membership in Oath Keepers after a moderator posted a link to the organization. Somebody brought up the illegal email that was sent throughout the fighter pilot community regarding my critique of fighter pilot culture. Then the accusations of being crazy began.

The pitchforks were grabbed and the torches lit, and the young and impressionable began to jump into the insulting foray hoping to score some quick social points with the old heads, including the MIT cadet previously referenced. Still, the discussion turned to the legality of Libya, and also to a healthy debate on military troops disarming citizens after Katrina. While several admitted that they would have refused to disarm American citizens, many were of the opinion that we should always follow orders. I asked Dr. Rainman if he would have disarmed Americans but he refused to answer the question. He did, however, make it clear that he believed officers should never question orders. I was asked what I would have done if the others around me thought it was acceptable to disarm the citizens, and started doing so. Would I turn my weapon on them? I responded that I would not, that my job was simply to disobey unlawful orders. Dr. Rainman then responded:
Bullshit. There is a scenario known only to you and you fellow fringemates. It may be planned or it may happen as several of you are put into a scenario where you look each other in the eye and all hell breaks loose...You do not trust the police or your fellow officers. You will not have to act alone. you are part (and recruit for, even on these message boards) of a shadow organization within the military who will also be clicking their safety off in unison.
The good Colonel followed this up by claiming I was infecting others with my dangerous ideas, and claimed I was responsible for the "unfortunate consequence of entangling the spouse of someone in [my] chain." The spouse he referred to had contacted me on that forum to thank me for raising the discussion, and her husband was not, and is not, in my chain of command. The spouse messaged Dr. Rainman to inform him of this fact, but he continued to make the assertion knowing that it was untrue. Honesty is far less appealing than the narrative of a crazy man infecting the troops in his charge with seditious ideas. Integrity first, indeed. But Dr. Rainman is right that my ideas have reach. They are American ideas, and there are still Americans in this country who recognize them. The spouse, her husband, and my wife and I later discussed those ideas at lunch. The spouse had contacted me precisely because she shares the idea that liberty and the rule of law in America are threatened. She didn't need me to instruct her or convince her to value America. She reached out to me because, like me, she is very worried that those she pays to defend America, may not be able or willing to deliver.

Dr. Rainman is also concerned with ideas. Toxic ideas and dangerous speech that must be controlled, and cannot be allowed to spread. We must not allow these crazy, plotting, devious people to share their crazy viewpoints. As Dr. Rainman stated when he provided more of his diagnosis of me on the forum:
Like all lunatics his mental health issues will result in a major psychotic break unless they are professionally treated. He will eventually self destruct in a major flameout. Hopefully no one gets hurt but there is no guarantee. There will likely be collateral damage and one of the effects will be this site going down the shitter. Clear enough?
He later added dementia and sadism to his diagnosis, and claimed I was responsible for "dangerous speech" that "incites insubordination" and that would destroy their web forum. He then appealed to the moderators. The Constitution thread was locked. A moderator made it clear in the now deleted Libya thread that "politics" would not be discussed, and the discussion slowed almost to a halt. Then my posts began to get deleted, including a poll I started, to see who had displayed courage outside of combat and to share what they had risked to do the right thing for their country. Courage outside combat was apparently an unacceptable topic. When it became clear that I could not post or participate without having my contributions censored, I told the several moderators who had banded together, to get it over with, to ban me if I would not be allowed to stand on the merit of my ideas. After all, the forum is private property and when in a man's house I abide by his rules or I leave. I was banned.

Months later, after several requested the unlocking of the Constitution Debate thread (a thread now renamed, with posters renamed to falsely imply various accounts are the same person), the thread was deleted, then altered, then "restored." Some ideas are just too crazy and must be stopped. As Dr. Rainman has taught us, those ideas and a dedication to defending them in accordance with an oath before God, is clear proof of somebody who is psychotic, and crazy, and secretly plotting against his government. Passionately advocating the defense of America and its rule of law, is evidence of intent to attack America and subvert its rule of law.

At least in the mind of the good Colonel, who knows women ruined the military, and who can spot a traitor on sight. The good Colonel knows what's what, and our next generation of young aviators are eager for his wisdom, and ready to measure up to his example. Especially since his example is appealing, in that it focuses on self preservation, instead of risking self to strengthen America.

This good Colonel walks into view, dripping from the rain, his white t-shirt drenched. A loud talking, macho, patriotic, heroic defender of freedom. A real American patriot in the eyes of the neighbors. But he has a secret.

He's not who the neighbors think he is.

So get back to discussing how to drop munitions on American protestors, Colonel. That's real American Beauty. But make sure you dry yourself off, Rainman. You're soaked. And, of course, don't forget to remind the youngsters about dangerous speech. In the real world, you know, "that's how bitches get slapped."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Pigs and Priests

There is somewhat of an interesting debate in the comments section of Tom Ricks' recent blog post where Ricks states that he thinks it's sometimes necessary for the U.S. government to assassinate Americans citizens, ostensibly without charging them for a crime, and without putting them on trial, and without concern for their location or whether or not they provide an imminent threat to anybody.

In the comments on that blog, one military Judge Advocate lawyer provides his Priestly legal perspective, along with his Pigish command for non-lawyers to "stay in their lane" when considering the law. You see, we cannot understand the law ourselves as military officers, let alone American citizens. We require a Priest to tell us what the law means and what actions we can and cannot do, just as the Priests of old advised their Kings, and translated the Word of God to the masses unable to read it for themselves. We are just everyday Americans, so we cannot be trusted to think for ourselves and to determine the rightful actions of our government. We are not qualified to understand America or its laws, just as we require the Banker or his representative to tell us about derivatives.

They are educated in their technical crafts, and as George Orwell tells us of the Pigs on the "Animal Farm:"
The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones's children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap.
With this knowledge, after the animals had risen up to rule themselves, they created Seven Commandments and painted them on the side of a barn. They created law. Orwell tells us that when it came time to run the farm, "the pigs were so clever that they could think of a way around every difficulty."

One difficulty was that many of the animals did not have the mental capacity to learn the Seven Commandments, so the pigs broke it down into something they could understand. "Four legs good, two legs bad!" Orwell tells us the sheep would bleat this simple maxim repeatedly, never tiring of it.

On the topic of food, it was decided the pigs would eat the apples and milk, since they were "brainworkers" who ran the Farm. The pigs made it clear they did not want to eat these desired foods, and many did not like them, but stated to the other animals, "It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." Like a bailout to the banks, it was done for the sake of the many.

The issue of electricity on the farm came up, and one pig, named Snowball, favored building a windmill to provide it, while another did not. The advocate of the windmill was a hero who had been awarded a medal for his bravery in defending the Farm against a human advance. In the debate, the pro-science Snowball articulated a vision that swayed the other animals, but before he could finish, another pig, Napoleon, had "nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars" chase him off the farm. Many of the animals were troubled, but the brightest among them who began to speak met growls from the dogs. Another pig then spoke of a new arrangement:
"Comrades...I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifices that Comrade Napoleon has made... Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where would we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills--Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?"
One animal spoke up and mentioned that Snowball had fought bravely in battle for the defense of the Farm. The pig replied:
Bravery is not enough... Loyalty and obedience are more important. And as to the Battle of the Cowshed, I believe the time will come when we shall find that Snowball's part in it was much exaggerated.
The story continues to show that the Pigs who ruled began to break the rules set about for the good of the whole farm. Rule by rule of the Seven Commandments was changed or interpreted to mean something other than its original intent. The rule that "No animal shall sleep in a bed" became "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets," once the pigs had moved into the once verboten farm house.

The story tells us that Snowball, who had escaped the farm, was declared a traitor and the death sentence was pronounced upon him. Not all animals believed him to be a traitor, and one stated so, remembering his bravery in defending the Farm and his wounds in battle. This was met with one Pig's response that they had "secret documents" that showed this not to be the case, and that "Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon...has stated categorically, comrade--that Snowball was Jones's agent from the very beginning--yes, and from long before the Rebellion was ever thought of." The animal was convinced, "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right."

Several days later, Napoleon called a gathering and had the dogs suddenly seize four animals who had previously protested one of his decisions. They confessed to treason and admitted they had been inspired by Snowball. They were slaughtered on the spot, and several other animals were also put to death in succession. The animals who lived were "shaken and miserable." According to Orwell:
A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered-or thought they remembered-that the Sixth Commandment decreed "No animal shall kill any other animal." And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that killings which had taken place did not square with this...Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals' memory. But they saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball.
The rule of law is important, and in America we have many Pigs and Priests who are only concerned with themselves, and their ambitions for power and money. We also have a great many Sheep and collared-Dogs, many who delude themselves into thinking they are Pigs to justify their cowardice. It's time to treat these Pigs and Priests as their characters deserve. That starts by recognizing them for what they are. George Orwell's, "Animal Farm" should be considered required reading in that endeavor. Then we can see Priests like the JAG on Ricks' blog, for what they are...Pigs holding a paint can, debasing our Constitution and rule of law.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Angry Father of the Air Force

In this footage we see the great, though imperfect, General Billy Mitchell stating that there have been, and are in the United States, those who should be court martialed for their deliberate suppression of air power. The footage above provides the proof the General offered against Naval critics when he sunk a ship from above.

General Mitchell was himself convicted in a court martial when he took on the establishment.

But he was right, and the establishment recognized that fact when it was in their selfish interest to do so.

An Understanding Required to Defeat Terrorism

I think we could learn a lot about how to defeat our enemies by listening to Ron Paul. Respect is so much more powerful than fear.

Begging for More Than Kent State

The Occupy X City protests have drawn, in my opinion, deserved criticism for widely divergent stated aims and goals, and for contradictory complaints and poorly offered solutions from various protestors. What appears to be fairly consistent in these American protests, however, is the violence they face from armed agents of the government. The clip above shows some of that. While I'm certainly concerned with the epidemic of unlawful police action, with their ever increasingly militarized armaments, I am much more concerned with the military using force against citizens. Like Kent State, and much more recent events.

Americans have the Constitutional right to protest. That right does not require them to be lucid or philosophically coherent and it certainly doesn't require them to be correct in their anger and their proposals. They have the right to protest, imperfect as their reasons for protesting might be, and as shoddy as their solutions might be articulated.

The police are not the only government agents sworn to defend the rights of Americans, however, to exercise "freedom of speech" and "of the press" and to "peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" in accordance with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The United States military has taken that same oath.

Military officers and enlisted personnel are sworn to defend these rights of Americans, whether or not they agree with their American countryman who exercise them. Unfortunately, many in the military demonstrate a desire to use violence against American citizens with whom they disagree, as I blogged about previously, and as clearly demonstrated recently by one online message board predominately dominated by United States Air Force officers and aviators, which I have also blogged about previously. In this thread, "America's Tahir Square-happening NOW!" one military officer and pilot mentions that "hippies getting pepper sprayed is a unique pleasure that just can't be beat." Others mention hydra rockets, flachettes, and an active duty Air Force Colonel even feels compelled to mention his preference for napalm. Another retired Air Force Colonel, and previous A-10 pilot (who goes by the handle Rainmain-A10), responds to the comment on flachettes by offering some weaponeering instruction:
These things are super parameter senstive. The issue is getting the slant range right at release (9k or 13k, I can't remember anymore) for fuze function and the desired effect to be achieved...along with all the other pilot induced issues that come with a rocket delivery.
Another Air Force officer, and F-16 pilot, offers that "CBU 87 is my favorite choice." The previously mentioned active duty Air Force O-6 later offers a video of napalm being dropped in Vietnam (because apparently the North Vietnamese and American protestors go hand in hand).

I know several of these officers personally.

In the four page online thread, nowhere is the Constitution they are sworn to defend ever mentioned. My experience on that forum demonstrates that the Constitution is verboten, the rule of law is a distant second to following orders, and the majority consider their oaths to support and defend the Supreme Law of the Land a joke. In fact, nowhere in this thread is a single opinion that it is improper, dishonorable, or un-American to discuss various ways of employing taxpayer funded weapons against the American taxpayer ever mentioned. More so, there is not a single hint that perhaps these protestors have a point worth listening to, or that they have a right to voice it without violence from the government.

With Kent State in recent memory, with the assassination of an American in very recent memory, and given my personal experiences it appears to me that our United States Air Force (and perhaps our military in total) is no longer capable of carrying out the primary requirement given it by the citizens of America.

That primary requirement is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Update: the thread mentioned above does display the picture below, with the comment "Pretty sure he should not be doing this..."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Comparing the OBL and Awlaki Killings

The New York Times recently reported on the secret memo justifying the assassination of an American citizen. It stated:

The memorandum is said to declare that in the case of a citizen, it is legally required to capture the militant if feasible — raising a question: was capturing Mr. Awlaki in fact feasible?

It is possible that officials decided last month that it was not feasible to attempt to capture him because of factors like the risk it could pose to American commandos and the diplomatic problems that could arise from putting ground forces on Yemeni soil. Still, the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan demonstrates that officials have deemed such operations feasible at times.

Charlie Savage makes a good point, referencing the action against OBL in Pakistan. If officials deemed the operation against a non-American citizen in Pakistan feasible, why did they not deem a capture attempt in Yemen feasible, especially if it is true that the the secret memo legally required it? The American military has certainly captured many "enemy combatants" and, in years past, it even launched a major military campaign against a country to capture Manuel Noriega and place him on trial. Charlie Savage's question is a good one. If the U.S. was willing to insert commandos to capture/kill OBL, why was it not willing to do the same to capture an American?

Was it feasible? Did we have the capability? Taking a look at the Wikipedia page's map, we see that Pakistan allowed the use of military facilities to American forces. It's reported that only a few hundred American troops were allowed inside the country. The Wiki map also shows that more than a thousand American troops are located in neighboring Afghanistan, and more than a thousand more across the water in Bahrain.

Yemen, according to the map, has no American troops and does not allow the use of its military facilities. Like Pakistan, however, there are more than a thousand troops reportedly in neighboring Oman and more than a thousand more across the water in Africa. Additionally, Yemen has a great deal of coastal area, and American naval vessels have reportedly been operating in the area for anti-piracy actions.

American naval vessels can launch helicopters and other aircraft.

The strike carried out against the American in Yemen, was done a few hundred miles from the Gulf of Aden. The capture/kill operation in Pakistan was done a few hundred miles from Kabul.

The United States was partnered with Pakistan against OBL, though the fidelity of that partnership has been consistently questioned. The Pakistani military did not itself capture OBL. The U.S. was also partnered with Yemen against the American. The Yemenis had previously captured and released him.

The Pakistanis were not pleased with the United States following the OBL raid. The Yemenis, however, did not apparently voice any concern following the killing. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Yemen does not.

The New York Times reported that the strike against the American was delayed until he was "on a road away from populated areas." The capture/kill raid on OBL was conducted near a Pakistani military facility in a populated city, and one Pakistani tweeted the presence of a helicopter during the operation. OBL's body was reportedly transported to a naval vessel.

It will be interesting to see how this debate continues.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bipartisan Voices Want Legal Reasoning from POTUS on American Assassinations

It appears a Washington Post article details a growing bipartisan urging of the administration to release its declassified memo citing the legal justifications for assassinating an American citizen without charge or trial. Certainly the legal reasoning can't itself be classified. I hope our government provides this reasoning for public examination.

UPDATE: apparently some are discussing the secret legal memo and giving clues to its reasoning. Interestingly, the memo reportedly claims that Awlaki would have had to be captured if feasible. The recent New York Times story, Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen, states:

The memorandum is said to declare that in the case of a citizen, it is legally required to capture the militant if feasible — raising a question: was capturing Mr. Awlaki in fact feasible?

It is possible that officials decided last month that it was not feasible to attempt to capture him because of factors like the risk it could pose to American commandos and the diplomatic problems that could arise from putting ground forces on Yemeni soil. Still, the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan demonstrates that officials have deemed such operations feasible at times.

UPDATE 2: Bruce Ackerman has a good article over on his Foreign Policy blog.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Citizens Claim America is Dead - Our Freedom Assassinated

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under Reagan, economist and co-founder of Reaganomics, and former editor/writer for The Wall Street Journal, wrote in an article yesterday entitled The Day America Died, which begins with, "September 30, 2011 was the day America was assassinated."

His article ends with:

Readers ask me what they can do. Americans not only feel powerless, they are powerless. They cannot do anything. The highly concentrated, corporate-owned, government-subservient print and TV media are useless and no longer capable of performing the historic role of protecting our rights and holding government accountable. Even many antiwar Internet sites shield the government from 9/11 skepticism, and most defend the government’s "righteous intent" in its war on terror. Acceptable criticism has to be couched in words such as "it doesn’t serve our interests."

Voting has no effect. President "Change" is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is "the most disastrous president in our history." Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him. To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.

Justin Rainmondo, author and one internet anti-war activist, recently wrote in an article Assassins of Liberty, with this similarly dreadful conclusion:

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki sets an important precedent, one that will go down in our history as a shameful moment, a turning point, when the policy of endless war empowered the President to kill his own countrymen without benefit of trial. Any American, whose “preaching” purportedly “inspires” a terrorist act is now fair game for our Praetorians. The first time we take out an American citizen on American soil, on the mere suspicion that he may be a “terrorist,” our legal eagles will point to the al-Awlaki case as justification. That a citizen of this country may be put on a list that marks him for death, without public trial, seals the doom of our old republic. Obama’s partisans hail his great “victory,” while their neoconservative rivals do the same – and there is no one left to wonder what has happened to the Constitution.

As America enters a period of travail, when the prospect of economic and civil turmoil becomes all too real, this precedent is terrifying. That the President may order the death of an American without due process of law means that the concept of law is no longer operative: it signals the end of the America we knew, and loved, and the beginning of … something else.

As public servants, our oaths to the Constitution are essential for defending America. I hope those of us who serve will re-dedicate ourselves to the promises we made before God and the American people. When we in government obey the rule of law, even when inconvenient, perhaps we can change the minds of these two writers and others who feel that America is dead and gone. While I am very worried about my country, unlike the authors above I believe it's not too late for the greatness of America to be restored. It will just take the best among us forsaking our comfortable distractions, remembering what it means to be an American, and then rescuing the nation we the People created.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

American Voices from the Past - Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry, one of the Founding Fathers of America, was one of the most vocal critics of the pre-Bill of Rights Constitution. He argued against its ratification in Virginia, as he did not believe it protected the liberties of citizens. He was later instrumental in getting the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments, passed so that these liberties would be the Supreme Law of the Land.

Some of his reasoning is important for our consideration today. Speaking of the Constitution on June 5th, 1788 (before the ratification of the Bill of Rights) he said:

It is radical in this transition; our rights and privileges are endangered, and the sovereignty of the states will be relinquished: and cannot we plainly see that this is actually the case? The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change, so loudly talked of by some, and inconsiderately by others. Is this tame relinquishment of rights worthy of freemen? Is it worthy of that manly fortitude that ought to characterize republicans? It is said eight states have adopted this plan. I declare that if twelve states and a half had adopted it, I would, with manly firmness, and in spite of an erring world, reject it. You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.

Having premised these things, I shall, with the aid of my judgment and information, which, I confess, are not extensive, go into the discussion of this system more minutely. Is it necessary for your liberty that you should abandon those great rights by the adoption of this system? Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessing — give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else! But I am fearful I have lived long enough to become an old-fashioned fellow. Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old-fashioned; if so, I am contented to be so. I say, the time has been when every pulse of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American;... But, sir, a number of the people of this country are weak enough to think these things are too true. I am happy to find that the gentleman on the other side declares they are groundless. But, sir, suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the preservation of the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds: should it fall on me, I am contented: conscious rectitude is a powerful consolation. I trust there are many who think my professions for the public good to be real. Let your suspicion look to both sides. There are many on the other side, who possibly may have been persuaded to the necessity of these measures, which I conceive to be dangerous to your liberty. Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.
In a remarkably relevant section, Henry continues:

Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? It was but yesterday, when our enemies marched in triumph through our country. Yet the people of this country could not be appalled by their pompous armaments: they stopped their carer, and victoriously captured them. Where is the peril, now, compared to that? Some minds are agitated by foreign alarms. Happily for us, there is no real danger from Europe; that country is engaged in more arduous business: from that quarter there is no cause of fear: you may sleep in safety forever for them. Where is the danger? If, sir, there was any, I would recur to the American spirit to defend us; that spirit which has enabled us to surmount the greatest difficulties: to that illustrious spirit I address my most fervent prayer to prevent our adopting a system destructive to liberty. Let not gentlemen be told that it is not safe to reject this government. Wherefore is it not safe? We are told there are dangers, but those dangers are ideal; they cannot be demonstrated.

Patrick Henry demonstrates how vitally important our Bill of Rights, and our right to trial by jury, to keep and bear arms, freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and right to "due process of law" were to early Americans when they were deciding whether or not to ratify our Constitution.

Whispers of an Important Debate - Jake Tapper & Responsible Journalism

It's good to see that at least some journalists are taking their responsibilities seriously. This is the most important discussion facing our nation today. Good on this ABC reporter, who says in this video that it's good for the current administration that most Americans don't care about the Constitution. Andrew Cohen is another good reporter, discussing the absence of the judiciary in this discussion.