"...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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Military Installation Commanders Risk Lives of Service Members


American service members are being threatened here at home, and there is a report of radicals abroad releasing personal data on at least 100 service members online along with calls for radicals in the United States to target and kill them.  Service members and their families are being threatened here in the United States.

So what are military installation commanders doing to thwart this threat?  In many cases, they are making service members more vulnerable to attack during their commute to and from work.

Consider service members in States like Texas and Florida among others.  In these States, people are rightly allowed to keep and bear arms in their vehicles, since those State governments have not completely infringed their Second Amendment rights.  Yet federal government installation commanders there are disarming military members when they go to and from work.  While civilians in those States can rightly keep weapons in their vehicles to protect themselves and their families when they drive to Wal-Mart or wherever they work, military members must actually disarm themselves before they do the same.  Despite being military professionals who employ the tools of violence to defend their nation, service members are not allowed to bring weapons (tucked safely away in their glove compartments) onto military bases.  Yet there are no credible threats against Wal-Mart employees that I am aware of.

It's a Catch 22 level of absurdity.  It is absolutely insane.

The vast military of military installation commanders have outlawed weapons on military bases in every State.  While this helps murderers like Nidal Hassan and the Navy Ship Yard shooter rack up a body count of innocent Americans when they decide to ignore these silly installation policies, the disarming of service members most certainly does not help military members or their families.

It seems to me that installation commanders who are making their folks and families more vulnerable, even while service members are being threatened here at home, might want to re-think their insane base policies and do it quickly.  Otherwise, if one of these domestic terrorists are successful, then an installation commander may have blood on their hands.  In the meantime, they are risking the lives of service members and their families.

According to the news story linked above:

A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: 'I can't confirm the validity of the information, but we are looking into it.

'We always encourage our personnel to exercise appropriate OPSEC [operations security] and force protection procedures.'

That defense official may want to look a bit harder before wrongly suggesting that military members are encouraged to exercise appropriate force protection procedures.  It does appear that DoD instruction allows installation commanders to choose who are qualified to keep weapons on military bases, but somehow that has been translated into installation commanders across the board disarming military service members.  It makes no sense and the multiple attacks on military bases have given plenty of opportunity for installation commanders to pick this low hanging fruit that endangers the lives of service members and their families.  They have not taken that opportunity.

It is time for service members to contact their representatives in Congress.  This is absolutely unacceptable.  Congress or the DoD should make it law or policy that installation commanders will not infringe the rights of service members to keep weapons in their vehicles while at work.  Some in Congress agree and have pushed for such common sense legislation, even prior to service members being targeted for death in the United States.

There are multiple easy solutions to this problem that would better safeguard the security of military personnel and their families while they drive to and from work.

1.  Installation commanders could be required, by DoD policy or congressional mandate, to adopt the State laws within which they operate.  If it's legal for civilians to carry weapons in their vehicles, then it should be legal for military personnel to carry weapons in their vehicles, even on base.  Installation commanders could require that those weapons remain in locked vehicles.

2.  If committed to ensuring military personnel do not have access to weapons while in their vehicles on base, installation commanders could expand "Pass & ID" stations at military gates with an armory so that people driving onto base can quickly store their weapons at the gate.  Not all would choose to carry, and a line with a stop sign and instruction sign to unload, clear, and lock weapons before proceeding to a guard would make transfer to and from the armory quick, and a clearing barrel would not normally be required.  This would ensure that military folks are able to protect themselves during their daily commutes to and from work, which presents a target of opportunity for radicals intent on harming military personnel and their families.

There is no excuse for disarming service members and their families and making them vulnerable before our enemies.  None at all.  It shouldn't take a beheading video for installation commanders to start thinking about these ridiculous installation policies and changing them.

The Tools of Tyranny - America Under Attack

The ACLU provides an interesting look at some of the tools used by some of our domestic enemies against innocent American citizens.  There is no doubt that these tools discussed are the same technologies used against our enemies overseas.  Now they are being used against us by us.

Remember your oaths.  It has never been more important that we do so, and it probably has never been so costly to do so, as Edward Snowden's story demonstrates.  Domestic enemies might say that real Americans need not apply, but the reality is that great Americans are needed in public service more than ever.

Faithful public service ain't no chump game.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lt Col Duffy (Ret) Says Enough is Enough - Military Entitlement Generation

I've expressed the same concern over military entitlement and how it makes my stomach churn.  It's amazing how prevalent it is today, and it's not a healthy thing.  Not for a democracy with a powerful military that is to be the servant of civilian masters.  Whether it's obsession with military discounts, or wanting to be escorted to the front of the line at an airline terminal, it saddens me to see those in uniform expect to be treated special as if they somehow deserve to be.  As if getting paid to do a job, and one they volunteered to do, isn't recognition enough from a grateful nation.  Of course, it's not all their fault.  The nonsense blasted into the airwaves by media and politicians when they want meat for their grinder is partially to blame.  Whatever the reasons, public servants armed with the most lethal technology in human history should not feel themselves superior to the civilians who pay them and who trust them to defend them.

Lt Col Dave Duffy, a retired Special Forces officer and a business owner who offers military discounts, expressed concern much better than I could in his recent article in the Washington Post.

At the end of the day, I just regret that military-civilian relations are suffering, in part because of the attitude among some that civilians should have the military on a pedestal. Enough is enough.

He's right.  Very right.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer Debate Our Constitution

I agree very much with Justice Scalia's approach to the law as professed here.  It's the professional approach, and the necessary approach of the public servant.  It's the same way I approach my public job, where I must act in accordance with the Constitution and not what I personally agree with or have a taste for.

Public servants are often painted as being mindless drones.  And a great many are exactly that.  But the goal of the public servant should be to master being a mindful drone.  That is, a person who thinks deeply enough to ensure that they are doing the will of the American people as dictated by our law, including our nation's supreme law of the land.  Drone.  Servant.  Same thing.  Obey those who employ you to do their bidding.

Justice Scalia above uses the term "faithful to the statute."  Being faithful is the key.  Not just doing our jobs as public servants, but doing so faithfully.

There is much in the Constitution that isn't very good, or not good enough, or actually very bad as far as I see it.  There is also a great deal of the sublime in the document.  As a public servant, it doesn't matter.  Our job as servants of the American people, is to support and defend our highest law regardless of our personal preferences.

We in public service need to re-cage and re-adjust to ensure that we are faithful public servants.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

WantsCheck.Com Down Until Further Notice

Due to persistent hacking, I've taken down the military flight planning website.  I will re-engineer the site with a new platform and re-launch it in the not too distant future.

WantsCheck.Com is a community driven website that has amassed more than thirteen thousand registered users since its inception more than a decade ago.  More than 650 users who were selected to attend Air Force pilot training shared their statistics, helping other hopeful aviators be more competitive.

The site's overhaul and re-launch will also include the annual cadet scholarship, which provided $1000 scholarships in 2005 and 2006, to cadets who submitted the best essay on the importance of their future oath to support and defend the Constitution.  As the first essay winner wrote in 2005:

The word “all” in the line “all enemies, foreign and domestic” is a crucial part of the oath. We are charged with ridding America of all threats. This includes both the obvious and the subtle threats. We are at war with terrorism, so clearly terrorists are enemies. There is no option but to defeat them. However, there are other enemies, some conceptual, that threaten America as well. Sometimes our own citizens can become threats to the freedoms of others. In the past few years we have heard of instances where our own citizens have joined the enemy in the war. This is one example of a “domestic” enemy. Another, less apparent example, are the small ideas that infiltrate our value systems- ideas like we should feel guilty for being the world’s foremost superpower, like the voice of dissent can be expressed in the form of violence, like we should weaken ourselves to accommodate the ideals of foreign nations. These are also domestic enemies, ones that we should combat not by physical force, but by example. Our lives should be examples of true Americanism.

Stay tuned for the re-launch of WantsCheck.Com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Principal Protection Requires Principled Protection

"The principal protection of Fourth Amendment rights at checkpoints lies in appropriate limitations on the scope of the stop. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S.; United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S... And our holding today is limited to the type of stops described in this opinion. "[A]ny further detention . . . must be based on consent or probable cause." United States v. Brignoni-Ponce."

- Martinez-Fuerte, Supreme Court of the United States, 1976

"We have already noted that the permissible duration of the stop is limited to the time reasonably necessary to complete a brief investigation of the matter within the scope of the stop.  The scope of an immigration stop is limited to...determining the citizenship status of persons passing through the checkpoint."

- Machuca-Barerra, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001

"In United States v. Machuca-Barerra, we addressed those limitations in detail and noted that 'The scope of an immigration stop is limited to...determining the citizenship status of persons passing through the checkpoint...'  It bears repeating that the permissible duration of an immigration stop is the time reasonably necessary to determine the citizenship status of the persons stopped."

- Portillo-Aquirre, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2002

"We have not discovered nor been shown any authority supporting Rynearson’s claim that the constitutional rights he chose to stand on [the right to be detained only as long as is reasonably necessary to briefly investigate citizenship status] were clearly established."

- Richard Rynearson, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bryan T Gray the Apologist for Power

Jodie Foster's character in the 1988 film, The Accused, made audiences think of an important topic that is often shunned in polite conversation.  Like the image above, it's an ugly unfortunate reality that many do not want to discuss.  Foster's portrayal, based on a true story, allowed audiences to see that the ordeal is more than just the criminal act that defines it, but often includes social ostracizing, victim-blaming, and for many feelings of shame.  Often times the perpetrator of sexual assault is not a stranger, but a person the victim trusts, damaging the victim's ability to trust in the future and affecting their relationships.  The crime of rape inflicts a psychological and spiritual trauma that is at least as damaging as the physical trauma.

Thankfully, I have never been raped nor has anybody close to me.  I have considered the issue over the past several years, as part of required training.  Our service has made dealing with sexual assault a top priority.

For me, however, I think I better understand the strain of sexual assault from a couple of experiences with law enforcement.  I'm not suggesting the experiences are the same, just that they have real similarities.  In some of my experiences those I trusted to protect me instead unlawfully used violence, or the threat of violence, to desecrate my right to liberty - making a claim over my body, seizing me and not allowing me to go until they were done with me.  The others I know who have had similar experiences also describe the fear, the feeling of powerlessness, and the humiliation that comes from having a person in a position of trust use violence or the threat of violence to abuse them as if their lives and rights meant nothing.

It's not the physical that is the most important aspect.  It's the psychological trauma.  It's the trust utterly destroyed.  Many experts claim that rape is more concerned with power, than it is about the physical manifestation of that power.  The feeling of powerlessness at the hands of somebody you believed was trustworthy, makes it more difficult to trust others.

Foster's movie character also demonstrates a victim that is accused and shamed by others after her victimization.  When she is not silent and does not go quietly and just accept her victimization, others begin to accuse and blame her.  Her character is victim-bashed.  "Look at her unorthodox outfit!"  "She went to the bar knowing what goes on there.  She was playing with fire and shouldn't be surprised that she got burned."  Despite her victimization, Foster's character bore the brunt of the accusations rather than the men who raped her.  Somehow she was herself to blame for her own victimization.  When others blame the victim, and courageous attempts at accountability result in the victim being further blamed, the damage to the vulnerable is multiplied layer by layer.

Air Force Reserve Major Bryan T. Gray Confused by American Flag

That brings me to Bryan T Gray, who recently publicly commented about the checkpoint encounter where I was required to stop by law and be questioned by a group of armed public servants, who are paid by Americans who place their trust in them to man such checkpoints.  Gray responded in a discussion about my encounter saying:

Bryan is a pilot that I used to fly with years ago, who took a solemn oath, before God, to support and defend the Constitution and to "bear true faith and allegiance" to it, and yet felt the need to apologize to those who had violated the constitutional rights of another.  Perhaps Bryan is of the opinion, "Look, at the outfitting of his car, he had cameras, how unorthodox!  He went there knowing what goes on there.  He was playing with fire and shouldn't be surprised that he got burned."  Perhaps he's part of the "just lay back and it will be quick" or "who really cares, it was only thirty-four minutes of your life," or the "there was no permanent damage" or perhaps part of the "don't make a big deal out of this, just move on with your life" crowd.  I don't know.  I've tried to contact Bryan, but he has yet to respond, so I'm just speculating on why he feels the need to apologize to those who violated the Constitution he swore and is paid to defend.  Maybe he will pay a visit here and explain his public comment.  Maybe he will tell me what he thinks the word, "violated" means or can explain what "true faith" means to him.  He has been invited to join the discussion.

As it stands now, he doesn't appear to know the value of faith or an oath to God.  And I have to wonder if he would apologize to the two men in the picture above, for Jodie Foster's rude behavior.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Fascism's Enduring Appeal"

"The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative."

This documentary on Mussolini and his rise, his warring and relationship with Germany, and his turning on loyal fascists in his own party, to include his son-in-law, is fascinating.  The western Allies appeased the rise of the Axis, thinking it couldn't possibly be as bad as some made it out to be.

This is an interesting look at military history with actual footage from the time.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Poisoned Blue Well Deletes Thread - Constitution is Verboten

"Regardless of what you think of Rick, I don't see how anyone who says they're sworn to 'support and defend the Constitution' can possibly read this ruling and not find its logic and conclusions completely contrary to both the word and spirit of the 4th Amendment as well as the previous caselaw mentioned by MD.

IMHO the dissent hit it on the nose."

"Concur.  Am not a fan of 'Rick's Rants' but he's NOT wrong and I was hoping he'd triumph in court."

I was amazed at the response over at the Poisoned Blue Well, concerning my appeal for an unlawful checkpoint encounter covered by Jacob Sullum from Reason Magazine.  I figured it would be the standard, but it wasn't.  Until then it was. 

The thread about the Air Force Times' subsequent article began in the "Squadron Bar" forum (which should be re-named the "Squadron Heritage Room"), as an incredibly sane discussion.  People said they didn't like me, but that the issue I raised was right.  That's a high mark of confidence in the issue, when you can admit somebody you don't like is correct.  Then there was a civil delivery of red herrings by one poster, but then it recovered with more sanity.  People started to speak up, good on them.  Just sharing an opinion is important.  They made the excellent and accurate point that they didn't have to like me, to verbally make good on their oaths and pronounce the truth.  That is the heart of professionalism, not allowing your own prejudices to cloud your ability to understand and pronounce the truth of a matter even when you know what you say is not popular.

As an aside, there is another voice out there, in another medium, who has also professed correct viewpoints in a similar manner.  But true to form, has lied to his readers in the process.  I will not be applauding him in this post.

For those who moderate the Poisoned Blue Well, sadly, the posters were all well known long time members, so they were unable to demonize some pro-Constitution, pro-oath of office viewpoints as me in the form of a troll who had invaded their website (a silly claim they have used before).  That tactic not available to them, they simply deleted the thread.  There was nothing but polite discussion.  There weren't any insults or heated exchanges.  There was no profanity.  But there was good discussion about defending our Constitution and there were references to the oath we take.  That is verboten.  So the thread had to be deleted.

The Constitution is verboten at that digital hang out controlled by retired and currently serving military officers.  If you have forgotten what "verboten" means, it's German, and one of several moderators at the Poisoned Blue Well would be glad to help you understand.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Air Force Times on my Fifth Circuit Ruling

The Air Force Times today wrote an article about the two-judge majority at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruling against me, hours after Jacob Sullum from Reason wrote an outstanding piece about the ruling.  The Air Force Times staff writer did a good job on the article despite the time constraints, although a link to the court's opinion in the article would have been very helpful for readers.

Still, there are a couple of corrections that should be made.  The Air Force Times writes,

"Next time, just be a little more cooperative," Perez says. "Roll down your window next time." 

The statement actually made was the agent saying he appreciated my cooperation, understood if I didn't want to roll my window down all the way, but who asked in the future that I roll it down "enough to communicate" (as the video shows I had done).  More importantly, it was not Agent Perez who made this statement, but rather Agent Lands who released me at the end of the detention.  That is a fact that the government, the district court, and the two-judge majority at the Fifth Circuit, consistently got wrong repeatedly, despite multiple corrections.  Judge Elrod, in her dissent, provided the most recent correction of that repeated and consistent mistake, stating:

The majority opinion incorrectly asserts that Agent Perez was the one who returned the passports to Rynearson and informed him that he was free to leave.  In fact, Agent Lands (not Agent Perez) was the officer who returned the passports; in his declaration, Agent Perez averred that he “informed [Agent Lands] to release Mr. Rynearson and to return Rynearson’s passports and send him on his way.”  ROA. 266.  In addition, the agents’ voices are clearly distinguishable on the videotape, and Agent Lands is the one speaking when Rynearson receives his passports and is informed that he may leave.

The Air Force Times also includes in its article:

Lands eventually tells Rynearson he isn't satisfied he's a U.S. citizen and accuses Rynearson of being "evasive." When Rynearson points out he has offered up two forms of ID, the agent says "that doesn't mean anything. Those aren't immigration documents."
They squabble for about eight minutes before Lands leaves to find a supervisor. Meanwhile, Rynearson puts his passport in the window along with his military ID and driver's license.

There is one fact I think should have been included between those two paragraphs, and it was a point made by Judge Elrod in her dissent.  When the agent finally came around to saying the identification he requested, and which I immediately produced, didn't mean anything...I then instantly asked the agent if he wanted a passport, and he ignored the offer.  That is a very important fact and was included in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel's dissent:

The Air Force Times also reported:

The district court ruled Lands and Perez were entitled to qualified immunity because Rynearson did not prove that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated during the stop. The appeals court agreed.

This is inaccurate, although it's completely understandable for a non-lawyer who has limited exposure to the intricacies of the case.  The appeals court agreed with the district court that the constitutional rights in question were not "clearly established." They did not agree with the district court that a constitutional violation did not occur.  The two-judge majority simply refused to even analyze whether the constitution had been violated or not by the Border Patrol agents.

Understandable mistakes aside, it was a solid report on behalf of the staff writer.  One of the very best I have seen from the Air Force Times.