Wednesday, 04 April 2012

Obama Demands More War-making Powers from Congress

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The Obama administration wants Congress to grant it even broader authority and more funding to send U.S. troops on missions around the world dealing with everything from terror and narcotics to supporting national governments facing opposition and law enforcement operations, senior Defense Department officials told a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee. And lawmakers seemed happy to comply.

According to the administration, the line between terrorism and crime is becoming increasingly blurry. And so, the Pentagon officials claimed, legislation is needed to further blur the line between national defense and law enforcement. More power should also be granted to allow U.S. troops to intervene at home and abroad even more frequently than they already do.

"Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counter-terrorism,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Michael Sheehan (above left) in a hearing with legislators on the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there."

Sheehan, citing Obama’s new “strategy” policies, said that the Defense Department would like to begin “integrating” its terror, drug trafficking, and transnational crime operations to “make better use of resources.” He also noted that the U.S. government’s propaganda apparatus — or its effort to “shape the global information and ideas environment,” in Sheehan’s words — would become increasingly important going forward.

But further blending traditional civilian law enforcement with raw military power will be crucial to implementing the administration’s terror and “security” strategy, Sheehan alleged. “In order to confront increasingly networked threats, we need to be increasingly networked as a government,” he explained. “Active threat networks will exploit the limitations the U.S. government often faces because of separate agency authorities, budgets and institutional cultures.”

Also key, according to Sheehan, is to further erode the separation between police and military — not just in the “homeland,” but in foreign nations’ governments as well. “In addition to DOD’s support to state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, DOD is helping partner countries build capacity to address narcotics trafficking and related transnational organized crime within their borders,” he stated.

When lawmakers asked for specifics on what types of new powers the administration believes it needs to increase the number of countries the U.S. military can be involved in, Sheehan did not have much to say. But in the coming weeks and months, the Department of Defense promised to give Congress different legislative options for expanding the Pentagon’s authority.

During testimony, Sheehan and other senior defense officials did offer some clues as to what new unconstitutional powers the Obama administration would like to wield. "If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs," Sheehan told the subcommittee. "I think that's the direction we're thinking."

The ability to forge more entangling alliances with other governments around the world is also high on the wish list. "We are looking for some legislative authority ... that might be able to give us some broader authorities, legislative authorities and multi-year funding for some of the types of activities that I'd like to do in terms of building coalitions to take on these complex threats," Sheehan explained.

Africa and Latin America are apparently both in the administration’s crosshairs. “We will need different types of programs in order for us to engage with the range of countries from Libya down through Mali, which is obviously in the middle of a chaos right now, to Mauritania, all the way — and, quite frankly, all the way over to Nigeria,” Sheehan noted. “So, we are talking about spanning across the whole continent.”

Several purported “authorities” are set to expire this year, including the administration’s unconstitutional power to conduct military operations in Yemen, Somalia, and Colombia. But lawmakers sounded more than willing to rubber stamp whatever demands might be made by the executive branch.

“While combating transnational organized crime is certainly not a core function of DOD, the Department does play a key role in supporting operations by both U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies, and it does so by providing funding and unique enabling capabilities, conducting operations to detect and monitor illicit trafficking that may be destined for the United States, and, again, the building of relationships and the capacity of foreign militaries and law enforcement forces to carry out similar operations themselves,” explained subcommittee Chair Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) in her opening remarks.

As the hearing was coming to a close, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) echoed the sentiment. “Gentleman, again, thank you for your testimony today,” he told the defense officials. “And, again, it is being used in a very direct way to help us put together the right authorization bill.” The Constitution was not mentioned once during the entire hearing.

But despite asking for more power and money — which will presumably be borrowed from the communist dictatorship ruling China or the Federal Reserve cartel’s printing press — the administration indicated that it was already moving forward with its plans. According to Sheehan, for example, the U.S. military is already working in Central America to help “strengthen” the region’s national governments.

Meanwhile, Latin American leaders — especially in Central America — are openly debating the legalization of narcotics, primarily to end the violence and the profitability associated with the drug war. Obama, however, has already declared that the war must go on, promising even more U.S. tax money to governments that wage it with him. 

Sen. Hagan asked about the increasing number of U.S. soldiers being killed by the Afghan troops they are arming and training, apparently oblivious to the irony of supporting further foreign militarism — and the blowback that will inevitably follow. “This is an extremely troubling trend that seems to be growing," Sheehan admitted about the American soldiers killed by their “allies” in Afghanistan.  

It remains unclear exactly why the Obama administration suddenly feels the need to ask Congress for more power. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently informed lawmakers that the administration would consult “international” authorities for permission to wage war.

The administration is already dropping bombs and supporting foreign regimes all over the world anyway. From the Philippines and Colombia to Yemen and Pakistan to Somalia and Uganda, American forces are deeply involved in multiple conflicts. No constitutionally required declarations of war have been issued.

When the President decided to wage an unconstitutional war on Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton specifically told Congress that Obama would ignore any legislative attempts to rein in the unlawful deployment. And incredibly, top administration officials openly proclaim their wild belief that U.S. Presidents have the power to assassinate anyone — including U.S. citizens — without even charging them with a crime. A 16-year-old American was murdered by a U.S. drone in Yemen just last year.

Of course, the claim that more power and resources are needed to fight “al Qaeda” — whose members were once armed and trained by the U.S. government — rings increasingly hollow as the administration partners with known al Qaeda leaders to overthrow governments. Obama has been supporting multiple known Islamic terror leaders associated with al Qaeda from Libya to Syria, for instance. And he is currently aiding the Islamo-Marxist group MEK in Iraq despite its official designation as a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, the border is being kept wide open by the federal government — on purpose, according to experts — allowing would-be terrorists to enter America at will. And the Constitution is being increasingly trampled upon in Washington, D.C., posing a far greater danger to Americans than any terrorists who “hate freedom” ever could.

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