Archive for International affairs

McCain Calls Rodman An Idiot For Doing What He Himself Did

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piacchi

Oh, don't we always love the pot calling the kettle black stories -- especially when John McCain doing the name calling? This war hero who named names to his captors (I'm not judging, just reporting) has recently returned from interfering with Secretary of State John Kerry's peace negotiation in Jerusalem. For Kerry, it was official business. He was carrying out official foreign policy.

So what does McCain do? He hurries over there on an unofficial capacity, forces his way into meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and totally kills any potential deal. Kerry came home empty handed. A failed mission. But the reasons why could be attributed to McCain, Lindsay Graham and Wyoming Senator John Barrasso showing up and fighting against Kerry and the US mission he was on. I call it treason. You can read about it here: The Three Stooges, McCain, Graham and Barrasso Commit Treason In Israel.

Evidently when someone other that McCain and his cronies talk to diplomatic representatives from other countries, it's not okay. But when it's kooky Dennis Rodman, it's name calling time for the semi-senile senior senator from Arizona. He says Rodman is an idiot. Really. He's of lower intellect. Is that a racist remark? How come Rodman's still a name 10 years after he's left the NBA. Can you name 10 others who are still in the mainstream media coverage that long after retiring? Dennis is shrewd and perhaps even smart. Not sure those attributes fit McCain any longer. Gramps has really lost it.

Of Kim Jung Un McCain says he participates in unspeakable cruelty and he possesses nuclear weapons. Wait a minute. Is he talking about Kim Jung Un or  Benjamin Netanyahu? Ask the Palestinians how they've been persecuted. Is he anymore unspeakable than the North Korean dictator? I'm all for Israel. Just not for it's hawkish leader who's tried to interfere in American diplomacy in the middle east, Syria and Iran to be exact.

Here's McCain playing Tonio, the clown from Pagliacci. The two faced-traitor McCain gives a dazzling performance. Golden Globe worthy if not the Oscars.

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How Far Should Diplomatic Immunity Reach

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DPL plates

When I was growing up I took a trip with my older brother to New York City. While we were walking around and seeing the sights, I noticed for the first time a license plate that had the "DPL" imprinted on it. I had never seen that before, growing up in the suburbs of Boston. I wasn't exactly a rube, but I wasn't big city either -- at least at that time.

So my big bro pointed out that the initials indicated that these cars belonged to people in the diplomatic corps. They had immunity and could break the law at will and even flaunt it. That was my brother's take and he even pointed out that the DPL car we were looking at was parked in a red zone.

From that time forward, through my years living in major cities, I've noticed lots of DPL cars and maybe not surprisingly, they always were parked in no parking zones or with time expired on the meters. I guess that's because they don't have to pay to park like the rest of us.

My interest was piqued when I caught this on Reuters:

In New York, Devyani Khobragade, a deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper, an Indian national. She was released on a $250,000 bail.

In an email to colleagues, Khobragade complained of "repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing" and being detained in a holding cell with petty criminals despite her "incessant assertions of immunity".

In essence, this deputy consul was keeping an illegal slave. Let's just be honest here. And when she was subjected to the same treatment as the rest of Americans, her arrogance and immunity took over. She was demanding to be treated better than anyone else.

Maybe my brother was right. Being a diplomat means you can do anything to anyone and get away with any crime, large or small. That may be the way the government sees things, but if the NSA is going to eavesdrop on our calls and emails, maybe they need the power to hold possible criminals who are harboring sleeper cells on our soil.

I'm not saying Khobragade is running a sleeper cell or that her "slave" was a terrorist. But they could be. And this also could all be just one big misunderstanding. But we need to look at what diplomatic immunity really means. Can you come over here, kill an American citizen and just go back to your home country? Actually yes. And it's happened before with Soviet drunk drivers killing pedestrians and all they got was expelled back to their country. The dead victims didn't get to go home. They got planted six feet under. No charges were levied.

Readers Digest wrote about this:

Diplomatic immunity affords foreign diplomats in America a blank check for bad behavior. Unpaid bills, drunk driving, sex crimes and even slavery - what's the recourse?

In early 2005, Virginia police closed in on a suspected child predator — a man in his 40s who cops say drove four hours to meet a 13-year-old girl he’d met on the Internet, promising to teach her about sex. It turned out the girl was really a cop, and officers arrested the man at a shopping mall.

But then it was the police who got an unpleasant surprise. Their suspect, Salem Al-Mazrooei, was a diplomat from the United Arab Emirates — and therefore covered by “diplomatic immunity.” The cops had to let him go. Days later, Al-Mazrooei left the country, never having spent a night in jail.

Now back to the current crisis. The government of India has it tighty-whities all up in a bunch. They're taking retaliatory steps against the US embassy in India. They've taken down the protective barricades which keep our diplomatic corps over there safe.

The measures included a revision of work conditions of Indians employed at U.S. consulates and a freeze on the import of duty-free alcohol.

You know they mean business when they freeze the import of duty-free alcohol.

It's about time we get real here. Respect and privacy are one thing to grant visiting dignitaries. But freedom to overtly break our human rights laws, to become general parking scofflaws and to commit horrific human crimes is not above the law for us, or for them.

So India, spend a bit more time thinking about why you're defending a slave holder and less on making the US presence on your land less safe.

And Obama -- maybe you need to get John Kerry off the plane a little longer to look at the way we are protecting law breakers here under the guise of diplomatic immunity.

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When Will We Learn, McCain Is Not A Diplomat?

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Oops I did it again

It takes a big (wo)man, not necessarily a good (wo)man, to admit he/she's made a mistake. John McCain this weekend proved he's that (wo)man. He's admitted what we've all known for years -- he means well, but is prone to exaggeration gaffs.

So in the spirit of fairness, I'm willing to say John simply got caught up in the moment, took some time to reflect on his own actions of the past and decided Obama's handshake with Raul Castro wasn't the disgraceful act of "appeasement" on par with the Neville Chamberlain/Adolph Hitler handshake. Time to get past that.

With that settled, I think it's about time that the US Government reconsider it's policy of sending McCain and usually his personal valet Senator Lindsay Graham on official "fact finding" trips to political 'hot spots' on behalf of this country. This hawk and his sidekick have never found a place where they didn't feel the US should make it a flashpoint for war.

They were early and multiply times visitors to Iraq where we escalated our efforts there -- remember the "surge" of troops?

They visited Syria and voted against Obama's using peaceful means to negotiate the chemical weapons disarmament.

McCain made a number of official visits to Israel where each time the middle east country announced increased anxiety over Iran which lead to threats of a possible unilateral Israeli strike on their warring neighbor. McCain went so far as to refer to then current Iranian leader this way according to NBC news:

McCain made a joke comparing Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a monkey.

The Arizona senator even more recently has been vocal on pushing new sanctions against Iran which would most certainly derail the peaceful efforts to negotiate a shutting down of the nuclear weapons development program in Iran despite pleas by Secretary of State John Kerry to allow unfettered negotiations to take place. 

Now today we find McCain (without his Graham valet) once again off to a foreign land as an official envoy, this time in the rioting Ukraine.

In all these these cases, the McCain visits have turned out, by his actions once he returned, to be the opposite of our best interests. How many times must this old warhorse be sent to gather intel and report back? It's not as if his efforts have netted us any qualitative or even quantitative findings. He may be a good guy, and his military background -- at least in years spent as a prisoner of war -- is laudable. But like the accountant today who forgoes contemporary computer technology to prepare your taxes, he's slow, prone to human error and basically just out of it. He's got his old ways and refuses to change with the times. Rather than input data in a computer and have it instantly analyzed and metadata mined for multiple uses, he's still got the pencil, a paper spreadsheet (with coffee stains) and a hand-pull adding machine at his side.

We'll all be served when he finally signals his retirement. He doesn't need to be put out to pasture just yet, but he certainly doesn't need to be our eyes and ears on the ground surveying our next possible moves in volatile locations. He could help us best by passing on his knowledge in improving the standards of living and assistance to soldiers returning from service as well as issues affecting our growing aging population.

Internation diplomacy needs a bit more than just having served for a long time or a Senator singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

It takes someone who thinks before he speaks. What it needs is diplomacy, not mockery. And lately, Senator McCain has proven he's doting with emotional lust for one final battle, not one grand peace. Let's stop putting our worst foot forward. Let's start putting our best.

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Gitmo's Penny Lane Marriott - A Terrorist's "Home Away From Home"

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Guantanamo Bay

Ah, the spy game. When it comes to our national security, who better than George W. Bush and his neo-cons to oversee top secret programs? You remember GW, the man who ignored warnings of a possible attack on 9-11; the chief executive who felt it more important to read to kindergarten students when told of the attack than move to defend this country; the President who ordered Air Force One to the wrong position after the terrorists attack; and the man who raged war against the wrong country for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Let's face it, this dude was in over his head. But only now are we finding out the further adventures in counter-terrorism of our former leader. Seems, according to the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the early years after 9/11, the CIA turned some Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents then sent them home to help the U.S. kill terrorists, current and former U.S. officials said.

The CIA promised the prisoners freedom, safety for their families and millions of dollars from the agency's secret accounts.

It was a risky gamble. Officials knew there was a chance that some prisoners might quickly spurn their deal and kill Americans.

For the CIA, that was an acceptable risk in a dangerous business. For the American public, which was never told, the program was one of the many secret trade-offs the government made on its behalf. At the same time the government used the risk of terrorism to justify imprisoning people indefinitely, it was releasing dangerous people from prison to work for the CIA.

The idea that infiltrating Al Qaeda to prevent more attacks is very sound. But how you do it takes some really well thought out assessment. And GW wasn't the guy to make that decision. Nor were his cohorts, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

So the pool of candidates was the Gitmo prisoners. Okay, maybe they were a logical place to start. But with all the torture and waterboarding going on, could these prisoners be trusted? What was to stop them from just lying and making it easier on themselves?

Candidates were ushered from the confines of prison to Penny Lane's (the cottages used for the double-agent trainees) relative hominess, officials said. The cottages had private kitchens, showers and televisions. Each had a small patio.

Some prisoners asked for and received pornography. One official said the biggest luxury in each cottage was the bed - not a military-issued cot but a real bed with a mattress.

The cottages were designed to feel more like hotel rooms than prison cells, and some CIA officials jokingly referred to them collectively as the Marriott.

Marriott Hotel

So, those were the conditions at the Gitmo Marriott. With treatment like that, I'm sure the program was a huge success -- so many volunteers that you had to beat them off with a stick -- if you weren't already beating them with a stick.

This was sure to be a successful program.

The U.S. government says it has confirmed that about 16 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoined the fight against America. Officials suspect but have not confirmed that another 12 percent more rejoined.

That would make for a potential of roughly 3 in 10 returned to their old ways and killed American soldiers. A 70% win rate might be good in baseball or basketball, but it sure isn't in counter-intelligence. Each mistake made there could have cost hundreds of lives. But what can you expect from these hijacked soldiers, cuffed and hooded and whisked off to the balmy shores of Cuba?

Vice President Dick Cheney called the prisoners "the worst of a very bad lot." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said they were "among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth."

Now isn't that a great pool of volunteers. I guess Bush and company saw something in these truly dangerous men that the outside world might find hard to see. It must be like trying to train people to have charisma or to grow taller, or develop a discerning sense for smell.

The U.S. government had such high hopes for Penny Lane that one former intelligence official recalled discussions about whether to secretly release a pair of Pakistani men into the United States on student or business visas. The hope was that they would connect with al-Qaida and lead authorities to members of a U.S. cell.

Of course. What a great plan! Finance, arm and set up the worst of the worst on American soil, setting them free to roam among us. No risk there. That's the surest way for the Al Qaeda guys in the middle east to pick up former freedom fighter ex-patriots and enlist them to run the domestic cells here. Surely nobody in the Al Qaeda hierarchy would be suspicious that these guys who were captured in Iraq, held prisoner in Guantanamo, then set free on U.S mainland soil with walking around money might have cut a deal and been secret double agents.

George W. must have thought the masterminds of the 9-11 attack would be pretty ignorant? Maybe he was looking at a group picture of his own cabinet and thought, hey, it's worked on these idiots.

So, how successful was the genius executive branch plan for counter-intelligence, code named, Penny Lane?

There's not a single shred of evidence than any of these turned double agents provided any intel that caused a disruption in any of the Iraq war plans. So much for the Republican brain trust and the neo-cons who actually ran our country and choreographed the war.

And these are the same people, the same party, that are imploring us to not seek out a peaceful solution the the nuclear potential in Iran. Let's see, trust the administration that ended the war in Iraq, is winding down the war in Afghanistan, tracked down Bin Laden, found a peaceful means of removing Syria's chemical weapons... or the people who started the war in Iraq to start with -- over faulty intelligence or just plain lies?

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