Responce to Ron Paul’s “A Dangerous Precedent”

A friend pointed me to an article by Sen. Ron Paul published by wherein Senator Paul was scathingly critical of the assassination of US Citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. I invite you to read Senator Paul’s article in its entirety, here. Few doubt the guilt of al-Awlaki in actively recruiting American and EU citizens to become murderers of their fellow citizens and offering tactical and operational guidance to those interested,  but if you do have doubt then I invite you to read his own words on page eleven of Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine – a direct download of the fifth issue of this Al Qaeda publication (it styles itself as a magazine like People or Vogue) in PDF format is here here. If he were an American military officer, his rank and position could be summarized as Commanding General, English Language Recruitment and Training Command.

I will assume from this point that you’ve read some of what Senator Paul has to say about al-Awlaki, and what al-Awlaki had to say for himself. The only debate at this point pertains to al-Awlaki’s fifth amendment right to due process. Things in quotes are Senator Paul, followed by my response to them.

Many cheer this killing because they believe that in a time of war, due process is not necessary — not even for citizens, and especially not for those overseas. However, there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen.

For better or worse, we’ve abolished the concept of declaring war as a country. And I believe Americans in general, for whatever reasons, support this decision. When Senator Paul put forth a Declaration of War against Iraq in 2002, few Americans stood up in support of it and most supporters of the invasion of Iraq seemed OK with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq instead. In 1998 Al Qaeda declared war against the United States, and on September 14, 2001, the United States Congress returned the favor. A state of war has existed between Al Qaeda and the United States since then.

The United States Congress authorizing the President to use force is the modern equivalent of declaring war, and Ron Paul should stop pretending it is 1941.

Awlaki’s father tried desperately to get the administration to at least allow his son to have legal representation to challenge the “kill” order. He was denied. Rather than give him his day in court, the administration, behind closed doors, served as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.

A metaphor no combat veteran is likely to ever make.

All combatants serve as judge, jury, and executioner. Is President Obama not the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces at present, ultimately the General of Generals? Is a General not a combatant, even if he holds no rifle and flies no jet and merely has a “radio man” at his disposal?

Al-Awlaki is not merely accused of being a leader in Al Qaeda. He self-professed as being a leader in Al Qaeda while residing amongst and amidst Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula.

Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) wasn’t always called AQAP, its leaders chose to rename the organization willingly. Furthermore, al-Awlaki wasn’t always AQ, he chose to join and proclaimed his allegiance loudly and publicly.

I will leave you with this question: Imagine an American rifleman fighting at the Battle of the Bulge who spots what appears to be a German General standing amidst a German Command and Control center from two hundred yards away. Do you expect that rifleman to approach and ask the apparent German General (self-identifying as such by virtue of wearing that uniform at that location) if he is indeed a German General, or do you expect him to take the shot immediately?

Responce to Ron Paul’s “A Dangerous Precedent”

How To Produce Suicide Bombers, and How To Cease Production

Professor Robert Pape is a social scientist at the University of Chicago and has been analyzing the motivations of people (generally people on the “other side”) for a few decades. He avoids falling into the trap of stereotypes, avoiding taboo, and saying things that people like to hear. Rather than relying on quotes from holy books, political speeches or other fuzzy sources to understand why things happen, he’s collected hard data on some two thousand terrorist attacks and attempted to understand it from that perspective.

He’s instructed Air Force Officers at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies, he’s provided intelligence to various Federal Intelligence agencies that they did not previously have, and he runs the Project on Security and Terrorism, including its publicly accessible database of terrorist attacks.

Below is the video of a presentation he gave at Duke University a few months ago – it is fascinating stuff, and the conclusions are far from what you would expect. His theory offers a model that includes predictability, meaning that as we watch future current events we should be able to test his theory by applying the model and using it to predict if large numbers of suicide bombers will or will not be produced by a conflict.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

How To Produce Suicide Bombers, and How To Cease Production

Give Bin Laden a Credible Muslim Funeral

This is breaking news, so I may update this post later, but initial reports are that Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces near the capital city of Pakistan.

Good, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish a Happy May Day to all of Humanity. Now, more than previously, this can be a holiday that crosses cultural, political, and religious lines.

At this point, the thing to do is identify the senior Muslim Chaplain in the United States Armed Forces and have an impeccable traditional Islamic funeral conducted… at sea.

So long as we give him the solemn funeral due to any believer of any faith, many of our Culturally Liberal allies in their 20s and 30s in places like Iran and Egypt will celebrate with us. Let us not horrify them with barbarism, and drive them away.

Once that is done, we need to prepare for attempted retaliation in the days and weeks to come. By “we,” I mean you the reader and me Chris. This monumental intercontinental and intercultural conflict is not over; OBL hasn’t been running the day-to-day of Al Qaeda for years.

Why bury him at sea and not in a grave on land? Any grave on land will be a focal point for violent protests and conflict for decades to come. If you put an iron-clad fence around it 100 meters away, then the violence will happen 100 meters away with just as much intensity. That type of focal point will almost certainly come into existence anyways, but I believe it is important for the United States not to be the ones intentionally choosing or creating such a focal point for death and violence.

EDIT: Holy crap, google is quick! I’ve never been #1 for such a non-specific google search before and it took under an hour for this blog post. 😛

(click for full size)

EDIT2: What the hell, Al Jazeera Live (less than 2 hours after this blog post) is now reporting that OBL will be buried at sea…

Give Bin Laden a Credible Muslim Funeral

An Offer and Invitation From Libyan Rebellion

EDIT on April 2: April Fools 🙂

I made this ridiculous image to go with the prank, but decided not to use it yesterday because it would have introduced a plot hole into my elaborate scheme.

Me, sitting on a bench. Baseball cap backwards, aviators on, smoking a cigarette. I have an M-14 rifle in my hands, and am wearing a bou-bou over camouflage and a rambo-style bandoleer. I look completely ridiculous.

Original post continues…

April 1, 2011

Apparently, some of the right people have been reading my blog. Three days ago, I got an e-mail from Khalifa Hifter who took command of the Rebel Army in Libya last week. Hifter was a senior military officer in the Libyan Army under Gaddafi and led Libyan forces against Chad in the war they fought in the 1980s.

He agreed with most of my assessments of the problems facing Rebel forces, and with most of my solutions. Our back-and-forth discussion since that first e-mail from him is the reason I haven’t blogged in a few days. My blog is about a month old, and I appreciate the support that you folks have given me, but I may continue to be missing from the blogosphere for some time. Noting both the content of this blog and my experience as a Sergeant of Marines, Hifter has invited me to join his staff as a junior advisor, with the task of helping to forge a corps of non-commissioned officers among the Rebels, and as an advisor on how to maintain positive American public opinion towards the Rebellion. Given how well educated many of the Libyan rebels are, I do not think the language barrier will be insurmountable.

A ticket has been purchased for me, from San Francisco to Rome, departing this Monday. I believe I will be met there and given enough money to make my way to southern Italy and then to Benghazi – I’ll be taking the same route using the same methods that Libyan illegal immigrants use to get to Italy, except in reverse. Wish me luck, and thank you again for your support since I started this blog. Without that support, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to make a real difference in the world.

An Offer and Invitation From Libyan Rebellion

No Fly Zone, One Week Later

It’s been about a week since NATO implemented a no-fly zone over Libya, with the approval of the UN security council and at the request of the Arab League.

The boy below has pointed out an error of mine. I’ve been spelling the city Misrata, he seems to be indicating that it is spelled Musrata in English. Very well, young man, correction noted and thank you.

Pre-teenage boy holding sign in red that reads Musrata. Behind him, another boy holds a mocking cartoon of Gaddafi.
(Image Credit: Al Jazeera Live)

Another interesting image I’ve come across is this, a Marine Harrier “jump-jet” landing vertically on the USS Kearsarge as it returns from strikes on Libyan Government forces outside of Musrata. This isn’t from the next Transformers movie, I promise you. Click for full size and resolution.

Night vision image of a harrier lowering vertically towards a barely visible flight deck. The flames from the jet engine can be seen pointing down towards the flight deck.
(Image Credit: Al Jazeera Live)

This is that warship, the USS Kearsarge, off the coast of Libya during the day. The ship is nearly identical to its sister ship, the USS Essex, who’s capabilities I described last week.

USS Kearsarge at sea during the day. Flight deck is quite prominent, and harriers are visible on it.
(Image Credit: Al Jazeera Live)

Well, that is enough hardware talk. Wikipedia has extensive documentation of the various assets at work.


It has been about a month since resistance began in Musrata. Government troops laid siege to it after finishing their conquest of Zawiya, and Musrata has been the most brutal operation conducted by Gaddafi’s forces yet. Features of this siege have included systematic leveling of buildings and rampant killing of civilians. As a result of NATO strikes over the last few days, the Siege of Musrata has effectively ended.

The killing, however, has not. NATO aircraft can locate and destroy combat vehicles of Gaddafi’s Army, but individual government marksman cannot be located from the air. By stating that the siege has ended, I am conveying that earnest efforts to capture the city have ended for the moment. Gaddafi’s troops are reported to be killing unarmed people indiscriminately, and people are not being allowed to leave the city. The primary hospital of Musrata has Government marksman on the rooftop, shooting injured people as they approach. For obvious reasons, there isn’t much that NATO Aircraft can do about this – heavy machine gun bullets from aircraft will penetrate the roof of the building, and likely kill or injure people within the hospital.

No Fly Zone, One Week Later

Obama on the Authority of the President

I thought this was a very interesting quote from December 2007 as then-Senator Obama’s campaign was kicking into gear during an interview


2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

President Obama’s Answer:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

I haven’t modified that, in any way, from the way I found it on the Boston Globe’s website except to add bold and italics to some of the text. The stuff in italics is for the full context, but not necessarily relevant to the current situation in Libya.

The Arab League approved of US Involvement in the Libyan No Fly Zone. So did the United Nations. The United States Congress, however, did not. No one in the White House asked Christopher T. Mason what he thought, either.

I think it would be great if congressmen on both sides of the aisle grew some cojones and claimed back some of the authority granted to them by the United States Constitution.

Obama on the Authority of the President

Gaddafi Forgot The Human Shields

From the BBC,

[Gaddafi’s] State television showed some of the bodies, all, apparently, of men, but did not say whether they were civilian or military.

It also showed some of the wounded in hospital – again, all men. One of them expressed his support for the Libyan leader.

Gaddafi’s TV channel would have better served Gaddafi by showing women and children injured by explosions and shrapnel. So why didn’t he show them?

Because they don’t exist, or they exist in very small numbers. Blatant use of human shields would destroy what support Gaddafi has left in Tripoli. There are, no doubt, masses of injured women and children in Tripoli hospitals – but all showing bullet wounds. People in Tripoli injured by bullet wounds, officially, don’t exist. They also cannot be made to look like victims of NATO Airstrikes.

What types of areas are likely only to have only men present, and no women or children? Not Mosques. Not the marketplace. Not the Schools. If you guessed troops and military installations, you would be correct.

Anti Aircraft gun in Tripoli, last night:
Troops manning an anti-aircraft gun in the middle of the night.
(Image Credit: Al Jazeera)

Though the men pictured are legitimate military targets, there is no reason to assume that these individual government troops are bad people. If ordered to force women and children to remain in the vicinity, they may just refuse. Scores of Libyan government soldiers have already been executed for refusing similar orders, and the risk Gaddafi assumes by widespread use of blatant human shields is that Gaddafi may have to execute more troops that are trained in operating AA guns and surface to air missile systems. Clearly, he needs to be more subtle.

Just today, however, one of Gaddafi’s residences was destroyed by NATO attacks. Unfortunately, Gaddafi may have realized his error and populated his various residences and publicly known command and control centers with women and children under the auspices of a “gift to his loyal people” or with offers of “protection & a hot meal”. Gaddafi, of course, isn’t home – he’s in a bunker. Gaddafi now has, however, some women and children with shrapnel and explosion wounds to show to the cameras.

That being said, I hope my analysis and conjecture are both wrong.

Gaddafi Forgot The Human Shields