Obama On War, Peace and Drones To Kill Radical Islamic Jihad Terrorists — National Defense University Speech, May 23, 2013 — Videos

Posted on May 23, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, College, Communications, Constitution, Drones, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, IRS, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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‘There is no justification to Gitmo': Barack Obama’s speech on counter-terrorism

President Barack Obama has given a speech – justifying and outlining changes to the national defence policies of the United States. The address is seen as an opening up of America’s security policies. Obama has discussed the legality of drone strikes and the future of the Guantanamo prison.

Document: Text of Obama speech on counterterrorism, May 23, 2013

President Barack Obama’s speech on the fight against terrorism at the National Defense University, as provided by the White House:

It’s an honor to return to the National Defense University. Here, at Fort McNair, Americans have served in uniform since 1791– standing guard in the early days of the Republic, and contemplating the future of warfare here in the 21st century.

For over two centuries, the United States has been bound together by founding documents that defined who we are as Americans, and served as our compass through every type of change. Matters of war and peace are no different. Americans are deeply ambivalent about war, but having fought for our independence, we know that a price must be paid for freedom. From the Civil War, to our struggle against fascism, and through the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War, battlefields have changed, and technology has evolved. But our commitment to constitutional principles has weathered every war, and every war has come to an end.

With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a new dawn of democracy took hold abroad, and a decade of peace and prosperity arrived at home. For a moment, it seemed the 21st century would be a tranquil time. Then, on September 11th, 2001, we were shaken out of complacency. Thousands were taken from us, as clouds of fire, metal and ash descended upon a sun-filled morning. This was a different kind of war. No armies came to our hores, and our military was not the principal target. Instead, a group of terrorists came to kill as many civilians as they could.

And so our nation went to war. We have now been at war for well over a decade. I won’t review the full history. What’s clear is that we quickly drove al-Qaida out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq. This carried grave consequences for our fight against al-Qaida, our standing in the world, and — to this day — our interests in a vital region.

Meanwhile, we strengthened our defenses — hardening targets, tightening transportation security, and giving law enforcement new tools to prevent terror. Most of these changes were sound. Some caused inconvenience. But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy. And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.

After I took office, we stepped up the war against al-Qaida, but also sought to change its course. We relentlessly targeted al-Qaida’s leadership. We ended the war in Iraq, and brought nearly 150,000 troops home. We pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan, and increased our training of Afghan forces. We unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, worked to align our policies with the rule of law, and expanded our consultations with Congress.

Today, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants. There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure. Fewer of our troops are in harm’s way, and over the next 19 months they will continue to come home. Our alliances are strong, and so is our standing in the world. In sum, we are safer because of our efforts.

Now make no mistake: our nation is still threatened by terrorists. From Benghazi to Boston, we have been tragically reminded of that truth. We must recognize, however, that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11. With a decade of experience to draw from, now is the time to ask ourselves hard questions — about the nature of today’s threats, and how we should confront them.

These questions matter to every American. For over the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, exploding our deficits and constraining our ability to nation build here at home. Our service-members and their families have sacrificed far more on our behalf. Nearly 7,000 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice. Many more have left a part of themselves on the battlefield, or brought the shadows of battle back home. From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions we are making will define the type of nation — and world — that we leave to our children.

So America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Neither I, nor any president, can promise the total defeat of terror. We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, nor stamp out every danger to our open society. What we can do — what we must do — is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. To define that strategy, we must make decisions based not on fear, but hard-earned wisdom. And that begins with understanding the threat we face.

Today, the core of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They have not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11. Instead, what we’ve seen is the emergence of various al-Qaida affiliates. From Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa, the threat today is more diffuse, with al-Qaida’s affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula — AQAP — the most active in plotting against our homeland. While none of AQAP’s efforts approach the scale of 9/11 they have continued to plot acts of terror, like the attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009.

Unrest in the Arab World has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria. Here, too, there are differences from 9/11. In some cases, we confront state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Others are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. While we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. That means we will face more localized threats like those we saw in Benghazi, or at the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives — in loose affiliation with regional networks — launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies, and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.

Finally, we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States. Whether it’s a shooter at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin; a plane flying into a building in Texas; or the extremists who killed 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City — America has confronted many forms of violent extremism in our time. Deranged or alienated individuals — often U.S. citizens or legal residents – can do enormous damage, particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad. That pull towards extremism appears to have led to the shooting at Fort Hood, and the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Lethal yet less capable al-Qaida affiliates. Threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. We must take these threats seriously, and do all that we can to confront them. But as we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11. In the 1980s, we lost Americans to terrorism at our Embassy in Beirut; at our Marine Barracks in Lebanon; on a cruise ship at sea; at a disco in Berlin; and on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. In the 1990s, we lost Americans to terrorism at the World Trade Center; at our military facilities in Saudi Arabia; and at our Embassy in Kenya. These attacks were all deadly, and we learned that left unchecked, these threats can grow. But if dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11.

Moreover, we must recognize that these threats don’t arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology — a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam; and this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist acts.

Nevertheless, this ideology persists, and in an age in which ideas and images can travel the globe in an instant, our response to terrorism cannot depend on military or law enforcement alone. We need all elements of national power to win a battle of wills and ideas. So let me discuss the components of such a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy.

First, we must finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces.

In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Our troops will come home. Our combat mission will come to an end. And we will work with the Afghan government to train security forces, and sustain a counter-terrorism force which ensures that al-Qaida can never again establish a safe-haven to launch attacks against us or our allies.

Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ — but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives fighting extremists. In Yemen, we are supporting security forces that have reclaimed territory from AQAP. In Somalia, we helped a coalition of African nations push al Shabaab out of its strongholds. In Mali, we are providing military aid to a French-led intervention to push back al-Qaida in the Maghreb, and help the people of Mali reclaim their future.

Much of our best counter-terrorism cooperation results in the gathering and sharing of intelligence; the arrest and prosecution of terrorists. That’s how a Somali terrorist apprehended off the coast of Yemen is now in prison in New York. That’s how we worked with European allies to disrupt plots from Denmark to Germany to the United Kingdom. That’s how intelligence collected with Saudi Arabia helped us stop a cargo plane from being blown up over the Atlantic.

But despite our strong preference for the detention and prosecution of terrorists, sometimes this approach is foreclosed. Al-Qaida and its affiliates try to gain a foothold in some of the most distant and unforgiving places on earth. They take refuge in remote tribal regions. They hide in caves and walled compounds. They train in empty deserts and rugged mountains.

In some of these places — such as parts of Somalia and Yemen — the state has only the most tenuous reach into the territory. In other cases, the state lacks the capacity or will to take action. It is also not possible for America to simply deploy a team of Special Forces to capture every terrorist. And even when such an approach may be possible, there are places where it would pose profound risks to our troops and local civilians– where a terrorist compound cannot be breached without triggering a firefight with surrounding tribal communities that pose no threat to us, or when putting U.S. boots on the ground may trigger a major international crisis.

To put it another way, our operation in Pakistan against Osama bin Laden cannot be the norm. The risks in that case were immense; the likelihood of capture, although our preference, was remote given the certainty of resistance; the fact that we did not find ourselves confronted with civilian casualties, or embroiled in an extended firefight, was a testament to the meticulous planning and professionalism of our Special Forces — but also depended on some luck. And even then, the cost to our relationship with Pakistan — and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory — was so severe that we are just now beginning to rebuild this important partnership.

It is in this context that the United States has taken lethal, targeted action against al-Qaida and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to as drones. As was true in previous armed conflicts, this new technology raises profound questions — about who is targeted, and why; about civilian casualties, and the risk of creating new enemies; about the legality of such strikes under U.S. and international law; about accountability and morality.

Let me address these questions. To begin with, our actions are effective. Don’t take my word for it. In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, we found that he wrote, “we could lose the reserves to the enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.” Other communications from al-Qaida operatives confirm this as well. Dozens of highly skilled al-Qaida commanders, trainers, bomb makers, and operatives have been taken off the battlefield. Plots have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives.

Moreover, America’s actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and their associated forces. We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first. So this is a just war — a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.

And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion. To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance. For the same human progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power — or risk abusing it. That’s why, over the last four years, my administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists — insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance that I signed yesterday.

In the Afghan war theater, we must support our troops until the transition is complete at the end of 2014. That means we will continue to take strikes against high value al-Qaida targets, but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces. However, by the end of 2014, we will no longer have the same need for force protection, and the progress we have made against core al-Qaida will reduce the need for unmanned strikes.

Beyond the Afghan theater, we only target al-Qaida and its associated forces. Even then, the use of drones is heavily constrained. America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists — our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them. America cannot take strikes wherever we choose — our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty. America does not take strikes to punish individuals — we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat. And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set.

This last point is critical, because much of the criticism about drone strikes — at home and abroad — understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But as Commander-in-Chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties — not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places — like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu — where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.

Where foreign governments cannot or will not effectively stop terrorism in their territory, the primary alternative to targeted, lethal action is the use of conventional military options. As I’ve said, even small Special Operations carry enormous risks. Conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise than drones, and likely to cause more civilian casualties and local outrage. And invasions of these territories lead us to be viewed as occupying armies; unleash a torrent of unintended consequences; are difficult to contain; and ultimately empower those who thrive on violent conflict. So it is false to assert that putting boots on the ground is less likely to result in civilian deaths, or to create enemies in the Muslim world. The result would be more U.S. deaths, more Blackhawks down, more confrontations with local populations, and an inevitable mission creep in support of such raids that could easily escalate into new wars.

So yes, the conflict with al-Qaida, like all armed conflict, invites tragedy. But by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us, and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life. Indeed, our efforts must also be measured against the history of putting American troops in distant lands among hostile populations. In Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of civilians died in a war where the boundaries of battle were blurred. In Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the courage and discipline of our troops, thousands of civilians have been killed. So neither conventional military action, nor waiting for attacks to occur, offers moral safe-harbor. Neither does a sole reliance on law enforcement in territories that have no functioning police or security services — and indeed, have no functioning law.

This is not to say that the risks are not real. Any U.S. military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies, and impacts public opinion overseas. Our laws constrain the power of the president, even during wartime, and I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. The very precision of drones strikes, and the necessary secrecy involved in such actions can end up shielding our government from the public scrutiny that a troop deployment invites. It can also lead a president and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism.

For this reason, I’ve insisted on strong oversight of all lethal action. After I took office, my administration began briefing all strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan to the appropriate committees of Congress. Let me repeat that — not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes. That includes the one instance when we targeted an American citizen: Anwar Awlaki, the chief of external operations for AQAP.

This week, I authorized the declassification of this action, and the deaths of three other Americans in drone strikes, to facilitate transparency and debate on this issue, and to dismiss some of the more outlandish claims. For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen — with a drone, or a shotgun — without due process. Nor should any president deploy armed drones over U.S. soil.

But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America — and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens; and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot — his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team

That’s who Anwar Awlaki was — he was continuously trying to kill people. He helped oversee the 2010 plot to detonate explosive devices on two U.S. bound cargo planes. He was involved in planning to blow up an airliner in 2009. When Farouk Abdulmutallab — the Christmas Day bomber — went to Yemen in 2009, Awlaki hosted him, approved his suicide operation, and helped him tape a martyrdom video to be shown after the attack. His last instructions were to blow up the airplane when it was over American soil. I would have detained and prosecuted Awlaki if we captured him before he carried out a plot. But we couldn’t. And as President, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took out Awlaki.

Of course, the targeting of any Americans raises constitutional issues that are not present in other strikes — which is why my Administration submitted information about Awlaki to the Department of Justice months before Awlaki was killed, and briefed the Congress before this strike as well. But the high threshold that we have set for taking lethal action applies to all potential terrorist targets, regardless of whether or not they are American citizens. This threshold respects the inherent dignity of every human life. Alongside the decision to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way, the decision to use force against individuals or groups — even against a sworn enemy of the United States — is the hardest thing I do as president. But these decisions must be made, given my responsibility to protect the American people.

Going forward, I have asked my administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones that go beyond our reporting to Congress. Each option has virtues in theory, but poses difficulties in practice. For example, the establishment of a special court to evaluate and authorize lethal action has the benefit of bringing a third branch of government into the process, but raises serious constitutional issues about presidential and judicial authority. Another idea that’s been suggested — the establishment of an independent oversight board in the executive branch — avoids those problems, but may introduce a layer of bureaucracy into national-security decision-making, without inspiring additional public confidence in the process. Despite these challenges, I look forward to actively engaging Congress to explore these — and other — options for increased oversight.

I believe, however, that the use of force must be seen as part of a larger discussion about a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. Because for all the focus on the use of force, force alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the well-spring of extremism, a perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments — will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.

So the next element of our strategy involves addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism, from North Africa to South Asia. As we’ve learned this past decade, this is a vast and complex undertaking. We must be humble in our expectation that we can quickly resolve deep rooted problems like poverty and sectarian hatred. Moreover, no two countries are alike, and some will undergo chaotic change before things get better. But our security and values demand that we make the effort.

This means patiently supporting transitions to democracy in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya — because the peaceful realization of individual aspirations will serve as a rebuke to violent extremists. We must strengthen the opposition in Syria, while isolating extremist elements — because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism. We are working to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians – because it is right, and because such a peace could help reshape attitudes in the region. And we must help countries modernize economies, upgrade education, and encourage entrepreneurship — because American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with peoples’ hopes, and not simply their fears.

Success on these fronts requires sustained engagement, but it will also require resources. I know that foreign aid is one of the least popular expenditures — even though it amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. But foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity. It is fundamental to our national security, and any sensible long-term strategy to battle extremism. Moreover, foreign assistance is a tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars that our assistance might ultimately prevent. For what we spent in a month in Iraq at the height of the war, we could be training security forces in Libya, maintaining peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, feeding the hungry in Yemen, building schools in Pakistan, and creating reservoirs of goodwill that marginalize extremists.

America cannot carry out this work if we do not have diplomats serving in dangerous places. Over the past decade, we have strengthened security at our Embassies, and I am implementing every recommendation of the Accountability Review Board which found unacceptable failures in Benghazi. I have called on Congress to fully fund these efforts to bolster security, harden facilities, improve intelligence, and facilitate a quicker response time from our military if a crisis emerges.

But even after we take these steps, some irreducible risks to our diplomats will remain. This is the price of being the world’s most powerful nation, particularly as a wave of change washes over the Arab World. And in balancing the trade-offs between security and active diplomacy, I firmly believe that any retreat from challenging regions will only increase the dangers we face in the long run.

Targeted action against terrorists. Effective partnerships. Diplomatic engagement and assistance. Through such a comprehensive strategy we can significantly reduce the chances of large scale attacks on the homeland and mitigate threats to Americans overseas. As we guard against dangers from abroad, however, we cannot neglect the daunting challenge of terrorism from within our borders.

As I said earlier, this threat is not new. But technology and the Internet increase its frequency and lethality. Today, a person can consume hateful propaganda, commit themselves to a violent agenda, and learn how to kill without leaving their home. To address this threat, two years ago my administration did a comprehensive review, and engaged with law enforcement. The best way to prevent violent extremism is to work with the Muslim American community — which has consistently rejected terrorism — to identify signs of radicalization, and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence. And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family. Indeed, the success of American Muslims, and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties, is the ultimate rebuke to those who say we are at war with Islam.

Indeed, thwarting homegrown plots presents particular challenges in part because of our proud commitment to civil liberties for all who call America home. That’s why, in the years to come, we will have to keep working hard to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are. That means reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse. That means that — even after Boston — we do not deport someone or throw someone in prison in the absence of evidence. That means putting careful constraints on the tools the government uses to protect sensitive information, such as the State Secrets doctrine. And that means finally having a strong Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to review those issues where our counter-terrorism efforts and our values may come into tension.

The Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society. As Commander-in Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.

Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. That is why I have called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government over-reach. I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th.

All these issues remind us that the choices we make about war can impact — in sometimes unintended ways — the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends. And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing.

The AUMF is now nearly twelve years old. The Afghan War is coming to an end. Core al-Qaida is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaida will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking and our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.

And that brings me to my final topic: the detention of terrorist suspects.

To repeat, as a matter of policy, the preference of the United States is to capture terrorist suspects. When we do detain a suspect, we interrogate them. And if the suspect can be prosecuted, we decide whether to try him in a civilian court or a Military Commission. During the past decade, the vast majority of those detained by our military were captured on the battlefield. In Iraq, we turned over thousands of prisoners as we ended the war. In Afghanistan, we have transitioned detention facilities to the Afghans, as part of the process of restoring Afghan sovereignty. So we bring law of war detention to an end, and we are committed to prosecuting terrorists whenever we can.

The glaring exception to this time-tested approach is the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The original premise for opening GTMO — that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention — was found unconstitutional five years ago. In the meantime, GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at GTMO. During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people — almost $1 million per prisoner. And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another $200 million to keep GTMO open at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home.

As president, I have tried to close GTMO. I transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries, or imprisoning them in the United States. These restrictions make no sense. After all, under President Bush, some 530 detainees were transferred from GTMO with Congress’s support. When I ran for president the first time, John McCain supported closing GTMO. No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States. Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism-related offenses, including some who are more dangerous than most GTMO detainees. Given my administration’s relentless pursuit of al-Qaida’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.

Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from GTMO. I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions. I am appointing a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.

Even after we take these steps, one issue will remain: how to deal with those GTMO detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks, but who cannot be prosecuted — for example because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law. But once we commit to a process of closing GTMO, I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.

I know the politics are hard. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future — 10 years from now, or 20 years from now — when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country. Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?

Our sense of justice is stronger than that. We have prosecuted scores of terrorists in our courts. That includes Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit; and Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square. It is in a court of law that we will try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of bombing the Boston Marathon. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, is as we speak serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison here, in the United States. In sentencing Reid, Judge William Young told him, “the way we treat you.is the measure of our own liberties.” He went on to point to the American flag that flew in the courtroom — “That flag,” he said, “will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom.”

America, we have faced down dangers far greater than al-Qaida. By staying true to the values of our founding, and by using our constitutional compass, we have overcome slavery and Civil War; fascism and communism. In just these last few years as president, I have watched the American people bounce back from painful recession, mass shootings, and natural disasters like the recent tornados that devastated Oklahoma. These events were heartbreaking; they shook our communities to the core. But because of the resilience of the American people, these events could not come close to breaking us.

I think of Lauren Manning, the 9/11 survivor who had severe burns over 80 percent of her body, who said, “That’s my reality. I put a Band-Aid on it, literally, and I move on.”

I think of the New Yorkers who filled Times Square the day after an attempted car bomb as if nothing had happened.

I think of the proud Pakistani parents who, after their daughter was invited to the White House, wrote to us, “we have raised an American Muslim daughter to dream big and never give up because it does pay off.”

I think of the wounded warriors rebuilding their lives, and helping other vets to find jobs.

I think of the runner planning to do the 2014 Boston Marathon, who said, “Next year, you are going to have more people than ever. Determination is not something to be messed with.”

That’s who the American people are. Determined, and not to be messed with.

Now, we need a strategy — and a politics — that reflects this resilient spirit. Our victory against terrorism won’t be measured in a surrender ceremony on a battleship, or a statue being pulled to the ground. Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school; immigrants coming to our shores; fans taking in a ballgame; a veteran starting a business; a bustling city street. The quiet determination; that strength of character and bond of fellowship; that refutation of fear — that is both our sword and our shield. And long after the current messengers of hate have faded from the world’s memory, alongside the brutal despots, deranged madmen, and ruthless demagogues who litter history — the flag of the United States will still wave from small-town cemeteries, to national monuments, to distant outposts abroad. And that flag will still stand for freedom.

Thank you. God Bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Obama reframes counterterrorism policy with new rules on drones

By Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News

In a major address Thursday President Barack Obama sought to reframe the nation’s counterterrorism strategy, saying, “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

He said in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, “America is at a crossroads. We must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”

In an attempt to define a new post-Sept. 11 era, Obama outlined new guidelines for the use of drones to kill terrorists overseas and pledged a renewed effort to close the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay.  In the speech, Obama argued that, “In the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.” He warned that “unless we discipline our thinking and our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight.”

With efforts under way in Congress to redefine the 2001 authorization to use military force (AUMF) against al Qaida, Obama said he would work with Congress “in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.”

Toward the end of Obama’s address as he discussed the Guantanamo detainees, he was repeatedly interrupted by heckling from Medea Benjamin, founder of the antiwar Code Pink, whose members have frequently been arrested for disrupting hearings on Capitol Hill – but Obama patiently said that Benjamin’s concerns are “something to be passionate about.”

“We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that ‘No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’ Neither I, nor any president, can promise the total defeat of terror,” he declared.

As part of his redefinition of counterterrorism, the president announced several initiatives:

  • Setting narrower parameters for the use of remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, to kill terrorists overseas and to limit collateral casualties;
  • Renewing efforts to persuade Congress to agree to close the Guantanamo detention site in Cuba where 110 terrorist suspects are being held;
  • Appointing a new envoy at the State Department and an official at the Defense Department who will attempt to negotiate transfers of Guantanamo detainees to other countries.
  • Lifting the moratorium he imposed in 2010 on transferring some detainees at Guantanamo to Yemen. Obama imposed that moratorium after it was revealed that Detroit “underwear bomber” Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab was trained in Yemen.

Obama argued that when compared to the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers, “the threat today is more diffuse, with Al Qaeda’s affiliates in the

Arabian Peninsula – AQAP – the most active in plotting against our homeland. While none of AQAP’s efforts approach the scale of 9/11 they have continued to plot acts of terror, like the attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009.”

So he said, “As we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.”

He said that the current threat is often from “deranged or alienated individuals – often U.S. citizens or legal residents – (who) can do enormous damage, particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad. That pull towards extremism appears to have led to the shooting at Fort Hood, and the bombing of the Boston Marathon.”

In discussing his drone strategy he indicated his remorse over the innocent people who had been killed: “it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There remains considerable doubt about Obama’s ability to persuade a majority in Congress to change the current law on releasing detainees held there.

The defense spending bill which Obama signed into law last year prohibits any transfers to the United States of any detainee at Guantanamo who was held there on or before Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama became president.

And the law sets a very high legal bar for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to transfer a detainee to his country of origin, or to any other foreign country.

Hagel would need to certify to Congress that the detainee will not be transferred to a country that is a designated state sponsor of terrorism. The country must have agreed to take steps to ensure that the detainee cannot take action to threaten the United States, U.S. citizens, or its allies in the future.

The law allows Hagel to use waivers in some cases to transfer detainees.

Speaking a day before Obama’s speech, Ben Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-founder of the Lawfare blog which covers detainee news, said, “I don’t see any significant change in congressional sentiment right now” on closing the Guantanamo site.

“He’s got a lot of domestic pressure from his base to be seen to be doing something and he’s also got a hunger strike there (at Guantanamo) — and I think there’s a lot of genuine sentiment in the administration that they want to do something (about Guantanamo) so they’re committed to another push and trying again – but the question of what they actually could get done is a difficult question. There’s very limited latitude.”

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Neoconservative Progressive Interventionists Attack Classical Liberals — Libertarians — What is new? — So Did Progressive Republican Roosevelt and Progressive Democrat Wilson — Videos

Posted on March 11, 2013. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Inflation, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, People, Philosophy, Politics, Raves, Tax Policy, Taxes, Unemployment, Video, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms.”

– Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaking on the Senate floor, quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial attacking Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

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I supported Senator Barry Goldwater for President in 1964 as a classical liberal or libertarian, as did Ronald Reagan.

Today I support Senator Rand Paul for President in 2016.

Senators McCain and Graham remind me of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, another progressive Republican.

Mike Huckabee: Thank you, Rand Paul

Rand Paul Fires Back At Filibuster Critics, Shocks Glenn Beck With Revelation

Shep Smith Offends John McCain W Interventionist Comment Grills Him Over Rand Paul

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SA@TAC – John McCain Supports Al-Qaeda

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Laura Ingraham: Neoconservative view has clearly hurt the GOP (Rand Paul interview 3/08/13)

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Rand Paul: Time To Bring Troops Home, Cut Foreign Aid, And Fix Entitlements – CNN 3/11/2013

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Background Articles and Videos

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America

Mr. Conservative: Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican National Convention

Barry Goldwater: On the Failed Liberal Agenda

“A Time for Choosing” by Ronald Reagan

Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned

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A Profile in Courage–Stand With Rand Filibuster: Defend and Protect The Constitution and Your 5th Amendment Rights Against Use Of Drones To Target Kill Noncombatant American Citizens — Videos

Posted on March 7, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, Communications, Economics, Public Sector, Unions, Video, War, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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Sen. Rand Paul on America’s Newsroom w/ Megyn Kelly to discuss the Brennan Filibuster – 3/7/13

Rand Paul Fires Back At Filibuster Critics, Shocks Glenn Beck With Revelation

Michelle Malkin: Did Rand Paul’s Filibuster Refurbish The Republican Party’s Tarnished Brand? 3/7/13

Sen. Paul appears on CNN’s Newsroom with Dana Bash- 3/7/2013

#StandWithRand Rand Paul Filibuster Highlights

Rand Paul Interview: Rush Limbaugh (7 March 2013)

Drone Strikes: Where Are Obama’s Tears For Those Child Victims?

Yes, Lethal Drone Attacks on Americans Are Allowed, Says Atty General

“The Obama administration believes it could technically use military force to kill an American on U.S. soil in an “extraordinary circumstance” but has “no intention of doing so,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter disclosed Tuesday.”*

It’s starting to happen. Attorney General Eric Holder says lethal drone attacks without due process on Americans while on American soil, are hypothetically legal. A surprising Republican Senator is standing against it. Do Republicans and Democrats make exceptions for their own “teams?” Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

Sean Hannity & Krauthammer Talk Excitement in GOP Grassroots on Rand Paul Filibuster & Spending Cuts

Drone Strikes on American Citizens, on US Soil. Sen. Rand Paul  Talks with Sean Hannity

Reality Check: Sen. Rand Paul’s Talking Filibuster of John Brennan

Rand Paul blasted  Obama for  using drone strikes against American citizens

Rand Paul “Senators McCain & Graham Voted FOR Indefinite Detention Of Americans!”

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Obama’s Chilling Secrecy, From Denying Drone Program’s Existence to Stonewalling on Legal Memos

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs revealed over the weekend he was initially instructed to deny the existence of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program overseas. Even though the administration has since backed down from that stance, it continues to stonewall members of Congress on releasing the Justice Department memos explaining the program’s legal rationale. Unanswered questions around the program have held up the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan. “For a program that is so far reaching and that has so many consequences — not just in the word, but for the rule of law — the Obama administration has an obligation to be far more transparent than they’ve been so far,” says Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

US drones killed almost five thousand people

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MQ-9 Reaper UAV Predator

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The drone war and Obama’s “kill list” – Up w/ Chris Hayes (June 2nd, 2012)

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Alluding to his full bladder, Sen. Rand Paul ends his filibuster in the Senate

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Posted on February 14, 2013. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Communications, Crime, Diasters, Drones, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Narcissism, People, Philosophy, Politics, Programming, Psychology, Raves, Regulations, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Transportation, Video, War, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf

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By Michael Isikoff National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the  September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director.  Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses  “an imminent threat of violent attack.”


But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described  by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches.  It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent for NBC News, talks with Rachel Maddow about a newly obtained, confidential Department of Justice white paper that hints at the details of a secret White House memo that explains the legal justifications for targeted drone strikes that kill Americans without trial in the name of national security.

“The condition that an operational  leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

Read the entire ‘white paper’ on drone strikes on Americans

Instead, it says,  an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American  has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is  no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

As in Holder’s speech, the confidential memo lays out a three-part test that would make targeted killings of American lawful:  In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.” But the memo elaborates on some of these factors in ways that go beyond what the attorney general said publicly. For example, it states that U.S. officials may consider whether an attempted capture of a suspect  would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel involved in such an operation. If so, U.S. officials could determine that the capture operation of the targeted American would not be feasible, making it lawful for the U.S. government to order a killing instead, the memo concludes.

The undated memo is entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force.”  It was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees in June by administration officials on the condition that it be kept confidential and  not discussed publicly.

Although not an official legal memo, the white paper was represented by administration  officials as a policy document that closely mirrors the arguments of classified memos on targeted killings by the Justice Department’s  Office of Legal Counsel, which provides authoritative legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The administration has refused to turn over to Congress or release those memos publicly — or even publicly confirm their existence. A source with access to the white paper, which is not classified, provided a copy to NBC News.

“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which is suing to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans.  “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

In particular, Jaffer said, the memo “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the white paper. The spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, instead pointed to public speeches by what she called a “parade” of administration officials, including Brennan, Holder, former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh and former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson that she said outlined the “legal framework” for such operations.

Pressure for turning over the Justice Department memos on targeted killings of Americans appears to be building on Capitol Hill amid signs that Brennan will be grilled on the subject at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of 11 senators — led by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — wrote  a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to release all Justice Department memos on the subject. While accepting that “there will clearly be circumstances in which the president has the authority to use lethal force” against Americans who take up arms against the country,  it said, “It is vitally important … for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how  the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority.”

Anticipating domestic boom, colleges rev up drone piloting programs

The completeness of the administration’s public accounts of its legal arguments was also sharply criticized last month by U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon in response to a  lawsuit brought by the New York Times and the ACLU seeking access to the Justice Department memos on drone strikes targeting Americans under the Freedom of Information Act.  McMahon, describing herself as being caught in a “veritable Catch-22,”  said she was unable to order the release of the documents given “the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for the conclusion a secret.”

In her ruling, McMahon noted that administration officials “had engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of citizens.” But, she wrote, they have done so “in cryptic and imprecise ways, generally without citing … any statute or court decision that justifies its conclusions.”

In one passage in Holder’s speech at Northwestern in March,  he alluded – without spelling out—that there might be circumstances where the president might order attacks against American citizens without specific knowledge of when or where an attack against the U.S. might take place.

“The Constitution does not  require the president to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning, when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear,”  he said.

But his speech did not contain the additional language in the white paper suggesting that no active intelligence about a specific attack is needed to justify a targeted strike. Similarly, Holder said in his speech that targeted killings of Americans can be justified  if “capture is not feasible.” But he did not include language in the white paper saying that an operation might not be feasible “if it could not be physically effectuated during the relevant window of opportunity or if the relevant country (where the target is located) were to decline to consent to a capture operation.” The speech also made no reference to the risk that might be posed to U.S. forces seeking to capture a target, as was  mentioned in the white paper.

The white paper also includes a more extensive discussion of why targeted strikes against Americans does not violate constitutional protections afforded American citizens as well as   a U.S. law that criminalizes the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.

It  also discusses why such targeted killings would not be a war crime or violate a U.S. executive order banning assassinations.

“A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” the white paper reads. “In the Department’s view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly,  the use of lethal force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a legitimate military target would be lawful and would not violate the assassination ban.”

Ask the experts: Drones

By Sydney Sarachan
“…How precise are drone attacks?RC: Pretty precise is my understanding.  If you think about it, a drone pilot first sits outside of a structure doing surveillance for a long time.  Upon getting the order, he or she delivers the missile from relatively nearby.  That is why some experts (for instance, American University’s Kenneth Anderson) argue that drones strikes may be more consistent with limits on collateral damage. It may also explain higher observed rates of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in drone pilots. Of course, even manned missile attacks are often preceded by on-the-ground reconnaissance that paints a specific target.CF: This depends upon the kind of drone attack. In Pakistan’s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) they are all intelligence-led (as opposed to “troops in contact”). On this, please see the other pieces I have written on this: Drone Wars  and Drones Over Pakistan – Menace or Best Viable Option?JF: Drones are extremely precise. The debate over their use has been whether they are accurate: whether they target the right people. In terms of precision, they do hit the targets we give them very consistently, we just don’t always know who that target is.RN: Since the answer to this question depends on how many civilians are killed or injured for each targeted “militant” who has been killed, it can’t be answered without answering the question of how many civilian casualties there have been.NW: Although missiles launched from drones may be more precise than some other weapons systems, they are known to have caused the deaths of hundreds of civilian bystanders.  The issue is less one of technical precision than it is the standards under which the U.S. government decides who may be targeted and how it protects civilian bystanders from death or injury, as it is required to do under international law.  Outside the context of armed conflict, the use of lethal force is illegal unless it is a last resort to avert a concrete, specific, and imminent threat.  Further, the government is obligated to take all feasible precautions to protect civilian bystanders from harm.  But those aren’t the standards that the government is using. The New York Times has reported that the U.S. “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”  Regardless of the theoretical precision of drone attacks, when the government uses such flawed reasoning it will inevitably cause civilian bystander deaths, in violation of international law. …”
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Obama’s and Clinton’s Failed Foreign Policy Cause of Riots In Middle East Not A Remixed YouTube Video–Wag The Tag Deception A Propaganda Failure–Videos

Posted on September 19, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Communications, Culture, Diasters, Education, Entertainment, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, liberty, Life, Links, media, Movies, People, Philosophy, Politics, Rants, Raves, Religion, Security, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Panel discuss anti-American violence in Libya. 

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One Year Ago » Obama Declared Peace in Our Time at the UN

 

Finally The Truth  Muslim Protests About NATO Drone Strikes, Backing Saudi Jihadists 

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Glenn Beck says Obama Planned Embassy Attacks American people being set up ! 

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‘Anti-Islam film a pretext, US ambassador killing shows Libya intervention fail’ 

Escobar: US could drone Libya to death 

 

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Are US Drone Attacks Justified? Obama Legal Adviser Koh Says Yes 

The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan

BY MICAH ZENKO |SEPTEMBER 18, 2012

“…3. We don’t kill civilians.

Stephanopoulos: “Do you stand by the statement you have made in the past that, as effective as they have been, they have not killed a single civilian? That seems hard to believe.”

Brennan: “What I said was that over a period of time before my public remarks that we had no information about a single civilian, a noncombatant being killed. Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population.… And unfortunately, sometimes you have to take life to save lives.” (This Week with George Stephanopoulos, April 29, 2012)

In his public comments, Brennan is clear that the Obama administration endorses a drone-first eliminationist strategy for dealing with al Qaeda — and any “military-age males” nearby. This requires a tremendous amount of killing. In June 2011, Brennan claimed: “There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” He later, however, provided a statement to the New York Times that the newspaper said “adjusted the wording of his earlier comment”: “Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq.”

Brennan did not clarify what constituted “credible evidence,” but as Justin Elliott and I myselfquickly pointed out, there were many public reports — from Pakistani and Yemeni reporters and anonymous administration officials — of civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes. Either Brennan did not receive the same reports of civilian casualties as other administration officials did (an implausible notion), he lacks Internet access to read these anonymous comments (equally implausible because Brennan closely responds to critics of targeted killings in his following media appearances), or he was lying. Regardless, his belief in the infallibility of the find-fix-finish cycle defies an understanding of the inherent flaws and limitations of even the most precise uses of lethal force. …”

“…4. Yemenis love U.S. drone strikes.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that [drone strikes] are generating widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP. In fact, we see the opposite: Our Yemeni partners are more eager to work with us.… In short, targeted strikes against the most senior and most dangerous AQAP terrorists are not the problem –they are part of the solution.” (“U.S. Policy Toward Yemen,” speech, Aug. 8, 2012)

Based on his education and deployments with the CIA, Brennan is said to have a deep knowledge of the Middle East; he speaks Arabic; and he enjoys contact with many senior officials in foreign intelligence and interior ministries — which explains his de facto role as White House liaison to Yemen. As Brennan says, “I find the Arab world a fascinating place.”

Although he might have unique insights into the Arab mind, actual Yemenis and journalists reporting from the country (see here,here, and here) say that Yemenis hatedrones strikes. There is also a strong correlation between targeted killings in Yemen since December 2009 — primarily conducted by U.S. drones — and increased anger toward the United States and sympathy or allegianceto AQAP. In 2010, the Obama administration described AQAP as “several hundred al Qaeda members”; two years later, it increased to “more than a thousand members.” Now, AQAP has a “few thousand members.” After a drone strike reportedly killed 13 civilians in early September, Yemeni activist Nasr Abdullah noted: “I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake.” Let’s hope Brennan and Abdullah can agree to disagree. …”

“…6. Drones are just a part of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

“[Obama] has insisted that our policy emphasize governance and development as much as security and focus on a clear goal to facilitate a democratic transition while helping Yemen advance political, economic, and security reforms so it can support its citizens and counter AQAP.… This year alone, U.S. assistance to Yemen is more than $337 million. Over half this money, $178 million, is for political transition, humanitarian assistance, and development. Let me repeat that. More than half of the assistance we provide to Yemen is for political transition, humanitarian assistance, and development.… Any suggestion that our policy toward Yemen is dominated by our security and counterterrorism efforts is simply not true.” (“U.S. Policy Toward Yemen,” speech, Aug. 8, 2012)

There are a couple of problems with Brennan’s math. First, he excludes the vast costs of maintaining the manned and unmanned aerial platforms, nearby naval assets, and U.S. military targeters and trainers stationed in growing numbers at the al-Anad Air Base. It also does not include the covert aid funneled to members of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi’s regime and others who support U.S. interests in Yemen. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh carefully manipulated the presence of suspected international terrorists within his country in order to maintain Western support crucial for his survival, and he reportedlyreceived hundreds of millions of dollars in covert assistance. Some Yemeni officials, analysts, and journalists such as Sam Kimball now claim that under Hadi, “the Yemeni government is fully aware of a number of al Qaeda cells — and their existence is tolerated and their crimes covered up.”

Finally, Brennan’s boasts that U.S. civilian and military assistance is evenly split is nothing new. Between 2007 and 2011, U.S. (overt) aid to Yemen was $642 million: $326 million in security assistance primarily for counterterrorism and border security, and $316 million in civilian assistance for development and humanitarian work. If this alleged 50-50 foreign aid to Yemen strategy led to the collapse of the Saleh regime, widespread anti-American sentiment, and the tripling of al Qaeda, why would it work this time around?”

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/18/the_seven_deadly_sins_of_john_brennan?page=0,2

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NSA–Now Spying on Americans: Big Brother Government Spying On Americans–Progressives Minding Your Business Without Warrants–Remotely Piloted Aircraft a.k.a.Drones–Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)–Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISA)–Videos

Posted on June 8, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Employment, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Regulations, Resources, Taxes, Unemployment, Unions, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America 

NSA Building Colossal New Data Center: Spying on Americans 

‘NSA are spying on the United States’

James Bamford: Inside the NSA’s Largest  Secret Domestic Spy Center 

Drones In America

Drones To Fly Over Midwestern Farms

Judge Napolitano Discusses Drones And Big Brother 

Judge Napolitano : 30,000 Drones In U.S. Skies to spy on you violates Constitution (May 14, 2012)

30,000 ARMED DRONES to be used Against Americans

Phantom Eye: Pentagon builds gigantic mega-drone

Attack of the Drones – USA 

The Drone War Coming to a Town Near You?

The Stream:      The future of drone technology

The Slow Decline of Liberty – The Plain Truth – Judge Napolitano – Freedom Watch

Total surveillance: Thousands of secret court orders allow government to spy on Americans

SOPA, CISPA, FISA

FISA: US under total surveillance

Is The Government Spying On You? FISA Continues 

Obama administration pushes to renew FISA

NSA under fire: Supreme Court to review Legality of Warrantless Wiretapping/Spying of U.S. Citizens

Big Brother spying on your car 

FBI Caught Spying on Student with GPS Tracking Device

Anonymous Big Brother’s All Seeing Eye For Your Safety

SOPA changes name to CISPA

CISPA going international?

US House passes CISPA

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is picking up sponsors and it looks like the legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote next week. CISPA emerged from the House Intelligence Committee with an overwhelming vote of 17-1.
The bill, authored by Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, is supported by Google, the technology company in bed with the CIA and responsible for building the Great Firewall of China. Google is not alone in supporting CISPA. Corporate sponsors include Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Verizon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others, according to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, long a champion of rights online, has signed on to two coalition letters urging legislators to drop their support for HR 3523. The coalition behind the privacy letter includes dozens of groups, including the ACLU, the American Library Association, the American Policy Center, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and many others, according to the EFF website.
The letter warns: CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity…. CISPA’s ‘information sharing’ regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like internet use history or the content of emails, to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command. Once in government hands, this information can be used for any non-regulatory purpose so long as one significant purpose is for cybersecurity or to protect national security

Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act – CISPA –  More Insights, pls see video responses

SOPA changes name to CISPA 

CISPA: Another Fascist Takeover of the Internet. EMERGENCY ALERT! 

Anonymous – CISPA Worse than SOPA

Ubiquitous Computing: Big Brother’s All-Seeing Eye – Part 1

Ubiquitous Computing: Big Brother’s All-Seeing Eye – Part 2

Words to Avoid Online Unless You Want Government Snooping

Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’)

  • Department of Homeland Security forced to release list following freedom of information request
  • Agency insists it only looks for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. and not for signs of general dissent

By Daniel Miller

“…The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2150281/REVEALED-Hundreds-words-avoid-using-online-dont-want-government-spying-you.html#ixzz1xDZrBiPm

NAPOLITANO: Big Brother’s all-seeing eye

Use of military surveillance drones overhead would be un-American

“…For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel, where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if – had they existed at the time – King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as someone who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. Folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel insidetheUnitedStates and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.” …”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1UhF0apVhg

George Carlin – The Owners of This Country

Lying Politicians  And Words

Background Articles and Videos

Is the NSA reading your e-mail?

Spying on the Home Front 

Judge Napolitano ‘If Cops Don’t Have A Warrant Don’t Open The Door’

Obama’s secret drone war explained by Reuters’ David Rohde – Fast

Judge Napolitano – Obama Makes Free Speech A Felony!!!  BILL H.R. 347

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Shooting Down Drones in Texas–Drone Free Zone–Don’t Mess With Texas–Videos

Posted on June 2, 2012. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, Communications, Economics, government, government spending, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Politics, Public Sector, Security, Technology, Transportation, Unemployment, Unions, Video, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Krauthammer – 1st one to shoot down a US drone will be a folk hero

Judge Napolitano : First American to shoot down a Drone will be an American Hero (May 15, 2012)

Drones Shot Down Over Texas

Drones Shot Down Over Texas “Goes Viral” 29.may.2012

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Obama’s Kill List–On Terrorist Tuesdays Obama Targets “Innocent” Civilian and American “Terrorists”–Deeply “Offensive”–Murder Boards Replace Water Boards!–Progressive Neocons Cheer–Videos

Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Communications, Federal Government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Politics, Raves, Security, Strategy, Technology, Video, War, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATED June 14, 2012

Obama defends his Leaky Kill List and Drone Attacks

“…President Barack Obama strongly denied Friday that his administration deliberately leaked classified national security information.
Obama responded to a mounting controversy over two blockbuster stories in the New York Times, both of which divulged highly sensitive details about his national security policies. One story focused on Obama’s so-called “kill list.” Another looked at his ordering of cyberattacks against Iran.
Over the past week, Republicans and Democrats have condemned the leaks, with key members of Congress pledging to investigate them.
Some Republicans, most prominently Senator John McCain, have accused the White House of purposefully leaking the information in order to play up his national security record in an election year.
The Times, for its part, has denied that it was the recipient of any planted leaks. Managing editor Dean Baquet told The Huffington Post that the stories were simply the result of good reporting.
Obama forcefully rebuked the accusations at a Friday press conference in the White House. …”

How Obama Maintains His Secret ‘Kill List’

Glenn Greenwald: Obama’s Secret Kill List “The Most Radical Power a Government Can Seize” 

Ok For White House To Leak Classified Info, But Not Whistleblowers?

Former CIA Director Against Drone Strikes

Obama Drone Strikes Are ‘Mass Murder’ – Jeremy Scahill

Obama Denies National Security Leaks Came From White House

Reality Check:  President Obama’s “Kill List” and What It Means For You 

Remote Control War

Drones In America 

Judge Napolitano : 30,000 Drones In U.S. Skies to spy on you violates Constitution (May 14, 2012) 

Judge Napolitano: Killing US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki is Unconstitutional & Against American Values

Obama Death Panel Puts Americans on ‘Secret Kill List’

Judge Napolitano Asks ‘Who Will Obama Illegally Kill Next?’ 

As U.S. Drone Strikes Escalate in Pakistan, “Kill List” Stirs Fears of High Civilian Toll 

Obama’s kill list revealed

Obama is Out-NeoConning the NeoCons [Kill-List, Drone Strikes, No-Trial] 

Obama Kill List

Obama Kill List

“…”Memorial Day weekend brought news of more U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan as The New York Times raises new questions about President Obama’s so-called “Kill List” of terrorists targeted for assassination. An extensive report in Tuesday’s paper looks at the use of targeted attacks to take out terrorism suspects in other parts of the world, an increasingly important part of the government’s anti-terrorism policies that Barack Obama himself has taken personal responsibility for. According to the story, the President approves every name on the list of terrorism targets, reviewing their biographies and the evidence against them, and then authorizing  “lethal action without hand-wringing.”
As the president has slowly drawn down American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of drone attacks to take out senior leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban has become the primary tactic for fighting terrorism overseas. However, it raises a lot of legal and ethical questions about extra-judicial killings of individuals, particularly those who happen to be American citizens…”.* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down. …”

US justifying killing any American citizens ACCUSED of terrorism… Wow not even in Banana Republic! 

“We’re Committing A War Crime! And It’s Clear That’s What We’re About!” 

Nobel Peace Prize Obama´s “Counter-Terrorism Chief John Brennan the Assassination Czar?” 

Obama admits drone strikes kill innocent Pakistanis 

The girl killed by Barack Obama – she never saw it coming

US is lying about civilian deaths from its drone attacks in Pakistan

US drone strikes in Pakistan have risen from one a year in 2004 to one every four days under President Obama. There have been no civilian deaths from US drone attacks in Pakistan since August 2010, says the US. They must know this is a lie. As this BBC Newsnight report makes clear, at least 100 have been killed, many of them women and children. The use of pilotless drones has increased dramatically under Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s presidency, more than doubling George Bush’s record.

Obama’s secret drone war explained by Reuters’ David Rohde – Fast Forward

Background Articles and Videos

Authors at Google: Peter Bergen

Obama Death Panel Puts Americans on ‘Secret Kill List’

David Swanson: US drone program killing civilians f.e. in Pakistan plead for justice 

White House Has a Secret Kill List! 

Jeremy Scahill on can the CIA kill whoever they want

END WAR In Pakistan US CIA-Xe Drone Strikes Kill Civilians; To Continue Strikes Even If Pak Against

Alex Jones: Government using drones against Americans

Pentagon drones flying domestic; declaring war on your privacy? 

GGN: Technocrat’s Vision for America, Feds Organize Most Terror Plots, Americans to be Drone Bombed

Mobsters- Murder, Inc. 

Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will

By JO BECKER and SCOTT SHANE

“…This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.

President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms, often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.

“How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”

It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve. …”

“…Moreover, Mr. Obama’s record has not drawn anything like the sweeping criticism from allies that his predecessor faced. John B. Bellinger III, a top national security lawyer under the Bush administration, said that was because Mr. Obama’s liberal reputation and “softer packaging” have protected him. “After the global outrage over Guantánamo, it’s remarkable that the rest of the world has looked the other way while the Obama administration has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in several different countries, including killing at least some civilians,” said Mr. Bellinger, who supports the strikes.

By withdrawing from Iraq and preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, Mr. Obama has refocused the fight on Al Qaeda and hugely reduced the death toll both of American soldiers and Muslim civilians. But in moments of reflection, Mr. Obama may have reason to wonder about unfinished business and unintended consequences.

His focus on strikes has made it impossible to forge, for now, the new relationship with the Muslim world that he had envisioned. Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Mr. Obama became president.

Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.

Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, said the strike campaign was dangerously seductive. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

But Mr. Blair’s dissent puts him in a small minority of security experts. Mr. Obama’s record has eroded the political perception that Democrats are weak on national security. No one would have imagined four years ago that his counterterrorism policies would come under far more fierce attack from the American Civil Liberties Union than from Mr. Romney.

Aides say that Mr. Obama’s choices, though, are not surprising. The president’s reliance on strikes, said Mr. Leiter, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, “is far from a lurid fascination with covert action and special forces. It’s much more practical. He’s the president. He faces a post-Abdulmutallab situation, where he’s being told people might attack the United States tomorrow.”

“You can pass a lot of laws,” Mr. Leiter said, “Those laws are not going to get Bin Laden dead.” …”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ei=5065&partner=MYWAY

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