Oversight?

To the Congress of the United States
House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:

Chair: Rep Mike Rogers (MI-08) Ranking Member: Rep C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
Rep Mac Thornberry (TX-13) Rep Mike Thompson (CA-01)
Rep Jeff Miller (FL-01) Rep Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Rep Mike Conaway (TX-11) Rep Jim Langevin (RI-02)
Rep. Pete King (NY-03) Rep Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Rep Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) Rep Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Rep Devin Nunes (CA-22) Rep Ed Pastor (AZ-07)
Rep Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) Rep Jim Himes (CT-04)
Rep Michelle Bachmann (MN-06) Rep Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Rep Thomas J. Rooney (FL-17)
Rep Joe Heck (NV-03)
Rep Mike Pompeo (KS-04)

Senate Select Committee on  Intelligence:

Dianne Feinstein, California, Chairman Saxby Chambliss, Georgia, Vice Chairman
John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Richard Burr, North Carolina
Ron Wyden, Oregon James E. Risch, Idaho
Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Daniel Coats, Indiana
Mark Udall, Colorado Marco Rubio, Florida
Mark Warner, Virginia Susan Collins, Maine
Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
Angus King, Maine

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a happy man.

I am so very happy that the oversight of the Intelligence Operations of the United States of America, for which you are responsible, does not depend upon you.

I am sure that all the various shadowy and showy intelligence agencies of the United States are also very happy with the important oversight you bring to their operations. Having you provide oversight is better (for them) than no oversight at all, because if anyone complains that they seem to be running roughshod over the United States Constitution; they can say that you serious men and women are making them follow the law, that they keep you informed of all they do, and you in turn make sure to keep the rest of the Congress of the United States appraised of what our Intelligence agencies are doing.

Fortunately, for everyone in the world, we still have courageous American people like Edward Snowden, and a few journalists and reporters who are doing your job for you.

I am probably wasting my time writing to you this way. Apparently to attain the position in the government of the United States which you hold, it seems you have to leave behind all the better angels of our nature; all empathy, all self-sacrifice, all sense of right and wrong.  You replace it with political expediency, a thirst for power, and a sense of personal entitlement. What other explanation can there be for your total lack of oversight over the Intelligence community and lack of accountability to the people of not just the United States, but the world?

We, the people of United States gave the world this wonderful construct of a global Internet, which links all the people of the world in a single conversation. What a glorious technical and humanitarian gift for fostering the potential of every person in the world. We then completely ruin it by building into it a wiretap that we constantly monitor.

Who will ever trust the government of the United States again?

Who will ever trust any Internet company based in the United States again?

Why should the people of the United States ever trust you again?

War?

President Barack Obama,

Congratulations! It looks like we might avoid starting a new war this year. I held off on this message for a week or so and I still may be premature in my celebration, but I’d like to give you some credit for listening to us.

Please consider very carefully the use of military force, the “authorization” (AUMF 2001) and Patriot Acts have been so construed to permit abominations like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the indefinite detention of the men in our prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Just because through fear and indifference the people of the United States have allowed their President to have near dictatorial powers whenever the President or his representatives declare someone to be a terrorist; is no excuse for your misusing those powers. And I hope, you can re-establish the idea that the President should have the support of the rest of the government when we are contemplating raining death and destruction upon someone.

Please do not add a war in Syria to the abominations list.

And don’t forget, the men still imprisoned by the United States in the prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, as well as the men secretly imprisoned in Somalia, and elsewhere. They have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could pardon them. You could do it today.

Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad

President Barack Obama,

Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad is one of 112 Yemeni men kidnapped by the United States military and held in the prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad has the distinction on my blog as the first Guantanamo prisoner I’ve researched who was probably a fighter; someone who carried a rifle and may have actually been a member of a group affiliated with al-Qaida.

Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad has been held by us since 15 December 2001. Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad traveled to Afghanistan by way of Pakistan when he was 19 years old to join the Taliban as a fighter in 1999. He seems to have been a good soldier; for two years fighting the Northern Alliance: the Afghan faction that was backed by the United States. Not surprisingly, he was happy when al-Qaida attacked the United States on September 11th, 2001. Even though his personal war with the Northern Alliance ended when his unit had to retreat into Pakistan and shortly after he was captured by the United States and sent to the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

The wikileaks document which I reference above was prepared for the United States Southern Command in 2008. It states that Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad’s intelligence value has to do with religious organizations which are used to recruit al-Qaida fighters. Actually, I find this very difficult to believe. By 2008, Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad had been in our custody for 6 years. By 2013, he has been in our custody for over 10 years. What could this man possibly know now that we have not gotten out of him in all this time. It is time he was released.

He may continue to fight us, if that is his choice, and who could blame him?

Are we now imprisoning people for crimes they have yet to commit?

These men have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could pardon them. You could do it today.

Just Vote No

I sent the following email message to my senator (Dick Durbin) and my representative in the House (Jan Schakowsky) via their website pages.

Please do not vote in support of any military action by the United States in Syria. I do not doubt that Bashar al-Assad is a monster who has used chemical weapons against the opposition in their civil war. But I strongly doubt our ability to enter this conflict and improve things for the Syrian people by the use of our military’s proven mastery of destruction and death.

If you must vote for something – vote for humanitarian aid for the Syrian refugees. Wouldn’t it be nice if our military was used to distribute aid rather than delivering death?

Please contact your Congresspersons and Senators and let them know your views on this issue. All of us together may sway our representatives to vote in our interests for once.

Fear

President Barack Obama,

My Mother recently read the postings on my blog and we exchanged several email messages about the content. She had three issues with my postings:

  • Fear for me – She is worried that your government will punish me for the expression of my views
  • The issues I write about make her sick – She does not want to think (or read) about the United States kidnapping, imprisoning, and torturing people
  • She does not like the tone of my postings feeling them to be hateful

I addressed these issues in an email to her which I would like to share with you.

One of the interesting things about having a tool like the Internet is just how much information is out there.

The information is completely accessible but completely non-indexed. It is the equivalent of having all the newspapers and magazines in the world in a big pile in the middle of your floor. Although one advantage over the pile of paper is that we have the ability to link to our sources when create our own documents. And anything we publish ourselves is available to anyone in the world who happens to stumble across it.

I’ve been reading and thinking about government abuses for the last 13 years. We all hoped that Barack Obama would be different. That with a change of political party we would see some sanity return. But as it turns out, the insanity has only intensified. Barack Obama has signed off on things that are just as bad as George W Bush.

I’ve been trying to educate myself about what is going on. When I get into political discussions at work, or wherever I am and unions (to name an example) are being bashed – I contribute to the discussion what I know about unions. The lies spread in the media about unions have been repeated so often that people reflexively respond when any union is mentioned to complain about high union wages, outrageous union pension or medical benefits, loss of American competitiveness, etc.

I have arrived at a point where I am unwilling to stand by and be silent. When our President lies I still have the freedom of speech right (until it is taken away) to write a personal letter to him and call him on it. Since he is a public figure I post my letter online so that everyone can see that I am not OK with what is happening in my country. I include links to news stories and to primary sources backing up my assertions.

The fear you feel on my behalf only underlies the real problems we have with how we are being governed.

The material in my blog makes me sick too. My writing about it – helps get it out of my system. Please do not read it if it upsets you this much. I believe that your fears for me are misplaced. Since I’m just an anonymous blogger and letter writer, the powers that are – are not interested or even care all that much about what I write. I am not advocating violence or violent action, in fact, I am coming to the opinion that pacifism is the only totally consistent policy. We have ~30,000 people killed every year in the US by guns, and a similar number in auto accidents. Yet, we unleashed all this craziness on the world because ~3000 people were killed in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania in 2001. It was terrible, but no excuse for us to do the same to others.

There is no ‘hate’ in any of my posts. There is anger; anger that my country is being run so poorly. Anger that our country is an oligarchy: that decisions are made to benefit the 0.1 % to the detriment of all the rest of us. Anger that I contribute (taxes – and up to now my silence) to such evil that is being done supposedly to ‘protect’ me.

The Harvest

I’ve been getting in my small grape crop and seeing my daughter off to college; so I have been taking a few days off posting and writing.

Something struck me over the weekend – the New Testament reading for last Sunday was from Hebrews 13:1-8 and 15-16. What follows is just a bit from the top of that chapter.

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.