Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gitmo prisoners sent to Bermuda

After announcing in his first week in office that he was closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, president Obama was faced with the reality of not having a plan for the inmates once he fulfilled his promise. He hinted that he might bring the terrorists to the United States and house them in US prisons or perhaps try them in American criminal courts alongside common criminals, thieves and liquor store stick-up artists. This brought such a public outcry that he shelved that idea and went looking for other places to put them. It was announced a few days ago that he had found new homes for several Chinese Uighurs in Bermuda, a self-governing British overseas territory. Obama said that these men were no longer considered a threat and the island of Bermuda had agreed to take 4 of them. That’s because US lawmakers cut off funds to resettle them in the United States, saying they could pose a risk.

The four men, who were captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2001 claimed that they were all innocent itinerant workers who were wrongly turned in by bounty hunters. That is the official line that the Obama administration is taking. However, it was reported in The Weekly Standard, that the men weren’t quite what they claim. Thomas Joscelyn wrote on June 11:

“All four of them are members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (otherwise known as the Turkistan Islamic Party). The ETIM/TIP is a U.S. and UN designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda and has attacked civilians in China, as well as reportedly plotted against other targets elsewhere, including the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan. According to the State Department, ETIM/TIP members have also fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And last year the organization threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China.

The four Uighurs attempted to deny any relationship with the ETIM/TIP, the Taliban, and al Qaeda during their CSRTs. But their denials are not credible. In the context of their denials they made important admissions. For example, all four of the Uighurs admitted during their Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) at Gitmo that they received training in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. And all four of them received this training at an ETIM/TIP terrorist training facility in Tora Bora, a key area once controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Three of the four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda also admitted that they had firsthand ties to senior terrorists such as Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq – the leaders of the ETIM/TIP. Haq was recently designated an al Qaeda terrorist by the Obama administration’s Treasury Department, which noted that he is also a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura council. Mahsum was killed in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in northern Pakistan in 2003.”

Oh well, if the Bermuda Prime Minister had known the truth, he might not have agreed to take the men while keeping the now furious British government in the dark about the negotiations.

Presently the men are staying in a first class holiday resort hotel and the American taxpayers are picking up the tab. I’m wondering if I could get such a deal. I’ve always wanted to visit Bermuda. Maybe if I grew a bushy chin beard and wore a turban…

Other Uighurs have been sent to the Pacific island of Palau. It’s located about one thousand miles SE of Manila and 800 miles SW of Guam. It’s been reported that the tiny island nation will be getting $200 million from the US government as part of the deal. Isn’t it nice to have unlimited funds with which to solve pesky problems?

The U.S. would not send the Uighurs back to China, where they came from, for fear they will be tortured or executed. Beijing says Uighur insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in China's far west and wants those held at Guantanamo to be returned to China. I don’t suppose China is buying their claims of being merely innocents who were arrested while just walking along minding their own business.

Italy has agreed to accept three detainees from Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama said Monday, following a visit by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. I suppose that’s some sort of progress, but it seems a little slow. How many presidents, prime ministers and friendly dictators will Obama have to meet with before he finds countries that will take the rest of them? There are still over 200 to go and he hasn’t even started trying to fob off the really bad ones.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The new Czarist

By my count, President Obama has appointed about 20 Czars in his five months in office. Obama’s czars report directly to him. These people are supernumerary to the usual make up of a presidential administration and assigned to oversee a variety of agencies that already exist within the government beauracracy.

Previous presidents have had one or two czars, but haven’t gone hog wild with them like this guy. Unlike cabinet officers, they are neither required to be approved by the Senate nor accountable to anyone but the president.

So far, Obama has appointed a drug czar, a U.S. border czar, an urban czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar, an Iran czar, a Middle East czar, a czar for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Infotech czar, a Faith-based czar, a Health reform czar, TARP czar, a Non-proliferation czar, a Guantanamo closure czar, a Great Lakes czar and is planning to anoint a pay czar in the near future. Obama has more czars than Russia ever had. I expect there’ll be a Misery Czar before long to enforce a uniform sharing of fairness--and misery. This president is all about what he reckons is "fair."

Senator Robert Byrd (born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.), a crusty old partisan who usually defends the most indefensible activities of his fellow Democrats, isn’t at all happy with the new czar system. In a letter to Obama he wrote, “The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances.” Byrd quoted from a House study from the Watergate era regarding Nixon appointees, which stated:

"Whatever their other duties and roles, each of these individuals, as White House personnel, held a high degree of political immunity from accounting for their activities before Congressional Committees. The shadow of executive privilege beclouded normal accountability arrangements." Most people know that Senator Byrd was an Exalted Cyclops or something like that in the KKK before getting into national politics. It’s possible that his previous affiliation may have something to do with his criticism of the dark one in chief.

Most of the other Democrats are saying little and nodding their heads in the affirmative direction lest they say something that displeases our new super-czar lest they appear to disagree with his sweeping changes in government. Perhaps they fear a new czar will be appointed to keep track of wavering Democrats that aren’t toeing the mark.

The so-called Mainstream Media are mostly quiet about all these czars. To find critics of czarmania, one must either go to the Fox News Channel or the Internet where there are plenty of political pundits that owe no loyalty to the current administration.

Writing about a pay czar in the Fox Forum, Dan Gainor, VP for the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture said, “In “Fiddler on the Roof,” the hero Tevye sang of how he wished he were wealthy. “If I Were a Rich Man” became a Broadway and movie favorite as a catchy tune and even catchier sentiment. As the struggling Russian peasant explained, “It’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either.”

No, today, the shame is being rich, and President Obama seems determined to bestow the ‘honor’ of poverty on as many as possible. Forget the horrendous tax-and-spend policies that gradually impoverish us all. Obama’s new target is a direct one – the evil, greedy CEO. To do so, he is set to appoint Kenneth Feinberg as his new ‘Pay Czar’….. The New York Times portrayed it as a new offensive against CEOs earning more than Obama likes, saying the administration is taking action as ‘part of a broad set of regulations on executive compensation expected to be announced by the administration as early as this week.’”

Having people roaming around and meddling with various aspects of government, people with allegiance only to the president, reminds me a little of totalitarian regimes. Since the Obama administration seems to have an affinity for Russian job titles, it would be more truthful if these czars were renamed commissars.

This country was set up as a way to escape the tyranny of kings and dictators. The plan balanced power between three branches of government. This we call checks and balances. Czars are not part of the arrangement. Combining all this power into the oval office appears to be bringing us dangerously close to an all powerful ruler, rather than a leader. None of his former colleagues in congress have the courage to stand up to this patent power grab.

As a blogger who calls himself “The Historian” wrote in “The Real World” the other day, “Here is the ugly truth: Barack Obama is nobody special. He is proving to be a self-serving, self-absorbed elitist who very mistakenly believes he knows better than the rest of us. But his ongoing accumulation of power is just another example of his Chicago "mob rule" mindset. The wild eyed far left screamed about this idea during the Bush years. They are silent on the matter today.

If this nation is not careful, all those little czars will eventually lead to tyranny.” I, for one, am more than a little uneasy about what appears to be too much power being accumulated by one man, too fast. Moreover, I'm concern about what he intends to do with all this power.