The US military is operating in more countries than we think

U.S. military forces have been engaged in unauthorized hostilities in many more countries than the Pentagon has disclosed to Congress, let alone the public, according to a major new report released late last week by New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

“Afghanistan, Iraq, maybe Libya. If you asked the average American where the United States has been at war in the past two decades, you would likely get this short list,” according to the report, Secret War: How the U.S. Uses Partnerships and Proxy Forces to Wage War Under the Radar. “But this list is wrong – off by at least 17 countries in which the United States has engaged in armed conflict through ground forces, proxy forces, or air strikes.”

“This proliferation of secret war is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it is undemocratic and dangerous,” the report’s author, Katherine Yon Ebright, wrote in the introduction. “The conduct of undisclosed hostilities in unreported countries contravenes our constitutional design. It invites military escalation that is unforeseeable to the public, to Congress, and even to the diplomats charged with managing U.S. foreign relations.” 

The 39-page report focuses on so-called “security cooperation” programs authorized by Congress pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, against certain terrorist groups. One such program, known as Section 127e, authorized the Defense Department to “provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating authorized ongoing military operations by United States special operations forces to combat terrorism.”

According to the report, that “support” has been broadly — or, more accurately, too broadly — interpreted by the Pentagon. In practice, it has enabled the U.S. military to “develop and control proxy forces that fight on behalf of and sometimes alongside U.S. forces” and to use armed force to defend its local partners against adversaries (in what the Pentagon calls “collective self-defense”) regardless of whether those adversaries pose any threat to U.S. territory or persons, and, in some cases, whether or not the adversaries have been officially designated as legitimate targets under the 2001 AUMF. 

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The left’s newest stealth attack on free speech

America’s two most important rights are free speech and the right to bear arms. Without the first, no people are free; and without the second, there is no first. Totalitarians always go after both; that is, they silence and disarm them. For decades, the left has been open in its war on the Second Amendment. They’ve struggled more with the war on speech, but they may finally have come up with a new approach that will sneak around constitutional muster.

When it comes to speech that incites violence or is otherwise imminently threatening, the law has always been clear: The threat must be very explicit and imminent for the speech to lose its First Amendment protections. At the most simplistic level, saying, “I wish so-and-so were dead” is not an actionable opinion. However, saying, “I’m going to kill so-and-so this week” or “You all need to kill so-and-so; I’ve got a plan” is criminally actionable speech. (The standard is more sensitive when speech is directed at the president, of course.)

This constitutional limitation on making (conservatives’) political speech criminally actionable has long vexed the left. They’ve trained their young acolytes that speech is violence (so much say that almost half of college students say “hate speech” should get the death penalty) but, so far, courts haven’t fallen for that gambit. Unless speech creates an imminent threat, it gets a pass.

Lately, though, the left has come up with a new concept that seeks to say that any speech that opposes leftist policies is actual and imminent “terrorism.” Or as leftist academia calls it, “stochastic terrorism.”

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Former FBI Official To Testify On Agency Allegedly Inflating Domestic Terrorism Data

Former FBI Counterterrorism Division Assistant Director Jill Sanborn is to be interviewed by the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 2 over alleged politicization, including inflating domestic terrorism numbers, House GOP members announced Thursday.

A joint letter released on Oct. 20 by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the committee’s ranking member, and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), accused the ex-FBI official of failing to take “any meaningful steps” to arrange the interview over the past two months following an initial request.

In a letter to Sanborn on Aug. 10, the GOP lawmakers called on the former official to testify regarding whistleblower claims of the bureau pressuring agents to inflate the numbers of “domestic violent extremism” cases, including those didn’t meet the criteria. The pair asked Sanborn to contact the committee and schedule the interview no later than Aug. 24.

“Only late last Friday did your attorneys offer a specific date for a transcribed interview—December 2, 2022—a date six weeks in the future and nearly four months since our initial request,” the lawmakers wrote.

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Pentagon’s Information Warfare Review Should Cover the Domestic Side, Too

The US Department of Defense has ordered “a sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare,” the Washington Post reports. The apparent reason for the review is an August disclosure, by Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory, that Twitter and Facebook, of social media accounts opened under fake identities and used to feed disinformation to “audiences overseas.”

That’s all well and good, but while they’re at it I wish the Pentagon would also review — and cease — its information warfare campaigns against the American public.

Among supposed American constitutional values are separation of the military from politics, and its subservience to civilian government. While those values have always proven more noticeable in the breach than in the observance in wartime, the post-World-War-Two national security state has turned that breach into a well-funded, 24/7/365, campaign of political influence.

Senior military officials routinely attempt to affect policy (and politicians, and voter sentiment) with public statements designating the next Enemy of the Week and begging for more money and more operational authority to fight the wars it chooses rather than the wars Congress declares (the last time Congress was willing to take that kind of responsibility was  in 1942, when it added Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania to its list of World War Two opponents).

The Department of Defense maintains an “Entertainment Media Office” to support filmmakers with military resources. Needless to say, only productions which glorify the US armed forces need apply. The most recent prominent example (involving no fewer than two US Navy aircraft carriers, multiple aircraft and military pilots, etc.) is mega-hit Top Gun: Maverick.

In 2015, the public learned that the National Football League’s apparently heartfelt love of military pageantry —  color guards, tributes to veterans, even aircraft flyovers and parachute jumps — was actually just a bought and paid for (with millions of taxpayer dollars) DOD marketing scheme.

And yes, they’re constantly coming for our children. I was recruited into the US Marine Corps in high school myself in the 1980s, but even I was surprised at the sheer volume of mail my own kids received from armed forces recruiters from about the time they hit the age of 16 a few years ago. They’re all over the public schools, not just to fill their recruitment quotas but to make positive impressions on future voters.

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Senate doesn’t have to release full CIA torture report, judge rules

The U.S. Senate does not have to release its full report detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention program following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Journalist Shawn Musgrave sought the 6,700-page document, citing a “common law right of access” to public records. The legal argument is conceptually similar to the Freedom of Information Act. Congress is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in 2016 that the report was a congressional record. Musgrave’s legal argument was made in an attempt to get around that limitation.

Common law right of access is decided in the District of Columbia Circuit based on a two-part test that requires a determination that the document is a public record and then balancing the government’s interest in keeping the document secret against the public’s interest in disclosure.

District of Columbia District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the report “does not qualify as a public record subject to the common law right of public access” because although it was part of the committee’s investigation, it was aimed at gathering information and did not make recommendations or propose legislation. Therefore, she said, it falls under the protections of the 1st Amendment‘s speech and debate clause protecting legislators’ speech while crafting legislation.

The government interest in keeping the information secret outweighs public interest, Howell wrote.

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DHS: “Radicalized” Americans who believe “false narratives” online are the new terror threat

The War on Terror. You might have thought that it started in 2001, with the shocking tragedy of 9/11, and also – the shockwaves that reverberated throughout societies (in terms of how the way of life irrevocably changed from airport travel, to what can and can’t be expressed online.)

And that it’s over.

Well, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas doesn’t seem to be on board with such “ideations” of a return to the normal.

There’s apparently ever more “enemies” to be dealt with, hinted the head of the agency – the same agency that had its figurative “ass” handed to it earlier in the year with the failed attempt to impose a censorship overlord agency in the shape of a “disinformation board.

Post 9/11, Mayorkas said on the anniversary of the attacks, the enemy was the individual.

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Biden extends 9/11 emergency

US President Joe Biden has renewed the national emergency declared by former president George W. Bush in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for another year.

The “terrorist threat” behind the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people “continues,” Biden wrote in a Thursday memo published in the Federal Register, adding that the “powers and authorities adopted to deal with” the attacks “must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2022.” 

The 9/11 emergency declaration is just one of several Biden has extended this week alone. Also on Thursday, the president prolonged a national emergency he had declared the previous year regarding sectarian violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia, while on Tuesday he announced the renewal of an emergency declared by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018 regarding the threat of “foreign interference in or undermining public confidence in” US elections. 

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Pentagon Hires Company to See Whether Military Bases Are Looking at ‘White Supremacist Disinformation’

The Pentagon is allegedly working with a contractor to look into web searches such as “George Floyd deserved to die,” “Jews will not replace us” and “the truth about black lives matter” as potential signals of white supremacism, Fox News reported.

Pentagon contractor Moonshot CVE, which has ties to the Obama Foundation, is gathering data to determine which bases and branches of the military have the most troops searching for domestic extremist content, Defense One and Fox News reported.

The exact details of the project are not clear, but Defense One reported last month the data was expected to be available soon. Moonshot Founder and CEO Vidhya Ramalingam said the data suggested active-duty troops are less prone than the general American public to search for violent extremism information.

A separate Moonshot study conducted in June along with the Anti-Defamation League researched white supremacy trends in the U.S. and “monitored a list of almost 1,600 indicators of interest in or engagement with White supremacism, focused specifically on anti-Black and anti-Semitic narratives being used by extremist groups.”

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