The Ninth Circuit on Foreign Relations Federalism

The Ninth Circuit (Judge Harry Pregerson writing) had an interesting recent decision regarding foreign relations federalism in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation. The case involves California Code of Civil Procedure § 338(c)(3), which extends the statute of limitations for suit for the recovery of fine art against a museum, gallery, auctioneer, or dealer.

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US-Drone-attacks-on-Pakistan

Pakistan Doesn’t Want US Drone War Anymore

After nearly a decade of war by drones on the tribal regions of Pakistan, an ally of the US government, that country has now had enough.

This week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington, D.C. calling the drone bombings a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. At nearly the same time, reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are showing the federal government is lying about who exactly is dying in drone wars.

These attacks began with President Bush but have, as many national security policies, swelled under President Obama. An interactive display (which can be viewed here) of recorded drone strikes that has been passed around for months illustrates the evolution of this undeclared war on Pakistan’s innocent men, women, and children. Cries of war crimes and violations of international law are mounting, yet still there is that familiar silence regarding Constitutionality.

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Before You Rejoice

Before you rejoice that the government has seized an alleged terrorist in Libya who was indicted for planning the notorious 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, before you join the House of Representatives in a standing ovation for the Capitol Hill Police who killed a woman whose car struck a White House fence and who then drove away at a high speed, and before you commend the New York Police Department for quickly getting to the bottom of an alleged assault by a motorcycle gang that tormented a young family on a city street, please give some thought to the rule of law.

Last weekend, a team of Navy SEALs kidnapped a Libyan, Abu Anas al-Libi, off of a public street in Tripoli. The Navy men did not have a warrant for his arrest, did not have the permission of the local authorities or the Libyan government to carry out this kidnapping, and were unlawfully present bearing arms in public in Libya. Many of al-Libi’s alleged accomplices already had been arrested, prosecuted and convicted in the U.S. The U.S. could have sought his extradition, as it did with some of them, had President Obama not bombed the American-friendly government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi out of existence, without a congressional declaration of war.

Obama apologists have praised this maneuver as a bloodless way to obtain justice without using drones to kill. (How low we have sunk when Obama can be praised for not executing someone with a drone.) Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledging that al-Libi is innocent until proved guilty, has claimed that the rule of law was followed here because he will be brought to a civilian U.S. court for trial. Former George W. Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey claimed that because the embassy bombings constituted an act of war, the kidnapping of al-Libi was a lawful wartime assault, and he should be tried before a military tribunal.

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Immunity for War Criminals?

A Manhattan Project physicist once said, “secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction.”

The federal government keeps building up more and more tolerance of the crimes it must hide, and in doing so, is transforming itself into a centralized empire where nothing can be questioned!

The War on Terror tipped the balance between secrecy and privacy, yet many don’t even realize it. Today, we live in an age where secrecy has eclipsed privacy. In fact, there still are people out there convinced that if it concerns national security, they will give up everything for it. But no one can define it. It is ambiguous and ubiquitous at the same time. The 9/11 attack shifted the perception from inalienable rights, to rights not of natural origin and subject to the government’s whim. A symptom – the war crimes started with former President Bush, and have mounted with current President Obama.

Everything is a secret now days. From the crimes in Collateral Murder to the Snowden revelations, the federal government plays the “national security” trump card, or falls back to blatant denial.

As with any addict, the feds become tolerant to their drug of choice and need a higher dosage to feel a high. But as the atrocities mount, leaks of secret information hit our newsstands and Twitter feeds, and the approval rating of our government decreases.

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The President’s Embarrassment

When Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently irritated by a lack of sleep, gave a snippy and what he thought was an unrealistic reply to a reporter’s question at a London press conference last weekend, he hardly could have imagined the world’s response. Asked whether there is anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do at this relatively late hour to avoid an American invasion, Kerry told an international audience that if Assad gave up whatever chemical weapons his government possesses, the U.S. would forgo an invasion.

But not to worry, Kerry added. Assad is not going to do that, and we will end up invading Syria in order to vindicate President Obama’s threat to do so. For two days, Obama remained silent on this as his arch-nemesis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, grabbed the spotlight and the high moral ground.

Putin, sounding more like a Nobel Peace laureate than the killer he is known to be, offered to broker a deal whereby the Syrian chemical stockpile would be surrendered to the United Nations, the Syrian government could go about defending itself from the al-Qaida-driven effort to take it over, and the U.S. would leave Syria alone.

Obama is generally firm in his belief that he needs to vindicate the threat he made last summer when he was trying to outdo Mitt Romney on sounding tough. It was then that Obama threatened to intervene in the Syrian civil war if chemical weapons were used by the government. Nevertheless, hating the international embarrassment visited upon him when suddenly Putin seems more reasonable than he does, Obama conceded to my Fox News colleague Chris Wallace that the Kerry-inspired and Putin-pushed idea seemed worth considering. And then the Syrian government agreed.

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To Intervene or Not to Intervene?

Well, here we go again.

Our Peace President is ready to bomb Syria in submission. They have crossed a “red line” that he told them not to, but recanted and said that the world drew the red line. So, he wants to send a couple hundred Tomahawk TLAMs in there at $1.5 million each to do – just what? We don’t know. Even as he makes his case to Congress, he does not know. To punish Assad for using chemical weapons on his people, I guess. He must be punished.

Or is it a shot across the bow?

Think back to Libya. The unconstitutional intervention at that time was to take out their air force, artillery and provide air support for the civilian rebels that were getting slaughtered. It was definitely not for regime change. But then we bombed every palace, house, tent and tree that we thought Ghaddafi was possibly hiding under. We all remember the gripping scene as they dragged him from that culvert, beating and kicking him before blowing his head off. Humanitarian missions don’t all end good you know.

Well, lets get back to the red line. Two days before this chemical attack, UN Weapons Inspectors arrived in Syria. They were there to investigate a previous chemical attack in March. The Russians and the UN say that the evidence points to the rebels being behind that attack.

Hold the phone! I thought John Kerry said that there were no questions. This is certainly enough for me to hold off a missile attack on a sovereign nation. Russia has provided the United States with other intelligence that points to the rebels. In the spirit of the reset, we have discarded that intelligence at the same time, refusing to share any of our intelligence with the Russian government. That’s right, as the Russians and Chinese send warships of their own to the area, we refuse to share intelligence that could erase the red line.

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Has Eric Cantor Read the Constitution?

Virginia Republican Congressman Eric Cantor met with President Obama on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Syria.  Shortly after his conference with the president, Cantor released a statement saying, “I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria.”

Just in case you didn’t get that, allow me to interpret Cantor’s statement.

“I intend to abdicate my constitutional duty and give the President of the United States monarchical powers that the Constitution clearly prohibits him from possessing.”

Seriously, has Eric Cantor read the Constitution?  Did Cantor’s copy not include Article 1, Section 8 that outlines which branch of the federal government has war powers?

This section reads, “Congress shall have power to declare war….”  Or, stated differently, “Congress, and Congress alone, shall have the power to determine who the United States can fight, where and for what length of time.”  It doesn’t say, “Congress shall have the power to declare war or to defer to the president whenever it doesn’t feel like doing its job.”

The Constitution is clear: the president has no power to declare war.  Period.  Congress makes that call. And that doesn’t mean signing off on allowing the president to go to war if he wants to. The Congress debates and makes the decision. The president carries it out – whatever it may be. Cantor wants to let the president decide with his blessing. No! That’s YOUR job congressman!

Why is it that the people who have the hardest time understanding this are the people whose job description is literally “to uphold the Constitution of the United States”?

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