Washington Times Communities, Independent Contributor · December 2011 to 2014 · Dallas, Texas


Uncensored exploration of the social, political, historical and personal issues concerning military veterans and their role in modern society, during and after service. This column also seeks to foster cultural awareness and fruitful communication between the civilian and military communities.

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians warn U.S. that Al Qaeda has hijacked revolution

On the eve of yet another Middle East war, many Americans struggle to understand why Syria’s brutal, complicated civil battles necessitate U.S. military intervention. The 2 ½ year struggle to topple President Assad is at a tipping point. Chemical weapons have been deployed on both sides, and caught in the middle are the Syrian people. 100,000 have been killed and 2 million have fled the violence. The humanitarian crisis is unfathomable.

Western policy-makers and politicians argue America must support the Free Syrian Army and their noble cause. They say a moral responsibility to protect the innocent demands action, that order in the Middle East must be restored, and that warning other dictators chemical weapon usage has consequences will save more lives. They claim Syrians want to be free and would be grateful for U.S. involvement.

But one truth often skipped by western media, which often labels opposition factions as “rebels” without distinction, is the frightening nature of the changing insurgency.

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MADISON: Obama manipulates disabled veterans over sequester

President Obama was correct to highlight failures of Congress, but the government healthcare resources for veterans are inadequate, disorganized and in some cases corrupt, and are therefore incapable of providing for our nation’s veterans. Obama could have addressed this and proposed definitive action instead of exploiting his audience for a petty political agenda.

If President Obama wants to save this nation’s veterans from further slashes to budgets, he should never again propose destroying their healthcare while Washington continues to waste. Pretending current or future failures are a result of sequestration and not bureaucratic neglect is a shameful distortion.

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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with 21-year-old Rebel in Egypt's Tahrir Square

By sheer happenstances, a 21-year old Egyptian student and organizer contacted me to clarify my misconceptions. Exhausted from the day’s events, the Cairo resident shared a slice of time hoping to clarify media’s misunderstandings and convey the general feeling on Egypt’s streets.

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VIDEO: Iraq Vet Aaron Weiss' epic slam of NY legislators over SAFE Act

In a video sweeping the Internet, Aaron Weiss, an Iraq combat veteran and law enforcement officer, passionately addresses Dutchess County Legislature during discussions to repeal New York’s extreme gun-grabbing initiative, the NY SAFE Act. The video, recorded in March, is a stark, moving reminder of the difficult position legislators place both veterans and law enforcement oath keepers with extremist gun control measures. 

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Support the troops? Read veteran Daniel Somers’ viral suicide note

On June 10, 2013, Daniel Somers, 30, a seasoned veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom wrote a chilling, heartbreaking address to his family before ending his life. His last words swept the Internet this week. Every American, particularly those that supported the wars of the last decade, should read it. 

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14-year old Jared Marcum faces jail, fines for NRA shirt (Video)

Jared Marcum, 14, appeared in court this week. The West Virginia resident and former eighth grader was arrested and suspended after refusing to remove his “fight for your right” National Rifle Association t-shirt. Charged with obstructing an officer, Marcum faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison.

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Snowden: Cheney calling me traitor is “highest honor” for an American

“It’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead.

“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.” - Edward Snowden

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US Government shuts down 3D gun manufacturer

The revolutionary concept of 3-D printed firearms has been building momentum for months now. Online observers, innovators, investors and the generally curious celebrated as the first completely 3-D printed handgun became a reality. Since the blueprint for “The Liberator” hit the web, the file was downloaded more than 100,000 times in a few days. Today, the government shut it down.

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Florida student charged with felonies for science experiment

DALLAS, May 1st, 2013 – The case of 16-year old student Kiera Wilmot is making the rounds today, and for good reason. As Reason Magazine and WTSP.com in Florida report, “Meet Kiera Wilmot is a 16-year-old student in Bartow, Florida. Before last week, Bartow High School Principal Ron Pritchard told WTSP-TV, she had “never been in trouble before. Ever.”

Curious to experiment for an upcoming Science Fair, Wilmot mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a tiny 8-ounce water bottle. She was on school grounds, but not in a classroom. The student was unsure what to expect, but heard from a friend the mixture would produce non-toxic smoke. The concoction caused the bottle top to pop off and, in fact, produce smoke.

Assistant Principal Dan Durham reportedly heard the noise, investigated and called the police. The arrest report can be reviewed here.

The chemicals were legal and no one was hurt, but the activity violated the school’s code of conduct, which mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb or explosive device…while at a school, a school activity or a school bus…unless it’s used as part of a school-related activity sanctioned by and conducted by a teacher.”

Wilmot’s friends and classmates told reporters, “She just wanted to see what happened to those chemicals in the bottle,” one teen said. “Now, look what happened.”

Principal Pritchard agreed. “She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone. She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked too,” he said. “She told us everything and was very honest. She didn’t run or try to hide the truth. We had a long conversation with her.”

Wilmot has been expelled, arrested and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device. Her family was unavailable for comment, but she, according to reports, will be tried as an adult.

Polk County School administratorsreleased a statementsupporting their actions:

“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a sercious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”

Miami New Times smartly added, “So, sorry kids. Don’t try any extracurricular science projects on school grounds, especially if they could result in anything resembling an explosion.”

This story should concern every student and parent with children in public education systems, particularly in Florida. As the Reason article observed, “As far as I can tell, the only person in this story facing a serious threat to her safety and security is the girl who might have to serve a prison sentence — but then, she doesn’t go to Bartow High anymore, so perhaps the school system doesn’t think she counts.”

Kiera Wilmot’s story raises a series of troubling questions. This could happen to any student. Classmates, the Principal and the student herself clarified this was no act of malevolence, but school administrators and law enforcement pursued charges to ensure “safety and security”. Have this nation’s schools become such mindless, bureaucratic prisons that all reason is forfeit?

This case affirms the argument presented by Cevin Soling’s compelling documentary, War on Kids:

“Public schools have essentially been turned into prisons with constant surveillance and harsh, often absurd zero tolerance policies towards drugs, alcohol, weapons, violence and other forms of misbehavior. Things that would’ve earned you a visit with a counselor or the principal can now get you expelled.”

Zero tolerance policies can be effective, but all involved seem to indicate this was a mistake, an act of curiosity gone wrong. Does this not set a precedent that even if no one is injured, the very possibility of injury warrants ruining a 16-year old student’s life? Since when do innocent accidents warrant prison sentences?

How do Polk County bureaucrats have the power to ruin a child’s life over an honest mistake? Why are school administrators no longer serving their community and their students, but lording over schools like wardens? How are teachers expected to inspire and challenge students under such stifling conditions? Where is the community of Bartow in response to this overreaction that could result in a bright young woman being thrown into jail?

Silly risks should not be encouraged, but unreasonable, ridiculous responses like this send a frightening message to curious students: step out of line, make a mistake and you and your parent’s lives can be ruined. If this is the punishment for experimentation, how can we expect the current educational paradigm to produce more Ben Franklins, or Nicola Teslas?

Does America not need more scientists and engineers? Isn’t the reality of science perpetual failure until discovery? How many of the bright minds of tomorrow are stifled by fear of cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of bureaucrats? Should we emphasize that one bad decision determines a lifetime of punishment, such as being deemed a felonious criminal?

Perhaps the best punishment for this exceptional student would have been a lengthy assignment detailing safety measures. If necessary, perhaps an essay explaining what she learned with a thorough plan to not repeat risky experiments again without closer teacher supervision. Perhaps, if administrators were interested in their student’s future and less about the momentary thrill of exercising power over others, Wilmot could have been encouraged to pursue a track in science.

Schools across America should be places for students to explore their curiosity safely and wisely. Educating our students on precautionary measures when accidents occur cultivates wonder while minimizing risk. Reprimanding dangerous behavior appropriately should be our focus as an advanced, civilized society.

We should all be outraged when low-level bureaucrats reprimand accidental, harmless mistakes with life-destroying felony charges. To contact Hazel Sellers, the Board Chair and Director for Polk County’s Bartow High School, follow the hyperlink for her public contact information. Change.org also has a petition urging the felony charges be dropped.

A simple note to Ms. Sellers from Wilmot’s fellow Americans could make a difference for the promising student facing incarceration for curiosity.

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Sen. Graham: Boston bombing proves "homeland" is perpetual war zone, Constitution obsolete

AUSTIN, April 20, 2013 - The always patriotic U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says the Boston bombing “is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.” In an interview with the Washington Post: “It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.” Referring to Boston, he observed, “Here is what we’re up against,” and added, “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]” He also slammed the president’s policy of “leading from behind and criminalizing war.”

On Twitter, Graham suggested the Obama administration arbitrarily toss the court system and Constitution for “intelligence gathering purposes.” According to Graham, accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, should be held as an enemy combatant. This legal status has been mostly reserved for al Qaeda captured abroad or foreigners, such as those held without charge for the last decade in Guantanamo Bay’s military facility.

Senator Graham is a known proponent of military-style detention for American suspects merely accused of terrorism. During debates regarding indefinite detainment provisions in 2011, which effectively invalidated the Bill of Rights, he notoriously bellowed that Americans accused of a terrorist-related crime should be denied Due Process. “When they say I want a lawyer you say, “Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer”.

He was also a most vocal critic of Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster designed to demand answers regarding the Obama administration’s domestic drone program. When the tide of public opinion turned against him, he stopped vocally defending the “homeland battlefield” ideology, but Graham never lets a crisis go to waste.

These statements are a lame attempt to justify the further militarization of the American justice system. While most Americans are content with disregarding this typical chickenhawk rhetoric, this narrative becomes increasingly more dangerous.

All Americans should be wary when congressional leaders like Graham attempt to justify 12th century-style military custody.

As journalist Tom Mullen rightly observed, “The Bill of Rights was already on life support before this tragedy. Before the dust settled after 9/11, the 4th Amendment had been nullified by the Patriot Act. The 5th and 6th Amendments were similarly abolished with the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the 2012 NDAA resolution, which contained a clause allowing the president to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil without due process of law.”

How much further can we move to invalidate our entire legal process? If we are at war with radical individuals and America is a battlefield, then why pretend we have laws? Why didn’t we just call in a few Apaches and dispatch the suspects promptly, as we do in war? Why bother with arrest and detainment, evidence or trial?

Because the United States is not at “war” with its own citizens that commit acts of terror for an ideology any more than we were at war with the Columbine shooters and various other domestic terrorists. They should be captured or killed in accordance with law, tried and convicted if guilty. They should be exonerated if they are innocent. That is the American way.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American citizen accused of a terrible crime, and current evidence suggest he is likely guilty. While there are legitimate arguments regarding whether he should be Mirandized, he doesn’t lose his right to trial, evidence and appeal because he’s been accused of a crime, no matter how egregious. He should not be treated as an enemy combatant and released to military custody as Graham advocates.

Let’s remember the definition of freedom.  Let’s remember that the United States has based its worldwide reputation on protecting freedom, which is rooted in respect for the rule of law. We have taken up the banner of liberty and protected human rights around the world, both by example and with blood.

Did our nation’s warriors sacrifice their lives so that politicians could undermine liberty by declaring the “homeland” a “battlefield”? Can the United States government be at war with its own people? If the “War on Terror” cannot be won without destroying the Constitution, then have we not already lost?

Perhaps Senator Lindsey Graham speaks so loosely of “war” at every turn because he’s never seen “war” from his lush digs in corporate royalty land. Without due process, there is nothing protecting the innocent from mistakes made by bureaucrats. When the law is manipulated for one suspect, it is much easier to bend it for us all. If you disagree with him, perhaps he should hear from you.

To express yourself, contact Senator Lindsay Graham on FacebookTwitter or via Email.

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Are “Republican anarchists” blocking gun control measures?

Stand your Ground" by Don Troiani DALLAS, March 14th, 2013– A record number of Americans are tiring of our antiquated two-party system, but the left vs. right paradigm thrives. Hot button issues are seasonally thrust into the American political arena,dividing and distracting us from looming national crises.

An expanding subset of voters grasp that facing national challenges requires political evolution and trans-partisanship. They express frustration with the status quo established by yesterday’s ideological salesmen. Many wonder how fruitful dialogue is ritualistically handicapped by bickering and demagoguery.

SEE RELATED: Feinstein exempts police, not “PTSD” vets from gun ban

The genuinely curious can look no further than a well-written but misleading Huffington Post article titled, “Disarming Republican Anarchists” by contributor Bob Burnett.

The right-wing is equally guilty of fear-mongering as the left, but this piece demonstrates why fruitful communication between both camps stagnates.

In the article, the author buttresses the left’s gun control argument with bad rhetoric and bizarre conspiracy theories about Republican inner-party politics. Burnett claims Washington cannot muster the will to restrict firearm ownership because the GOP is occupied by selfish, crazed insurrectionists. These “far right” lunatics are choking common sense gun control legislation.

The millions of Americans resisting controversial state and federal measures are not rational, concerned citizens with valid concerns, but disturbed “Republican anarchists”.

SEE RELATED: College women need rape whistles, not guns says Colorado lawmaker

He writes, “As University of California linguistics professor George Lakoff observed, “[ultra conservatives] believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them.” Republican anarchists reject the founders’ morality, the sentiments that produced the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

These ultra-conservatives don’t believe in the common good or the notion that Americans have a moral responsibility to care for each other. But they do venerate the second amendment to the Constitution, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

The conflation of academic terms and offensive distortions of gun rights supporters can be forgiven, but Burnett’s tangling of opposing ideologies and misrepresentation of political realities must be addressed.

The term ‘Republican anarchist’ is an oxymoron. An individual adhering to Murray Rothbard and F.A. Hayek’s belief in peaceful states without rulers, untethered markets and maximum liberty loathes the concept of party affiliation. Party politics is a fool’s game. Many modern anarchists and voluntaryists disavow the political process entirely.

SEE RELATED: After recent shootings, Americans reject renewed calls for federal gun controls

For generations, the GOP ruling class has been dominated by social conservatives and neoconservatives. These authoritarians with moral intentions dismiss the non-aggression principle. They depend on the government’s coercive power to impose their agenda on other free people. Decades of an unprincipled, inconsistent platform devoid of long-term strategy has cost the party dearly.

But the lockstep hegemony that has redefined conservatism for so long is losing ground to an emerging third faction. Libertarians and moderates have gained influence in recent years not by rejecting the Founders’ political values, but by embracing them.

The United States is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic. America’s philosophical tradition established that the purpose of government is to protect citizen’s rights. The Constitution restricts federal authority and adherence to its rules is required for public office. Legitimate government is only justified by consent of the governed. Those are the words of Thomas Jefferson.

The Republican Party of today disavowed these founding principles to usher in eras of big government, perpetual war and corporate favoritism largely continued under Barack Obama.

A truly conservative party would not pursue endless aggressive militarism,destroy due processdissolve the rule of lawreject fiscal solvency, or assault individual liberties. They would not sacrifice the right to trial, curtail peaceful protest or sanction invasive search and seizure.

The Republican Party has not moved to the “right”, but toward the “left” by drastically expanding government power and authoritarianism at the expense of liberty. The classical liberalism of our Founders is not embraced by social conservatives, neoconservatives or fictional “Republican anarchists”, but by the libertarian-moderate wing.

The old guard is out of touch and increasingly irrelevant in a changing age. The young and old are shifting toward the principles of liberty and economic freedom, not toward the “Tea Party” conservatism of 5 years ago. This grass-roots evolution is hardly aware of fringe “sovereign citizen” groups, anti-state militias or “patriot” insurgents Burnett claims wield such tremendous power.

Americans are falling in love with their rights again. Such curiosity and excitement should be applauded, not assaulted. This call for constitutional government is not anarcho-capitalism by any stretch, and efforts to marginalize this momentum before it bears fruit are intellectually dishonest.

As Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) successful 13-hour filibuster demonstrated, those positioning themselves as protectors of civil libertiesproponents of constitutional law and advocates for transparent government, benefit from this gradual enlightenment.

Conservatives, libertarians, moderates and classical liberals are cautiously optimistic that a new era of individualism and freedom awaits and are supporting candidates accordingly. They are speaking out, involving themselves in the political process and taking an interest in their future. When did peaceful activism become dangerous?

Bob Burnett portrays Republican zealots as radicals seized by fear, but the GOP only lacks the gun control will because the American people are watching. The Second Amendment should not be subjected to Washington’s habitual abortion of reason and blasé regard for civil liberties.

The Second Amendment is not “rhetorical”. The right to bear arms protects the right to self-defense against foreign and domestic individual and organized aggressors. Law-abiding Americans should have the optimal means of doing so with common guns. This is not a grant to the people, but a restriction on the federal government.

This cornerstone principle of the American experiment is critical to maintaining life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the responsibility of every American to maintain societal protections against the possibility of future tyranny, whether they enjoy the recreation of firearms or not.

Compromise on gun show loopholes is possible, but limiting cosmetic features for popular firearms used in .20%of crimes without proving crime reduction is likely, is not “common sense”. Legislating Second Amendment rightsfor some classes of Americans, but not others is discrimination. Infringing on the rights of free, lawful citizens to own buy, sell or trade common weapons without producing ample empirical evidence or clear mechanical justification is anti-ethical to everything this nation represents.

Citing obsoleteeasily refuted studies that fail to delineate self-defensive firearm use, accidental discharges, law enforcement discharges, or gang violence from malicious assault by firearm do not responsibly add to this important debate. American crime is in decline for the fifth straight yearTwistingstatisticsand abusing language to exaggerate threats and assault vocal gun owners will not facilitate reasonable discussion, if that is the intention.

Mass killings are not the price we must pay for living in a free society. Gun violence is not a partisan issue, but an American issue. If reform is necessary, we should analyze with civility and patience the data, diverse opinions, our unique gun culture and the role firearms play in promoting safety.

Are gun dealers properly regulated? Are reporting methods for psychological professionalsadequate? Do gun show loopholes help criminals? Should states encourage responsible gun ownership with tax-breaks for carrying concealed? Are current laws disarming upstanding citizens? Are anti-psychotic medications linked to mass shootings? Would welcoming concealed-carry holders deter crime in local businesses?

With liberty comes great responsibility and social evolution is hampered when “sides” insist on declaring a monopoly on moral righteousness. We need responsible national discussions, not intellectual elitism and arrogance.Demagogues appealing to prejudices and fears with petty partisanship do not belong in this conversation.

The voters of tomorrow grow weary of distortions and baseless hysteria ideological dinosaurs peddle to control the dialogue. We must challenge ourselves to rationally and reasonably evaluate opposing viewpoints as evolved, rational people. We must promote responsible, peaceful activism through the political process, not ridicule it. We must demand our legislators do the same.

For the future’s sake, let us set our differences aside and rise to the challenge.

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Feinstein exempts police, not "PTSD" vets from gun ban

DALLAS, March 7th, 2013– U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) offered an amendment to exempt all U.S. military personnel and veterans from a proposed ban on “assault weapons”. The committee briefly discussed the future of American gun ownership. Cornyn highlighted the contradiction and inequality of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The sponsors had deemed assault weapons too dangerous for civilian self-defensive purchase over safety and training concerns. But under the Feinstein Law, government employees and retired law enforcement are exempt from the assault weapons ban while hundreds of millions of Americans are not.

SEE RELATED: After recent shootings, Americans reject renewed calls for federal gun controls

Coryn questioned this unnecessary, peculiar new division of property rights and self-defense. An entire new market would emerge from such a ban. If American history of the 21st century proves correct, violence would skyrocket. This congressional edict creates a foreign set of powerful rules for equal Americans.

“Is it because we [the Senate] believe they [only retired police] have some special competency and training to use these weapons to defend themselves and others, or do we think their families are worthy of special protection?”

The Senator clarified his belief that Americans must determine how best to defend their homes and communities. “If you don’t believe these weapons can be used lawfully for self-defense, then you should be offering an amendment to strike the pass for law enforcement. But of course, I don’t expect that,” Cornyn said to Feinstein and the co-sponsors.

In response to his amendment Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a notorious proponent of gun control, demonstrated a rather callous disregard for the 1.8 million veterans residing in California, and a fundamental misunderstanding of mental health issues.

SEE RELATED: Veterans say war mismanagement may have contributed to Afghanistan soldier’s rage

“The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transfer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member or veteran and there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this.

I think you have to – if you’re going to do this, find a way that veterans who are incapacitated for one reason or another mentally, don’t have access to this kind of weapon,” the Senator said.

Between the congressional failure to manage veteran’s services and discriminatory statements, veterans feel attacked by the same lawmakers that sent them into combat. Inconceivable bills entrusting a veteran’s Second Amendment rights to the incompetent VA and the Department of Homeland security asserting veterans are terrorist threats stirs distrust of government officials’ intentions.

SEE RELATED: College women need rape whistles, not guns says Colorado lawmaker

“As a combat veteran, I will not be lumped in with convicted felons, murders, and rapists, nor should I be. Combat veterans, especially those with combat related PTSD, put our butts on the line for our freedoms. We won’t be thrown under the bus!” said a poster in an online forum.

“But if the PTSD vet becomes a cop, then he’s exempt, right? Because PTSD magically goes away when you put on a different uniform? Why is there no accountability for the ignorance these senators have been proposing? Our rights have no stipulations,” said another veteran.

Post-Traumatic Stress is a condition naturally resulting from trauma exposure and not exclusive to American military servicemembers. An estimated 8% of Americans will experience PTSD. Women are twice as likely as men to develop symptoms and seven million U.S adults (3.6%) have PTSD during the course of a given year.

Intense feelings of fear, helplessness and stress patients endure can be caused by physical, emotional, sexual abuse, or drug addiction. Exposure to occupational horror, violence, grief or trauma, including law enforcement, medical professionals, emergency workers and soldiers, can all cause PTSD. PTSD is a natural, human response to tragedy or suffering.

These weapons in question are owned by millions of law-abiding Americans, and are no more lethal than millions of firearms that would remain legal after an “assault weapons ban”. They fire at the same bullet-per-trigger-pull rate and speed as the average semi-automatic and revolver, while many hunting rifles are more dangerous. They are used in roughly1%of crimes.

Denying rights for some special entities of Americans based on prejudices while advocating the same rights be extended to another group that may also share these impairmentsdemonstrates and unacceptable level of bigotry toward American veterans, a disregard for our system of law, which does not pronounce anyone guilty, until proven guilty.

Any American, whether veteran or otherwise, that is ruled mentally deficient by a court of law, is currently forbidden from purchasing firearms. A dishonorable discharge, a criminal record and various other restrictions exist to prevent criminals from owning firearms. Insinuating that 22 million law-abiding American veterans cannot sell, trade or buy certain types of highly popular weapons because they may be “impaired” demonstrates an unacceptable disregard for their service to the American government.

In his closing remarks, Senator Cornyn clarified that America’s veterans “are the most highly trained and qualified individuals to own these weapons for self-defense”. He encouraged the Senate to “properly consider disarming them from protecting families and communities.”

The amendment failed 9-9, but Feinstein agreed they could “sit down to see if they can work something out.” The committee reconvenes next week. The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is being prepped for Senate debates. To reach your representatives to express your opinion on this matter, let them hear what’s on your mind.

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No, Eric Holder, Obama can't murder us with drones

DALLAS, March 7, 2013 – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) concluded his nearly 13 hour-long filibuster on the eve of CIA Director John Brennan’s position approval. Soon after beginning his effort to delay the confirmation, Paul’s stand captured worldwide social media attention. Currently, #standwithRand remains the top trending hashtag on Twitter. The capital lockdown was not founded in partisan grandstanding over President Obama’s nominee choices, nor was he questioning overseas War on Terror tactics, despite claims from opposing politicians and mainstream media.

Paul’s intention was to highlight the administration’s eerie avoidance of questions regarding the legal authority to use drone strikes against citizens in the U.S.

Today, the White House press secretary replied to Senator Paul’s questions, “President Obama would not use drone strikes on American citizens on U.S. soil,” he said.

Eric Holder confirmed in his single-paragraph post-filibuster letter, “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil?” the letter reads. “The answer to that is no.”

“I’m quite happy with the answer,” Paul said. “Through the advise and consent process, I’ve got an important answer.” He still has questions about the administration’s drone policy, but for now, “I’ve kind of won my battle.”

These responses satisfy Paul’s initial inquiries, but why was this filibuster even necessary?

When Paul originally asked the Obama administration whether it presumed the authority to use lethal force against non-combative Americans on U.S. soil, the correct answer from the nation’s most powerful prosecutor should have been a resounding ‘no’.

Instead, Eric Holder wrote an evasive and manipulative letter to Paul which did not answer his question, nor concede the illegality of government assassination of non-combatants without due process on U.S. soil. Holder later informed Congress that the president can authorize lethal force against Americans, and that Congress is powerless to limit him.

To read the rest of this article: No, Eric Holder, Obama can't murder us with drones | Washington Times Communities

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College women need rape whistles, not guns says Colorado lawmaker

DALLAS, February 20th, 2013 – While arguing for the disarming of Colorado college students, Democratic lawmaker Joe Salazar claimed women should rely on rape whistles, not firearms for self-defense against sexual attackers or violent predators.

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have [rape] whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know, if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around, or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody,” Salazar said.

Salazar’s remarks enraged other lawmakers and constituents. A petition demanding his resignation has circulated while others expressed their anger on his Facebook page.

“I will not have my daughter go to college in Colorado if your only means of a 130 lb. girl defending herself is to blow a whistle, vomit, or pee on the assailant. An evil person, bent on committing an evil crime will not stop unless they are physically forced to do so.  Her 130 lb. frame cannot stop most men, but her .357 mag can.

You will let her have a 15 round mag (for another gun), yet not allow her to carry when she needs it most - 8:00 at night after class…walking alone? Where is the logic? We will be taking our $30,000 tuition to another state,” said Facebook poster Naomi Moss.

“How dare you demean a woman’s judgment by insinuating we’re so incredibly stupid and emotionally unstable we’d ‘pop out that gun and pop…pop around at somebody’? Maybe you could just hang a Rape Free Zone sign next to the Gun Free Zone sign? That should make everyone safer. Or maybe do a better job of keeping rapists and other actual criminals in jail instead of treating female gun owners like irrational idiots,” said another poster.

After his comments garnered a national response from citizens across the country, Salazar apologized for any offense he may have caused, but not for his characterizing women as careless and incompetent. He maintains his position that even permit-carrying, trained women do not need firearms to protect themselves on the campuses of Colorado’s public universities.

To read the rest of this article: College women need rape whistles, not guns says Colorado lawmaker | Washington Times Communities

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Chris Dorner: Did police set fire with intent to kill?

DALLAS, February 13th, 2013– The manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner ended yesterday when fire consumed his final hideout. The military-trained suspect had allegedly sought refuge in the harsh elements of Big Bear, California’s near snow-covered ski areas. Dorner was accused of targeting law enforcement and their families in a revenge-inspired killing spree. According to police, gunfire exchanges occurred after Dorner killed and injured deputies while evading capture. He reportedly barricaded himself inside a remote cabin and remained there as law enforcement surrounded his position. With the suspect inside, officials reportedly smashed windows and detonated tear gas or smoke canisters while urging Dorner to surrender.

Without reply, officials rammed the building with a special vehicle before hearing what they believed was a gunshot from inside. Flames systematically engulfed the structure, and though Dorner’s body has not been identified at this time, authorities confirmed no one escaped the blaze. Though the chase is over, analysis of the case will occupy investigative resources in the coming months.

READ MORE: Chris Dorner finds an ally in Anonymous; the group explains why

As details are released, questions are emerging as to the origin of the cabin’s fire. The New York Times reported that the direct cause of the cabin fire was unknown while other outlets report “tear gas” and “smoke canisters” were deployed. Most outlets state simply that the “cabin caught on fire”, not that police officers intentionally set the cabin ablaze.

But as events were unfolding, journalist Max Blumenthal live tweeted a different narrative reportedly lifted from San Bernadino Sheriff Scanner Channel 7/8 via the 5-0 iPhone app.

The live feed Blumenthal catalogued appears to indicate officers had no intention of encouraging Dorner’s surrender. He wrote, “While media acceded to police demands not to provide direct details of stand-off w/Christopher Dorner, I used PD scanner transmissions to expose orders to burn his cabin hideout w/him inside. TL begins at bottom [sic].”

If the audio recording captured by Blumenthal is indeed from the incident, officers are overheard apparently discussing a pre-arranged arson attack. Per the audio, at around the one-minute mark, a male voice says:

All right, Steve (?), we’re gonna go, er, we’re gonna go forward with the plan, with, er, with the burn. We want it, er, like we talked about.

He then adds shortly afterwards:

Seven burners deployed and we have a fire.

A female voice responds:

Copy. Seven burners deployed and we have a fire.

At around 2min 20sec, a male voice says:

Guys, be ready on the No 4 side. We have fire in the front. He might come out the back.

At around 2min 50sec, a male voice requests a fire engine.

It was reported by USA Today that Dorner attempted to flee out of the back of the cabin, but was pushed back inside by authorities later demanding surrender. Authorities over the scanner confirm a shot fired from within the residence, followed by a sharp, unknown noise.

Another video surfaced allegedly featuring a recording of KCAL TV, an LA CBS affiliate, in which an unknown officer shouts angrily, “We’re going to burn him out,” and “Burn this mother***ker!” With the remarks airing live, the feed was silenced before the anchor explained apologetically that police officers were “understandably upset”.

An additional supposed recording from a police scanner was later pulled and posted via LiveLeak. The narrative includes numerous references to “burning him out” (29:30).

At this time, some have claimed references to “burning” Dorner out are police slang for tear gas canisters, not incendiary or smoke devices known to quickly start fires against wooden structures.

Because news helicopters acquiesced to zoom out requests despite confirmation from cabin owners that television, Internet or telephone communications were impossible, an aerial view is unavailable. It is reported by those listening that police scanners and media streams were jammed, but confirmation of this allegation is also unavailable at this time.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck accurately concluded, “This could have ended much better; it could have ended worse. I feel for the family of the deputy who lost his life.”

Undoubtedly, Americans join his sentiment. By his own words, Dorner was intent on inflicting as much damage and as many casualties as possible on law enforcement officers and their families without remorse. He was a murderer, and a continued danger to society while at-large.

Though an eerie rift between those viewing Dorner as a demented anti-hero and those supporting law enforcement’s actions has emerged, a larger issue looms; one concerning the decay of law enforcement-citizen relations Dorner warned of in his manifesto.

One rescinds their right to not be killed when actively murdering others, but if authorities intentionally “burned” Dorner out of his barricade with intent to kill and not capture, they have duty and obligation to honestly share their actions with the public. With the high publicity of this incident captivating the collective attention of Americans growing concerned about the shocking increases of police violence, this opportunity for transparency is extraordinary.

Not so long ago peace officers protected and served the citizens as guardians of justice, due process and order. The dangerous, desperate and unlawful actions of Los Angeles Police department while pursuing Dorner resulted in the attempted murder of three unarmed citizens. This horrifying “capture or kill” attitude is rarely exposed, leaving many to wonder how often such incidents occur. Police officers are not above the law they swore an oath to serve.

There were multiple agencies involved in the stand-off. The discrepancies the audio present may very well be justified, but at this time the public’s trust is broken. If the Los Angeles SWAT team and other affiliate law enforcement agencies involved in the Dorner manhunt fail to address this growing controversy, they miss a chance to repair their relationship with the public.

Without operational and post-situation clarity, Dorner’s complaints of systematic injustice and warped, vigilante desire to expose corruption achieved its purpose.

CORRECTION: Earlier version of this article cited “Los Angeles Police Department”. It has been altered to reflect “Los Angeles SWAT”. Read more:http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2013/feb/13/chris-dorner-police-intentionally-set-fire-to-kill/#ixzz3QdUHGouq Follow us:@wtcommunities on Twitter

Chris Dorner: Two African-American LAPD officers appeal for surrender

DALLAS, February 12th, 2013– Christopher Dorner, the former police officer turned alleged murderer of three has shifted the nation’s attention to the historically corrupt Los Angeles Police Department. In his publicly released manifesto, he claims the LAPD destroyed his life, ruined his relationships and military career by siding with a white officer he reported for excessive force. An internal affairs investigation concluded the claim was false and he was released, but Dorner has set out to redeem himself and retaliate against the force and its bureaucratic protectors. He claims the conspirators participating in the police department’s rotten culture, institutionalized discrimination, are fair game for his violent, vengeful rampage.

With charges of racism a central element of both the LAPD’s shady reputation and Dorner’s complaint, two additional African American officers have attempted to reach out to the disgruntled fugitive “waging war” on the force.

Two days ago, 48-year old Joe Jones – a Los Angeles police officer of eight years turned entrepreneur - released an essay on his Facebook account disapproving Dorner’s violence while sympathizing with his claims of injustice.

He wrote, “Just like former Officer Christopher Dorner, I used to smile a lot. I loved everyone. I was voted Friendliest Senior of my Sr. Class in High School. I always believed in the system and never got into any trouble. I loved hard and gave to all I could. After Joining the LAPD in 1989 I quickly found out that the world and society had major flaws. I had flaws as well for ever believing that our system of government was obligated to do the right thing [sic].”

Jones references three incidents of injustice he experienced as an African-American, “I had my Civil Rights violated on several occasions. I was falsely arrested at gunpoint by the Sheriffs as an Officer who ID’d himself and was conspired against by both LAPD and the Sheriffs when my civil case went to trial.

I was falsely accused on more than one occasion and simply placed in a position that the trust was so compromised that I could no longer wear the uniform. Also know there were many more episodes. All of these issues are well documented and I present them not to be a Whistle blower, however to hope that one would not assume that all of what is being said is lies as presented by Dorner.”

Jones told The Weekly that he was emotionally and mentally haunted by his experiences and though he has moved on personally and professionally without resentment, understands why Dorner may have snapped:

“Police work was it for him and that’s what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. And to come up with the reality that he’s supposed to do the right thing and if he does do the right thing he should be vindicated. He felt he did the right thing and you know the repercussions came.”

Though some have claimed Jones is exploiting the Dorner case, this is not the first time he has spoken publicly about his experience with the LAPD. In a promotional interview with Lastheplace.com for his nightlife company Jones remarked, “As a kid growing up you believe that the system, i.e. the police department, the courts, etc., was designed to protect the innocent. Let’s just say from my experience that I found there is good and bad in everything.”

Jones calls on unethical police agencies to correct their culture of corruption, “Always think what if it were you, how would you feel? How would you like if you were falsely accused and your life, lively-hood and career was taken from you? How would you like if someone was beating on you just because they felt they could get away with it? You are no better the criminals you took an oath to arrest when you do what you do!”

He concluded with an appeal for Dorner to stop killing innocents and seek forgiveness.

second public appeal for Dorner was released by 56-year old active-duty police Sergeant Wayne K. Guillary. The 31-year veteran recounts his personal history enduring racism within the police department and the changes he’s witnessed:

“Markedly, by 1997 I would find out just how deep the racism existed within the darkened corridors of the LAPD. The experience would forever change the way I would express my thoughts about the incidents of racial injustice inside the LAPD. I had witnessed and personally experienced within the organization acts of blatant discrimination. Its affect left its victims losing hope; their faces were streaming with tears of despair and their voices crying out screams of desperation.”

Guillary continues, explaining with fluid, heartfelt articulation that though racism is endemic to the force, change is possible. Chief of Police Charlie Beck has lent his ear when others would not, hoping to improve the institution internally.

“There’s still much work to be done … Some may say that nothing has changed with the leadership in the LAPD. … Trust me I have been in the fight with the organization regarding social and racial injustice within the LAPD. Currently, I am the only out spoken African American within the organization that possesses the moral courage to confront and ask questions unflinchingly about race, racism and discrimination in the LAPD. Yet still, I have paid a humiliating price inside the LAPD for preserving and believing in the importance of “I have a Dream. [sic]”

Guillary concluded his appeal by encouraging Dorner to stop his murderous spree, but to surrender on live television so that the event is filmed and he is “not harmed”.

“Christopher, I ask that you stop your actions my brother. This is not the answer, nor is this the way to resolve conflict. Too many people have been hurt and too many innocent families are hurting. Do the right thing and stop the unwarranted violence and creation of fear.”

After years of documented internal discrimination, perhaps it is time for more officers to come forward and share their experiences. Exposure and transparency are the only medication for the sickness of institutionalized corruption. For the Los Angeles Police Department, disgrace cannot be more complete. It is time for leadership to lead by purging criminal, unethical elements before the next Dorner decides enough is enough.

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Conservative militarists bemoan Rand Paul’s diplomatic foreign policy

DALLAS, February 12th, 2013 - Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered a speech to the Heritage Foundation last week advocating a return to anon-interventionist and diplomatic foreign policy. “I see the world as it is. I am a realist, not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist,” Paul began, immediately distancing himself from the GOP’s increasingly unpopular war wing and critics charging libertarian conservatism breeds isolationism.

Paul explained that considering past policy successes and failures while balancing present challenges for the 21stcentury is essential. Referencing Ronald Reagan’s era, he encouraged renewed suspicion of military alliances and a strong defensive military posture, but discouraged continued imperialism.

Paul, quoting Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, linked foreign policy and the national debt crisis, “At some point fiscal insolvency at home translates into strategic insolvency abroad,” and this requires, “re-examining missions and capabilities,” and perhaps most importantly, “will entail going places that have been avoided by politicians in the past.”

He continued, reminding listeners that serious threats loom. “[Radical Islam] is no fleeting fad but a relentless force. These forces are supported by Iran and compensate for a “lack of conventional armies with unlimited zeal”. Likening the fanaticism of radical Islam to ideological extremism of communism, Paul’s strategy then begins with containment, not invasion, occupation or pre-emptive attacks.

As for Iran and its rumored nuclear ambitions, maintaining strategic ambiguity is paramount. “No one, myself included, wants to see a nuclear Iran. Iran does need to know that all options are on the table. But we should not pre-emptively announce that diplomacy or containment will never be an option.”

Paul highlighted Israeli intelligence officials’ warnings that military strikes may be premature, or even cause Iran to accelerate their nuclear program. War, then, should be a last resort, not the first option.

The Senator’s speech was fairly well-received as most Americans feel the Iraq War was a mistake and 70%want immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Most believe future conflicts should be absolutely necessary, notbuilt onfalse intelligence for resource acquisition or spreading “democracy”.  Paul challenged Washington to make commitments to national defense,not policing the world.

Career academics from pro-war, pro-intervention militarist outlets blanched at Paul’s advocacy for a constitutionally prudent, fiscally reasonable foreign policy. Writing for the National Review,Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute chastised Paul’s approach with alarmist threats and condescension.

“America’s foreign policy today is hardly one of militaristic, imperialistic determination to intervene. Apart from the evil “neocons” — virtually none of whom, it should be noted, have advocated attacking Iran, invading Syria or Yemen, or launching other adventures that Senator Paul seems so to fear — it is hard to understand against whom the senator is arguing.”

This claim is false. Led by praised think-tank intellectuals, the GOP’s neoconservative, militarist wing consistently influences America’s pro-war foreign policy. Bi-partisan support for conflict without question has infected both parties; this lock-step approval for boorish aggression reached its apex during George W. Bush’s administration.

Forgetting the tragedies of Vietnam, militarists consistently scream for this generation’s fifth war in the East. Even as American soldiers were surging in Iraq, Senator John McCain (R-AZ)sangof “bombing Iran”, a pet war he’s unwaveringly championed. Joined by Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and prominent war hawk intellectuals, they constantly call for sendingAmerican soldiers into Iran, Syria and Libya.

They’ve cried for no-fly zones, tax-payer funded arms for dubious “rebels”, air strikes and Patriot missiles. Even Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, influenced by the Old Guard,hawked for more warwhichcontributed to his lack of appeal.

Such fiery rhetoric could easily ignite war fever over Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions without significant intelligence from the CIA or our Israeli allies. If the militarists had their way, would a multitude of dead American soldiers, innocent Israelis and Iranians be worth the price to delay Iran’s unconfirmed nuclear program?

Bill Kristol, writing for the Washington Post, has stated repeatedly that direct “regime change” in Iran is urgently necessary. “The next speech we need to hear from the Obama administration should announce that, after 30 years, we have gone on the offensive against this murderous regime. And the speech after that can celebrate the fall of the regime, and offer American help to the democrats building a free and peaceful Iran.”

Nearly two dozen American veterans commit suicide daily, yet the Kristols and Kagans of the world proclaim tomorrow’s soldiers must endure more endless, soul-defeating occupation for the sake of “freedom”. Though these imperialist policies failed in Iraq and are failing in Afghanistan at great cost, pre-emptive war, eternal occupation and nation-building are the answer to conflicts before they materialize, not diplomacy. Rand Paul’s realism is absurd, naïve and preposterous they say.

Yet one must wonder if General Stanley McChrystal’s blowback theory was correct. He believed ten “insurgents” were spawned from each innocent killed. If we weren’t invading, occupying and attempting to “democratize” the Arab world by force, would radicals recruit dissidents so easily?

U.S. national security is essential, but plutocrats talk loosely of war while the consequences of an Iran conflict could net disastrous worldwide unintended results.

Our overstretched military does not have the resources to invade and occupy a nation three times the size of Iraq. Engaging Iran in the Gulf would catapult oil prices, tanking an already fragile world economy. Air strikes would result in mass casualties of innocent citizens; Arab sentiment toward the West would worsen as another act of brash war is exacted on yet another Islamic country. This could result in homeland retaliation both in Israel and the U.S.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence experts not seeking political ends believe there is time for diplomacy, that rash action could provoke Iran and its radical stateless neighbors to seek revenge.

Perhaps a responsible transition from hostile brinkmanship to a Reaganite balance of stern diplomacy and robust military defense would be wise. This is 2013, not 2003, and U.S. intelligence agencies are confident they will know if Iran proceeds toward a nuclear weapon. So if the goal is to receive assurances that Iran will not build beyond peaceful use, diplomacy should be exhausted pro-actively and vigorously before bombs drop on Tehran.

And how can this be accomplished without discussion and negotiation? The neocons bemoan that “diplomacy has been exhausted”, but this is not the case. Our embassy housed American diplomats under the Third Reich for nearly a decade. Our nation’s leaders opened communication with communist mass murderers Stalin and Mao, but we cannot diplomatically pressure, negotiate or even communicate with Iran? We cannot meet in a neutral location with their world leaders to discuss thwarting potential global nuclear war?

The U.S. military learned from Iraq that most radicals join terrorist organizations not for religious reasons, but for financial motivations or revenge. Eventually ending brutal sanctions and opening the door to possible diplomacy and trade over the next decade would do more to quell the rise of radicalism than missiles, which perpetuates terroristic violence.

Despite the lofty words of policy architects, perpetual war for perpetual peace is not a worthy ambition. Military resources are not statics. And battles, soldiers, bombs and wars are not merely considerations of policy. American tax dollars and military families are not endlessly expendable in pursuit of slippery enemies and nation-building fantasies. Israelis caught in the maelstrom of potential total war are not “collateral damage”, nor are the millions of innocents in Iran.

If the American people agree, they should bend their ear to those advocating for policy change instead of repeating the same actions and expecting different results. We must accept the world for what it is, and adapt accordingly instead of continuing the folly of crafting the Arab landscape in our Western image. The world we all live in may very well depend upon it. Read more:http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2013/feb/12/neoconservatives-rand-paul-foreign-policy/#ixzz3Qdd5QSe2 Follow us:@wtcommunities on Twitter