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Justice and the Enemy by William Shawcross: A Critical Book Review

I. Introduction

Justice and the Enemy is a thorough and organized masterpiece about the global war on terror. William Shawcross is very successful in laying out a dense amount of information in a succinct format. This work has the suspense and chronological timelines of Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly. It has the intellectual makeup and refined arguments of The Federalist Papers. Finally, this work has the profoundness and painful truths also found in another book about the global war on terror’s relation to Islam titled, How to Win A Cosmic War by Dr. Reza Aslan. http://www.williamshawcross.com/pics/enemy.jpg

This book presents a historical account of terrorism, while also presenting the competing philosophies of bringing terrorists to justice in the modern world. Shawcross seeks to examine competing solutions in bringing justice to an enemy that seeks the annihilation of the west.[1] He also accurately examines the controversy in bringing terrorists to justice in a time of political correctness and legal perplexity. While the blame for rising tensions and hateful rhetoric towards the United States has often been attributed to American involvement in the Middle East, Shawcross accurately explains these tensions actually stems “from the struggle within the Muslim world for the soul of Islam.”[2]

This book can be broken down into two major questions. First, should terrorists be tried in civilian courts or military courts? Second, should enhanced interrogation techniques be used in the global war on terror? The following analysis will discuss these two major points in further detail.

II. Should terrorists be tried in civilian courts or military courts?

“Military commissions have long been recognized as part of American and international legal practice. U.S. presidents have claimed the authority to conduct these commissions under Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution. ”[3] Shawcross explains that a further precedent for military trials is found in the case of Ex Parte Quirin.[4] The Supreme Court held that a military tribunal had jurisdiction to try eight Nazi saboteurs that landed by U-boat on U.S. soil.[5] The most important distinction made in this case is that between a lawful enemy combatant and an unlawful enemy combatant.[6] Lawful enemy combatants are uniformed soldiers, while unlawful enemy combatants enter the country in civilian dress.[7] The Supreme Court said that unlawful enemy combatants are subject to “trial and punishment by military tribunals.”[8]http://img.allvoices.com/thumbs/image/609/480/66416208-khalid-sheikh.jpg

Furthermore, in Johnson v. Eisentrager, Shawcross quotes Justice Robert Jackson’s majority opinion in which he says “We hold that the Constitution does not confer a right of personal security or an immunity from military trial and punishment upon an alien enemy engaged in the hostile service of a government at war with the United States.”[9] Shawcross says this opinion makes it clear that unlawful enemy combatants do not have the same rights as American citizens.[10]

While the opinion in Ex Parte Quirin and Johnson has been the majority view for over five decades, the Obama administration has interpreted the decision in a different manner. Shawcross explains that in 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder invoked a protocol called the “Determination of Guantanamo Cases Referred for Prosecution.”[11] This protocol says, “that where feasible, federal courts should be used unless other compelling factors suggested that prosecution in ‘a reformed military commission’ was more appropriate.”[12] Shawcross bluntly says that if there is an attack on “U.S. soil and its victims were Americans, and particularly American civilians, then a civilian trial would be favored” based on this protocol.[13] This decision was a tremendous departure from the ruling in Ex Parte Quirin and Johnson. One could almost call it a “lawfully” blind analysis because the protocol overlooks whether the combatant is lawful or unlawful. As a result, Attorney General Holder moved forward with prosecuting Khalid Sheik Mohammed on American soil after the protocol was invoked.[14]

Shawcross counters the opposition to Military Tribunals by explaining, “Defendants in military tribunals have ultimate rights of appeal almost identical to those convicted in federal court.”[15] This results from the safeguards that have been introduced since 2001.[16] While concluding the discussion on tribunals, Shawcross bluntly states that it does not matter whether a Military Tribunal or Federal Court tries an Islamist because Islamists will denounce the decision.[17] In fact, radical Muslims denounce all law except Sharia.[18]

What may be even more interesting than the idea of the Islamic disregard of the American court system is Shawcross’s discussion of justiciability of whether or not an enemy combatant is tried before a military commission or a federal court. Shawcross reveals that Justice Jackson remarked, in Ex Parte Quirin, that there might not be justiciability of the military commission issue because it is a political question left for another branch of government.[19] If a claim is not justiciable, then a federal court will likely not hear it. If this type of claim is not justiciable, it could have broad and sweeping ramifications on the trials of enemy combatants. This also means that the legislative branch and executive branch could be at liberty to try an enemy combatant any way they prefer. Whether this is good or not is left up for discussion.

III. Should enhanced interrogation techniques be employed in the global war on terror?

“Michael Ignatieff says “torture is probably the hardest case in the ethics of the lesser evil. A clear prohibition…erected in the name of human dignity comes up against a utilitarian case also grounded in a dignity claim, namely, the protection of human lives.”[20] Shawcross is clear to point out that “enhanced interrogation” may save human lives, but the legality of this form of torture is left for debate. The first question that Shawcross answers is whether there are legal grounds to use enhanced interrogation.

         In the Fourth Geneva Convention, which outlawed torture, common article 3 applies to “non-international armed conflicts, including civil wars, internal armed conflicts that spill into other states, or internal conflicts in which third states or a multinational force intervenes.”[21] It could certainly be argued that terrorism is under the umbrella of the “internal conflicts” and “multinational force” provisions. After all, these terrorists start internal conflicts and come from different countries, but are all led by one philosophy, Radical Islam. However, the validity of this convention is in question, especially since it is questionable as to whether any captured American soldiers have been treated according to this protocol since 1950.[22] Therefore, it may not even be germane to this debate.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/waterboarding.jpgThe Authorization for the Military Use of Force of September 18, 2001, gave the “president the right to use ‘all necessary and appropriate force’ against those who organized the 9/11 attacks.”[23] This authorization shows little regard for international agreements like common article 4. Shawcross says this is legal cover for the killing of supposed terrorists, but it also appears to be legal cover for enhanced interrogation techniques.[24] He describes enhanced interrogation techniques employed in the global war on terror as being the following: sleep deprivation; walling; slapping; forced nudity; prolonged wall standing; and waterboarding.[25] President Bush said these techniques were “designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations.”[26] But not everyone agrees with this assessment.

Shawcross explains that President Obama has taken a different approach to enhanced interrogation. One of the first actions he took was shutting down the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation and only permitting the use of interrogation in compliance with the Army Field Manual.[27] Subsequently, Obama ordered the release of documents detailing the CIA’s interrogation methods.[28] Shockingly, he refused to release documents, at Vice-President Cheney’s request, detailing the success of enhanced interrogation.[29] Are enhanced interrogation techniques successful?

If these techniques are effective, it is absurd that President Obama would not want to release them. While it may not justify using these methods, some credit must be given if enhanced interrogation saves American lives. Shawcross makes a compelling case for why they have been effective. Discussing the capture of Osama bin Laden, he writes, “Important parts of the intelligence that eventually led to his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan, had originally derived from enhanced interrogation of detainees including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed”[30] Leon Panetta, the former Director of the CIA, said that some detainees provided “useful information” after being interrogated using enhanced techniques.[31] However, he said it was debatable as to “whether those techniques were the ‘only timely and effective way’ to obtain such information.”[32]

Shawcross says that Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA from 2006-2009, believed that there was no debating this question.[33] Hayden stated that when first briefed on finding bin Laden, “a crucial component of the briefing was information provided by three CIA detainees, all of whom had been subjected to some form of enhanced interrogation.”[34] Shawcross concludes that enhanced interrogation does save American lives.[35] However, his quote of political scientist Michael Walzer does bring into the moral question of whether torture is the best way to save American lives. While writing about the “the politician who feels he has to make the decision to use torture to save lives” Walzer says, “His choices are hard and painful and he pays the price not only while making them but forever after.”[36]

IV. Conclusion

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” This statement sums up the question of whether more adequate justice exists in civilian courts or in military courts for enemy combatants. It also brings closure to whether enhanced interrogation techniques should be employed. Shawcross brings forward the evidence in a compelling and vivid way. He provides a format so readers can accurately answer the question of “Does my country’s conscience die when we allow our motives of revenge and retribution to bring justice rather than methods that promote respect for human dignity?”

Shawcross provides compelling evidence that trying unlawful enemy combatants in military tribunals is legal. His use of case law and federal law enforce the conclusion that military tribunals are legal and the most effective means for trying terrorists. Furthermore, he consistently clarifies that these tribunals do not infringe their rights because they can still appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Shawcross also effectively argues both sides of the enhanced interrogation issue. However, it appears his arguments weigh more heavily in favor of permitting enhanced interrogation because of the undeniable results these techniques provide. While President Obama and many others may be against enhanced interrogation, Shawcross makes the reader question whether Osama bin Laden would have ever been found without employing some variation of torture. He also compels the reader to question whether there will be an increase in terrorist attacks if enhanced interrogation tactics are not used. Despite the shocking of the normal human conscience enhanced interrogation tactics cause, their results may be enough to justify their use

[1] Shawcross, William. Justice and the Enemy. Page 5 of Hardcopy.

[2] Id. at 216.

[3] Shawcross, William, Justice and the Enemy. (https://itun.es/us/jQIPC.l). iBooks 101. (10 Jan. 2012).

[4] Id. at 102.

[5] Id. at 106

[6] Id. at 107

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 148.

[10] Id. at 149

[11] Id. at 162

[12] Id.

[13] Id. at 163

[14] Id.

[15] Id. at 257.

[16] Id.

[17] Id. at 256.

[18] Id.

[19] Id. at 108

[20] Id. at 119.

[21] Id. at 86.

[22] Id. at 87.

[23] Id. at 265

[24] Id.

[25] Id. at 120-21

[26] Id. at 122.

[27] Id. at 158-59.

[28] Id. at 159.

[29] Id.

[30] Id. at 126.

[31] Id. at 262.

[32] Id.

[33] Id. at 263

[34] Id.

[35] Id. at 293.

[36] Id. at 293.

Book Review of “A Shameful Act” by Taner Akçam

By Mitch Baroody on November 4, 2013

I. Introduction

            A Shameful Act, written by Taner Akçam, is a historical work, vividly detailing the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman government in Turkey. While the Ottomans ‘ actions were shameful, this book could have easily been titled, Silent Voices, Absent Justice, and Zero Consciences. Akçam’s account provides a thorough roadmap of why the Ottoman’s murdered the Armenians and how these murders occurred.  This book also clearly describes the international responses to these atrocities and the lack of Turkish responsibility in the aftermath of the bloodshed.http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41eNCHI2ieL.jpg

Akçam’s ability to compile this tremendous depth of information is commendable. However, his account of these events is not flawless. The greatest weakness is his failure to hook the reader before digressing into a lengthy, historical recitation. Instead, Akçam begins by stating an overwhelming amount of information in a literary style best equated to stream-of-consciousness.

The redeeming portion of the book begins with the third chapter, which is like starting a new book. Here, his writing is more concise, and the story becomes clearer and easier to comprehend. However, many will never see the third chapter because of the stream-of-consciousness style Akçam uses in the first two chapters. If the reader is able to make it this far, he or she will likely feel pathos for the innocent Armenians who are mercilessly slaughtered. In fact, one may even feel like an Armenian at times during Akçam’s account of these shameful acts.

What more could a family member or the soul of an Armenian genocide victim ask for than an accurate pleading of their case before the world? Akçam presents a convincing argument that shameful acts were committed against the Armenians. His work also causes readers to see, feel, and hear what the deceased are still trying to say. However, even though Akçam pleads a powerful case against the Ottomans, this book can only be a legitimate resource if it pleads a case for Ottoman-inflicted genocide and not just shameful acts.

II. Does Akçam accurately present a case for genocide?

This body of work may be one of the greatest modern accounts of Ottoman (Turkish government-sponsored) atrocities towards the Armenians. However, this book can only be legitimate and considered a profound work if Akçam accurately makes a case for genocide. Many countries go through war, civil unrest, and loss of life. Therefore, the importance of making a case for genocide is necessary in order to separate this event from any other civilization attempting to maintain its existence. After analyzing all of the facts presented, it does appear that A Shameful Act makes a prima facie case for the Turkish atrocities to be considered genocide.

http://espressostalinist.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/centurys-first-genocide-2.jpg?w=950The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide provides the most thorough definition of what genocide is and who can actually be held responsible for committing the act. U.N. General Resolution 260, which adopted the Convention’s agreement, defines genocide as the following:

“…Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…such as killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”[1]

Furthermore, it does not matter “whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals” acts are still genocide if they conform to the definition of Article 2.[2] Akçam provides a compelling case for genocide based on numerous historical accounts and vivid descriptions of the actions taken by the Turkish government. Therefore, a brief overview of Akçam’s factual progression towards the Turkish shameful acts will be provided, then a brief analysis of how the facts relate to the definition of genocide will be discussed.

The beginning of the book gives the reader an impression that the Ottoman Empire was not a horrible place to live as a non-Muslim during the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. (23). Akçam says that non-Muslims did not have to face trial in Ottoman courts and were even exempt from having their property searched by authorities. (25). They did have to pay a tax, though. (Id.). A reasonable reader should conclude that the region was fertile for families and habitation for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Turks will likely appreciate this picture and will use it to deny the atrocities against the Armenian population. Furthermore, the Turks will also claim that it is not Islamic to murder the innocent as a defense to the shameful acts. (179). However, the pendulum does not weigh in favor of the Turks for long.

The most profound statement in the entire book is, “A nation that feels itself on the verge of destruction will not hesitate to destroy another group it holds responsible for its situation.” (126). 60,000-90,000 Turkish soldiers died at Sankamiş in January of 1915. The failures in this battle caused the Turks to take significant opposition to the Armenians. (125). Akçam writes that one man describes the defeat as “a treacherous deception, to a conspiracy of murderous criminals, to our fighting units being stabbed in the back by the traitors among us…bringing a moral collapse.” (Id.). He says that during this time, the Ministry of War Department distributed leaflets and writings describing the Armenians as traitors and blaming them for the loss of life at Sankamiş. (Id.). The loss of life mixed with Ottoman propaganda begins to increase the hostility towards the Armenians. Akçam accurately paints a picture of the Turks presenting this evidence to gain public and government support for dealing with threats to their survival as a nation in the most extreme ways.

Shortly after the release of the pamphlets, Akçam describes how Armenians began petitioning the German Consul for emergency assistance from the “coming atrocities” by the Turkish government like they had witnessed in an “Armenian village near the Russian border.” (149).  One of the clearest testimonies of what is about to take place comes from a Swiss nurse named Alma Johannson. (150). She says, “Towards the beginning of April, in the presence of a Major Lange and several other high officials, including the American and German Consuls, Ekran Bey openly declared the government’s intention of exterminating the Armenian race.” (Id.). Even more staggering is the testimony of a Danish nurse reporting that Erzincanlı Sabit, the governor of Harput, told German Vice Consul Scheubner-Richter the following: “The Armenians in Turkey must and were going to be killed. They had grown…in wealth and numbers until they had become a menace to the ruling Turkish race; extermination was the only remedy.” (Id.). Even if the nurse’s credibility is questioned, Akçam says “Scheubner-Richter himself reported that a senior official told him ‘there will be no Armenians left in Turkey after the war.’” (Id.). Akçam provides ample testimony to introduce the sentiments existing prior to the slaughter of Armenians.

He then presents evidence about the slaughter taking place, saying that “other consular reports recount a similar story: hundreds of thousands of Armenians driven from their homes in convoys and killed, either on the road or after having arrived at their assigned destinations.” (161). Akçam also says that commanders of the Turkish Army play a role in slaughtering these people and driving them from their homes by eliminating “civilian Armenian population within the military zones and murdering Armenian soldiers within the army units.” (173). This is not merely conjecture or hearsay. These reports are not from newspapers, but from official documents. Furthermore, there is actual proof that the Armenians are missing from their respective towns after the war with little to no explanation as to why. For instance, in 1917, the Catholic Archbishop of Armenia says that only twenty-three percent of the pre-war Armenian Catholics in the city of Anatolia were still alive after the war. (178)

http://adoption.state.gov/content/images/flags/turkey_flag.gif The Turkish government admitted this, confirming that Armenians were slaughtered. Trabzon’s deputy, Mehmet Emin Bey, says “Our government slaughtered a great number of Armenian women and children. And their property was looted. But the number is not one million, as claimed. It is around 500–600,000. And furthermore, it is not right to say that these people “were killed because they were Armenians.” (253). This is a clear statement, from a government official, admitting that Armenians are the sole victims of the government’s mass murder plan. Yet Bey still denies the murders happened because these people were Armenians. This statement shows hesitancy on the part of Turkish government officials to admit the murders were because of ethnicity.

There will always be skeptics that these shameful acts were actually genocide. Therefore, one may want to look at the economic proof. The strongest argument Akçam makes for genocidal intent may actually be when it comes to the policies dealing with Armenian property.  He says, “Despite the dozens of documents outlining the use of Armenian property, there is not a single piece of evidence showing that any compensation was actually paid to any deportee.” (189). Essentially, the government knew the Armenians would not be around, so they decided not to write a policy to compensate the Armenians for their seized property. This is a brilliant argument by Akçam, but is it grounded in factual documentation or just hearsay?

http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/un.pngSince the facts have been laid out, it is important to discuss how they relate to the United Nations’ definition of genocide. First, the question is whether the murderous acts were committed with intent to destroy.[3] The answer to this question is, unequivocally, yes. The Turks, as stated above, had a mission to destroy whatever force came between them and the preservation of their empire. It was essential that they silenced whatever they suspected was a potential hindrance to survival. Whether this encompasses a hindrance to their ability to wage war or their economic security, Akçam makes it clear that the Turks were willing to destroy anyone in their path in order to preserve their beloved empire.

Since the intent to destroy exists, the next part of the rule is whether the intent to destroy is based on “national, ethnical, racial or on religious grounds.”[4] The answer to this, based on Akçam’s account, is yes. The Ottoman’s were threatened by the Armenians wealth and stature. The book also shows how they blamed the Armenians for the deaths and losses in battle and for being traitors to the Turkish cause. Therefore, at the time, they believed their nation would not survive as long as there was an Armenian presence. The Turkish government did not set out to destroy Muslims. They did not set out to destroy the average Turk. They set out to kill a specific ethnic group, the Armenians.

The argument in favor of a genocide against the Armenians only needs to encompass ethnicity and not the religious beliefs of the Armenians. One Turkish official specifically admitted, as stated above, that over five hundred thousand Armenians were murdered. The consular reports are also very clear as to who was being murdered. The average Turkish citizen was not facing these murders. Akçam makes it clear that Armenians were the sole recipients of the Turks’ wrath. Therefore, article four is also satisfied. The definition of genocide is basic and is not complicated. Akçam provides evidence that makes it highly likely that these shameful acts conform to the definition in article four.

The weakest point of Akçam’s book is that he often relies on hearsay. There are numerous third-person accounts in the book.  However, Akçam maintains his credibility because the hearsay statements are backed up by government reports and population statistics. It is clear that the Armenians did not go on a long vacation somewhere. They were clearly taken from the earth and were too spread out across the empire, too successful, and too prideful to be engaging in some type of mass suicide by their own hands.  Therefore, while it is fair to criticize Akçam for the many hearsay accounts he provides in the book, there are enough credible accounts to authenticate questionable statements. This leaves the reader with only one conclusion: the Turkish government committed genocide against the Armenian people.

III. Conclusion

Akçam makes a clear case that the Armenians were killed solely because of ethnicity. A Shameful Act clearly shows that a Turkish intent to destroy existed by giving examples of how the Turkish government felt threatened and weakened by various conflicts. Akçam provides adequate examples for one to conclude the Turkish government not only had intent to destroy, but intent to destroy Armenians. This intent was because of its weakening position at home and across the world. Akçam explains that Turks begin to blame the Armenians for their “traitorous” behavior and believes that Armenian wealth and prosperity led to the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the only solution is to murder one million of them. The government admits the Armenian deaths are a little over five hundred thousand. This statement exists as an admission that Armenians were the sole victor of Turkish, ethnic-centered wrath.

A Shameful Act could have been more concise and could have been written in a simpler format. However, Akçam’s blunt style gives the reader quick facts that destroy any doubt one may have about whether the Armenians were victims of Turkish genocide. Despite his writing style, the message is still clear and the voices of so many victims are still easily heard. Every Turk should take this book as a refresher course on their country’s stained past. As George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

[1] Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 78 U.N.T.S. 277, (entered into force Jan. 12, 1951) (See Article 2).

[2] Id. (See Article 4).

[3] Id. (See Article 2).

[4] Id.

Mass. Bill: Chemo patients would have to collect own waste

This is an Article, in which I gave an interview for, about a Massachusetts Senate Bill that clearly “Shocks the Conscience.” It appeared in the “Waste and Recycling News” on November 29. Read the Article below:

By Jeremy Carroll | WRN reporter

Nov. 29 — Cancer patients in Massachusetts would have to collect their urine and feces for days after chemotherapy treatments to be disposed as hazardous waste, under a proposal by a state senator.

Senate Bill 1089 would order health care professionals to give chemotherapy patients the means to collect and dispose of bodily wastes following treatment. The bill was introduced by Sen. James Eldridge, D-Worcester.

“It would hopefully eliminate a lot of toxic chemicals from entering the public water system,” Eldridge said.

The senator said he is concerned that some chemotherapy treatments enter the patient and do not fully process by the time it leaves the body. It ends up being flushed into a community´s wastewater treatment facility or local septic systems.

“It´s a real concern that the people receiving these treatments are having a lot of toxic chemicals enter their bodies,” he said. “And these patients get discharged from hospitals or other health care facilities, [and] there´s no way for them to prevent those chemicals, through their bodily waste, from entering the water system.”

While any amount of chemotherapy drugs left unprocessed would be extremely diluted, Eldridge said the reason for the bill is because experts are unsure if newer drugs are surviving traditional wastewater treatment facilities.

“The answer is, we don´t exactly know,” he said. “So let´s try to prevent those chemicals from entering the water system to begin with.”

Jim Mullowney, CEO of Pharma-Cycle Inc., a startup company looking to provide treatment systems for in-home waste, is pushing for the bill´s passage.

He said the way materials surrounding chemotherapy drugs are handled tells you all you need to know about the dangers of them.

“The empty vials, the empty IV bags, the gloves nurses wear, everything that comes into contact with these materials, even in trace amounts, is being treated like it was a chemical weapon,” Mullowney said. “Yet, we inject it into a patient where it passes through the body in three or four days.”

He said not all chemotherapy drugs pass through the body unprocessed, but a handful do.

“If they took the same chemicals and put them down the drain at the hospital, they would arrest the CEO of the hospital and throw them in jail,” he said. “We wouldn´t stand for it. But for some reason, because we treat them as medicines, we ignore the chemistry.”

Mullowney said even trace amounts of these drugs can be extremely dangerous, as they are often given to patients in nanograms per liter, or one billionth of a gram.

“It´s really common sense,” he said. “How we let this happen is beyond me.”

Not everyone is supportive of the measure. Political analyst Mitch Baroody said it is unfair to pick out just chemotherapy patients, as other pharmaceuticals are often found in studies that search for those items in public water systems. Such a move to single out one type of patient may be unconstitutional, he said.

“The point here is, if you are going to put excessive regulations on cancer patients, then you should put those same excessive regulations on anyone that uses medicine [where the medicine] excretes through the body´s waste disposal systems,” he said.

The bill had a public hearing last month and remains in committee.

“It´s the first time I´ve brought the bill forward,” Eldridge said. “It´s something that is a concern for a lot of legislators, but I think there needs to be an education about these chemicals [to other lawmakers].”

He said he is working hard to get the bill out of committee. The Massachusetts legislative session ends in July 2012.

Marc Hymovitz, director of government relations and advocacy for the American Cancer Society in the New England area, said the organization does not have a position on the proposal.

“It´s not an issue we´ve looked at,” he said by email.

Could We Soon See the End of ITAR’s Chokehold on Space Exploration?: My Interview Below

Article Written by Daniel Sims, Columbia University, for Universe Today (NASA Endorsed Publication)

Jeff Foust of The Space Review may have said it best when he claimed that ITAR, a set of trade regulations regarding defense-related trade, was “an acronym that has become figuratively and literally a four-letter word in the industry given the costs, delays, and general uncertainty involved in dealing with those regulations.” No matter where you are on the political spectrum or no matter where you stand on the debate about what’s next in space, you will find people who hate the ITAR’s (International Trade Arms Regulations International Traffic in Arms Regulations) influence on space commerce. Even in this time of great partisanship, Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA28] along with six Democrats and four Republicans have joined forces to craft a sword that, once given to the president will eliminate ITAR’s influence on space commercial enterprise.

The Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act of 2011 is the name of the bill. Also named HR 3288, the act removes spacecraft and related components from the United States Munitions List which is a list of items which are controlled by ITAR. China, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea have restricted access to US spacecraft merchants, easing fears that US technology would fall into the wrong hands.

HR 3288 has created much excitement in the space industry.

“Congress has the opportunity to dramatically improve the competitiveness of the U.S. satellite and space industries and ensure an innovative and thriving U.S. space industrial base,” said Patricia Cooper, the president of the Satellite Industry Association, in a press release. She added that they would be jumping for joy if it weren’t for the “outmoded and overly-restrictive regulation” they say they are under.

Why so much joy? Mitchell Baroody, law student, political analyst, advocate, speaker and told Universe Today that “while ITAR may have some positive effects on National Security, the detrimental effects of these ‘red tape-laced’ regulations cannot be ignored.”

For instance, according to The Space Review in 2006, U.S. Satellite Manufacturers have estimated losses from ‘$2.5 and $6.0 billion since 1999 due primarily to ITAR regulations.’

“When industries become over-regulated, this is what happens,” Baroody said. “As a result of ITAR, even…‘friendly’ foreign countries are weary of dealing with the U.S.”

This makes it difficult for our allies because spacecraft are listed after deadly toxicological agents and before destructive nuclear weapons with all three under the same trade rules. Despite this hilarious position, spacecraft’s removal is still, according to Space Politics, “an uphill battle, as Congress awaits the administration’s export control reform proposals as well as delivery of a final version of a report looking at the national security implications of moving satellite export control reform.”

This uphill struggle against protectionism might not be so bad because over the overwhelming need to create jobs. Baroody acknowledged that there are “many who are advocating protectionist ideals, like Donald Trump advocating increased trade tariffs of 25% with China in April of 2011.”

However, Baroody said, there are many more who know that in the present American economy, people are looking for any feasible solution to export control that has economic benefits. “Unfortunately, becoming more protectionist could have some very negative economic implications for the American consumer,” he said.

Baroody does not foresee this bill being stopped by the protectionist movement. “HR 3288 does not, in any way, benefit the one country who has been treating us unfairly, China,” he said. “This bill should not face an obstacle, in reference to protectionism.”

To Baroody, the thought “that idealists tendencies, which are not accurate, can dominate and win over more jobs, more freedom for American business, and more money in the pockets of Americans is…sickening.”

Some could counter-claim saying national security is at risk, but Baroody thinks the US government has gone too far.

“Before the satellite industry was given such a devastating blow in 1999, it is fair to say there was not enough oversight. However, putting satellites on the munitions list went way too far,” he said. “Now, American Manufacturers are winning with HR 3288 and American security is being preserved because the malevolent nations are excluded from being sold these satellites and components.”

Drilling down to the mechanics of the law, this is the only route Congress can take to export reform as Baroody explains: “Title 22 USC § 2778 (The ITAR) gives Congress oversight in munitions list removal. The President has to present any removals to Congress and cannot remove anything until 30 days have passed upon notification of the Speaker and specific committees. They specifically authorized the President to have discretion in removal. In HR 3288, Congress authorizes the President to remove the satellites and related components only if this does not cause a threat to National security.” In other words, congress can’t remove the spacecraft from the munitions list themselves.”

The Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act of 2011 is not perfect. “The bill includes risk-mitigating licensing controls, procedures, and safeguards,” Baroody said. “Red-tape and regulations are always going to get in the way of commerce, regardless of whether it involves space or some other category of commerce. If you put aside the risk mitigating licensing controls, procedures, and safeguards and look at America’s tax system, the answer is obvious.”

“The red-tape a company has to go through to get a product to market, like a satellite, can also be just as bad as paying more for it,” Baroody continued. “Having to paddle through the exorbitant amount of regulations to ensure you are legally allowed to sell your product and your buyer is allowed to keep it, is detrimental to every business. We should have regulations, but they should be within reason and should make sense. Government should not babysit our industries but they should keep an eye on them to make sure no one is getting hurt and the American people are being reasonably protected”.

This bill even has international implications. In an interview for The Space Review Dennis Burnett, vice president of trade and export controls for EADS North America expressed that “You cannot build a big sophisticated satellite without US parts and components, you just cannot do it…Those components might comprise no more than five percent of the satellite, but still, it’s a very important five percent.”

Because of this international impact, the bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee on November 1st. This so called ‘Congress of specialists’ will, if they give the bill their time, study the bill then report on it. If the committee doesn’t give the bill their time, it will die there. Only after the committee’s review will there be a vote on the elimination of the ITAR.


This is article appeared Sunday, June 13, 2011, in the Philadelphia Tribune and is written by Zack Burgess

For more than two weeks now, and especially since Herman Cain was hit with allegations of sexual harassment, several talk show hosts have rallied around him, using race and his conservatism as a way to ex:plain why he has encountered some of his recent troubles.

First there was Rush Limbaugh, who recently said on his show: that the article in Politico is part of a process to tear down a Black Republican. Then there was Ann Coulter.

“Liberals detest, detest, detest conservative Blacks,” Coulter said. “…This is now the second time a conservative Black has had outrageous, and what appear to be false, allegations leveled against him.”

The first, in her view, was Clarence Thomas.

She didn’t stop there, inferring that a cadre of women, who were quick to forgive Bill Clinton for his sexual transgressions, was now attacking Herman Cain. “If you are a conservative Black, they will believe the most horrible sexualized fantasies of these uptight white feminists,” she said.

This prompted radio host Sean Hannity to wonder why liberals were, in his words, so “threatened” by Cain. Needless to say, Coulter was blunt in her response.

“Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks,” she said, speaking of Democrats. “To become a Black Republican, you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow… and that’s why we have very impressive Blacks in the Republican Party.”

There has been a collective response to the Politico.com report that GOP front-runner Cain had settled two sexual harassment lawsuits when he headed the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group for the food industry, in the 1990s.

And given that Cain gave inconsistent answers to questions raised by the article and has refused to acknowledge his latest accuser, Sharon Bialek — he has only been his own worst enemy.

“People refer to Herman Cain as a “Black conservative” as if he is some alien species,” said political analyst Mitch Baroody. “While the NAACP means well in protecting civil rights, I find them to be very quick on the trigger in pulling the race card and setting up divides. By talking about whites and Blacks like they are so different, it effectively makes them different. It allows people to use race as an excuse not to perform or an excuse as a defense to criticism.”

Coulter evoked the Thomas parallel when she dredged up the famous phrase from his nomination hearings 20 years ago.

At that time it was Thomas who made the statement that effectively neutralized questions about inappropriate sexual conduct raised by attorney Anita Hill.

Keep in mind, Coulter has called the Rev. Al Sharpton a “fat, race-baiting Black man” and has defended the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens as being unfairly accused of racism.

“The rendering of Black people as the ornaments of diversity, rather than incarnations of it, is one of the essential reasons why Blacks clash with conservatism,” said Political analyst Yvette Carnell.

Cain’s rise to the top of the GOP presidential pool has set off a furor among conservatives who saw Cain and other conservative minorities as victims of the so-called-liberal media. Limbaugh compared Cain’s problems to those of Marco Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida who frequently told the story of his family fleeing Castro, which turned out to be untrue. Apparently the Rubios left Cuba several years before Castro came to power.

In a 12-minute exposition on the subject, Limbaugh called the reporting on Cain a “hit job.” “Anything good that happens to any Black or Hispanic in American politics can only happen via the Democrat Party. If it happens elsewhere, we’re going to destroy those people a la Clarence Thomas,” he said.

Speaking of Blacks’ place in America, MSNBC contributor, author and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said in his just-released book, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”: “The European and Christian core of our country is shrinking.”

He says that “Old heroes like Columbus and Robert E. Lee may be replaced on calendars by Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.” He goes on to write: “The End of White America. Those who believe the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color means the whites who helped to engineer it will steer it are deluding themselves. The whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.”

For 21 consecutive months now, MSNBC has been No. 1 among African-American viewers in prime time. So it’s no surprise that Buchanan, hasn’t appeared on the network since his comments.

The Huffington Post’s reported that Buchanan hasn’t shown up on MSNBC since Oct. 22, while doing the rounds on other stations to promote his new book.

“A Conservative does not change because he is a different color,” Baroody said. “A Liberal does not change his philosophy because of his color either. Color should not be a part of this debate. People should lean on the side of conviction and not outward appearance. But because people have put such an emphasis on color, it allows politicos to make excuses like, ‘the media doesn’t like me because I’m a Black Conservative.’ It’s disgusting that we have let our society come to this after the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968.”

ColorofChange.org, a civil rights group, asked its members to sign a petition urging MSNBC to fire Buchanan, rattling off a series of questionable comments he has made over the years.

The Anti-Defamation League also chimed in, labeling Buchanan a racist and anti-Semite. Calderone even spoke with a station executive, who told him that, “the network is taking the concerns seriously.”

He also stressed that the decision to freeze out Buchanan was made long before the groups started rallying against him.

“To me, it’s disgusting,” Baroody said. “Blacks and whites are equals, only different in appearance. In the progressive age we live in today, Blacks and whites should be sticking up for each other more and calling out those that abuse the ‘race card’ as an excuse. Every time someone refers to a candidate as a ‘Black Conservative’ there should be whites and Blacks protesting this type of language because it sets up divides.”

Zack Burgess is the enterprise writer for The Tribune. He is a freelance writer and editor who covers culture, politics and sports. He can be contacted at zackburgess.com.

The S.C. GOP Vice-Presidential Debate: Wait, I mean Presidential

This debate came with no surprises. If you missed it, you likely missed seeing one of the future GOP nominees for Vice President. I’ve called it. None of the candidates in this first debate will be the Presidential nominee. I’m sorry, I’m sure I disappointed a few of you, but I speak the truth even if it hurts.

I call this with about 80% certainty because you never know when someone is going to burst out of their shell and surprise you. However, I find it likely none will be taking front runner status from this debate. Here is a quick rundown of the candidates and my opinion of each candidate’s performance.

Ron Paul: He often seemed like a sleepy and agitated old man. His performance is no different than his performances in the past. He spoke as a strong libertarian would. He opposed “secret” military prisons and advocated for gay rights.

I found myself agreeing with him on many issues but I also disagree with him adamantly on defense issues and believe he has a very fatalistic outlook on securing America and our place in the world. He will have no greater chance at the Presidency this time than he did before. I hate to say that because I really like the guy and he has been really nice to me in the past. He’s a fantastic guy to sit down and talk with, as I have. However, based on content, I have to give him a B-

Gary Johnson- He rarely said anything but from what he said, he is 100% never going to be President or Vice-President. He won’t be on the cabinet either. He is wasting his money and time by staying in this race. He lacks the confidence, decisiveness, and charisma to be a world leader..another libertarian but he is no Ron Paul. Gary throws his hands in the air like an angry mother at her toddler eating mushrooms in the yard. It’s time for him to call it quits. I gave him a C- and I am being very generous.

Herman Cain- He responded as a true business man would. He advocated an objective and advocated knowing what the end game should be in any circumstance whether domestic or foreign. He is relatively new to politics and leeway can be given to him for this debate. I found myself saying “Amen” on several of his stances.

I think this guy is the real deal, don’t get me wrong. However, his lack of charisma at times and lack of foreign policy experience could be a negative. Mr. Cain could surprise us all, continue making great progress, and be a dark horse candidate in this race.

But my guess, if anything, is he will be in the running for Vice-President but will likely end up as a frontrunner for Secretary of Commerce in a new administration. I give him a B+ and I’m proud to do so.

Tim Pawlenty- decisive, knowledgeable, sure of himself, and ready to lead…as Vice President. He was spot on tonight with everything he said. However, he often lacks charisma, something needed to beat Obama. I am also unsure at how far his message can reach at the front of a ticket. Overall, he was pretty good tonight and he earned points with his rant against the Government for interfering in the Boeing deal in Charleston. However, his views on cap and trade have certainly hurt him. But I still give him an A- for tonight because in a weak crop of candidates, he is one of the stronger ones.

Rick Santorum- I am extremely undecided about him. His performance tonight was right on the money with the Conservative GOP message. He was the most confident out of all candidates tonight. However, he lacks the “wow” factor that will take him over the top in 2012. He can’t beat Obama..let’s face it.  He may have beaten 3 other democrats in Pennsylvania races, but he can’t beat the biggest democrat in the White House.

However, if a more centrist and suspect -Conservative GOP candidate wins the nomination; he is an ideal candidate to boost conservative credentials on any ticket. I give him an A- for his performance, but I would like to see him relate better with other areas of the party rather than the hardcore, right wing side.

A quick wrap- Pawlenty and Santorum win this debate and who is better is just a matter of personal preference, Cain is the darkhorse, Paul is Paul, and Johnson needs to quit before he continues to embarrass himself.

Tonight needs to be considered a Vice Presidential debate and nothing more. The next President, by election, was very likely, not on the stage in Greenville. The big boys have yet to arrive. However, I search my brain hoping Gingrich, Romney, Trump and Co. can be considered big boys. I have my serious doubts.

It is going to take more to beat a sitting President. Many, including myself, relate Obama to Jimmy Carter. However, Jimmy Carter did not free the folks in the Iran-Contra affair. Obama has Bin Laden’s death to his name. That is the significant difference that could help pull Obama over the top if the GOP candidate is not strong, charismatic, decisive, and ready to be everything Obama was not.

Right now, the GOP crop is full of what the democrats used to have: Walter Mondales, Michael Dukakisis, and George McGoverns. As we all know, none of them reached much success on the national level. I hope someone steps up soon, or steps out of their shell if they have already stepped up, and lets the country know they are ready to be the image of the Executive branch for the next eight years.

A Taxing Situation

I happened to check out The Hill today and as a result, my focus on unity, peace, and love for the Liberals in Washington quickly decreased. Obama and Co. can take partial credit for shooting a terrorist who needed to be killed, but it still doesn’t fix  the biggest problems in our country: THE ECONOMY and now, SENATOR KENT CONRAD.

Senator Kent Conrad, a democrat from North Dakota. has a plan, and believe me, it’s quite a plan! As the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, he is now pushing a new tax plan that will tax every American based on how many miles they drive. This differs from the current gas tax because the government will basically become more “Big Brotherish” and keep a closer look on motorists.

Why is this a “taxing situation?” Frankly, the way they want to keep track is pretty scary. These guys must be in cahoots with Steve Jobs over at apple. They want to put tracking devices in every American vehicle.  These devices will keep track of the mileage and people will be required to pay the tax at gas stations.

Seriously? I mean, really? And no, this isn’t some tea party or government conspiracy talk, it’s true. It sounds more like something out of a Science Fiction movie but it’s here..electronically tracking us to pay taxes.

What is next, a tax on how many times we flush the toilet every day? I guess nursing homes will go out of business! Better yet, a tax on profanity.  There we go. Every time you say “Damn” that is .25 cents. Worse curse words are taxed more heavily. I guess Joe Biden would be in big trouble if this were the case.

While the price of gas is rising to nearly historical levels, the democrats in D.C. apparently want to move towards another historic move: The extinction of automobiles.  I cannot wait to see how liberal scientist Bill Nye will try to explain this. It’s easy. I’ll help him out. It’s a cataclysm called “Liberalistic Geo-shifting of the Transportation Infrastructure.”

There Bill Nye, hope that helps.  Seriously though, how do they think  Americans will afford yet another tax, to increase the cost of driving, that will supposedly benefit our highways?

For states like South Carolina, Maine, and New Hampshire, the funds collected will go to bigger states like California and New York. Have you driven on a road in South Carolina any time lately? They are horrible. Part of this is the state legislature’s fault in South Carolina and part of it is the Federal Funds South Carolina gets, go to putting Jim Clyburn’s name on various universities instead of paving the roads.  Just saying.

It doesn’t make up for the simple truth that roads in other parts of the country are fantastic. Don’t think for one second that a tax like this would restore the roads in a smaller state like South Carolina. The money would never see the light of day in small states.

In conclusion, this assault on the American pocket book is just another liberal plan to cripple an already decaying economy to the point of no return. If there are benefits, I would certainly like to see them.  Unfortunately, by the time any benefit are seen, no one will be driving on roads to enjoy their restoration!

Thanks Kent Conrad! Way to help out the American people. Better get used to being chauffeured around piggy back style!


If you want to read more in depth about the plan, check out: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/159397-obama-floats-plan-to-tax-cars-by-the-mile


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