Negotiating With Terrorists, We’ve Already Lost

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A 2008 Presidential candidate quote stated President Bush

didn’t use the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al-Queda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11. Hmmm.

Another quote by Defense Secretary Chuck Bagel during his Senate confirmations..

We didn’t negotiate with terrorists

This past Monday White House Press Secretary would not call the Taliban a terrorist organization, but only

an enemy combatant

.

I think our military, our allies, and Afghanistan may disagree. They went on to belabor the point that we have always negotiated in times of war… ( forgetting our long standing US position of not negotiating with terrorists)

While I am not upset that Sgt Bergdahl is coming home, I am surprised at how it happened and how words are being twisted to make it sound less harmful than it probably is. I will save the debate on if he was a deserter or AWOL as that will soon come to light.  What is interesting is press reports from Dianne Feinstein, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman who says that when the idea was brought up in 2011 as an idea for a trade it was almost unanimously rejected. Hmm again.

What changed? Did the President know more? Did he need a boost in the polls., I would think that would not be his reasoning, did he know more than the military – outlasting his CENTCOM CDRs?

Did President Obama inform the Congress 30 days prior to releasing prisoners from GitMo as required by law? No.

Did the President perhaps consult our Afghanistan or Pakistan allies on releasing 5 Taliban members (4 of which are senior leaders) for their opinion on this proposal? I think not since the Afghan govt seems to be upset.

Did the President look at some of our past Gitmo releases to see if they returned to combat? I don’t know but apparently it was not a deciding factor as many have been seen in Yemen, Afg, Iraq, and Syria among others according to press reports.  A few have ever been taken out by our drones.  Most recently, 3 Gitmo detainees that were returned to Morocco 10 years ago, and despite assurances that they would be monitored,  left Morocco and were the founding members of the AQ rebel group in Syria. Hmm.

Now we are told by the White House that the emir of Qatar has personally guaranteed that these 5 members will be fully monitored and will not be allowed to leave that country for a year. Sounds to me like a good amount of time to recover, raise funds, re-engage AQ via the internet, and return to fighting in AFG or elsewhere in a year.  In fact the news is reporting Gulf sources saying the 5 Taliban members are

with family, can travel anywhere in Qatar for a year, and can go anywhere including Afghanistan after a year.

 

{Update June 6, One of the Taliban Cdrs in Qatar has already vowed to return to AFG and kill Americans there.  http://news.yahoo.com/report-freed-taliban-commander-vows-return-war-against-165007948.html }

So it brings the question

What are we assured of by the emir?

So when these terrorist..err enemy combatants kill US soldiers and or citizens in a year or two, who will tell the families that this trade was worth it? Who will tell the parents of the next US citizen or soldier who is kidnapped by AQ or the Taliban? Who will tell the government of Afghanistan when they return to the Taliban as

heroes?

Coincidentally, these fabulous 5 from Gitmo could be returning to Afghanistan as we pull out almost completely next fall of 2015.  I’m sure they will live peacefully, love the AFG government, and won’t harbor any ill will against the US citizens still there in the embassy or the hundreds of charitable organizations throughout the country.

But I guess that hardship and realization will happen in the next administration after this President is gone from Washington and only those of us who appreciate history will remember.

I wish I knew what changed..

I apologize for any formatting errors. The android WordPress app is not as easy as typing on the computer for WYSIWYG.

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Pilots confront Norwegian on rights avoidance | Air Traffic Management | Air Traffic Management – ATM and CMS Industry online, the latest air traffic control industry, CAA, ANSP, SESAR and NEXTGEN news, events, supplier directory and magazine

Pilots confront Norwegian on rights avoidance | Air Traffic Management | Air Traffic Management – ATM and CMS Industry online, the latest air traffic control industry, CAA, ANSP, SESAR and NEXTGEN news, events, supplier directory and magazine.

Its sad that our government doesn’t seem to value US Airlines, their safety, and employees.  Airlines built like this to work around European and US regulations will undermine safety in order to increase profits for the owners, and sub par pay for foreign aircrews.  They need to deny “Norwegian Airlines” request to fly to the US.

This comes while the threat of foreign cabotage increases with Airlines such as Singapore and Emerates flying from US to European destinations, and the US taxpayer funding US Customs preclearance facilities in UAE where the only benefiting airlines are foreign airlines…

We don’t seem to have a National Airline Policy, and I’m often confused by one hand of the government not looking at the big picture. If this continues I don’t see good thing ahead in the long term future for US Airlines.

Do you want to fly Korean Air from Atlanta to Chicago? I don’t. Emerates form NYC to LA? I’m sure they want to.

Time for a clean bill

Ok, let me first say I don’t like Obamacare, what it will do to our budget, and the federal requirement to buy it. It goes against what I thought was possible for a non-socialist govt. Also, I am a military vet, live in a Texas, and usually vote Republican (not always).

With that said, the House republicans are wrong. They should not be holding up funding the government (or the debt ceiling) because they don’t like Obamacare. They budget process is already bastardized enough and is causing havoc in our government agencies and military. In fact, the government hasn’t passed a normal budget process on time since 1997! Continuing resolutions, late budgets, and sequestration imposes countless thousands of extra man hours and work for our federal workers, increasing costs and delaying and canceling others. It isn’t right for our military to be constrained this way.

Additionally we are in the road towards an ungovernable government . We all have our own principles and morals we should follow, but you (Congress) have a job to do. Yours is to pass laws and fund the government. It’s time to do your job Congress.

What do I recommend to the House republicans? Change the law… Yes the people who voted you in want Obamacare ended.. Change the law. You don’t have the right to pick laws not to fund. This sets a bad precedent for future (Republican) Presidents. If you can’t change the law yet, then you don’t have the votes to defund it either.

How can we change some if this?

Stop letting state legislatures gerrymandering their district boundaries. Push this more towards independent commissions, or at the very least zip codes.

Stop all Congressional pay for members on Oct 1 if there is no budget. I don’t mean a CR, I mean a real budget. No budget, no pay.

Term limits. If there is a term limit for the Presidency, there can be one for Congress.

All laws passed cover the Congress too. No exclusions for Obamacare, or other restrictions placed on businesses and state governments. Yes you can add benefits, but laws should cover you too.

Now Congress, get back to work and pass a real budget.

Emirates New Milan–N.Y. Route Threatens U.S. Aviation Jobs

Article from ALPA supporting their other blog video.

Pilot Partisan

U.S. Government Must Level the Playing Field to Ensure Health of U.S. Airlines, Jobs

WASHINGTON–Emirates Airline’s new route from Milan to New York, slated to begin Tuesday, is a clear first step in long-term strategy by a heavily supported state-owned foreign airline to undercut U.S. airlines and hurt U.S. jobs.

The new route goes head-to-head with long-established U.S. carrier routes between New York and Milan. This is a flight that originated in Dubai and, instead of a direct flight, Emirates is adding a stopover in a popular European destination in order to draw new business. Clearly, this is the beginning of a dangerous trend by state-owned foreign carriers, one that threatens U.S. jobs, U.S. passengers and ultimately the future of the U.S. aviation system, which contributes $1 trillion to our economy each year.

Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) said of the new route:…

View original post 329 more words

Governor on Governor War.. for Jobs.

I find it amusing to see the articles and editorials attacking the Texas governor Rick Perry for his frequent trips (usually to more Northern states) to recruit businesses to Texas.

The most recent trip to Maryland has been lambasted by their governor and local press for visiting the Baretta USA factory in Accokeek, Maryland.  Baretta USA has expressed interest after the Maryland governor signed one of the toughest gun control laws in May.  I have read other reports with anonymous comments from Baretta USA executives stating “Why should we manufacture guns in a state where the residents can’t buy the weapons they produce?”  This sounds catchy, but I believe cost of doing business in Texas would be much cheaper (Energy or production, land costs, taxes, etc..)

After passage of the Maryland bill the company released this statement:

“..(company was) deeply concerned about Governor O’Malley’s effort this year to impose broad new restrictions on the rights of Maryland citizens to buy firearms, as well as on the types of firearms and firearm magazines they can acquire.”

While I agree the timing seemed suspect to Maryland after the Washington Navy Yard shooting, its not as if Baretta stopped manufacturing firearms, or that business did not continue.

In fact Gov Perry (and his office) offered this in response:

“Listen, there’s always anti-gun individuals…”

“The fact is, I’m a pro-Second Amendment guy.  Texas is a pro-Second Amendment state.  Baretta has been a great manufacturer in Maryland and they feel not only under-appreciated, they feel under attack.”

“Anytime a company is potentially interested in Texas, the governor likes to reach out with them personally.”

I would have to agree with that.  Isn’t that part of his responsibility as governor.. to promote his state? (Like Alabama and South Carolina have done with Mercedes, Honda, BMW and Boeing?) Wouldn’t Texas voters find Perry at fault if he didn’t try to bring jobs to the state?

In they end, Baretta USA has said they have no plans to leave Maryland, but they are open to expanding operations in another state.

They Maryland governors response can be seen in an OP-ED published today titled “Texas fails compared with Maryland economy” Apparently the governors debating on Crossfire last night didn’t get out her points..

She repeatedly talks about how Texas is only making minimum wage jobs (ignoring the lower cost of living in Texas and typically they are starter jobs) yet I don’t see how this plays in the Baretta expansion debate.  Baretta must compete globally and they are looking to make a USA product at a competitive price for the US market.  They feel underappreciated in Maryland and Texas can provide educated workers and a lower cost of production. I believe her attacks would be less if she wasn’t so afraid of losing a great employer for her state.

Perry has been successful in similar campaigns luring Caterpillar, Ebay and Google to the state for some of their expansion.  While that didn’t make Illinois of California governors happy, I say so what.  If you don’t like it feel free to compete. It is a free market and level playing field here in the States.

If Baretta USA does come to Texas, I might be one of the first to order their 9mm.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/18/perry-and-omalley-face-jobs-debate/

Security Clearances… Cleared for What?

Let me first say, I am retired, have no access to any data on current events or specific recent events in DC or intelligence leaks.  With that said I can comment on generic things I have seen dealing with government clearances.

Typically, the lowest level of security clearance is good for 10 years following a rudimentary background check.  This includes a credit check and felony/arrest check. Higher level clearances have a more thorough check and are only good for 5 years.

As you’ve seen in recent articles, these clearances can be reactivated by an employer after a service member or govt worker leaves government service for the remainder of the clearance time.  After the 5/10 year time frame expires, the employer or employee would have to pay for a new background check.

While I never did background checks themselves, it appears from the media reports, and from what I saw on active duty, there are not any annual recheck to make sure a member has changed since the background check was accomplished.  I only saw members lose their clearance when they applied for an extension, and most commonly they lost it for being behind on car payments or credit cards.

Now we have our Washington Navy Yard shooter (former Navy Reservist) who never went higher than E-4.  From 2004 to 2010, which includes time before and during his 4 year tour, he was arrested 3 times in three states – 2 of which were for gun discharges, and ultimately received his SECRET clearance for 10 years in 2008.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered “top to bottom reviews” of the Security clearance System and procedures for gaining access to facilities..  I’ll save him some time and money and propose a few here for clearances:

1. SECRET Clearances good for only 5 years to match TS and higher guidelines.

2. Full background checks for all levels of security clearances (Make SECRET match TS level background checks) No way you should miss an arrest on a background check.

3. Annual computer database checks on members with clearances on Terrorist and Criminal databases.

4. Annual Credit Checks to maintain clearance.

5. Mental Heath checks for members with clearances.  Yes if you hear voices you should not have a weapon or a clearance.

5. If a member leaves the service/govt, a background check must be completed before reactivating a contractors previous clearance.

6. Increase checks on contractors performing background checks. Any violations of policy should lead to termination of their contract.  (Contractor who did Edward Snowden’s background check also failed with the Washington Navy Yard shooter background check.)

7. Review background checks completed by the contractor in number 6 above for errors or incomplete checks.  Suspend any clearances needing a complete check.

8. Review the number of clearances granted to contractors.  As the military downsizes this number seems to grow in proportion, raising our risk.

While these are only a few changes, perhaps they might have helped in the Edward Snowden case and the Washington Navy Yard.  Current clearance procedures are a failure.  With all of the instant computer data available these days, it could be relatively easy to maintain in a Security office.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/navy-yard-shooting-exposes-flawed-security-clearance-process/2013/09/18/b5c4809c-209a-11e3-a358-1144dee636dd_story.html

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