With Christmas nearly at the door lot’s of us telephone each other. I didn’t receive any of the pre-Christmas visionforum emails but they were forwarded to me. I’ve read Phillips doesn’t celebrate Christmas. For a man who doesn’t celebrate this wonderful holiday he sure makes a living at promoting it! What a phony. On a related “front” there are a number of folk telling Mark Epstein he needs to take his blog down because Phillips feels defensive. Oooooooohhhh, poor baby. What a joke. Phillips is as OFFENSIVE as anyone can be. Guess he only wants life to work one way. Welcome to your “reality check” Duggy. Mark assured me this morning his blog stays. Good show chap! Don’t give Duggy Wuggy any quarter. Take no prisoners from the rabble at the Kool-Aid parlor in Waring. And don’t forget to flash bang the duggy-wannabes shilling for him before you give them some “300″ treatment. Mark. Don’t forget to wish your enemies a very Merry Christmas. ;-o
December 24, 2007
December 11, 2007
Note to CF: Your BT blog is okay, but you need to take down PS or your “soft answer” will be exposed for what it is…another DP “shill” lie. Don’t think M&J will appreciate knowing who you are. Just a word for the wise. Hope “wise” applies to you.
“…offering Doug and BCA any further apologies is analogous to those in Hell receiving ice water - it just isn’t going to happen!” Mark Epstein
Victory for the church triumphant! Mark Epstein will continue writing about Doug Phillips and his “actions.” Bravo! All will look forward to reading your next post. May God bless you!
Sic Semper Tyrannis!
December 10, 2007
Can it be? Have the Epsteins “wimped out” in their fight against ecclesiastical tyranny? Are they planning to allow the “girlie boys” at Tired of the C*** and Still Fed Up and the sissy Matt “Independent Investigator” Chancey to win one for the wimp? Or is it truly all about grace? (see Jen Epstein’s latest post and apology) Let’s hope not! The most “merciful” thing we could witness is the coup de grace quickly applied to Phillips’ empire-in-the-making.
Regardless of what the Epsteins do or do not do, this blogger will continue unabated.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been researching the Perez family. Yes, the same Mr. and Mrs. P. who defamed a man they don’t even know! Over the past few days I found the latest attack/hate the Epsteins blog to enter the fray to bear all the tell-tale signs of a specific authorship. Do the initials CF mean anything to anyone?
The “war” is not over Phillips. Show some humility or continue reaping what you’ve sown. These really are your only choices.
Todd aka “The Moderator”
August 30, 2007
If ever there was a “physical” and “blatant” example of what the southern invaders from Mexico intend and the analogous spiritual, emotional, and intellectual abuse Phillips engaged in during his unbiblical excommunication of the Epstein family, then this video is it!
Watching a bully get taken to the woodshed is one of the most enjoyable things a person can witness. Second only to that is to watch the unfolding of a tyrant’s demise - in this case, a tyrant that prides himself on defining the argument, but who is increasingly in a reaction mode. The evidence for this is what Nathanael noted about Doug Phillips’ four blog articles this week; articles that were Phillips’ most transparent attack on Jennifer Epstein since the sordid behavior on Phillips’ part began.
What’s really amusing is to see (once again) Kevin Swanson attempting to rescue Phillips from his detractors. Coming to Doug’s look-alike’s defense, Swanson does some very interesting mental gymnastics as he attempts to give Bill Gothard a pass. Although Kevin “Yellow-bellied Blogger” Swanson may be able to charm a few folks, this writer isn’t buying. Gothard and Phillips teach the same nonsense and they are both charismatic enough to delude many God-fearing Christians, which simply illustrates the “milk” American Christians still feed upon instead of eating theological “meat” (so they are prepared to give an apologia).
Besides Swanson’s attempt, Goeff Botkin weighed-in earlier this week with a pathetic example of running interference for Phillips. One really has to wonder why intelligent men follow the half-baked, wanna-be shepherd Phillips, when all Doug is is a poor excuse for an attorney (opinion) and an “in the red” businessman (ask Doug about Vision Forum’s pre-Epstein excommunication ink color). Hmmmm, Doug, according to the OT that you are hung-up on, your “red ink” is indicative of a less-than-godly-pleasure with you…at least so say the Pharisees and rabbis charged with interpreting The Law.
Although Jennifer Epstein takes the position that Phillips and his BCA congregants are not a “heretical cult,” there is disagreement on this point. Mark Epstein takes a much harder line and, along with Joe Taylor, actually question Phillips’ regeneration. Considering the entire body of “knowledge” surrounding Phillips’ activities as a so-called “shepherd” these past few years, I am inclined to disagree with Jennifer Epstein and far more inclined to agree with her husband and Mr. Taylor. You can judge this for yourself at Jen’s latest article titled “Is Doug Phillips a Cult Leader?”
For another perspective, you can read Mark Epstein’s article titled “Is Boerne Christian Assembly a Cult?” Regardless of which view one agrees with, there can be no argument that Phillips and his “leadership” (is this a joke?) are far outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity they claim to represent and adhere to.
Lastly, let’s take a look at Doug’s own reaction. In all the months Mark and Jen Epstein blogged about Phillip’s ecclesiastical tyranny, there have only been two times Phillips became “visibly” shaken by what appeared in print. The first time was the email a number of homeschool organizations received and the second was the issue of being labeled a cult. In both situations, Phillips orchestrated a response laced with attacks and “shoot-the-messenger” tactics. Yes, once again we are witness to Doug and Company engaging in a very anti-biblical method of discrediting the messenger instead of addressing the issues raised by thoughtful Christians. If this isn’t a red flag to those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior, then I do not know what it will take to waken the slumbering idolaters among us.
August 29, 2007
There is quite a conversation occurring at Jen’s Gems regarding how Doug Phillips is in the “react” mode once again, and finds the need to indirectly attack Mrs. Epstein. Gee, Doug, did you forget your own axiom (”he who defines, wins”)?
What Phillips, his shills (the girlie men who authored Tired of the Crap and Still Fed Up), and his proxies (e.g., Geoff Botkin, Kevin Swanson, et. al.) don’t understand is that they can never prevail against the Epstein family within the extended church family or in the secular courts. What follows is “WHY” Phillips and his idolatrous cohorts will never see victory.
First, Phillips conducted an unbiblical excommunication. He denied the accused due process - period. Americans, whether saved or unsaved, understand the need for courts to act impartially. Phillips could not act impartially (no matter how far he distanced himself from the “dirty work”) because he crafted the entire contemptuous and despicable proceedings. Can anyone say “duplicitous”?
Secondly, Phillips chose to give RC Sproul Jr. a “pass” for his misbehavior, even though it far exceeded any allegations against the two Epsteins. Can anyone say “major hypocrite”?
Third, Phillips has ensured the idolaters at Boerne Christian Assembly shun the Epstein children, despite the very public writings claiming only the parents were in sin. Can anyone say “hate monger”?
Fourth, Phillips allows the legal scholarly-challenged Bob Renaud to write a treatise on a Texas Supreme Court decision that Renaud did not even (1) realize was not a precedent and (2) failed to realize the decision was a double-edged sword. (Note to Doug: Perhaps you should rethink your mentoring skills.)
Fifth, regardless of what is alleged about Mark Epstein speaking with anyone about his wife’s pre-conversion sin, the ethically and morally-challenged girlie men at TOTC and SFU are liable for what they wrote. There is no clergy privilege extended to them, which is why they lurk in the shadows and refuse to identify themselves. Furthermore, since Doug Phillips or one of his deacons relayed some details to the boys at TOTC/SFU, which were not known by the church membership at large, Phillips and/or his deacons are no longer insulated by clergy privilege, as indicated by the very same Texas Supreme Court decision that Renaud worshiped ad nauseum. Now does everyone understand why these punks won’t “man up”? It’s because Phillips has his carnitas on the line! Yes, legal discovery is a beautiful thing, and Phillips is a moral coward as much as he is a bully and ecclesiastical tyrant.
Sixth, Phillips has consistently attempted to intimidate the Epsteins (and others) with his legal gamesmanship. Unfortunately for Doug, there are a number of lawyers in this country with far superior legal skills who would be more than willing to take Doug on in the court room. For example, Phillips can make any allegation he wants concerning “tortious business interference,” but if Vision Forum was already in the “red” before the Epsteins began blogging, too bad, so sad, Phillips has no case. Yes, once again, discovery is a beautiful thing. Can anyone say “disbarment proceedings should be initiated”?
Seventh, the only people who have shown restraint are the Epsteins. This is evidenced in their writings that are dominated by a spirit of love for Phillips and the members of BCA, while we see the very opposite (hate) from all of those associated with the Phillips camp. The Epsteins also know who all the authors are at TOTC/SFU, and they have refrained from suing them and Phillips. Mark has also asked me not to reveal their identities, as I originally planned to do on Labor Day 2007.
Eighth, Phillips is now taking flak from other Christians about his unbiblical “tenets of patriarchy.” Contemporary orthodox members of the Reformed community view adding to, subtracting from, dividing, and multiplying as the basic lens through which we view and identify cults. Since Phillips’ tenets of patriarchy are unsupportable biblically, then we can only conclude that Phillips adds to the Holy Scriptures. Thus, if the cult shoe fits, Phillips needs to wear it.
Ninth, hiding behind others and their attacks on the Epsteins is the mark of a political operative, not a Christian shepherd. Phillips still must wear the moniker of “self-proclaimed” as it refers to his pastoring of BCA, and he still must wear the badge of shame associated with operating a dirty political smear campaign that targeted the Epsteins. Those who support Phillips ought to hang their heads in shame as well. Can anyone say “Phillips and the membes of BCA need to repent”?
Lastly, Phillips and his hate mongers will most likely never repent. Thus, we turn them over to God for His righteous vengeance on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Epstein, their children, and the many others Phillips has trampled upon over the years. And, whether or not we see His judgment and punishment in this lifetime, we can all rest assured that Doug and Beall Phillips, Matt and Jennie Chancey, Geoff Botkin, Kevin Swanson, the girlie men at TOTC/SFU, Bob Renaud, the voting members of BCA, Bob Welch, Richard and Reba Short, the unnamed “supreme court justice,” Chris Ortiz, James MacDonald, certain elders at Faith Presbyterian Church, Little Bear Wheeler, the co-elders of Living Water Fellowship, Wesley Strackbein, Gavino and Ruth Perez, the “christian” attorneys involved with the Joe Taylor “mediation,” and others who will remain unnamed (at this point) will receive their due from an infinitely Holy and Just God.
Praise be to God!
Todd “The Moderator” Cates
August 26, 2007
One of the biggest farces in recent memory is the war no drugs, particularly the war on drugs in Muslim states and enclaves.
As recently as the mid to late nineties, our government was well aware of the connectedness of Muslim drug crops being used to finance radical Jihadists and their Islamofascist attacks throughout the Western world. Even before we sent the US Armed Forces into Kosovo to protect the Muslims against the so-called evil Serbs, the pipeline of dope was well established between Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the follow-on pipeline to the most radical Islamic states.
Today, the drug-financed Jihadist terror continues unabated in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as providing financing for Al Qaeda’s far-flung operations throughout the world. Thus, from the President on down, the American people are consistently lied to with the assistance of the DEA, the American military, and the main stream media (MSM) - including the New York Times whose article on the Taliban narco operation appears below.
Until our political structure is accountable to the people, its subordinate entities (e.g., the DEA, US military, State Department, etc.), and the MSM will continue to perpetuate the lies that Muslims (1) worship the same God as Christians, (2) live alcohol and drug-free lives, (3) are overwhelmingly “moderate,” and (4) the Jihadists rely on rich financiers (e.g. bin Laden) to support their worldwide network of terror. The truth is far different and our federal government knows it.
August 26, 2007
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, Aug. 25 — Afghanistan produced record levels of opium in 2007 for the second straight year, led by a staggering 45 percent increase in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province, according to a new United Nations survey to be released Monday.
The report is likely to touch off renewed debate about the United States’ $600 million counternarcotics program in Afghanistan, which has been hampered by security challenges and endemic corruption within the Afghan government.
“I think it is safe to say that we should be looking for a new strategy,” said William B. Wood, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, commenting on the report’s overall findings. “And I think that we are finding one.”
Mr. Wood said the current American programs for eradication, interdiction and alternative livelihoods should be intensified, but he added that ground spraying poppy crops with herbicide remained “a possibility.” Afghan and British officials have opposed spraying, saying it would drive farmers into the arms of the Taliban.
While the report found that opium production dropped in northern Afghanistan, Western officials familiar with the assessment said, cultivation rose in the south, where Taliban insurgents urge farmers to grow poppies.
Although common farmers make comparatively little from the trade, opium is a major source of financing for the Taliban, who gain public support by protecting farmers’ fields from eradication, according to American officials. They also receive a cut of the trade from traffickers they protect.
In Taliban-controlled areas, traffickers have opened more labs that process raw opium into heroin, vastly increasing its value. The number of drug labs in Helmand rose to roughly 50 from 30 the year before, and about 16 metric tons of chemicals used in heroin production have been confiscated this year.
The Western officials said countrywide production had increased from 2006 to 2007, but they did not know the final United Nations figure. They estimated a countrywide increase of 10 to 30 percent.
The new survey showed positive signs as well, officials said.
The sharp drop in poppy production in the north is likely to make this year’s countrywide increase smaller than the growth in 2006. Last year, a 160 percent increase in Helmand’s opium crop fueled a 50 percent nationwide increase. Afghanistan produced a record 6,100 metric tons of opium poppies last year, 92 percent of the world’s supply.
Here in Helmand, the breadth of the poppy trade is staggering. A sparsely populated desert province twice the size of Maryland, Helmand produces more narcotics than any country on earth, including Myanmar, Morocco and Colombia. Rampant poverty, corruption among local officials, a Taliban resurgence and spreading lawlessness have turned the province into a narcotics juggernaut.
Poppy prices that are 10 times higher than those for wheat have so warped the local economy that some farmhands refused to take jobs harvesting legal crops this year, local farmers said. And farmers dismiss the threat of eradication, arguing that so many local officials are involved in the poppy trade that a significant clearing of crops will never be done.
American and British officials say they have a long-term strategy to curb poppy production. About 7,000 British troops and Afghan security forces are gradually extending the government’s authority in some areas, they said. The British government is spending $60 million to promote legal crops in the province, and the United States Agency for International Development is mounting a $160 million alternative livelihoods program across southern Afghanistan, most of it in Helmand.
Loren Stoddard, director of the aid agency’s agriculture program in Afghanistan, cited American-financed agricultural fairs, the introduction of high-paying legal crops and the planned construction of a new industrial park and airport as evidence that alternatives were being created.
Mr. Stoddard, who helped Wal-Mart move into Central America in his previous posting, predicted that poppy production had become so prolific that the opium market was flooded and prices were starting to drop. “It seems likely they’ll have a rough year this year,” he said, referring to the poppy farmers. “Labor prices are up and poppy prices are down. I think they’re going to be looking for new things.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Stoddard and Rory Donohoe, the director of the American development agency’s Alternative Livelihoods program in southern Afghanistan, attended the first “Helmand Agricultural Festival.” The $300,000 American-financed gathering in Lashkar Gah was an odd cross between a Midwestern county fair and a Central Asian bazaar, devised to show Afghans an alternative to poppies.
Under a scorching sun, thousands of Afghan men meandered among booths describing fish farms, the dairy business and drip-irrigation systems. A generator, cow and goat were raffled off. Wizened elders sat on carpets and sipped green tea. Some wealthy farmers seemed interested. Others seemed keen to attend what they saw as a picnic.
When Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Donohoe arrived, they walked through the festival surrounded by a three-man British and Australian security team armed with assault rifles. “Who won the cow? Who won the cow?” shouted Mr. Stoddard, 38, a burly former food broker from Provo, Utah. “Was it a girl or a guy?”
After Afghans began dancing to traditional drum and flute music, Mr. Donohoe, 29, from San Francisco, briefly joined them.
Some Afghans praised the fair’s alternatives crops. Others said only the rich could afford them. Haji Abdul Gafar, 28, a wealthy landowner, expressed interest in some of the new ideas.
Saber Gul, a 40-year-old laborer, said he was too poor to take advantage. “For those who have livestock and land, they can,” he said. “For us, the poor people, there is nothing.”
Local officials said all the development programs would fail without improved security.
Assadullah Wafa, Helmand’s governor, said four of Helmand’s 13 districts were under Taliban control. Other officials put the number at six.
Mr. Wafa, who eradicated far fewer acres than the governor of neighboring Kandahar Province, promised to improve eradication in Helmand next year. He also called for Western countries to decrease the demand for heroin.
“The world is focusing on the production side, not the buying side,” he said.
The day after the agricultural fair, Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Donohoe gave a tour of a $3 million American project to clear a former Soviet airbase on the outskirts of town and turn it into an industrial park and civilian airport.
Standing near rusting Soviet fuel tanks, the two men described how pomegranates, a delicacy in Helmand for centuries, would be flown out to growing markets in India and Dubai. Animal feed would be produced from a local mill, marble cut and polished for construction.
“Once we get this air cargo thing going,” Mr. Stoddard said, “it will open up the whole south.”
That afternoon, they showed off a pilot program for growing chili peppers on contract for a company in Dubai. “These kinds of partnerships with private companies are what we want here,” said Mr. Donohoe, who has a Master’s in Business Administration from Georgetown University. “We’ll let the market drive it.”
As the Americans toured the farm, they were guarded by eight Afghans and three British and Australian guards. The farm itself had received guards after local villagers began sneaking in at night and stealing produce. Twenty-four hours a day, 24 Afghan men with assault rifles staff six guard posts that ring the farm, safeguarding chili peppers and other produce.
“Some people would say that security is so bad that you can’t do anything,” Mr. Donohoe said. “But we do it.”
Mr. Wafa, though, called the American reconstruction effort too small and “low quality.”
“There is a proverb in Afghanistan,” he said. “By one flower we cannot mark spring.”
August 21, 2007
In a typical reality check, the truth is revealed concerning how the military monolith speaks with the “don’t do as I do, do as I say” voice to the troops. Taking the RHIP (rank has its privileges) to a new steroid-enhanced level, the Department of Defense clearly demonstrates that its top decision makers don’t have any more understanding about operational security than they do about prosecuting the war against a crafty insurgency.
This should come as no surprise to anyone on the left or right of the political spectrum because today’s general officers are just as bad (if not worse) than GEN (Ret) Wesley “The Perfumed Prince” Clark was as the former NATO CINC. Engaging in the same level of political loyalty over loyalty to their subordinates in uniform, these GO’s have sacrificed truth for political expediency in their quest to garner then next star.
Granted, the example former SecDef Rumsfeld made of General Shinseki gave plenty for the GO’s to think about, but don’t we all have to wonder if some of these “leaders” ever came under enemy fire? If they could withstand the fear associated with seeing the elephant, why are they so cowardly now?
A serious question indeed.
For years, the military has been warning that soldiers’ blogs could pose a security threat by leaking sensitive wartime information. But a series of online audits, conducted by the Army, suggests that official Defense Department websites post material far more potentially harmful than anything found on a individual’s blog.
The audits, performed by the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell between January 2006 and January 2007, found at least 1,813 violations of operational security policy on 878 official military websites. In contrast, the 10-man, Manassas, Virginia, unit discovered 28 breaches, at most, on 594 individual blogs during the same period.
“It’s clear that official Army websites are the real security problem, not blogs,” said EFF staff attorney Marcia Hofmann. “Bloggers, on the whole, have been very careful and conscientious. It’s a pretty major disparity.”
The findings stand in stark contrast to Army statements about the risks that blogs pose.
“Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information to internet websites and blogs,” then-Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker wrote in a 2005 memo. “Such OPSEC (operational security) violations needlessly place lives at risk.” That same year, commanders in Iraq ordered (.pdf) troops to register their blogs “with the unit chain of command.”
Originally formed in 2002 to police official Defense Department websites (.mil), the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell, or AWRAC, expanded its mission in 2005. A handful of military bloggers, including then-Spec. Colby Buzzell, were seen as providing too many details of firefights in Iraq. Buzzell, for one, was banned from patrols and confined to base after one such incident, and AWRAC began looking for others like him on blogs and .com sites.
But AWRAC hunted for more than overly vivid battle descriptions. It scoured pages for all kinds of information: personal data, like home addresses and Social Security numbers; restricted and classified documents; even pictures of weapons. When these violations were found, AWRAC contacted the webmaster or blog editor, and asked that they change their sites.
“Big Brother is not watching you, but 10 members of a Virginia National Guard unit might be,” an official Army news story warned bloggers.
Within the Army, some worried that the blog-monitoring had compromised AWRAC’s original goal.
“My suspicion … is that the AWRAC’s attention is being diverted by the new mission of reviewing all the Army blogs,” reads an e-mail (.pdf) from the office of the Army Chief Information Officer obtained in EFF’s FOIA lawsuit. “In the past they did a good job of detecting and correcting (website policy compliance) violations, but that is currently not the case.”
On one blog, AWRAC found photos showing bomb damage to a Humvee; on another, a description of a mountain near a base in Afghanistan; on a third, a video about “morale concerning incoming mortar.” AWRAC discovered a secret presentation on the official, unclassified Army Knowledge Online network. It found a map of an Army training center in Texas on a second .mil site. A “colonel’s wife’s maiden name” was caught on a third.
The documents unearthed by the EFF also show that AWRAC’s investigations may have been meant to discourage any Army blogging — not just correct security flaws. One soldier-blogger noted that “The DoD (Department of Defense) is cracking down … and I wouldn’t be able to continue blogging.” AWRAC’s internal response: “The word is getting out.”
“I won’t be blogging anything cool probably while we’re here,” another soldier wrote. “I remember really enjoying a few blogs at the beginning of the war, but they were pushing the limits a little bit on OPSEC and I don’t plan to get anywhere near those limits.” AWRAC’s answer: “GO ARMY!”
The AWRAC monitoring is part of an ongoing struggle in the military over digital media. To some, these new forms of communications are security risks waiting to happen. Others welcome soldiers posting to blogs, online video sites and social networks as information warfare, combating a wave of Islamist propaganda online.
This spring, the Army released stringent new rules (.pdf) telling soldiers to stop posting to blogs without first clearing the content with a superior officer. “Personal websites of individual Soldiers (to include web logs or ‘blogs’) are a potentially significant vulnerability,” Army Regulation 530-1 noted.
The guidelines’ author, Major Ray Ceralde, cited the Pentagon’s take-out pizza orders as an example of potentially damaging information that a blog might leak. Days later, the Army issued a “fact sheet” which seemed to back away from the rules — without officially retracting them.
The overlapping guidelines created a climate of confusion for soldier-bloggers. Sgt. Edward Watson, a blogger currently deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad, was threatened by his company’s commander for perceived transgressions of the blog policies.
“They wanted to give me an Article 15 (non-judicial punishment) for a regulation I was clueless about, and they never brief anyone about starting or running blogs,” Sgt. Watson told Wired News in an e-mail. He was eventually allowed to keep his website — after removing some of the more detailed entries.
Overall, the new documents reveal, AWRAC found few security breaches on soldiers’ sites — at most, 28 in more than a year. That’s a fraction of the thousands of violations found on official sites.
(The precise number of breaches is unclear. In AWRAC’s presentations, numbers contradict one another, or are transposed from one month to the next. For example, AWRAC came up at different points with five separate figures for the number of .mil pages scanned in September 2006. The documents show that the number of breaches may have been as high as 4,052 on official military sites, and as low as 14 on blogs.)
To D.J. Elliott, a blogger and former intelligence officer, the statistics — however uneven — are proof that “the milblogs (military blogs) are policing their own far tighter than officialdom is.”
“Most of the milblog(er)s are there or have people close to them there,” he wrote in an e-mail to Wired News. “They maintain OPSEC because it is personal to them. Self-preservation. It is risking them and/or theirs.”
Army spokesman Gordon Van Vleet seemed to agree with that assessment. One “factor that contributes to fewer violations being found on blogs is that in general the blogger is conscientious about their duty to not provide information that could be considered an OPSEC violation,” he wrote. “Often these bloggers are stationed in the combat areas and they more than anyone understand the importance of security and the potential impact any OPSEC violations could have on themselves and their fellow Soldiers, Airmen and Marines.”
For more on this story as it develops, check in on the Wired blog Danger Room.
August 11, 2007
Seems GEN (Ret) Wesley “The Perfumed Prince” Clark is at it again. Although we can agree that Islamofascist terrorists are not Soldiers, they are not criminals either. They fall into a special category — a category that will undoubtedly be defined by the American people after the next massive Islamofascist attack on this country. Meantime, this is the latest “opinion” from a Clinton shill:
By WESLEY K. CLARK and KAL RAUSTIALA
THE line between soldier and civilian has long been central to the law of war. Today that line is being blurred in the struggle against transnational terrorists. Since 9/11 the Bush administration has sought to categorize members of Al Qaeda and other jihadists as “unlawful combatants” rather than treat them as criminals.
The federal courts are increasingly wary of this approach, and rightly so. In a stinging rebuke, this summer a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., struck down the government’s indefinite detention of a civilian, Ali al-Marri, by the military. The case illustrates once again the pitfalls of our current approach.
Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers. Under the law of war, military service members receive several privileges. They are permitted to kill the enemy and are immune from prosecution for doing so. They must, however, carefully distinguish between combatant and civilian and ensure that harm to civilians is limited.
Critics have rightly pointed out that traditional categories of combatant and civilian are muddled in a struggle against terrorists. In a traditional war, combatants and civilians are relatively easy to distinguish. The 9/11 hijackers, by contrast, dressed in ordinary clothes and hid their weapons. They acted not as citizens of Saudi Arabia, an ally of America, but as members of Al Qaeda, a shadowy transnational network. And their prime targets were innocent civilians.
By treating such terrorists as combatants, however, we accord them a mark of respect and dignify their acts. And we undercut our own efforts against them in the process. Al Qaeda represents no state, nor does it carry out any of a state’s responsibilities for the welfare of its citizens. Labeling its members as combatants elevates its cause and gives Al Qaeda an undeserved status.
If we are to defeat terrorists across the globe, we must do everything possible to deny legitimacy to their aims and means, and gain legitimacy for ourselves. As a result, terrorism should be fought first with information exchanges and law enforcement, then with more effective domestic security measures. Only as a last resort should we call on the military and label such activities “war.” The formula for defeating terrorism is well known and time-proven.
Labeling terrorists as combatants also leads to this paradox: while the deliberate killing of civilians is never permitted in war, it is legal to target a military installation or asset. Thus the attack by Al Qaeda on the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000 would be allowed, as well as attacks on command and control centers like the Pentagon. For all these reasons, the more appropriate designation for terrorists is not “unlawful combatant” but the one long used by the United States: criminal.
The second major problem with the approach of the Bush administration is that it endangers our political traditions and our commitment to liberty, and further damages America’s legitimacy in the eyes of others. Almost 50 years ago, at the height of the cold war, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “deeply rooted and ancient opposition in this country to the extension of military control over civilians.”
A great danger in treating operatives for Al Qaeda as combatants is precisely that its members are not easily distinguished from the population at large. The government wields frightening power when it can designate who is, and who is not, subject to indefinite military detention. The Marri case turned on this issue. Mr. Marri is a legal resident of the United States and a citizen of Qatar; the government contends that he is a sleeper agent of Al Qaeda. For the last four years he has been held as an enemy combatant at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C.
The federal court held that while the government can arrest and convict civilians, under current law the military cannot seize and detain Mr. Marri. Nor would it necessarily be constitutional to do so, even if Congress expressly authorized the military detention of civilians. At the core of the court’s reasoning is the belief that civilians and combatants are distinct. Had Ali al-Marri fought for an enemy nation, military detention would clearly be proper. But because he is accused of being a member of Al Qaeda, and is a citizen of a friendly nation, he should not be treated as a warrior.
Cases like this illustrate that in the years since 9/11, the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism has created more problems than it has solved. We need to recognize that terrorists, while dangerous, are more like modern-day pirates than warriors. They ought to be pursued, tried and convicted in the courts. At the extreme, yes, military force may be required. But the terrorists themselves are not “combatants.” They are merely criminals, albeit criminals of an especially heinous type, and that label suggests the appropriate venue for dealing with the threats they pose.
We train our soldiers to respect the line between combatant and civilian. Our political leaders must also respect this distinction, lest we unwittingly endanger the values for which we are fighting, and further compromise our efforts to strengthen our security.
Wesley K. Clark, the former supreme commander of NATO, is a fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles. Kal Raustiala is a law professor and the director of the Burkle Center.