Thursday ReadsPosted: March 31, 2011 Filed under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Central Intelligence Agency, Democratic Politics, Diplomacy Nightmares, executive orders, Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Libya, MENA, morning reads, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: CIA, death anxiety, evolution, General Electric, intelligent design, Jeffrey Immelt, Libya uprising, Moammar Gaddafi, progs, Quinnipiac poll, Russ Feingold, the Super-Rich 40 Comments
Good Morning!! Here are the stories that caught my eye this morning.
Reuters: Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.
Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.
Washington Post: In Libya, CIA is gathering intelligence on rebels
The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.
The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.
Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.
I can’t imagine why anyone would be surprised that the CIA is involved in Libya (they are everywhere). But the progs are looking down their noses in strong disapproval.
Emptywheel: Where Will Obama Try Himself for Material Support for Terrorism?
After all, according to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project any help to a terrorist group–even counseling on how to make peace–is material support. And no matter how we try to spin arming rebels as an act of peace, it’s a good deal more help than legal counsel.
And, as the DC Circuit’s decision yesterday in Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman’s habeas suit makes clear, it’s not enough for a person to stop associating with al Qaeda in the 1990s, nor does the government need any real evidence of a tie between someone in al Qaeda’s vicinity to claim that person is a member of al Qaeda.
Glenn Greenwald: The wisdom and legality of arming Libyan rebels
Then there’s the question of the legality of arming Libyan troops. Salon’s Justin Elliott reported on Monday that the administration was actively considering arming the rebels despite an absolute arms embargo imposed by U.N. Resolution 1970 (“imposing an arms embargo on the country”). Today, The Guardian elaborates by citing numerous legal experts insisting that it would be a violation of the U.N. Resolution for the U.S. to arm the rebels. For its part, the U.S. insists that it is legally entitled to do so, with Hillary Clinton announcing that the arms embargo has been “overriden” by the broad mandate of U.N. Resolution 1973, allowing “all necessary measures” to be used to protect Libyan civilians.
On the strictly legal issue, this seems to be a close question. Can the specific arms embargo really be “overriden” by a general clause allowing the protection of civilians? That seems redolent of the Bush arguments that specific prohibitions in the law (such as the ban on warrantless eavesdropping) were “overriden” by the broad war powers assigned by the AUMF. More to the point, can it really be said that arming Libyan rebels is necessary for the protection of civilians? That sounds much more like what one does to help one side win a civil war.
I don’t know, and I admit I don’t like the idea of this action in Libya expanding too far. I remember when Reagan armed the “Contras.” Of course back in those days we were arming right-wing groups and the US was involved in countless human rights violations. In Libya, the opposition forces are trying to depose a genuinely evil dictator who has been involved in terrorist attacks.
But here’s my question: why don’t the progs convince the guy they supported to get us the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan? They wanted this guy, they forced him on us, and now they’re whining. and what are they doing to find a decent alternative? A big nothing.
I’m not going to be happy if we get involved in a ground war in Libya or anywhere else, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost ten years!
Raw Story: Most Americans think Obama does not deserve re-election, according to new poll
Obama’s approval rating is also at its lowest point ever, at 42 percent, while his disapproval rating rose from earlier in the month to a new high of 48 percent.
A similar Quinnipiac poll published March 3 found President Obama with 46 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.
In that earlier poll, voters also split on whether Obama deserves reelection, with 47 percent saying yes and 45 percent saying no.
The latest poll reflects the president’s sliding fortunes in other studies, with a full 50 percent now saying that he does not deserve to stay in office beyond 2012.
The big problem with this is that the Republicans are bound to nominate someone who is to the right of Atilla the Hun and about as crazy and unempathetic as Muammar Gaddafi. I refuse to vote for Obama, but what if we end up with Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee as President?
Anyway, the Tea Party’s polls are in the crapper along with Obama’s.
Just 32 percent of respondents viewed the tea party favorably, while a record-high 47 percent had a negative view of the movement that propelled Republicans to dramatic Congressional victories last November. Fourteen percent had no opinion, and 7 percent said they’ve never heard of the tea party.
I sure hope the Congresspeople find out about that.
Russ Feingold doesn’t think Jeffrey Immelt is a very good jobs czar. No kidding, lol.
Feingold’s new group, Progressives United, is set to launch a new campaign to pressure General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness. Feingold’s campaign — which I’m told will be joined by Move On later today — is based on two pieces of news that, Feingold says, render Immelt unfit for the gig of Obama jobs chief: GE paid no American taxes in 2010; and Immelt’s compensation doubled .
In an email to members of his new group, Feingold will argue that if Immelt doesn’t step down, Obama should fire him, arguing that Dems need to stop coddling corporations whose behavior undermines our economy:
I’ve got a couple of semi-humorous stories to get your mind off all the bad news. Get out your tiny violin. Did you know that the super-rich are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives?
The Atlantic: Secret Fears of the Super-Rich
Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.
Awwwww. Too bad, so sad. Then give your money away to people who actually need it, why don’t you. And then get a real job.
Raw Story: Death anxiety linked to acceptance of intelligent design: study
Research conducted at the University of British Columbia and Union College found that people’s death anxiety was associated with support of intelligent design and rejection of evolutionary theory.
Death anxiety also influenced those in the study to report an increased liking for Michael Behe, a prominent proponent of intelligent design, and an increased disliking for Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist.
The findings suggest that people are motivated to believe in intelligent design and doubt evolutionary theory because of unconscious psychological motives.
Okay, time out. Because? No. This is a correlational study, and as we all should have learned long ago, Correlation does not equal causation.
The study was lead by UBC Psychology Assistant Professor Jessica Tracy and and UBC psychology PhD student Jason Martens. It was published in the March 30 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.
“Our results suggest that when confronted with existential concerns, people respond by searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” Tracy said. “For many, it appears that evolutionary theory doesn’t offer enough of a compelling answer to deal with these big questions.”
There are a lot of variables unaccounted for in this description of the study. Maybe death anxiety is just associated with fundamentalist Christianity. I guess I could look up the study and see what the findings really were… But I probably won’t.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?