At the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, there exists a highly classified airline with a fleet of passenger aircraft that the military owns. It commenced operations in 1972 and was operated by defense contractors that played a key role in the development of nuclear weapons. The airline currently operates out of a private terminal, and the public knows very little about it. They, however, unofficially refer to it as “Janet”. This is because “Janet” is the callsign that the pilots use to identify their aircraft over air traffic radio.
On October 26th, 2001, George W. Bush signed into law The Patriot Act, which was written in the wake of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and has been obscuring the rights of American and foreign citizens ever since. The Patriot Act is a “security law” which tremendously broadened the search and surveillance powers of the United States government, allowing law enforcement to access the emails, phone calls, browsing history, and spending habits of private citizens all in the name of counter-terrorism. According to the United States government, the future possibility of danger outweighs the ongoing and present subjugation of the rights to privacy and personal autonomy.
To restrict any citizen’s freedoms requires a very good reason, and for some, the “threat of terrorism” is enough. But with this agreed idea in mind, a few things need to be at the forefront of the conversation. Is there a clear and present danger relating to terrorism which is persistent enough to warrant the restriction of rights? Is the possibility of an attack enough to warrant the restriction of rights? Does The Patriot Act work in practice? And is The Patriot Act moral in theory?
By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
From its inception in 550 B.C., the Persian Empire reigned with fervor and might. The Persians carved out their territory that would expand across major parts of Eurasia, keeping the Greeks at bay, as well as other nations in pursuit of their own place in history. Ever since the first establishment of the Persian Nation-State, they have had to fight off other nations and were influenced by them. The biggest change first occurred in 637 A.D. when Persia fell into the hands of the nomadic Arabs at the Battle of Kadisiya which is close to the Euphrates River. Once the Arabs took hold of the Persian Empire, they brought with them Islam and Arabic, which forever changed the Persian language and religion casting out most Zoroastrian practices. Zoroastrianism was not only the main Persian religion of choice, but it is often considered the first monotheistic religion of the world. After a long period of delegation, finding peace under the new regime and identity of the Persian Empire, in 1722 Afghan rebels had a degree of conflict with the Persian Empire, and they pursued the capturing of Isfahan. This seizing of a major city led the way for Russia and Turkey to also plunder their way through Persia, and by 1724 the Russians and Turks split the spoils among their militaries and elite.
By the 1800s to mid-1900s, the British and Americans had tight economic and personal relations with Persia. Although the British and Americans were both there to better petroleum and crude business in their favor, it was only the Brits that were seen as adversaries while the Americans were generally seen in favor by the Persian people. This was surely well-established when many Americans who were living in Persia in the early 1900s fought along the Persians’ and their rights in the Persian Constitutional Revolution from 1905 to 1911.
As quoted in the book, All the Shah’s Men, one person wrote, “…The American contribution to the improvement and, it was felt, the dignity of our impoverished, strife-torn country had gone far beyond their small numbers…Without attempting to force their way of life on people or convert us to their religion, they had learned Persian and started schools, hospitals, and medical dispensaries all over…” They went on to say, “The dedication of these exemplary men and women was not the only reason many Iranians admired the United States. American officials had spoken out to defend Iran’s rights. The United States sharply criticized the 1919 Anglo-Persian Agreement through which Britain acquired colonial powers in Iran.”
“That same year at Versailles, President Woodrow Wilson was the only world leader who supported Iran’s unsuccessful claim for monetary compensation from Britain and Russia for the effects of their occupation during World War I. In the mid-1920s an American envoy in Tehran was able to report that ‘Persians of all classes still have unbounded confidence in America.'” Of course, needless to say, it was also the US President, Woodrow Wilson, who would, unfortunately, lead America out of a more non-interventionist leaning foreign policy, into a hawkish mentality of a pursuit of war and control in the world from WWI to his constant concern for control over the Middle East. To this day, his policies plague American politics creating countless numbers of problems for the US and the world in an onslaught of political blowback.
In 1935, with relations with and influence from Nazi Germany, Persia’s name was changed to ‘Iran.’ This was a cognate of the word ‘Aryan,’ as the Nazis were in pursuit of the origins of the actual Aryan nation of people, and Persia’s leader, Reza Shah, wanted to establish good relations with the growing German powers. Not only was this a means of changing the direction of the Persian nation, but it was also a way of aligning with the Nazis against the British and Russians who had plundered their land for well over a century. This allegiance to Nazi Germany would prove tragic for Iran in WWII, as in 1941, the Anglo-Soviet Allies invaded and ensured the Nazis could not keep reign over the region.
With growing tensions over the following ten years from the British setting up the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also in 1935, Persians’ boiling tempers over increased economic struggles, and the ongoing introduction and implementation of Socialism, after also being struck left and right by the British, Americans, Russians, Turks, Afghans, and others, Iran voted to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The name was then changed to the National Iranian Oil Company. This, then, led to Mohammad Reza Shah officially signing the 1951 declaration that the State was the sole owner of the company, and put Mossadegh as Iran’s Prime Minister.
Mossadegh’s office prompted news outlets around the world to respond and criticize from various perspectives. The British press criticized Mossadegh for being like Robespierre, very Socialistic in a negative way, after Iran essentially stole the company rights. While the US, on the other hand, praised Mossadegh for being like Thomas Jefferson freeing Iran from the British as Jefferson helped to free America from the British. Although, the British interpretation of the events was probably more accurate than the Americans’, both the British and the US colluded together in 1953 to overthrow Mossadegh and return the Shah.
In 1953, the CIA and Britain’s M16 staged a coup in Iran to overthrow Mossadegh because it was clearly evident that he was attempting to allow the Soviets into Iran instead of the Western Allies. The US policy at the time, the Truman Doctrine, stated that the US would come to the aid and defense of any people threatened by Communism. Mossadegh’s introduction of disorder within Iran was eventually the downfall of the Shah and allowed Socialists and Communists to infiltrate Iran ever since.
Iran has been continuously influenced by the outside world in that it has lost most of its military capabilities coming from the 5th largest military power in the world and then losing most of it all by the early 1980s after the Iran-Iraq war. Iran now continues to seek to create nuclear weaponry in order to better negotiate their place in the world and to possibly end many of the sanctions put on them by the US. The US and Iran used to have very good relations and diplomacy prior to the end of the Shah’s reign.
Today, Iranian leaders continue to utilize Diversionary War Theory “which states that leaders who are threatened by domestic turmoil occasionally initiate an international conflict in order to shift the nation’s attention away from internal troubles.” Many of the economic difficulties are not only due to the government seizing companies especially in the oil and natural gas industries, but also the sanctions brought on by the US. So, it is not as obvious that leaders in Iran are attempting to divert the attention of the economic struggles of Iran, rather there is some justification for their anger towards the US.
Iran’s justified anger with the US was initiated by the US’ infiltration and establishment of Mohammad Reza Shah and continued acts of aggression such as severe economic and travel sanctions, and completely encircling Iran with US military bases and battleships. Furthermore, since the US has now backed out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal that was being led by the Obama administration, Trump’s administration will most likely be reimplementing these heavy economic and travel sanctions, along with several others that are surely to assist in the near total destruction of Iran.
This, of course, is not to suggest that Iran is completely innocent. Iran has innumerable cases of human rights violations and a severally corrupt government which allows paying one’s way out of crimes and completely undermining the private sector as the Iranian government has the power to seize and control privately owned companies at near whim.
Overall, Iran has been shaped, influenced, benefited, and harmed by the international community from almost the beginning. The strife caused through interventionist policies of outside nations and States has also prompted internal domestic conflicts and turmoil for Iran. These instances of influence have led to destabilization and the pessimistic future for Iran. Although Iran has done everything they believed possible to leverage their negotiations by building nuclear weapons and attempting a Nuclear Deal with the US, unfortunately it has thus far failed. Iran’s past one hundred years has already been filled with chaos and confusion, surely the next one hundred will be the same as long as countries outside of Iran continue to intervene and act in hostility towards them; and if Iran continues to violate the rights of individuals within their borders, there is no hope for Iran as a country.
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By Andrew Lepore | United States
In March, with Mike Pompeo‘s promotion to Secretary of State, President Trump appointed Gina Haspel, a lifelong covert agent, to CIA director. With the news came both praise and condemnation.
Many saw Haspel As the perfect choice for the new CIA director, Due to her determination, set of skills, and career of achievements. She joined the CIA in 1985 and was deployed in dozens of countries across the globe. Many also thought it would be good for Trump’s imagine to nominate the first female CIA director.
Her career, yet impressive, was rife with controversy. In 2002, She ran a CIA enhanced interrogation black site in Thailand. There have also been reports that Haspel herself took a lead role in the torture. The common methods of CIA “enhanced interrogation” include waterboarding (simulated drowning), sleep deprivation, and beatings, stress positions (like being shackled to the ceiling or intervals of up to 5 months) and most disturbingly rectal feeding.
Even more disturbingly, in 2005, Haspel was involved in a collusion to destroy tapes of the torture sessions she was involved in. Now just in time for her nomination hearing, as if in a scene from House of Cards, the CIA declassified information clearing Haspel of any wrong fling, claiming she “acted appropriately” in the destruction of the tapes.
Also, Haspel has pledged that if elected, she would not reinstate the CIA torture program. But should we trust her? The Agency has been caught lying to the Congress and falsifying information many times. I don’t see any reason why a possible director grasping for power would have any qualms about lying
In 2001, 15 days after the 9/11, former CIA director George Tenet made a brazen claim that was determined to be false information. He testified to Congress that Iraq was providing funding and weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda.
In 2007, former director Michael Hayden lied to a Sense committee about virtually every aspect of the torture program itself, Providing “Extensively inaccurate information”.
And in 2009, The CIA completely fabricated The results of its torture program in the sit down with former President Obama’s national security team.
I don’t see any reason why a possible director grasping for power would have any qualms about lying especially now. Only time will tell how this will play out. Though considering Trump encouraged the use of torture during the campaign trail, it is a real possibility the program could be reinstated. Only time will tell.
By James Sweet III | United States
Rand Paul has been described as a liberty-loving, charismatic, honest man, paving the way for small government in the United States Senate. From filibustering the Patriot Act renewal to live-tweeting his reading of the most recent omnibus spending bill, it is safe to say that many describe the senator accurately. He has caused great anger among establishment Republicans (for good reason) by disobeying their partisan politics. Sadly, he is human, and humans make mistakes. He voted in favor of a positive report for Mike Pompeo, who is now the new Secretary of State. This was a blatant betrayal of the ground he and many of his supporters stood on.
Senator Paul openly stood against the nomination of Mike Pompeo, with the former CIA Director’s statements on striking Iran being a main concern for the senator, and rightfully so. Secretary Pompeo has also stated in a CBS interview that “make no mistake about it, we are doing things today that the CIA was not doing a year ago, and there’s more risk attached to those.” Expanding the surveillance state is something that Rand Paul stands against, and he knew that Mike Pompeo was okay with expanding it. Yet, he still decided to change his mind and vote in favor of Mike Pompeo.
Senator Paul tweeted his decision to vote in favor of Pompeo.
Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State.
Senator Rand Paul
He was assured that Mike Pompeo believed the Iraq War was a mistake. It’s great knowing that the Secretary recognizes the mistakes made in the past. However, it means nothing if he believes in striking Iran or expanding harsh tactics before diplomacy. After all, the Secretary of State is one of the leading diplomats of the nation.
Senator Paul wasn’t the only senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that betrayed us that day. Senator Chris Coons is a Democrat, and initially followed in with his party, voting against Mike Pompeo in the committee. However, with Rand Paul voting in favor of Pompeo, and one senator absent, the vote was now 10-10. The missing senator was a Republican, but was busy at a funeral, speaking at it.
The committee could’ve waited until the senator returned, with his vote being the tiebreaker, but Senator Coons decided to not wait. He announced to the Committee he would abstain if a second vote occurred. Of course, due to this announcement, a second vote did occur. The new tally: 10 in the affirmation, 9 in the negation, 1 abstention. Because of this “bipartisan” move, the Senate gave Pompeo a positive report, enabling his senate confirmation.
Senator Rand Paul voted a war-hawk into the position of Secretary of State, and Senator Chris Coons compromised his principles and policies for a quicker and easier process for someone he disagreed with. It is disappointing to see that two Senators compromised their beliefs due to outside pressure to do so.