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September 07 2013

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon
By M K Bhadrakumar , 4 septembre 2013

A leading international authority on the subject, Professor Jack Goldsmith at the Harvard Law School (who previously served as US Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and also as Special Counsel to the Department of Defense, apart from being a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law) warned on Sunday, “There is much more here [in the proposed AUMF] than at first meets the eye.”

In a detailed commentary for the Lawfare journal, the professor wrote:

It [AUMF] authorizes the President to use any element of the US Armed Forces and any method of force. It does not contain specific limits on targets - either in terms of the identity of the targets (eg the Syrian government, Syrian rebels, Hezbollah, Iran) or the geography of the targets.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to take sides in the Syrian Civil War, or to attack Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, or to remove Assad from power? Yes, as long as the President determines that any of these entities has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and that the use of force against one of them would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons. It is very easy to imagine the President making such determinations with regard to Assad or one or more of the rebel groups.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon ? Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and the use of force against Iran or Hezbollah would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.

The proposed Syrian AUMF is worth a lot, for it would (in sum) permit the President to use military force against any target anywhere in the world (including Iran or Lebanon) as long as the President, in his discretion, determines the target has a connection to WMD in the Syrian civil war and the use of force has the purpose of preventing or deterring (broad concepts) the use or proliferation of WMDs in, to, or from Syria, or of protecting the US and its allies from the mere threat (again, a broad concept) of use or proliferation of WMDs connected to the Syrian conflict.

Congress needs to be careful about what it authorizes. [Italics as in original text.]

September 04 2013

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Cette version du texte remplacerait celle envoyée au Congrès par la Maison Blanche samedi, et qui était considérée comme donnant trop de latitude au président.

Pas tout à fait selon le site Lawfare,

Lawfare › The Senate Draft AUMF for Syria is Narrower Than the Administration’s Draft, But Still Broad In Some Respects

Th[e] language is narrower than the administration’s draft.  It limits the use of force to “targets in Syria,” and has a more narrowly tailored purpose.  It would not give congressional sanction to the use of force outside of Syria (in, for example, Iran or Lebanon).  It would, however, authorize attacks on the Syrian command hierarchy in Syria, all the way up to Assad himself, as long as the President determined such attacks to be “necessary and appropriate” to respond to and deter and degrade Syrian WMDs.  (The “limited and tailored manner” qualification is not much of a restriction, since all DOD uses of force are, under the laws of war, proportionate and discriminate, and since the President is charged with determining what is necessary and appropriate in any event.)

Ground Troops “Limitation.”  Section 3 of the draft provides: “The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”

This is a limit on the authority conferred by Congress in Section 2, and not a limit on the President’s independent constitutional power to send ground troops into Syria, even for combat purposes.  Section 3 merely says that the congressional approval of the use of presidential force in Syria does not entail approval for the use of ground troops in Syria.  But it does not speak to, much less prevent, the President from using ground troops on his own authority.

Moreover, even the ground troop limitation on Congress’s authorization contains an exception for ground troops introduced into Syria for a purpose other than “combat operations.”  In other words, Sections 2 and 3 in combination affirmatively authorize the President to introduce U.S. ground troops in Syria for non-combat purposes if he thinks they are necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of the authorization.  Section 3 is probably written this way to capture the fact DOD Special Operations Forces are being used in Syria, or will be used there, for intelligence-related and other “preparation of the battlefield” tasks.  (I imagine, but of course do not know, that this is a nod to operational reality, since DOD has probably already sent Special Operations Forces into Syria, under the President’s Article II power, to prepare the battlefield.) It is also probably meant as a carve out for search-and-rescue missions, and the like, if necessary.

July 16 2013

Russia is everywhere - dashcam use becomes ubiquitous Dashcams are those little cameras fixed…

Russia is everywhere - #dashcam use becomes ubiquitous

Dashcams are those little cameras fixed behind the windscreen which record everything in front of a car. Russian drivers desperately need them because blackmailing and abuse of traffic regulations are widespread in this slightly corrupt society.

Should I use a dashcam ?

Find out for yourself, but make sure you understand what you do. First choose one that works.


The LS300W was released in mid 2013 under the DOD brand. An identical unbranded model is sold as the GT300W by a company called TioTech. Initial impressions of this camera are excellent. Video quality during the day is very good and night quality is good as well. This dash cam utilizes Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) to improve low light video quality and it appears to be quite effective.

This dashcam comes for about 100 Euros without GPS location recording. If you just want to prove your innocence in a traffic accident, this should not be a problem.

iTracker H.264 FULL HD 1080p
This is another one but with GPS and shock-intensity recording. Choose it if you are really paranoid.

Mentioning paranoia one has to talk about privacy and legal questions of dashcam use. In Switzerland officials oppose dashcam use, in Germany and France the situation is less clear. If you are a hard-boiled privacy activist you will consider dashcam use another piece in the construction of a surveillance society where everybody is a little #NSA on his own behalf.

On the other hand you might say that dashcam recordings are ephemeral since they are automatically erased once the storage chip is full. If you consider regulations defining limits for photographers when taking pictures of people, you see that dashcams do not really create a threat to privacy. Since they have extreme wide-angle lenses that do not show people’s faces closely enough to let them obtain protection through the right to control the use of images of themselves.

Dashcam is subject of different laws and considerations depending on the intention of the camera operator. If you use them to film a ride through your beautiful city with the project to show your recording to potential visitors, the same rules apply as would to any camera crew.
If you use your dashcam for surveillance and theft-protection you have to take into account limitations governing any #CCTV system.

Last but not least one should ask whether it is really worth it contributing to the omnipresence of surveillance gear just to have an additional proof of your innocence in your next traffic accident. Don’t forget your camera will capture your next mistake as well.

Frau baut Unfall und macht dann einen auf Aggro. Wie könnte es anders sein: #Berlin-Neukölln.
Beste: „Kann alles passieren“. Ja, andauernd passieren Auffahrunfälle an roten Ampeln. Von vorne.

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