Raids in the Night: Assaults on our Constitutional Rights

There are number of things happening in the news this week as far as our constitutional liberties and expansion of the war in Syria are concerned. Let me list a few here.

Executing a federal search warrant, the FBI raided the Manhattan office and Park Avenue hotel room of President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. The raid of Cohen’s offices it is said was in connection with Robert Mueller’s Special Council investigation of Russian Collusion. To obtain the search warrant, New York prosecutors must convince a federal judge FBI agents are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity. What information did Special Council put before the Federal Judge in the Southern District of New York to obtain the warrant? If the information used to obtain the warrant has nothing to do with the investigation of Russian Collusion then this raid is outside the scope of the Special Council’s mandate. The searches are a very aggressive move for prosecutors which normally would use a subpoena to obtain these records. This raid has some dangerous implications for attorney-client privileges. I ask the question, where is this Special Council investigation really going?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before congress today concerning how Cambridge Analytica acquired personal data from millions of Facebook users. The political data firm was hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gaining access to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica tools identified personalities of American voters in an effort to influence their behavior. This usage has turned the data world upside down. The Facebook CEO stated in his prepared statement, “Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working to understand exactly what happened with Cambridge Analytica and taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We took important actions to prevent this from happening again today four years ago, but we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”

Where was the outcry when the Obama Administration did the same exact thing?

In what the main stream media described as “the most groundbreaking piece of technology developed for the campaign,” when the Obama Administration mined Facebook user information everyone cheered. Today the Trump Administration and Cambridge Analytica are being disparaged for using the same data mining techniques. During the 2012 re-election, the Obama Administration may have mined data from 190 million Facebook users, its entire US user population. 

On 4 April, pro-Assad Air Force jets released bombs filled with chemical weapons. My first though was are these chemical weapons, which Assad has said several times he no longer possesses, the WMD we knew Saddam used on the Kurds but moved to Syria before the 2003 Iraqi Freedom invasion? One day… some day… the truth will come out about Saddam’s WMD.

My second thought focused on what our mission is in Syria. The original mission was finding, fixing, and finishing ISIS. Those objectives are coming to a close with the destruction of ISIS ability to wage their campaign of creating a caliphate. Expanding our objectives into being involved in the Syrian Civil War would be potentially hazardous.

We now wait for President Trump’s response to the use of chemical weapons by Assad forces. The Israeli Air Force visited Syria’s T4 airfield on Sunday night, using long range weapons fired over Lebanon. The IAF does have the AGM-130 rocket propelled television guided 2000 pound bomb our F-15E Strike Eagles also carry. But the Israelis now have GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb with over a 40 mile range. I honestly do not think a cruise missile strike by the US is going to happen.

After listening to Defense Secretary Mattis this morning, I think the missile strike is being vetted to see if this fits the common sense test.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.