Obama’s “Strict” Standards on Civilian Deaths That Never Were

Originally posted here.

A report published last Tuesday claims that President Barack Obama’s once-strict standards regarding civilian deaths have fallen by the wayside, as US forces intensify air strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.

What is most troubling about this specific report is that it conveys the notion that President Obama’s civilian-death standards were, at one time, tight or even “strict.”

The article, originally published by Yahoo! News, affirms that the White House’s new policy can be considered less stringent than before, mostly because of its wording. The old policy outlawed US drone strikes, except in cases where there was “near certainty” civilians would not be directly affected. According to National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, this policy represented, “the highest standard we can meet,” but it does not cover current air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.

But how is that possible?

According to Hayden, the conflict between the United States and ISIS militants takes place in areas of “active hostilities.” Former standards were only applicable in areas that were not engaged in active hostility, allowing airstrikes to take place outside the established guidelines, which could save the lives of countless innocent civilians.

Does this mean Syria and Iraq are civilian-free war zones, where only militants engaging in armed struggle are currently present? Of course not, but an acknowledgement of the presence of innocent civilians would impede the Obama administration’s prevailing military efforts.

Consider the questionable US attack on the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria’s Idlib province on September 23, which claimed the lives of women and young children. The Obama administration said this particular strike targeted the so-called Khorasan group, not ISIS militants. The stated reasoning for the attack included the group’s alleged plan to attack the United States.

Even if one were to assume noble intentions for the US offensive, it has received rebuke from local rebel commanders, working in conjunction with the United States against ISIS. They claim all that was accomplished on that day was damage to US reputation and an emboldening of the Nusra Front, the al Qaeda-related Syrian rebel group.

While White House officials assert that the air strikes follow US military laws of armed conflict, the actual operators appear to target civilian areas deliberately. And what if I told you these purportedly “strict” standards have been broken repeatedly under Obama’s oversight before?

Obama’s Drone Strikes Killed Thousands in Pakistan, Yemen

The Obama administration have been known to bend their own outwardly strict standards to accomplish their war efforts.

During drone strikes against militants in Yemen and Pakistan, administration officials deemed all adult males present in targeted areas to be combatants and thus eligible for attack. Thus, they circumvented guidelines regarding how the United States counts civilian casualties.

According to recent reports, at least 2,400 people have been killed in five years of drone strikes carried out under Obama. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism claims, in Pakistan alone, between 416 and 951 civilian casualties have occurred, including roughly 200 children.

While most people killed in the attacks over the years have been alleged militants, the high civilian death count shows the United States has failed to meet her own standards.

While it’s important that the mainstream media has finally taken notice of Obama’s failure to follow US military guidelines, it’s also important to remember this is neither the first nor the last of such instances.

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They Took Their Jobs: Obama’s Crackdown on Migrant Workers

It seems like it was only yesterday that conservative politicians and media figures were showing solidarity toward refugee children stuck at the US border.

Where did all the enthusiasm go?

As the immigration reform debate appears to lose momentum, and an incongruous Congress pretends the coming election cycle is all about the Middle East, President Obama vows to use his executive power to act on the matter. President Obama’s “reforms,” however, will not bring the changes necessary to address the problems that have facilitated the increased flow of child migrants to the United States since 2012.

Read more here.

They Took Their Jobs: Obama’s Crackdown on Migrant Workers

Originally posted here.

 

It seems like it was only yesterday that conservative politicians and media figures were showing solidarity toward refugee children stuck at the US border.

Where did all the enthusiasm go?

As the immigration reform debate appears to lose momentum, and an incongruous Congress pretends the coming election cycle is all about the Middle East, President Obama vows to use his executive power to act on the matter. President Obama’s “reforms,” however, will not bring the changes necessary to address the problems that have facilitated the increased flow of child migrants to the United States since 2012.

“He Wouldn’t Have Made It without the Latino Vote”

Aside from the recent round of debate, immigration has always been asensitive issue for the Obama administration; not because the issue is particularly important to the president, but because it sounds good when he pretends to care.

During his presidency, Obama has overseen the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bully a record number of companies over their hiring practices. Under his watch, ICE has collected nearly US$13 million in fines from companies whose sole crime has been to exercise their right to hire whomever they like.

According to data provided by ICE, 250 companies were audited for hiring illegal immigrants in 2007. In 2012 alone, more than 3,000 companies were audited for the same reason.

While a practical approach to immigration law reform is more than welcome, keeping companies from hiring those who are willing to work is contributing to their failure. The mass layoffs and brushes with the law represent a major burden for medium-size firms who depend on their manpower to keep their doors open.

The Obama administration’s insistence on looking tough on immigration law enforcement has contributed directly to the shortage of US workers, which in turn, is causing great harm on real people, their businesses, and their families.

ICE Shutting Down Businesses

Polish immigrant Louis Botchman first opened his hospitality laundry business in Peeksill, New York in 1939, and it has been run by his family ever since. Now, the company faces tough days ahead if ICE finds their suspicions regarding Botchman’s hiring practices hold true. According to Louis’s son, Bruce Botchman, ICE claims 339 of his company’s 575 employees have used questionable documentation on their I-9 forms. As a result, the agency will now conduct an audit of the company.

“This could put us out of business in a few days,” said Bruce Botchman, the employer who pays an average of $10 an hour to his workers, while also providing them with health care coverage and pensions. “This is my baby, I built it. These people are my family. I was crying all weekend. I didn’t know what to do. This could be the end of me.”

Theoretically, audits are launched when companies are suspected of engaging in abuse or exploitation of workers. In 2013 alone, however, ICE audited 3,127 businesses under this pretense. With numbers like these, either US businesses became incredibly abusive toward their workers all of a sudden, or the Obama administration has a problem with immigrants who prefer to work instead of looking for government handouts.

Never Let a Good Crisis…

There’s at least one industry thriving at the expense of the influx of immigrants.

In June of 2014, the Department of Homeland Security detained 10,622unaccompanied children along the US border. In light of these reports, the federal government started to push for the establishment of privately run detention centers, with the purpose of housing young children and women attempting to cross into the United States.

The influx of migrant children prompted a boost in the industry, causing the share prices of the two major private-prison firms in the United States to shoot up. Since July 30, GEO Group’s share prices have climbed 7 percent, while Corrections Corporation of America’s share prices spiked 8.5 percent.

The swollen numbers from June were enough to prompt the White House to push a $3.7 billion project that included the building of more detention centers along the southern border. The emergency plan was not authorized by Congress, but that didn’t stop the Obama administration fromtransferring funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Coast Guard to support its plan.

In spite of the mad rush to exploit the “crisis,” the number of unaccompanied children and adults with children crossing the US borderdeclined sharply in August. Nevertheless, the White House chose to go ahead with its plan, resulting in the GEO Group extending its contract with ICE to develop more detention centers.

It is also worth noting that ICE chose to extend its contract with GEO despite the company’s dubious history in maintaining safe environments for migrants held in their facilities.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 200 allegations of sexual abuse associated with immigration detention facilities have been reported since 2007. GEO Group alone has been involved in more than 100 lawsuits regarding abuse against inmates in their many correctional facilities between 1995 and 2007.

Prohibition and Private Prisons

Only when government is involved can a private company ignore market demands and still keep its doors open.

Private correctional facilities, funded by federal tax dollars, are now in the business of holding children whose lives were turned upside down in their home countries because of the demandfor illicit drugs in the United States. Meanwhile, ICE continues to persecute countless willing workers by forcibly preventing employers from offering them jobs.

Heavy-handed intervention in private matters hurts business, employers and employees alike. Meanwhile, the war on immigrants and the war on drugs boost an industry that thrives on criminalizing people for having been born in the wrong place.

The work these agencies do represents more than a waste of taxpayer dollars; they have immeasurably damaged our economy, and will continue to do so until workers are allowed to work and employers are allowed to hire whomever they wish.