Mike Swetnam

President Obama’s commitment to close Guantanamo is both stupid and based on ignorance. Let me explain.

First, Ignorance. Many claim that we need to close Guantanamo because it is a primary recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. This is totally false and clearly the argument of the ignorant who have never read any of the AQ recruiting posters or studied AQ. Just the opposite is true.

Al Qaeda’s main recruiting message has always been that the west and the USA in particular are the great Satan because we allow women to drive, read, go to school, and vote. They say we are the great Satan because we do not base our law on Sharia law. Their message is that we are the great Satan because we provide human rights based on humanity not on an Islamic theocracy.

Their recruiting message is that we are the great Satan not because we deny human rights at places like Guantanamo but because we guarantee human rights! Human rights they are opposed to.

Further, AQ’s main recruiting message also includes the idea that young Muslims can defeat this great Satan (the USA) because he/we will give up just as we did in Viet Nam and just as the Soviets did in Afghanistan. So by closing Guantanamo we will actually be proving that their recruiting message is correct! We will be, in one sense, giving up.

The existence of Guantanamo is not a recruiting aid to AQ, but closing it clearly will be.

Stupidity. It is stupid to call Guantanamo a prison in the context of USA prisons. It is a POW camp not a prison. The Al Qaeda fighters/Generals held there are not “detainees”, or prisoners, they are POWs. The prisoners are not US citizens they are the leaders and generals of a faction that we are at WAR with. It is stupid to not acknowledge the great danger of releasing the remaining Guantanamo POWs while we are still at war.

It is equally stupid to pretend this war is ending. It is just getting started!

We have released all the low level guys already. Those were the ones we thought would not go back to fight against us, yet 30% did. We kept the ones that we were sure would go and fight against us. The remaining 150 are the leaders and generals of Al Qaeda!

The remaining 150 would certainly return to the war against the US. Most have said so, forcefully, to those guarding them in Guantanamo.  They would help lead the war against us. If that doesn’t convince you, note that 72 of the 150 are from Yemen which is currently one of the two most activity AQ terror centers in the world. These 72 where/are the leaders, founders and creators of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). It would be total stupidity to release the enemy’s generals while in the middle of the war!

Defeat. Human history is well stocked with examples of world wars fought over ideologies. The ideology of the Holy Roman Empire that spawned WWI. The ideology of Fascism that brought on WWII. And now the ideology of Sharia Law vs. human rights which has embroiled us all in what is surely WWIII.

Victory will demand the same clarity and resolve that triumphed in WWI and WWII. We would never have won WWII if we stopped after the Battle of the Bulge or Midway. Just so, we will not win over extremism today if we declare victory now. There is too much yet to do.

Closing Guantanamo would be ignorance added to stupidity. Any country or government that exercises Ignorance plus Stupidity will see Defeat.

The 28th Amendment: Part 1 – The World is Watching You

Charles Mueller

In the very near future, everything you do, everything you say, and everything you think will be monitored, studied, and analyzed in order to understand what makes you ‘tick’.

Look no further than the infamous story about how Target figured out a father’s teenage daughter was pregnant before he did. By closely monitoring this young girl’s spending habits, Target was able to predict this girl was pregnant and send her coupons for diapers. This ability is not malicious in any way, it is just a new kind of creepy. It becomes a little more creepy when you realize there currently are not any rules or laws in place to protect us from someone using this same type of personal data mining to try and do something like raise your health insurance premium because your shopping habits suggest you are eating unhealthy. How exactly are we going to ensure that these capabilities are only being used to enhance our society rather than take advantage of it? Our leaders today are not taking this issue seriously and it means that we need to take matters into our own hands. A good start may to be to push for a constitutional right to own the digital information we produce (our data) when we engage with the world through the Internet.

The Internet has revolutionized how marketers and advertisers communicate their messages to individuals and consumers. This has all been enabled by the exponential increase in data produced by individuals using digital technologies like smart phones. Our every move in the digital world is tracked and the data collected by what the marketing industry calls a 3rd party data company, such as Axciom; essentially a big data crunching machine that finds patterns that help marketers and advertisers understand what makes us do the things we do. Many of us have no idea we are opting in to this type of profiling nor do we care because often it is used to sell us things that we believe we want.

The digital technologies that make it all possible will continue to evolve and this type of individual targeting will become easier as more users wear their devices.  Big data is no longer just assisting marketers; it is defining how they approach their jobs. How will the world change when big data can be used to create targeted, personalized digital content in real-time? How far away is a future where my commute to work is so well analyzed by big data companies that they can generate and deliver messages at the most opportune times to get me to buy Starbucks coffee instead of Dunkin Donuts?

It will be an incredible power to be able to deliver an optimized message that makes an individual “act” in response to receiving that message. Who decides what messages are sent through all the various digital platforms that are becoming more ubiquitous in our lives? We have already seen the influence big data and social media can have on a presidential election. Will future presidents be elected because they literally raised the most money? Will access to my thoughts simply be granted to the highest bidder? Who is making sure those watching and studying my digital life are using that information for things that are in my best interest?

The role of the government is and has always been to protect its citizens’ rights. In the digital future, the most precious trait of the citizen may be their data. Ensuring that individuals have a constitutional right to own their data could be a way to protect consumers from potential practices of malicious real-time big data analysis. Data ownership will only make it easier to take advantage of the current methods that allow users to opt in or opt out of the powerful targeting mechanisms continually being developed. Having the power to share your data with certain companies could become a type of voting system; you share your data with companies who use it to enhance your experiences and deny it to those who do not.

The digital age is rapidly evolving and the agencies that historically advise Congress on issues regarding consumer protection still have not figured out how to properly respond. We need leaders who understand this and are willing to create policies that protect us. Establishing the ownership of digital data to the citizen is a potential step in the right direction. The 28th Amendment to the Constitution should state that we have the right to own our data.