Trump: drug war general to Homeland Security

President-elect Donald Trump is reported to have named the former chief of the Pentagon's Southern Command, Gen. John Kelly, as his choice for secretary of Homeland Security. As SouthCom chief, Kelly oversaw counter-narcotics operations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean from late 2012 until his retirement in January 2016. He was a notorious hardliner, which resulted in policy clashes with President Obama, the Washington Post tells us. As Homeland Security chief, he will oversee the 20,000-strong Border Patrol, with responsibility for drug interceptions along the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico.

In May 2015, Kelly personally visited the coca-producing guerilla hotbed of the Apurímac-Ene Valley in Peru, where he was deploying Marines to train Peruvian troops in jungle warfare. He explicitly boasted that his leathernecks would bring expertise gained in Iraq and Afghanistan to share with Peruvian forces fighting insurgents and drug traffickers in the jungle valley. The deployment met with angry protests in Lima.

Kelly's bitterest clash with Obama was over his opposition to the president's plan to close the Pentagon's prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In a 2014 interview, he told the Washington Post that criticism of treatment of detainees at the camp by human rights groups was "foolishness."

Just this year, he said in reference to the Gitmo detainees: "We're the good guys—they're not. We can quibble over what they were doing on the battlefield when we took them, but every one of them is a bad guy."

There are currently some 60 detainees remaining at Gitmo, 20 of whom have been cleared for release by the Pentagon—but Republicans on Capitol Hill seek to block further transfers of the detainees to third countries, and prevent Obama from following through on his pledge to close the facility under his presidency. These intransigent Republican lawmakers definitely had a friend in Kelly, who in 2013 actually requested funds from Congress to expand the facility, on the argument that it would be open permanently. A total of 779 have been held at Gitmo since the facility was opened in the aftermath of 9-11, according to the Close Guantanmo website.

And prefiguring his Homeland Security appointment, Kelly made much about border security in Congressional testimony last year, the New York Times recalls. He waxed lurid about smuggling rings in Mexico and Central America that bring "tens of thousands of people," including unaccompanied children, "to our nation's doorstep."

"Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States," Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee. There has been endless speculation about collaboration between Middle Eastern terrorists and Latin American drug cartels to infiltrate the US homeland—but very little actual evidence.

So far, the emerging Trump cabinet is dominated by military figures. Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, a veteran Iraq and Afghanistan commander, for defense secretary. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, another ultra-hardliner and former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is named as the incoming national security adviser. Retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was mired in plenty of controversy as CIA director, is said to be under consideration for secretary of state.

Cross-post to High Times and Global Ganja Report

  1. GOP paranoids fear nuclear-cannabis terror plot

    Speaking in support of Trump's planned border wall, Rep. Trent Franks speculated that terrorists could smuggle a nuclear weapon into the US by hiding it "in a bale of marijuana." Given that cannabis itself already has to be smuggled, this makes precisely zero sense—but it hits a trifecta of anti-immigrant, anti-terrorist and anti-drug paranoia. See full story at Global Ganja Report

  2. ‘Fascist’ to Homeland Security

    New York Magazine unapologetically uses the word "fascist" to describe David Clarke, just appointed by Trump as assistant secretary of Homeland Security… 

    Clarke, a Milwaukee sheriff, rocketed into national prominence as a conservative provocateur by virtue of his rabid opposition to Black Lives Matter. Clarke is African-American, which has given him broader license to attack protesters in unbridled terms that thrill Republicans. He calls the group "Black Lies Matter," or "black slime," railing against its members as dangerous thugs. Clarke argues that not only does BLM go too far in its advocacy of criminal-justice reform, but that the cause itself is categorically illegitimate. He has lectured protesters to "stop trying to fix the police, fix the ghetto."

    …In his book, Clarke proposes that the Department of Homeland Security — the department that he has been nominated to serve — assume police-state powers to round up internal enemies. "I suggest that our commander in chief ought to utilize Article I, Section 9 and take all of these individuals that are suspected, these ones on the internet spewing jihadi rhetoric … to scoop them up, charge them with treason and, under habeas corpus, detain them indefinitely at Gitmo," he writes. Clarke estimates that the number of people to be rounded up in such fashion runs into "hundreds of thousands," or "maybe a million." Clarke is clear in his belief that the legal principles that have served as a bedrock against state abuse for centuries should be discarded. He would “hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus” because "[b]old and aggressive action is needed."

    Note that in the first quote, Clarke appears not to know what "habeas corpus" means, and seems to think it means the opposite of what it means…

    We've noted from the start that Trump's appointments bespeak concentration camps