Farmers and Shopkeepers Raise Hell in a Cow Pen

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On the morning of January 16, 1781, an independent minded New Jersey fellow named Daniel Morgan led a force of continental soldiers and militia in an orderly retreat up a muddy South Carolina wagon road, escaping the forces of British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. It had been a long war for Morgan.

 

Daniel Morgan portrait by Charles Willson Peale

General Daniel Morgan, portrait by Charles Willson Peale

As a captain in the young Continental Army, he was captured by the British in the foolish American attack on Quebec. He spent nearly two years as their prisoner before being exchanged. The British were sure that, because of his poor health, he would be no further threat to them. They miscalculated.

After his release in 1777, Morgan rejoined General Washington in New Jersey. He had been promoted to Colonel for his heroic conduct during the assault on Quebec. Washington asked him to recruit, train, and command a fast-moving force to conduct hit and run raids against the British.

Morgan was given 600 of Washington’s best men and recruited several hundred more sharpshooters for his regiment. The new group was the 11th Virginia Regiment.

Morgan and the 11th Virginia excelled in their hit and run role. They developed the tactic of finding British forces far from base and concentrating their fire against British officers. Then they repeatedly attacked the retreating and largely leaderless British force for days. Morgan and his regiment remained in frequent combat until Morgan was forced to retire in late 1779 because of severe pain.

In October of 1780, Morgan returned to service at the rank of brigadier general. He was assigned to help General Nathaniel Greene salvage the waning fortunes of the rebellion in the Southern states.

In January of 1781, Tarleton (rhymes with charlatan) was dispatched by the confident and impatient British General Cornwallis to hunt down and kill Morgan’s force before they could unite with the rebel forces under Greene.

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Cornwallis’ intelligence obtained from royalist sympathizers was that Morgan had 800 men with him, and that a third of them were untrained militia. It failed to include recent additions of North Carolina militia to Morgan’s forces, as well as the fact that some of the militia were experienced woodsmen, equipped with accurate, long range rifles.

Cornwallis ordered Tarleton to take his cavalry forces, reinforced by light infantry, in hopes that they could out-speed Morgan’s force and attack them on the march before they could retreat back to North Carolina and resupply.

Tarleton had earned the hatred of the people of the Carolinas with his practice of murdering prisoners and civilians. Murder and plunder by British forces was not the norm. Tarleton was the exception.

Morgan kept riders out to cover his retreat. He knew Tarleton’s scouts were close. Morgan was searching for a favorable position from which to conduct a defensive action against the very well-trained and well-equipped British. He came to some abandoned cow pens near the Broad River.  The muddy road was flanked by thick woods on two sides and backed by some low hills. Morgan made his stand.

Morgan organized his troops into a defensive battle formation and had them sleep in their battle positions. Morgan had listened to what the locals said about Tarleton and guessed the general would order a frontal attack as soon as he arrived in the morning.

Cornwallis and Tarleton considered the woodsmen from the Carolinas and the Virginia wilderness to be worthless. The British, like all armies of the time when on the attack, relied on close up “volley fire” to do what damage they could at close range, followed by a disciplined bayonet charge. Typically, the British cavalry attempted to exploit the weak flanks of the opposing force in order to induce a panic and rout the enemy.

Morgan ordered the best marksmen to inhabit the first row of the defensive position. Behind them, he placed two rows occupied by the bulk of the militia. These men were mostly typical militia made up of farmers, craftsmen, and merchants. Morgan placed his Continental forces on the top of the slope with one unit of Virginia militia on his left flank. He hid his cavalry on the north slope of the hill.

Tarleton camped about five miles away, and at about 3:00 a.m. on January 17, his forces cut their sleep short and proceeded north up the muddy road.

After marching five miles in the mud while the well-rested Americans enjoyed a warm breakfast and told dirty jokes about British and royalist women, the British formed up to attack Morgan. Tarleton charged with his cavalry. To his horror, he discovered that those poorly dressed civilians in the front row had rifles rather than smooth bore muskets. Worse yet, they seemed to be unusually good shots for untrained shopkeepers.

Tarleton lost several officers in the first charge. They retreated a few yards to regroup. To his relief, the first row of militia seemed to be retreating in a panic, just as militia are supposed to do. Tarleton resumed the charge and reached the second line of militia in time to discover that they had stopped their retreat and were cutting down his cavalry with deadly accurate fire.

Again, Tarleton retreated, and again he delighted to see the militia running off to Morgan’s left flank. He threw his infantry forward to attack Morgan’s center while his cavalry rode unhindered to attack Morgan’s right flank.

About that time, the unhindered flank attack became very hindered by Morgan’s cavalry as they appeared from behind the hill. Tarleton’s plans had not gone to hell in a hand-basket, but to a muddy cow pen in South Carolina.

The British and the rebels fought at close range. Tarleton ordered a retreat to regroup in a defensive disposition where he would be able to use his two light artillery pieces that sat in reserve behind his attacking force. Before the British could retreat though, something of a miracle occurred.

In what remains the finest hour in the history of what we now call the US National Guard, the militiamen who ran to the rear as instructed ignored instructions to save themselves and kept running all the way around the hill to throw themselves into Tarleton’s flank. They created the first double envelopment ever conducted by American forces. Tarleton escaped. Over 100 British were killed, and about 830 were captured. Morgan lost 12 men.

Oddly, Cornwallis did not court-martial and hang Tarleton for abandoning his men. We can only assume that Tarleton was well-connected in parliament. Cornwallis knew that he could replace his losses, but he needed to go into a defensive encampment until reinforcements and supplies arrived. Cornwallis retreated to the Virginia coast and found a perfect defensive position. Yorktown. But that’s another story for another day.

National Guard Logo

When you see the unusual National Guard symbol that looks like a farmer with a rifle rather than a well polished soldier, think of those poorly trained volunteers at the Battle of Cowpens.

Years later when recounting the battle to friends, Morgan said that he had never felt so proud of his countrymen as when he saw those farmers who should have been long gone from the battle throwing themselves into Tarleton’s flank.

The US Navy honored the Battle of Cowpens by naming a Ticonderoga class cruiser the USS Cowpens CG 63. She participated in combat in the Gulf, and had a prolonged deployment with the 7th Fleet in the Far East.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE.

Watch for their upcoming non-fiction release, CHINA — THE PIRATE OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.

 

cover-3-china-the-pirate-of-the-south-china-sea

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

 

Bayard 2016 — Your “I’m Not Them” Candidate

“America” is not a location. It is the unique ideal that government must answer to the people and not the other way around. Americans are not born. Rather, America itself is born anew with each generation that embraces that ideal and shoulders the responsibility for self-governance. Therefore, as a responsible American . . .

I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President.

MyPhotos Piper Signing FIRELANDS at TFOB

Your Next Commander in Chief, Piper Bayard

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty disappointed in the current presidential frontrunners.

 

Meme 2015 Clinton our lady of perpetual revision

vs.

Meme 2015 Trump like obamacare specifics

It’s always been my contention that if you’re going to complain about how someone does their job, then you’d better be ready to get off your duff and do it yourself. So I will. Yes. I’ll run for president.

Know up front that I refuse to affiliate with any political party. Ultimately, they are all more loyal to themselves than to the American people. The only party I will be a part of as your president is the Inaugural Ball. And since I am a dancer, I would be happy to provide the entertainment for that event in order to save you, the taxpayers, money.

 

MyPhotos 2014 Piper close up Bolder Boulder

Piper in Inaugural Ball attire.

 

As for my campaign, I am not asking for your money. I’m guessing in this economy, you need it. So how will I run? Social media. If Facebook and Twitter can make Betty White an icon among today’s teenagers, it can get me to the White House.

Also, as your president, I won’t spend your millions on my family vacations, and I will continue to shop the clearance sales at Eddie Bauer and Dillard’s. I won’t even take the silver and furniture from the White House with me when I leave. That’s been done.

 

Clinton china with calligraphy menu. Wikimedia commons, public domain.

Clinton china with calligraphy menu.
Wikimedia commons, public domain.

 

Along those lines, I will also not redecorate the White House with your money — unless I find some gaudy animal print lurking in an obscure corner. That will have to go.

The pillars of my platform are personal responsibility, rooting out of corruption, and a good smack upside the head for all whiners who won’t shut up and get busy making this world a better place.

So let’s get the touchy stuff out of the way, shall we?

My ethnicity:

One branch of my family ran another branch of my family down the Trail of Tears, and a third branch married them when they got to the end. That makes my ethnicity unhyphenated American. Check my census form. You’ll find it written there . . . Really.

My gender:

I was born female. I’m still female. I couldn’t care less how anyone else interprets or manages their privates. That’s why they’re called “privates.”

My religion:

Baseball. Baseball is a forward-looking religion with no dogma and lots of hope. We adherents know that, with the last swing of the bat at the end of the season, spring training is just around the corner. People of all faiths are welcome at baseball games as long as they behave and treat their neighbors with respect. If they don’t behave, they will be relocated near the bullpen to be used as targets for pitcher warmups.

 

Yankee Stadium, the Cathedral of my Order. Image by cdelo9032, wikimedia commons.

Yankee Stadium, the Cathedral of my Order.
Image by cdelo9032, wikimedia commons.

My past:

Yes. I have one. It is extensive and colorful. I learned a great deal because the person who is the same at 52 as they are at 22 has wasted 30 years. I’ve made exceptional use of my time. Keep in mind that great things grow in dirt and manure.

As an added bonus, I’m happy to provide you with any and all birth certificates, school records, and fake IDs.

And no, I’ve never kept a private server. But don’t worry. The NSA provides government personnel with cool high tech phones that not only come with effective encryption, but also with a feature that lets you switch back and forth between government and private business in mere seconds.

Snap.

My education:

Yes. I have one of those, too. It ranges from small towns to urban centers, and from the bread and cheese line to law school. In other words, I’ve got both papers and street cred. I’d say “I feel your pain,” but that one’s also been done.

My qualifications:

I am not for sale to banks. I do not borrow money from the Chinese to give to my enemies. My retirement plan is not a Ponzi scheme, and to the best of my knowledge, I have successfully prevented trespassers from living in my home. That puts me ahead of our collective government right there. And no. I have never been president of my local PTA. However, I do manage a successful kingdom on a virtual reality game.

My stand on abortion:

I fully support retroactive abortion for all jihadis and skumbag phone solicitors. However, I favor rehabilitation for any honest phone solicitors who are just trying to make a living like the rest of us.

My stand on gun control:

I am 100% in favor of controlling guns. Aim and make every shot count.

My Vice President:

To save on the Secret Service budget, I will continue the time honored tradition of choosing a vice president who virtually no one would want to see in the Oval Office.

Dick "Darth" Cheney

Dick “Darth” Cheney

 

Joe "The Mouth" Biden

Joe “The Mouth” Biden

 

Best “life insurance policies” any presidents ever had.

Cabinet Appointments:

I don’t give a rat’s touchas about anyone’s race, religion, species, etc. I only care if they are best qualified for the job. I will not sell out my country by pandering to special snowflake organizations and appointing their love children to positions of influence.

My writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” will be my Secretary of Defense. As a 40-year veteran field spook and senior member of the intelligence community, he has the experience and the moxie for the job. And he, like me, loves America more than he loves corporations, power, or money.

 

Image from Amazon, where you, too, can purchase Founding Father action.

Image from Amazon, where you, too, can purchase Founding Father action.

 

Since Holmes can’t be identified, I will stand up a cardboard cutout of George Washington at meetings. Never hurts to have a little Founding Father action in the government process. Holmes will still be in the room, but no one will know if he is the guy in the general’s chair or the guy serving the sandwiches.

Yes. Sandwiches. Refer back to my stand on expenses. They can be paninis, but no steak and lobster bisque at the taxpayers’ expense unless we are hosting foreign dignitaries.

And as for Congress . . .

While I am president, Congress shall make no law that excludes itself. “Leaders” who are not subject to the laws they make are not leaders, they are rulers. There is no place for rulers in America.

Any Representative or Senator who demonstrates behavioral issues stemming from ruler fantasies will be sent to the Slapping Medicine Man.

 

 

As your president, my first and only loyalty will be to you, my fellow Americans. I have no other mission or interest but to strengthen this country and her people. So let’s all come together and prove that America really is still a country by the people, and for the people, and that our presidency does not simply go to the highest bidder. Tweet, blog, Facebook . . . Hey. It happened for Betty White.

You will find my stand on the issues below. I now open the floor to your comments and questions. One at a time, please. No pushing or name calling in the comments, and don’t say anything you can’t say in front of your mother.

Piper for President —

Doesn’t Take Crap. Doesn’t Dish it Out.

My Stand on the Issues

Foreign Policy

For decades, America has been Simba the Lion masquerading as Pumbaa the Warthog in an effort to “win hearts and minds.” No one respects a lion pretending to be a warthog. America is the most powerful nation the world has ever known. We need to own our strength unapologetically and to behave with dignity and integrity. The hearts and minds will follow. America is a lion with claws, teeth, and courage. It is not a dancing, singing, farting warthog.

The Iran Deal

I swore off Bad Boyfriends before I was old enough to vote. I know what I’m looking at . . . “Ah, baby, come on. I didn’t mean anything with that ‘Death to America’ chant.”

Here’s the “Deal,” Iran. No country whose leaders conduct “Death to America” rallies gets a nuke. My “red line” will not be a dull pink smudge.

“The older I get, the more I like cruise missiles.” ~ Jay Holmes

ISIS

Refer to “Foreign Policy” paragraph above. As you have had your way upon the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and other, so will Holmes and his ilk have their way with you. While we can never obliterate you and your ilk from the face of the earth any more than we can obliterate human insanity from the collective psyche, we can certainly divest you of your territories and minimize you until even your mother doesn’t remember who you are. There will be no half measures. Holmes is coming for you, and Hell is coming with him.

 

Two Part Long Term Middle East Policy

Part One

Energy. Independence.

July 4 is Independence Day. It isn’t Independence As Long As It’s Convenient Day. As long as we need the Middle East, and oil in general, we will continue to pay for that dependence in blood and billions. We need to develop alternative energy sources to stand on our own two energy feet. Our blood and money must not continue being a life support system for an oil industry.

Part Two

There is huge gender disparity throughout the Middle East. The result is a bunch of rutting bucks who have to kill themselves to get laid by something approximating a woman.

Since the Middle East has a dearth of women and an overabundance of men, and Latin American countries have more women than men, I would recruit Latinas to relocate. They would have an excellent mellowing influence on those high strung revolutionaries, and they would foster some fantastic fusion restaurants. See How Latinas Can End Jihad.

Russia

Vlady, the KGB in your eyes had damn sure better spot the USA in mine.

Economy

Tax cuts and cookies for corporations that keep their jobs in America. No tax cuts or cookies for corporations that only keep their paperwork in America.

Immigration

America is our home. I will show the utmost hospitality to those who ring our bell and are willing to wipe the dirt off their feet before they enter.  Trespassers will not be welcomed with open arms and open wallets.

However, it shouldn’t be harder to get into the country legally than spending your life savings on a coyote who rapes you as a prelude to a Death March through a desert, only to find that the multi-billion dollar corporation that lured you with promises of a McMansion and a 40 hour work week is in reality your new master renting you a $1500/month trailer with a leaky roof and no plumbing next to the chicken factory where your slave labor will leave you with hands so damaged inside of three years that you’ll never hold another job. Legal entry should not be a Corruption Obstacle Course.

Bayard 2016 — Your “I’m Not Them” Candidate

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, to be re-released in fall, 2015.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

 

The South’s Great Intelligence Miscalculation

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Within a few months, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina followed them. The seceded states banded together to form the Confederate States of America, led by West Point graduate, President Jefferson Davis.

 

 

The stated aim of the CSA was to maintain “states’ rights” against the threat of federal intrusion by the administration of the new president, Abraham Lincoln. Though not all Southerners were willing to claim the possible abolition of slavery in Southern states as their cause for secession, it was the one “intrusion” from the federal government that concerned them, in spite of the fact that Lincoln had made it clear that his priority was not abolition, but preservation of the Union. Politics and cultural sensitivities aside, Southern states seceded from the Union in order to maintain the institution of slavery and to allow their individual states to operate with less central authority from any national government.

By the time the war ended in May of 1865, the Civil War had brought about two major changes to the US federal government.

The first change was the growth of the authority of the federal government, which led to a drastic decrease in states’ rights. The second change was that slavery had been abolished in the Confederate States by that now more powerful federal government. States no longer had the right to individually decide the issue of slavery.

When, after a century and a half of deliberation and debate, we view the South’s fatal choice to undertake a civil war with the United States, any student of military or political history has to wonder how the Southern leaders managed to make such a bad decision.

 

Ft. Sumter Engraving in Harper's Weekly, Jan. 26, 1861 public domain

Ft. Sumter
Engraving in Harper’s Weekly, Jan. 26, 1861
public domain

 

What could Beauregard and his political supporters have expected when they opened fire on Fort Sumter, the Union garrison in Charleston Harbor? Clearly, they expected a surrender of the undersupplied and undermanned fort. In this they were correct, but what did they think would follow? We cannot blame Jefferson Davis and other leaders in the CSA for lacking clairvoyance, but there were well known facts that should have enabled them to draw a more accurate intelligence assessment on the prospects of war with the Northern States.

Let us consider some of the important facts that were readily visible from the beginning.

The North:

  • 23 Northern states
  • Population ~ 22 million
  • Jobs to offer immigrants
  • Over 120,000 factories
  • Well-established international banking system, with over $100 million total in deposits
  • Iron production in 1860: 2,700 tons
  • A canal system and 20,000 miles of railroads that were almost completely on a standard gauge, allowing tremendous capacity to transport passengers and cargo

The South:

  • 11 Confederate states
  • Population ~ 9 million, including over 3 million slaves
  • Few jobs to offer immigrants
  • 20,000 factories, many of which were small and close to the Mason-Dixon Line, making them vulnerable to military attack
  • Few banks, with less than $38 million total in deposits
  • Iron production in 1860: 155 tons
  • 9,000 miles of railroads with varying gauges, requiring frequent transfer of passengers and cargo within a single journey

The one economic advantage enjoyed by the South was in greater export surpluses, but that export surplus was completely dependent on cotton.

However, the South had an advantage in terms of military leadership at the beginning of the war. While most US naval officers at the time were Northerners, maintaining an overwhelming advantage over the navy of the Confederate States of America, over 300 trained army officers resigned from the US Army and received commissions in the army of the CSA.

Strategically, the CSA counted on one critical advantage – it did not need to invade and defeat the Union. It simply needed to defend CSA territory.

Fighting from prepared defensive positions against invading Union armies allowed the CSA to suffer fewer casualties in most of the battles it fought. When Confederate General Robert E. Lee strayed from these defensive tactics at Gettysburg, the Southern casualties mounted. While US General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union army suffered more casualties in his campaigns against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, Grant could easily replace his losses from the North’s abundant population. Lee could not fully replace his casualties from the more sparsely populated South.

Given the obvious advantages of the Northern states, the miserable intelligence assessment on the part of the CSA that led them into battle was, in large part, dependent on two gross miscalculations.

 

Oklahoma Cotton Field, c. 1897 National Archives & Records Administration public domain

Oklahoma Cotton Field, c. 1897
National Archives & Records Administration
public domain

 

First, the CSA held the wildly optimistic assumption that France and England would come to its aid in order to obtain cotton from the South. In their view, cotton was “king.” In order to force Europe to support the CSA, the South burned its cotton harvest in 1861.

Europe yawned.

France and England had both invested in building a strategic cotton reserve, and when cotton stopped coming from the South due to the CSA’s temporary ban on cotton exports, Europe invested in vast new plantations in India, Egypt, and Brazil. If cotton had ever really been king, the king was now quite dead. Europe was happy to sell high quality arms to the South, but the collapsing CSA economy and the Union Navy’s blockades and captures of Southern ports prevented the South from purchasing enough weapons to match Northern production.

The South’s second gross miscalculation concerned the willingness of Northerners to support a war. There were always war protestors in the North during the Civil War. Their influence was never enough to force Lincoln to prematurely halt the war.

While Jefferson Davis had been acutely aware of the many disadvantages faced by the CSA, he and his supporters allowed their passions to lead them to gross miscalculations.

The great intelligence lesson to be learned from the suicidal miscalculations of the Confederate States of America:

Passions and emotions have no place in intelligence analysis. Stick to the facts. Romantic delusions will not win on the battlefield.

Speaking of romantic delusions, in another article, we will consider US intelligence failures in the Korean War.

America is Not a Location

By Piper Bayard

America is not a location. America is an ideal. It is the dream of a country in which freedom is paramount, and it is secure because the government is the servant of the people.

Because America is an ideal, Americans are not born. Rather, America, itself, must be born anew with each generation. Each generation has the choice of embracing the American ideal of a government that answers to the people, or of rejecting that ideal in favor of a more paternalistic system of government.

 

Actual photo of ideal elected American official at work.

Actual photo of ideal American government at work.

 

When the government spies on us with everything from street corner cameras to warrantless searches of random individuals to collection and analysis of our every electronic transmission and phone communication, we are no longer the masters, and the government is no longer our servant. It is our ruler. It is a parent searching our rooms and opening our mail on the off chance that we might be doing something it doesn’t want us to do. That is exactly what is happening now.

The difference between the government being the servant and the government being the master can be boiled down to one thing:  a warrant.

When an agency such as the NSA, FBI, DHS, etc., is required to obtain a warrant, an official paper trail is created by which the people can force the government to answer for who and how it searches, why it searches, and what it obtains. It is a record by which citizens can hold the government accountable for its actions in a court of law.

Since Edward Snowden dropped his NSA whistleblower bomb, the White House has gone from denying that the U.S. spies on its own citizens to unashamedly stating that it will continue to collect and analyze data on American citizens in the name of “national security.”

 

meme by bizarrojerri.wordpress.com

meme by bizarrojerri.wordpress.com

 

At this point, numerous disturbing facts have become public information:

  • Through various means, our government is collecting and storing every digital transaction American citizens make – every email, every phone communication, every bank transaction, every credit and debit card transaction, every check remittance, and every online health and education record.
  • Our government allows the other Five Eyes countries – Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., Australia – as well as Israel and unnamed others access to this raw data on American citizens.
  • Our government has written agreements with these countries for their unlimited access to our raw data, with only smoke and mirror oversight of what data they collect or how they use it. It is an “honor among eavesdroppers” arrangement.
  • Our government trades information about American citizens and intelligence operations with corporations in exchange for their data on American citizens.
  • When trigger words* like “snow,” “bust,” or “sick” alert one of the countless analysts in both the government and the private sector who are tasked with pawing through this hoarder’s mountain of raw data, they are free to peruse and interpret the threads of our lives at their personal discretion.
  • Everything these analysts do is off the public record. No probable cause. No individual warrant. No accountability.

 

U.S. Government Serving Up Americans to the World

U.S. Government Serving Up Americans to the World

 

The administration rationalizes all of these acts with the all-encompassing buzzwords “national security” and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Originally, FISA was enacted to allow data collection on foreign terrorists. Warrants were based on probable cause, and the judges of the FISA court approved them. These boundaries slipped substantially with the Patriot Act. Now, under the current administration, there are no meaningful boundaries at all, with the FISA court essentially rubberstamping every administrative request* to spy on American citizens that comes their way, issuing blanket orders that are nothing but fishing trips, subjecting Americans to data collection and retention with no probable cause.

One example of a typical FISA-approved blanket order is the Top Secret order to Verizon Wireless signed on April 25, 2013, which was published by The Guardian on June 6, 2013.

This order was requested by the FBI, which in turn receives its orders from the White House. It forces Verizon Wireless to give the NSA information on ALL telephone calls in its system on an “ongoing daily basis.” Telephone calls originating and terminating in foreign countries are specifically excluded—the height of irony considering the original purpose of FISA was solely to collect data on suspect foreigners. For full text of this order, see Verizon Forced to Hand Over Telephone Data–Full Court Ruling Dated April 25, 20143 (below).

At its core, our government has given itself authority and provision to maintain a wiretap on every American and foreigner within U.S. borders.

No probable cause. No discretion. No accountability to the public. Each and every one of us is now assumed guilty until proven innocent. Each and every one of us now answers to the government master that was once our servant, turning the American ideal on its ear.

 

Ideal photo of actual U.S. government at work.

Ideal photo of actual U.S. government at work.

 

Spy on suspected terrorists. Do it unapologetically. Do it inside or outside our borders. But let there be probable cause. Let there be warrants. Let there be public records. Let there be accountability. If we are to remain American, we must not allow the government to exercise such omnipotent power with impunity.

Freedom is the essence of the American ideal. It is about shouldering the responsibility for ourselves, for our safety, and for our governance. It is not about perfect security from cradle to grave. When we abdicate our responsibility for our freedom in favor of comfort and the illusion of safety, we become wards of the state. What were once our rights as responsible adults are now merely our privileges as subjects, granted or withheld by our rulers at their whim and discretion.

We must demand more of our leaders. Freedom can be won, and freedom can be surrendered, but Freedom will never be given back once successfully taken by the ruling class. Unbridled surveillance of American citizens is that taking.

Like nuclear weapons, the surveillance train has left the station. But like nuclear weapons, we have the choice about how we will use that technology. America is at a crossroads. Will our generation shoulder the responsibility for our freedom and set firm boundaries on the actions of our government? Or will we devolve into a location on a map? The choice belongs to each of us.

 

This Means You

This Means You

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Verizon Forced to Hand Over Telephone Data–Full Court Ruling Dated April 25, 2013. The Guardian, June 6, 2013.

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, June 6, 2013.

NSA PRISM Program Taps in to User Data of Apple, Google, and others. Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, June 6, 2013.

Obama Blasts Media ‘Hype’ Over Secret Program, Calling Them ‘Modest Encroachments on Privacy’. Brett LoGiurato, Business Insider, June 7, 2013.

US, British Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program. Barton Gellman and Lora Poitras, The Washington Post, June 7, 2013.

Here’s the Law the Obama Administration is Using as Legal Justification for Broad Surveillance. Brett LoGiurato, Business Insider, June 7, 2013.

Obama: No One is Listening to Your Calls. Michael Pearson, CNN Politics, June 9, 2013.

Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations. Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Lora Poitras, The Guardian, June 9, 2013.

US Agencies Said to Swap Data with Thousands of Firms, Michael Riley, Bloomberg, June 14, 2013.

British Spy Agency Taps Cables, Shares with US NSA , Reuters, June 21, 2013. (Info on Five Eyes)

NSA Shares Raw Intelligence Including Americans’ Data with Israel, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, September 11, 2013.

NSA and Israeli Intelligence:  Memorandum of Understanding–Full Document, The Guardian, September 11, 2013.

What Makes US-Israeli Intelligence Co-operation ‘Exceptional’?, Matthew Brodsky, The Guardian, September 13, 2013.

Judge Upholds NSA’s Bulk Collection of Data on Calls, Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, December 27, 2013.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court Orders 1979 – 2014, Electronic Privacy Information Center, May 1, 2014.

 

 

 

The *Other* American Independence Day

By Jay Holmes

At some point in every American’s childhood, we learn that we celebrate the 4th of July with barbeques and fireworks in honor of our nation’s independence. It’s a simple enough idea, but the reality was a bit more complicated.

Signing of the Declaration of Independence Engraved vignette of John Trumbull's painting Bureau of Engraving and Printing, public domain

Signing of the Declaration of Independence
Engraved vignette of John Trumbull’s painting
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, public domain

Since it would be impractical to celebrate our independence piecemeal throughout the year, July 4, 1776, is the accepted historical date of the United States of America’s independence. On that date, after four days of debate and revisions, the Congress of the United Colonies agreed to a final draft of the United States Declaration of Independence. While it was a declaration of independence from Great Britain, it was also a clear statement that as Americans, we held it self-evident that the rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” were descended from God and could not be infringed by any man—not even the King of England.

Students of US history commonly assume that the actual shooting war between the colonies and the British troops started after the Declaration. The fact is that the first shots of the revolution were fired by British troops against an unruly mob in Boston more than six years earlier on March 5, 1770. A mob of about 50 locals was throwing snowballs at British sentries when a few of the mob escalated the conflict and began throwing stones.

Crispus Attucks public domain, wikimedia commons

Crispus Attucks
public domain, wikimedia commons

The outnumbered British troops fired on them. The first three American casualties were a sailor named Crispus Attucks, a sailor named James Caldwell, and a rope maker named Samuel Gray. Attucks was a black man, so it’s fair to say that Black Americans have played a role in American Independence since the day that the first blood was drawn. Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr died later, and the five killings became known as the “Boston Massacre.

Boston Massacre Gravestone Image by lorax, wikimedia commons.

Boston Massacre Gravestone
Image by lorax, wikimedia commons.

At the time, the massacre had a huge impact on European foreign policies, because it notified the world that all was not happy and calm in the vast British colonies in North America. If nothing else, the Boston Massacre may help explain why so many Americans prefer to remain well armed to this day. We never know when some angry mob might start flinging rocks at us.

More than a year before “Independence Day,” on April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous night rides to Lexington and Concord. Revere and Dawes warned John Hancock and John Adams that British troops were marching to arrest them. They also roused the local militias. Dawes and Revere were captured by British troops, but not before they had completed their missions.

The following day, 75 Colonial militia formed up on Lexington Green with the vague hope of causing the 240 advancing British troops to turn back to Boston. The British declined to turn back and demanded that the militia disband.

The bad odds for the Colonials got worse when an additional 160 British troops arrived on the scene. For a moment, a standoff ensued. Then someone that was never identified fired a shot.

The British opened fire, and the Colonials returned fire, but the Colonials had loaded their rifles with blanks. Eight Colonials were killed. While the British charged, some of the Colonials were able to reload their weapons and fire with real shot. One British soldier was wounded. That first shot became known as “The Shot Heard Round the World*.” It marked the point of no return in the conflict between the colonists and Great Britain.

Engraving of The Battle of Lexington public domain, wikimedia commons

Engraving of The Battle of Lexington
public domain, wikimedia commons

 

More militia members streamed into the area from nearby towns and villages, and by the end of the day, the odds were reversed—1400 British troops faced a combined Colonial militia force of 3,800.

The British troops were blocked from reaching the Colonial armory at Concord, and they retreated to Boston in an orderly fashion while Boston militia snipers fired on them from behind walls and buildings. The British troops suffered 73 dead and 173 wounded. About 50 British troops went missing. Some of the missing British soldiers were sympathetic to the colonials and joined forces with them.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord, word of The Shot Heard Round the World spread across North America and parts of Canada. On June 17, 1775, in what we mistakenly refer to as The Battle of Bunker Hill, British forces drove Colonials off of Breed’s Hill. Both sides claimed a victory. The Colonials lost 115 killed and 300 wounded, but the British casualties were more than double that, with nearly a third of their losses being officers.

On March 17, 1775, with Washington’s troops in possession of a commanding position on Dorchester Heights and encircling Boston, the British embarked their forces and loyalist Colonials onto a large British fleet and departed for Canada. Many hailed this British retreat from Boston as a great victory. However, General Washington and his senior officers knew that, while it was a pleasant moment, it was only a small step toward any real victory over the British. Washington assumed that the British would return with a larger army and seize New York and the Hudson River. He was correct.

Finally, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress ratified the US Declaration of Independence. Although we recognize that day as the birth date of the United States of America, at that time, it was more of a wishful thought accompanied by a statement of principles. Not all Americans agreed with the Declaration, and the British met it with outright ridicule. We of the United States of America were, at that point, a nation only in theory, and it was not a universally popular theory. For European monarchs, the idea that the fundamental rights of man are derived from a God rather than a monarch was unsettling.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis Painting by John Trumbull public domain, wikimedia commons

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
Painting by John Trumbull
public domain, wikimedia commons

It required five more years of bitter fighting from South Carolina to Canada to convince Great Britain that the American Colonials were willing and able to sustain their revolution and back up their Declaration with deeds. On November 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virginia, a British force of 8000 soldiers and marines under General Cornwallis surrendered to a 14,000-strong American and French Army commanded by George Washington.

For Americans, Yorktown is remembered as the time and place when Americans soundly defeated the British Army. From the British point of view, Yorktown is barely remembered at all. For Great Britain, it was simply the moment when the English Parliament decided that the cost of fighting American rebels was far greater than the cost of allowing them their independence.

On November 30, 1781, the American notion of independence became a clear reality when British and American representatives signed a preliminary Article of Peace. The full treaty was not signed until September 3, 1783, and only on November 25 of that year did the main British force finally depart from New York.

It is right and proper that we in the United States should celebrate our Independence, and July 4 is as good a day as any for doing so, but we should remember that the declaration of our independence as a nation only became a reality after years of bloodshed and sacrifice by our forefathers.

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge Painting by John Ward Dunsmore public domain, wikimedia commons

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
Painting by John Ward Dunsmore
public domain, wikimedia commons

*Note to Giants fans. Yes, I know that Bobby Thomson’s Home Run off of Ralph Branca’s fastball was “The Shot Heard Round the World,” but indulge me here.

Why Remembering Matters

By Piper Bayard

America is not a location. America is an ideal. It is the dream of a country where the government answers to the people, and not the other way around.

Because America is an ideal, Americans are not born. Rather, America, itself, is born anew with each generation that embraces the ideal and chooses to take up the mantle of responsibility for its self-governance and its freedoms. For America to exist, each generation must make that choice, and each generation must defend the ideal.

Today, we honor those who have fallen in defense of the American ideal. May each new generation remember these American men and women and honor their sacrifices that they shall not have died in vain. If the day comes when we forget these soldiers, we will have forgotten ourselves and our purpose, and in doing so, we will no longer be Americans.

A most profound thank you to all who serve in our armed forces and clandestine services.

Canstock 2014 Memorial Day Boy saluting flag

4th Annual Love-A-Spook Day – An Insignificant Quaker Woman

By Jay Holmes

Three years ago, my writing partner, Piper Bayard, declared October 31st to be Love-A-Spook Day in appreciation of the quiet contributions of the intelligence community. In real life, versus Hollywood, not all spooks are highly trained supermen and superwomen who look like Daniel Craig and Scarlett Johansson. Many are simple people who rise to the occasion of their moment in history. Lydia Darragh was one of those people.

Lydia Barrington Darragh

Lydia Barrington Darragh

To learn about this remarkable nurse, midwife, and spy who affected the course of history, please click on the link below, and remember to transfer your subscription. We want to welcome you all to our new digs.

Bayard & Holmes

4th Annual Love a Spook Day

An Insignificant Quaker Woman