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The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court Wednesday to force the Obama administration to release legal and intelligence records related to the killing of three U.S. citizens in drone attacks in Yemen last year.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charged the Justice and Defense departments and the CIA with illegally failing to respond to requests made in October under the Freedom of Information Act. It cited public comments made by President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other officials in arguing that the government cannot credibly claim a secrecy defense.
“The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm [its] existence” when asked for information “in the service of real transparency and accountability.”
In addition to statements by Obama and Panetta, the lawsuit notes that “media reports about the targeted killing program routinely quote anonymous government officials describing details of the program.”
With no independent outside access to Pakistan’s tribal zones, the disconnect is near-absolute between those who charge the administration with unjustified killings and those in the administration who deny the allegations. On Dec. 2, a Pakistani lawyer backed by the British-based charity Reprieve notified Munter of plans to file murder charges in the deaths of Tariq Aziz, 16, and his cousin Waheed Rehman, 12, allegedly killed in an Oct. 31 drone strike on a vehicle in their home region of North Waziristan. According to Reprieve, its representatives had met with Tariq just days earlier in Islamabad to give him a camera to document drone deaths.
On Sunday night's 60 Minutes program, Scott Pelley opened an interview with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with the question, "How many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?" Surprised by the question, Panetta, who laughed heartily as if Pelley had just told him a really humorous knock-knock joke that tickled his funny bone, responded 'that's a good question. I have to stop and think about that." Panetta proceeded to answer "we're going after al Qaeda wherever they're at.... Clearly, we're confronting al Qaeda in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa...." In case you're wondering, yes, Panetta confirmed that US troops are in Pakistan.
Pelley's question could not have been more clear just as Panetta's answer was unequivocal. What neither Pelley nor Panetta, who received a law degree from Santa Clara University Law School, mentioned was that for the US to be 'engaged in a shooting war,' not to mention more shooting wars than he could recount, without congressional approval is not only unconstitutional but is a clear violation of the War Powers Act of 1973.
After the debacle in Vietnam, with the American people dispirited and exhausted from a bloody, divisive war, the 93rd Session of Congress recognized the need to restore its Constitutional authority to declare war and oversight on national security and foreign policy issues with adoption of the War Powers Act of 1973. The Act, which was also intent on improving accountability requirements for the Executive Branch, necessitated a congressional override of President's Nixon's veto.
Not that Awlaki was never charged with any crime.
From Washington Post:
Investigators initially focused on the wrong man, then had to pay him a nearly $6 million settlement. In 2008, they accused another man, Bruce E. Ivins, who killed himself before he could go to trial.
Now, in the latest twist, the government has argued against itself.
In documents deep in the files of a recently settled Florida lawsuit, Justice Department civil attorneys contradicted their own department’s conclusion that Ivins was unquestionably the anthrax killer. The lawyers said the type of anthrax in Ivins’s lab was “radically different” from the deadly anthrax. They cited several witnesses who said Ivins was innocent, and they suggested that a private laboratory in Ohio could have been involved in the attacks.
A well-researched report here: PDF.
19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.
U.S. Military Being Used Against U.S. Labor Unions -- This Would Be Used as Grounds for War on the U.S. If the U.S. Weren't the U.S.
For the first time, the British journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files will speak at events in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago about his work uncovering the stories of the prisoners there. See his recent piece: An Extraordinary Interview with Former Guantánamo Child Prisoner Mohammed El-Gharani.
Too late to contain killer flu science, say experts
Attempts to censor details of controversial influenza experiments that created a highly infectious form of bird-flu virus are unlikely to stop the information from leaking out, according to scientists familiar with the research.
The US Government has asked the editors of two scientific journals to refrain from publishing key parts of research on the H5N1 strain of bird-flu in order to prevent the information falling into the hands of terrorists intent on recreating the same flu strain for use as a bioweapon.
However, scientists yesterday condemned the move. Some said that the decision comes too late because the information has already been shared widely among flu researchers, while others argued that the move could obstruct attempts to find new vaccines and drugs against an infectious form of human H5N1 if it appeared naturally.
Professor Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, said that the research, which was funded by the US Government, should never have been done without first assessing the risks and benefits.
“The work posed risks that outweighed benefits and that were clearly foreseeable before the work was performed,” Professor Ebright said.
And then consider this from Francis Boyle:
Biological Weapons Convention Conference Issues Final Document
“The Conference emphasizes that States must take all necessary safety and security measures to protect human populations and the environment, including animals and plants, when carrying out destruction and/or diversion of agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention.”
This language from the Final Communiqué is truly bizarre. Under the terms of the BWC, those “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery” should not be there in the first in order to be “destroyed” or “diverted.” And where are they being “diverted”: to whom and by whom? The implications of this language is (1) that BWC contracting parties currently have “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention” and (2) that they are diverting them somewhere, which is also prohibited by the BWC.
Of course you can read this language to apply only to non-BWC States. But there are 165 BWC States Parties and 12 signatories. The only militarily significant hold outs are in the Middle East, for well known reasons that I will not go into here.
19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.
Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?
By Shaukat Qadir
This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.
December 14, 2011 - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.
“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.
No Healing: Ann Kristin Neuhaus Faces Her Past Every Day as Kansas Chases the Ghost of George Tiller
My name is Patrick Meighan, and I’m a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy”, and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.
By Dave Lindorff
Word that the Los Angeles Police, who sent in 1200 officers in riot gear to violently rout a few hundred Occupy Movement demonstrators from their LA encampment last week, had earlier sent 12 undercover young officers into the peaceful occupation camp to spy on the activists should come as no surprise.
By Dave Lindorff
With Congress no longer performing its sworn role of defending the US Constitution, the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice today filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and the National Parks Service to release "all their information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks."
Police State Tactics: Signs Point to a Coordinated National Program to Try and Unoccupy Wall Street and Other Cities
By Dave Lindorff
The ugly hand of the federal government is becoming increasingly suspected behind what appears to be a nationwide attempt to repress and evict the Occupation Movement.
Across the country in recent days, ultimatums have been issues to groups occupying Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, Dallas, TX, Atlanta, GA, and most recently New York, NY, where the Occupation Movement began on September 17. The two most recent eviction efforts, in Oakland and New York, have been the worst.
By William Fisher, The Public Record
Turns out that after all the investigations in a raft of countries, a virtual treasure trove of never-seen-before documents has reached the major European legal charity, Reprieve.
As a result, Reprieve is calling on Lithuanian authorities to re-open their investigation into CIA renditions and secret prisons on their own soil, and to focus on a newly-discovered web of new documents exposing well-disguised CIA flights through Europe that demonstrate the European Union’s complicity in the CIA’s secret prisons program.
Reprieve charges that “data focusing on Lithuania, but linked to suspected CIA activity in a raft of other countries in Europe, North America, the Middle East and North Africa, has been identified by Reprieve investigators and passed to the Lithuanian prosecutor.”
In a letter to Lithuania’s Deputy Prosecutor General, Darius Raulušaitis, Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith said: “Compelling new information that has now come to light about the landings of CIA-connected planes in Lithuania makes a rigorous and wide-ranging investigation all the more urgent. It is now clear that previous efforts to chart the extent of the CIA’s rendition operations in Europe revealed ONLY the tip of the iceberg.”
Reprieve claims that the new documents show that:
- Lithuania’s attempts to establish what the CIA did in the country between 2004-06 have been oddly unsuccessful, failing to identify key clues to several potential rendition flights;
- Two flights entered Lithuania from Morocco and Bucharest – known secret prison sites – in February 2005, around the time that ‘High Value Detainee’ Abu Zubaydah was transferred to a CIA black site in Lithuania;
- A crucial plane identified by the previous Lithuanian inquiry (registered as N787WH) tried to disguise its true destination (Lithuania) by filing a route plan to Gothenburg, Sweden;
- Many other European countries now linked to the CIA’s rendition flight program have questions to answer, including Austria, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Jordan, Portugal, Romania and the USA;
But this was not in Iran, so expect no comment from Washington.
From Pratap Chatterjee:
Tariq and Waheed’s death brought the total number of children killed in drone strikes to 175, according to the Bureau’s own findings. As part of an ongoing investigation, the Bureau has documented 306 strikes from remotely piloted drones that have killed between 2,359 and 2,959 people. Over 85% of them have been launched by the administration of President Barack Obama.
Akbar says that the CIA had every opportunity to meet with Tariq, if they wanted to, when he visited Islamabad. ‘If they were terrorists, why weren’t they arrested in Islamabad, interrogated, charged or tried?’