by Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office of ACLU.org
The House just passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision to authorize worldwide war, which has no expiration date and will allow this president — and any future president — to go to war anywhere in the world, at any time, without further congressional authorization. The new authorization wouldn’t even require the president to show any threat to the national security of the United States. The American military could become the world’s cop, and could be sent into harm’s way almost anywhere and everywhere around the globe.
Read details of this extremely important bill, H.R. 1540, at Thomas.gov with final vote results here. Bravo to Rep. Justin Amash (D, Mich) for introducing Amendment 327 to strike section 1034 of the bill, relating to the authorization for use of military force. Sadly, the amendment failed 187-234 (see roll call vote results). Rep. Jason Chaffetz (D., Utah) introduced an amendment requiring US ground troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and require the Secretary of Defense to submit a withdrawal plan to Congress within 60 days. It, too, failed, 123-294. List of all amendments and results here.
Before the vote, the House debated an amendment that would have struck the worldwide war provision. That amendment was introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),… Continue reading
By PETE YOST
WASHINGTON — Four Democratic senators won the promise Thursday of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing into what they say is a secret and expansive Justice Department interpretation of the information collection the Patriot Act allows.
The criticism by Intelligence Committee members Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado came as Congress moved to extend the government’s Patriot Act powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps.
Wyden said there is a growing gap between what the law says and what the senators call a classified interpretation of the law by the Justice Department.
Udall said his constituents “would be alarmed if they knew” how the Patriot Act was being carried out.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon complained that “the government won’t even tell the American people how it interprets these provisions, or whether it sees any limits on its authority at all.” Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said almost 10 years after the Patriot Act’s passage, “we still haven’t had the debate that we need to have on this piece of legislation.” All four senators voted against the Patriot Act extension. Merkley and Tom Udall are not on the intelligence committee.
The four senators proposed an amendment that would require Attorney General Eric Holder to file a public report on the legal rationale for intelligence collection activities. Wyden vowed to offer the amendment in the fall “if we don’t get results” through the hearing process.
The wording of the amendment seemed… Continue reading
By Pete Kasperowicz
The House Thursday night approved the Senate version of the Patriot Act extension bill, a clean extension of three surveillance authorities until June 1, 2015.
The House finished voting at about 7:50 p.m., and approved the measure in a 250-153 vote. In the final vote, 54 Democrats voted for it, along with all but 31 Republicans.
The hastily arranged debate happened just minutes after the Senate approved the same bill by a 72-23 vote. With the House vote, the White House is expected to be able to approve it tonight with the help of an automated presidential signature, as President Obama is still in Europe.
House members rushed to approve the bill before three surveillance authorities expired at midnight, but spent some time debating it, even though the debate covered mostly familiar ground. Democrats generally opposed the bill, calling it something that would extend the government’s invasion of privacy.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said the death of Osama bin Laden in particular means the three authorities should be reconsidered.
“At a time like this, we should re-examine the restoration of our constitutional protections,” he said. “This is the type of government intrusion which the bill of right was designed to prevent.”
The legislation would extend the ability of U.S. intelligence authorities to conduct roving wiretaps, gain access to business records, and survey “lone-wolf” operators, non-U.S citizens believed to be acting alone to commit terrorist acts. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) argued Thursday night that there are problems with each of these authorities.…Continue reading
May 24, 2011
By Laurie Kellman
WASHINGTON–The tortoise-like Senate is under uncommon pressure to pass
a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act before key provisions
expire Friday. But the deadline is even tighter, because President Barack Obama
is in Europe.
Any extension passed by the Senate must be sent to the House and passed there,
then flown overseas to be signed into law.
So the Senate’s deadline for passage is more like midweek. And that’s no accident.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who not long ago vowed to have a
full week of debate on the Patriot Act extension, has instead backed up the
vote against a tighter deadline to limit debate over legislation some say is
less necessary now that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is dead.
Another motivator: The Senate’s weeklong Memorial Day break begins just after
the Patriot Act deadline.
The White House urged the Senate to do what it typically does not: work quickly.
“It is essential to avoid any hiatus” in the law’s powers, the Obama
administration said in a statement.
But the Senate does not rush, even when it’s clear that there probably isn’t
time for changes. Senators voted 74-8 Monday to begin debate on the bill.
Members of both parties demanded time to talk about their amendments, some
of which would require tougher oversight on how the government uses the law’s
powers. Reid was negotiating Monday on which amendments would be considered,
and for how long.
The legislation would extend three… Continue reading
Not All Sources and Experts Are Equal–Here Are some Real Ones!
There are ‘experts’ views,’ and then there are experts’ views. There are ‘government sources,’ and then there are government sources. Not all experts are equal. And, not all sources are reliable. Am I talking in riddles? Of course not; give me a chance and I’ll explain.
We have members of the popular media (mainstream and quasi-alternatives alike) ever anxious to market and disseminate government conspiracy and propaganda. They, members of the popular media, have their own rolodex of ‘experts’ and analysts, some on their payroll, to help them propagate the delivery and execution of government-given propaganda-conspiracy. The same principle applies to ‘sources.’ The popular media relies on their government sources who act as middle-men-government messengers who’ve been given a government written and approved script to be delivered; almost always anonymously. Well, this is exactly what we have been getting from our media, around the clock, since the announcement of the Bin Laden Death Operation: ever-changing government scripts, delivered mainly by anonymous government sources to the US media, and further embellished and expanded upon by government-connected experts and analysts on the payroll.
On the other hand, there are many independent real experts whose analyses and views you won’t, or rarely, get to hear or read about; at least not in the mainstream media or at quasi-alternative sites. And there are current and former government sources not tasked with messenger duties; many of whom… Continue reading
by Paul Craig Roberts
May 17, 2011
In a sensational and explosive TV report, the Pakistani News Agency has provided a live interview with an eye witness to the US attack on the alleged compound of Osama bin Laden. The eye witness, Mohammad Bashir, describes the event as it unfolded. Of the three helicopters, “there was only one that landed the men and came back to pick them up, but as he [the helicopter] was picking them up, it blew away and caught fire.” The witness says that there were no survivors, just dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. “We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing.”
I always wondered how a helicopter could crash, as the White House reported, without at least producing injuries. Yet, in the original White House story, the SEALs not only survived a 40-minute firefight with al Qaeda, “the most highly trained, most dangerous, most vicious killers on the planet,” without a scratch, but also survived a helicopter crash without a scratch.
The Pakistani news report is available on you tube. The Internet site, Veterans Today, posted a translation along with a video of the interview. Information Clearing House made
it available on May 17.
If the interview is not a hoax and the translation is correct, we now know the answer to the unasked question: Why was there no White House ceremony with President Obama pinning medals all over the… Continue reading
by David Ray Griffin
May 6, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., May 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Nobel Peace Prize nominee
Dr. David Ray Griffin’s 2009 book, “Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive?”
presented compelling evidence that bin Laden died in December 2001 — prompting
a BBC documentary of the same name.
Griffin, founder of the soon to be announced 9/11 Consensus Panel, and named
among the New Statesman’s “50 People Who Matter Today,” today released
the following statement:
President Obama, speaking of the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, said: “Justice
has been done.”
It has been widely assumed that, if bin Laden is now dead, the person most
responsible for the 9/11 attacks has been brought to justice. But the US government
has never provided evidence that the attacks were carried out by bin Laden and
his al-Qaeda organization.
In September 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell promised to provide this
evidence, but the next day recanted, saying “most of [the evidence] is
In October, Prime Minister Tony Blair provided evidence that bin Laden and
al-Qaeda planned and executed the 9/11 attacks. But he added:
“This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against
Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”
The FBI’s acts that made bin Laden a “Most Wanted Terrorist” does
not include the 9/11 attacks. The FBI’s chief of investigative publicity explained:
“The FBI has been no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”
A December 2001 video shows a heavy-set Osama… Continue reading
Supporters of accused WikiLeaks source vow to fight on for open trial and freedom
May 5, 2011
By the Bradley Manning Support Network
Published at Couragetoresist.org
Hundreds of thousands of individuals globally celebrate today the confirmation that their efforts to end the torturous pre-trial confinement conditions inflicted upon US Army PFC Bradley Manning have been successful. Manning’s lead defense attorney, David E. Coombs of Rhode Island, has personally verified that Manning is indeed being held in Medium Custody confinement at the Joint Regional Corrections Facility (JRCF) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as claimed by the Army last week.
“We won this battle because 600,000 individuals took the time to write letters and sign petitions, because thousands called the White House switchboard, because 300 of America’s top legal scholars decried Bradley’s pre-trial conditions as a clear violation of our Constitution’s 5th and 8th Amendments,” declared Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network. “We won this battle because over a hundred concerned citizens engaged in civil disobedience at the White House and at Quantico, and because our grassroots campaign shows no sign of slowing.”
These new conditions reflect a dramatic improvement for Manning following his transfer to Fort Leavenworth on April 20, 2011, after having suffered extreme solitary-like confinement at US Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. During the nine months at Quantico, Manning was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and was at times kept completely naked. These conditions were unique to Manning and were illegal under US… Continue reading
BUSH : “We haven’t heard from him in a long time. … Terror is bigger than one person. And he’s just — he’s a person who’s now been marginalized. … I just don’t spend that much time on him… we haven’t heard much from him. And I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don’t know where he is. I — I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.
March 13, 2002
Comments by then-President George W. Bush
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary March 13, 2002
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon.
. . .
Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part — deep in your heart, don’t you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won’t really eliminate the threat of —
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he’s alive at all. Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not; we haven’t heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing… Continue reading
April 29, 2011
Email from Federation of American Scientists’ “Secrecy news Blog”
As of March 2011, Congress had approved a total of more than $1.2 trillion
dollars for costs associated with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other post-9/11
"war on terror" operations, the Congressional Research Service said
in its most recent update on the subject. See "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," March 29, 2011.
Other new or newly updated CRS reports include the following (all pdf).
"Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians," April 6,
by Andy Worthington
Published April 24, 2011
On Sunday April 24, 2011 WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files from the
notorious Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The details for every detainee will be
released daily over the coming month.
WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners
PLEASE NOTE: This article has been published in languages other than English
at WikiLeaks, linked here.
In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the
light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration’s “War on
Terror” — the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January
11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close
the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.
In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen
before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the
prisoners held at Guantánamo — 758 out of 779 in total — are described
in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo
Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
These memoranda, which contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether the
prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred
to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important
and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example,
and, in the cases of the majority of the 171 prisoners who are still held, photos
(mostly for the… Continue reading
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, April 11th, 2011
STOCKHOLM — Growth in global military spending slowed to its lowest level since 2001 last year as the world economic crisis hit defence budgets, Swedish think-tank SIPRI said Monday.
World military spending rose only 1.3 percent in 2010 to $1.63 trillion (1.14 trillion euros), after average annual growth of 5.1 percent between 2001 and 2009, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said as it released its latest report on international military expenditures.
“In many cases, the falls or slower increase represent a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis that broke in 2008,” the group said in a statement.
The United States significantly slowed its military investments last year but remained by far the biggest defence spender in the world and still accounted for almost all of global growth.
US defence spending grew by only 2.8 percent in 2010 to $698 billion, after averaging growth of 7.4 percent between 2001, when SIPRI began publishing its reports, and 2009.
Despite the slowdown, the United States’ spending increase of $19.6 billion still accounted for nearly all of the $20.6 billion global increase last year.
“The USA has increased its military spending by 81 percent since 2001, and now accounts for 43 per cent of the global total, six times its nearest rival China,” Sam Perlo-Freeman, the head of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Project, said in a statement.
“At 4.8 percent of GDP, US military spending in 2010 represents the largest economic burden… Continue reading
Obama professor among 250 experts who have signed letter condemning humiliation of alleged WikiLeaks source
by Ed Pilkington in New York
More than 250 of America’s most eminent legal scholars have signed a letter protesting against the treatment in military prison of the alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, contesting that his “degrading and inhumane conditions” are illegal, unconstitutional and could even amount to torture.
The list of signatories includes Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America’s foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign.
Tribe joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago.
He told the Guardian he signed the letter because Manning appeared to have been treated in a way that “is not only shameful but unconstitutional” as he awaits court martial in Quantico marine base in Virginia.
The US soldier has been held in the military brig since last July, charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of thousands of embassy cables and other secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Under the terms of his detention, he is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, checked every five minutes under a so-called “prevention of injury order” and stripped naked at night apart from a smock.
Tribe said the treatment was objectionable “in the way it violates his person and his liberty… Continue reading
March 7, 2011
by Ralph Lopez
War Is A Crime.org
As Obama’s crime of the destruction of Bradley Manning continues to unfold before our very eyes, Manning friend David House now tells us that over 8 months in isolation with movement and sleep restrictions placed on him have been having their intended effect. House has told MSNBC that by the end of January Manning appeared “catatonic” and that he had “severe problems communicating,” with it having taken House nearly 45 minutes on a recent visit to engage in any meaningful way (video below.) House said Manning’s demeanor was as “if he had just woken up and didn’t know what was going on around him.” Manning was “utterly exhausted physically and mentally…it was difficult to have any kind of social engagement.”
Also, a full month after Congressman Dennis Kucinich formally requested a visit, the Army has stalled on the request.
All for the crime of reporting war crimes and criminal behavior even among the highest-ranking military officials in Iraq.
In 2005, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member [in Iraq], if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to try to stop it.”
Chase Mader writes in HuffPo that soon after deployment to Iraq, Manning:
… Continue reading
“soon found himself helping the Iraqi authorities detain civilians for distributing “anti-Iraqi literature” — which turned out to be an investigative report into financial corruption in their own government entitled “Where does the money go?” The penalty for this “crime” in Iraq was not a slap on the wrist.
By David Edwards
The Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent Wednesday that will provide health care benefits to first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Original report follows…
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) earned himself a visit from some 9/11 first responders after he threatened to block a bill that would provide them health benefits.
A group of former Ground Zero workers visited the senator’s office Tuesday to give him a piece of their mind but Coburn refused the meeting.
“Mr. Coburn should be ashamed of himself,” John Feal, the leader of the group, told Think Progress. “Because I think before he was a senator he was a doctor and he took an oath to help people that are sick. He’s going against his oath as a doctor. He can vote any way he wants as a senator, but as a doctor, he just embarrassed the medical profession.”
“What about going office to office? Have their staff and the senators been very receptive to the group?” Think Progress asked.
“Once in a while we’ll run into some resistance and some arrogance and some rude people. Listen, we busted our asses since 9/11. We’ve fought and advocated for ourselves so others wouldn’t. So to be insulted by the staff of the United States Senate and Congress — most of them were 12 years old when 9/11 happened — doesn’t bother me,” Feal said.
All but one of the 42 Republican senators stood together last week… Continue reading
TSA and America’s Zero Risk Culture
November 16, 2010
By Richard Forno
The lede on the DRUDGEREPORT most of Monday showed a Catholic nun being patted down at an airport security checkpoint, with the caption starkly declaring that
“THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON.”
Ten years after 9/11, Americans who fly are facing a Faustian choice between subjecting themselves to a virtual (and potentially medically damaging) strip search conducted in questionable machines run by federal employees or a psychologically damaging pat-down of their bodies. Osama bin Ladin must be giggling himself silly this week.
But what should we expect in a society that requires adults to wear bicycle helmets while pedaling in the park, provides disclaimers of liability on TV advertisements, or prints warnings on fast-food coffee cups? The name of the game is zero risk. Not risk mitigation, or accepting responsibility for one’s actions, but risk aversion. It’s a failure to acknowledge that we can’t protect against everything bad that can happen to us, so we must protect against everything we think might — might — be harmful at some point.
It’s living in fear.
TSA has established itself as the lead federal agency charged with perpetuating this risk-averse culture at airports around the country. The proof is evident over the past ten years: Because of the Shoebomber, we have to remove our shoes. Thanks to the Christmas Crotchbomber, we are subjected to invasive scanning or government-mandated molestation. Because there’s a potential for explosives in liquid or gel… Continue reading
October 1, 2010
By Michael Calderone
Publishers know that controversy fuels book sales. Apparently, so does burning them.
The Pentagon has only helped build buzz around “Operation Dark Heart,” a firsthand account of special operations in Afghanistan, by burning 9,500 copies — nearly all the first run. (Some review copies, released before publication, have filtered out and sold for more than $2,000 on eBay, according to Time magazine.)
Destroying books isn’t an everyday occurrence. In fact, the Pentagon says it has never destroyed copies of a book before. But in this case, the Pentagon contends that Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s work includes classified information that shouldn’t have been published and therefore it was the only option.
On Sept. 24, four days after the burning, publisher St. Martin’s Press printed 50,000 copies of the book with supposedly classified information now blacked out. Even with redactions, the second run — five times larger than the first — is selling well. Time magazine noted that “Operation Dark Heart” hit No. 1 on Amazon’s biography list and No. 2 on Barnes & Noble’s political list.
The Pentagon may have succeeded in keeping thousands of unredacted copies from hitting the shelves, but it cannot be certain that the book’s contents won’t ever reach readers. In the digital age, it’s nearly impossible to completely destroy anything. WikiLeaks, the secretive whistleblower site, called the Pentagon “Nazi punks” for burning the books and has already threatened to post an unredacted copy on the Internet.… Continue reading
August 06, 2010
RT filmed this emotional footage of 9/11 first responders pouring their hearts out at a speech just blocks away from where the twin towers fell. The rally was in response to Congress defeating a federal bill that would have provided billions of dollars in health care for those sickened by toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001.
They passed symbolic legislation to honor first reponders:
That the House of Representatives supports first responders in the United States in their efforts to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, and affirms the goals and ideals of National First Responder Appreciation Day to honor and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices made by all first responders in the United States.
And yet, first responders have had to fight for medical help for more than a decade: