by Peter Dale Scott
The Asia-Pacific Journal , 21-2-10
In July 1987, during the Iran-Contra Hearings grilling of Oliver North, the American public got a glimpse of “highly sensitive” emergency planning North had been involved in. Ostensibly these were emergency plans to suspend the American constitution in the event of a nuclear attack (a legitimate concern). But press accounts alleged that the planning was for a more generalized suspension of the constitution.
As part of its routine Iran-contra coverage, the following exchange was printed in the New York Times , but without journalistic comment or follow-up:
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Both North’s attorney and Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the Committee, responded in a way that showed they were aware of the issue:
Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American… Continue reading
Napolitano stands by controversial report
Top Democrat says he’s ‘dumbfounded’
April 16, 2010
By Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that she was briefed before the release of a controversial intelligence assessment and that she stands by the report, which lists returning veterans among terrorist risks to the U.S.
But the top House Democrat with oversight of the Department of Homeland Security said in a letter to Ms. Napolitano that he was “dumbfounded” that such a report would be issued.
“This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans – including war veterans,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, in his letter sent Tuesday night.
The letter was representative of a public furor over the nine-page document since its existence was reported in The Washington Times on Tuesday.
In her statement Wednesday, Ms. Napolitano defended the report, which says “rightwing extremism” may include groups opposed to abortion and immigration, as merely one among several threat assessments. But she agreed to meet with the head of the American Legion, who had expressed anger over the report, when she returns to Washington next week from a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and… Continue reading
by Michael Collins
There they are, the people who brought you every bit of the action in the WikiLeaks video and all of the other horrors flowing from invasion of Iraq. Madeleine Albright (far right, above), former Clinton Secretary of State, is a good place to start. From 60 Minutes:
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. –60 Minutes (5/12/96)
An exhaustive study found that 227,000 children under five (table 13) died during the George H.W. Bush – Bill Clinton regime of total sanctions against Iraq from 1990 through 2000.
Albright is distinguished as the most direct spokesmodel for senseless death and suffering that’s characterized our engagement with that battered country.
But others carry much greater responsibility. The Bush administration had top secret plans to invade Iraq as early as February 2001. First hand witnesses in the prewar White House were unable to name a point when the decision to invade was made. It was a fait accompli.
Prior to the war authorization from Congress, the various intelligence agencies submitted a report that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Many nations had WMD. The report had to find that Iraq was an imminent danger to the… Continue reading
By Carol Rosenberg
April 5, 2010
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed more than 100 habeas corpus
lawsuits filed by former Guantánamo captives, ruling that because the Bush and
Obama administrations had transferred them elsewhere, the courts need not decide
whether the Pentagon imprisoned them illegally.
The ruling dismayed attorneys for some of the detainees who’d hoped any favorable
U.S. court findings would help clear their clients of the stigma, travel restrictions
and, in some instances, perhaps more jail time that resulted from their stay
U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan wrote that he was "not unsympathetic"
to the former detainees’ plight. "Detention for any length of time can
be injurious. And certainly associations with Guantánamo tend to be negative,"
But the detainees’ transfer from Guantánamo made their cases moot. "The
court finds that petitioners no longer present a live case or controversy since
a federal court cannot remedy the alleged collateral consequences of their prior
detention at Guantánamo," he wrote.
Hogan’s ruling, issued last Thursday, but not widely publicized, closed the
files on 105 habeas corpus petitions, many of which had been pending for years
as the Bush administration resisted the right of civilian judges to intervene
in military detentions. The U.S. Supreme Court resolved that issue in 2008,
ruling in Boumediene v. Bush that the detainees could challenge their captivity
in civilian court. Since then, judges have ordered the release of 34 detainees
while upholding the detention of 12.
Attorneys for… Continue reading
By Scott Shane
April 6, 2010
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.
Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.
American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.
It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.
But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in… Continue reading
April 6, 2010
SECRECY NEWS from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 27
April 6, 2010
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
The U.S. Army is still struggling to come to grips with the unusually high rate of suicide within its ranks.
“The Army ratios are above the national average and in some months recently, there have been more suicides in the Army than combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan,” observed Nancy Youssef of McClatchy News last week. “There is no pattern to suicides. One third who commit suicide have never served in combat; another third commit suicide while in combat; and yet another third do it once they return, according to Army statistics.”
Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh issued two directives on March 26 that are intended to further an understanding of the problem and to improve the availability of information to surviving family members.
Effectively immediately, all suspected suicides will be subject to an official (AR 15-6) investigation, the purpose of which is “to identify the circumstances, methods, and the contributing factors surrounding the event…. The completed investigation should provide clear, relevant, and practical recommendation(s) to prevent future suicides,” according to Army Directive 2010-01 (pdf).
A second Army directive (pdf) provided guidance for reporting (and redacting) information to be provided to family members, who are to be “kept fully informed while the investigation is underway.”
Although national security, third-person privacy and other FOIA-exempt information may be withheld, “the release authority cannot withhold information merely… Continue reading
April 5, 2010
The death of a whistleblower who said the UK government had “sexed up” a dossier on Saddam Hussein’s military capabilities in order to sell the Iraq war has been one of the most intriguing and confusing elements of the war’s history.
Now the UK’s Conservative Party is signaling that it plans to reopen the inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly if it wins the next election. The move could potentially harm the ruling Labour Party, which championed the Iraq war effort and is now trailing in the polls for this spring’s election.
On Sunday, Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Party’s “shadow” justice minister, said members of the public “have not been reassured” that Kelly’s death was a suicide, and if his government wins the election, he would want to reopen the case, reports the UK’s Daily Mail.
Kelly, a weapons expert with Britain’s Ministry of Defence, was found dead in a forest near his home in Oxfordshire in 2003, shortly after he gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that the British government was lying about its claim that Saddam Hussein could launch biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes of giving the order.
Kelly’s death sparked suspicions that he may have been killed for undermining the government of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair as the British leader stood with US President George W. Bush in pushing for an invasion of Iraq.
A former British ambassador quoted Kelly as having… Continue reading
March 31, 2010
From the Huffington Post:
In anticipation of a final announcement as to the trial venue for the 9/11 plotters, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is warning the president against “buckling to political pressure,” calling the use of military tribunals the “wrong thing to do.”
In a nearly four-minute long video, Donna Marsh O’Connor — a Peaceful Tomorrows member who lost her pregnant daughter when the Twin Towers collapsed — speaks both to the broad notion that America has a “historic commitment to justice” and, more narrowly, to the horse-trading politics that now surround terrorist trials. Reflecting disappointment with recent signals from the White House, O’Connor calls specifically for the president to reject a reported compromise proposal with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in which the administration would drop plans for civilian trials in exchange for Republican support for the closure of Gitmo.
“As 9/11 families, we have suffered greatly and waited almost nine years to see justice done with our own eyes,” O’Connor says. “We understand that you face political pressure to back down. We ask that you do not allow fear and prejudice to govern your decision as we are not afraid. We know our country is strong enough to hold on to our values in the face of terrorism.”
The video follows other efforts from Peaceful Tomorrows to advocate for civilian trials for the 9/11 suspects.
by Jason Leopold
The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration had made about “high-value” detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Guantánamo prisoner who at one time was said to have planned the 9/11 attacks and was the No. 2 and 3 person in al-Qaeda.
Additionally, Justice has backed away from claims intelligence officials working in the Clinton administration had also leveled against Zubaydah, specifically, that he was directly involved in the planning of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.
Zubaydah’s name is redacted throughout the 109-page court document, but he is identified on the first page of the filing by his real name, Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He was the first detainee captured after 9/11 who was subjected to nearly a dozen brutal torture techniques, which included waterboarding, and was the catalyst, the public has been told, behind the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly admitted that personally approved of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.
His torture was videotaped and the tapes later destroyed. The destruction of 90 videotapes of his interrogations is the focus of a high-level criminal investigation being conducted by John Durham, a federal prosecutor appointed special counsel in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
In recent months, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign promoting his book, “Courting Disaster,” in which he defended the torture of Zubaydah, claiming, among other things, that he reviewed classified intelligence that revealed Zubaydah’s torture produced actionable intelligence… Continue reading
by Philip Giraldi
April 1, 2010 edition of American Conservative
Even in World War II, the United States did not attempt to assassinate U.S. citizens who went over to the enemy, but that has now changed with President Obama’s overseas contingency operations. On Feb. 3, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the House Intelligence Committee that the United States government has developed procedures for killing American citizens abroad who are “involved” with groups threatening to carry out terrorist acts directed against other Americans. Three U.S. citizens have already been approved by the White House for summary execution as soon as actionable intelligence is developed to enable a pilotless drone’s hellfire missiles to do the killing. One is Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi; the second is American al-Qaeda member Adam Perlman, who goes under the name Adam Yahiye Gadahn; and the third is believed to be a Somali from Minnesota who has joined the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa. Anwar al-Aulaqi, linked in the media to the Christmas underwear bombing and with Major Malik Nadal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, has denied any involvement in either incident. Perlman, a propagandist for al-Qaeda, is in Waziristan. Killing these men would involve using military drones to attack targets in three countries with which the United States is not at war.
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution guarantee a citizen due process and a public trial, as well as the right to confront his accuser. The Obama administration… Continue reading
March 5, 2010
By MIKE ROBINSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
The Daily Journal
CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.
U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen’s ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.
Andersen said his decision “represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting.”
Andersen did throw out two of the lawsuit’s three counts but gave former contractors Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel the green light to go forward with a third count alleging they were unconstitutionally tortured under procedures personally approved by Rumsfeld.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said by telephone only that the department, which is representing Rumsfeld in the suit, “is reviewing the court’s decision.”
Vance and Ertel were described by their attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Chicago, as being in their early thirties. He said the two Americans went to Iraq in the fall of 2005 to work for the Iraqi-owned contracting firm of Shield Group Security.
The suit filed in 2006 alleges that while working for the company they saw fellow employees making payments to “certain Iraqi sheikhs” and… Continue reading
February 25, 2010
By Paul Craig Roberts
The Washington Times is a newspaper that looks with favor upon the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neocon wars of aggression in the Middle East and favors making terrorists pay for 9/11. Therefore, I was surprised to learn on February 24 that the most popular story on the paper’s website for the past three days was the “Inside the Beltway” report, “Explosive News,” about the 31 press conferences in cities in the US and abroad on February 19 held by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an organization of professionals which now has 1,000 members.
I was even more surprised that the news report treated the press conference seriously. How did three World Trade Center skyscrapers suddenly disintegrate into fine dust? How did massive steel beams in three skyscrapers suddenly fail as a result of short-lived, isolated, and low temperature fires? “A thousand architects and engineers want to know, and are calling on Congress to order a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7,” reports the Washington Times.
The paper reports that the architects and engineers have concluded that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology provided “insufficient, contradictory and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers’ destruction” and are “calling for a grand jury investigation of NIST officials.”
The newspaper reports that Richard Gage, the spokesperson for the architects and engineers said: “Government officials will be notified that “Misprision of Treason,’ U.S. Code… Continue reading
February 17, 2010
Contact: press [at] ccrjustice.org
New York — Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantánamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.
Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.
In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate.
The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act that bars any challenge by a Guantánamo detainee to their treatment, conditions, or any other aspect of their detention, while failing to address the plaintiffs’ arguments about the unconstitutionality of the provision itself. The court also dismissed the deceased’s claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, following a holding by the D.C.…Continue reading
February 9, 2010
A reader asked whether the U.S. is still in an official state of emergency, and if so, what that means.
The answer is yes, we are still in a state of emergency.
On September 11, 2001, the government declared a state of emergency. That declared state of emergency was formally put in writing on 9/14/2001:
“A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America,
by virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby declare that the national emergency has existed since September 11, 2001 . . . .”
That declared state of emergency has continued in full force and effect from 9/11 [throughout the Bush administration] to the present.
On September 10 2009, President Obama continued the state of emergency:
The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on September 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect after September 14, 2009, the national emergency with respect to the terrorist threat.
Does a State of Emergency Really Mean Anything?
Does a state of emergency really mean anything?
Yes, it does:
By Glenn Greenwald
January 27, 2010
(updated below – Update II)
The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest today reports that “U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people.” That’s no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.
But buried in Priest’s article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret “hit list” of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists… Continue reading
Justice department to accuse FBI of invoking crises to obtain details of more than 2,000 calls, Washington Post reports
by Chris McGreal in Washington
19 January 2010
The US justice department is preparing a report which concludes that the FBI repeatedly broke the law by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist to obtain more than 2,000 telephone call records over four years from 2002, including those of journalists on US newspapers, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.
The bureau also issued authorisations for the seizure of records after the fact, in order to justify unwarranted seizures.
The Washington Post said the emails show how counter-terrorism officials inside FBI headquarters breached regulations designed to protect civil liberties.
The FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, told the Washington Post that the agency violated privacy laws by inventing non-existent terrorist threats to justify collecting the phone records. “We should have stopped those requests from being made that way,” she said.
Caproni said that FBI’s issuing of authorisations after the fact was a “good-hearted but not well thought-out” move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records.
After the 9/11 attacks, the USA patriot act greatly expanded the government’s ability to monitor American citizens, including increased access to their phone calls with the approval of lower-level officials than previously allowed. But the authorisation had to be tied to an open terrorism investigation.
The Washington Post said two FBI officers had raised concerns. Special agent Bassem Youssef observed… Continue reading
January 10, 2010
by Tom Burghart
New revelations about the failed Christmas Day attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 continue to emerge as does evidence of a systematic cover-up.
With the White House in crisis mode since the attempted bombing, President Obama met for two hours January 5 with top security and intelligence officials. Obama said that secret state agencies “had sufficient information to uncover the terror plot … but that intelligence officials had ‘failed to connect those dots’,” The New York Times reports.
The latest iteration of the “dot theory” floated by the President, aided and abetted by a compliant media, claims “this was not a failure to collect intelligence” but rather, “a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”
“Mr. Obama’s stark assessment that the government failed to properly analyze and integrate intelligence served as a sharp rebuke of the country’s intelligence agencies,” declared the Times uncritically.
While the President’s remarks may have offered a “sharp [rhetorical] rebuke,” Obama’s statement suggests that no one will be held accountable. Indeed, the President “was standing by his top national security advisers, including those whose agencies failed to communicate with one another.”
While the President may be “standing by” his national security advisers, the question is, are the denizens of America’s secret state standing by him? One well-connected Washington insider, MSNBC pundit Richard Wolffe, isn’t so sure.
Wolffe, the author of a flattering portrait of Obama, Renegade: The Making of a President, when asked… Continue reading
January 8, 2010
American civilian and military leaders have been creating new terrorists through
(1) Use of torture
(2) Killing of innocent civilians- especially children – in Arabic countries.
A high-level American Special Ops interrogator says that information obtained
from torture is unreliable, and that torture just creates more terrorists. Indeed,
he says that torture of innocent Iraqis by Americans is the main reason
that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the
A former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects — says categorically
does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that
torture actually turns people into terrorists.
A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most
senior managerial ranks, says:
“This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture
doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture
creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly
Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite
detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting
Torture puts our troops in danger, torture makes our troops less safe, torture
creates terrorists. It’s used so widely as a propaganda tool now in Afghanistan.
All too often, detainees have pamphlets on them, depicting what happened at
The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found:
“The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies
… strengthened the hand of our enemies.”
Two professors of political science have demonstrated that torture increases,
rather than decreases, terrorism.…