Thursday, April 3, 2008, 6:49am
"If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network," Yoo wrote. "In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions."
I love how the ends now justify the means.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 6:10pm
JOHN YOO'S hitherto secret memo justifying the use of harsh interrogation tactics has finally been declassified and released. As legal scholar Marty Lederman observes, it is hard to see any real justification for having kept the document under lock and key for so long--except, I suppose, that it makes clear there's no wondrous legal proof lurking behind the curtains here, just Mr Yoo's rather extreme (and by now depressingly familiar) view that there is no law higher than presidential whim in time of war. Or, as he puts it, "it is for the President alone to decide what methods to use to best prevail against the enemy."
Saturday, March 8, 2008, 4:38pm
Two senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have requested a full accounting of how Iraq is spending its soaring oil revenues, amid starkly conflicting estimates of how much the country has invested in rebuilding its broken infrastructure and providing basic services to its citizens.
The request, sent Friday to David M. Walker, the top official at the United States Government Accountability Office, estimates that Iraqi oil revenues could skyrocket above $56 billion in 2008, largely because of the rising price of oil.
Saturday, March 8, 2008, 4:17pm
Baghdad's hospitals are poorly equipped, lack medicine and equipment, are frequently overcrowded and have too few nurses and doctors to care for the patients. Many of them are also dirty, and I have had doctors tell me that they always advise patients to go home if they possibly can to avoid becoming sicker. While Iraqi doctors are often quite good, and some younger doctors have gone to sessions held by groups like Doctors Without Borders, most have had little access to training in the last five years and are working with antiquated equipment.
Medicines are of questionable quality and often outdated. Basic antibiotics are available, but most ills are treated with broad spectrum drugs rather than drugs tailored to the particular illness. For high blood pressure, a common complaint, doctors often prescribe diazepam (Valium) and little else. Diabetes is hard to treat because it is difficult to get steady supplies of insulin. These are just a few examples, there are many more.
How can we help them win the war on terror if we can't help them win the war for basic healthcare?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 8:09pm
In a stunning turnaround, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday he would be a defense witness for the driver of Osama bin Laden.
Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned in October over alleged political interference in the U.S. military tribunals, told The Associated Press he will appear at a hearing for Salim Ahmed Hamdan.
"I expect to be called as a witness ... I'm more than happy to testify," Davis said in a telephone interview from Washington. He called it "an opportunity to tell the truth."
At the April pretrial hearing inside the U.S. military base in southeast Cuba, Hamdan's defense team plans to argue that alleged political interference cited by Davis violates the Military Commissions Act, Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Brian Mizer, told the AP.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 7:56pm
After a two-year rush program by the Pentagon's research arm, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, troops are now getting what might be described as Google Maps for the Iraq counterinsurgency. There is nothing cutting-edge about the underlying technology: software that runs on PCs and taps multiple distributed databases. But the trove of information the system delivers is of central importance in the daily lives of soldiers.
The new technology--called the Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR--is a map-centric application that junior officers (the young sergeants and lieutenants who command patrols) can study before going on patrol and add to upon returning. By clicking on icons and lists, they can see the locations of key buildings, like mosques, schools, and hospitals, and retrieve information such as location data on past attacks, geotagged photos of houses and other buildings (taken with cameras equipped with Global Positioning System technology), and photos of suspected insurgents and neighborhood leaders. They can even listen to civilian interviews and watch videos of past maneuvers. It is just the kind of information that soldiers need to learn about Iraq and its perils.
Great to know the war on terror will now be fought with technology from years ago.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008, 8:32pm
Patricia Titus, chief information security officer for the Transportation Security Administration, is leaving the TSA next month to take a job with Unisys, a Department of Homeland Security and TSA contractor.
This might strike some people as odd, given that, as the Washington Post reported last year, Unisys is currently under FBI investigation for criminal fraud for failing to protect the DHS computer network from intrusions.
Monday, March 3, 2008, 8:10pm
Lyglenson Lemorin, age 33, came to the U.S. from Haiti as a child. He is a legal resident of the U.S. He hasn't been to Haiti in 20 years.
He was acquitted by a federal jury of any wrongdoing in the Justice Department's hyped prosecution of the Miami Liberty 7 -- another case that went after a bunch of sad sacks who may have been bumbling terror wannabes but had no ability to carry out a terror threat even if that was their desire.
The Justice Department is now trying to deport Lemorin back to Haiti -- for the same conduct for which he was acquitted. In other words, a legal resident who grew up here and was acquitted by a jury after the Government had its chance to take its best shot and failed is now facing removal from the United States. He never even saw a day of freedom after the acquittal.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 10:16pm
The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to review a legal challenge to the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who say that the unchecked surveillance program is disrupting their ability to communicate effectively with sources and clients. The court's decision today lets stand an appeals court's ruling on narrow grounds that plaintiffs could not show with certainty that they had been wiretapped by the National Security Agency.
The following quote can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project:
"Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act intending to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and residents, and the president systematically broke that law over a period of more than five years. It's very disturbing that the president's actions will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court. It shouldn't be left to executive branch officials alone to determine what limits apply to their own surveillance activities and whether those limits are being honored. Allowing the executive branch to police itself flies in the face of the constitutional system of checks and balances."
Monday, February 18, 2008, 2:37pm
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA used a widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding on three suspects captured after the September 11 attacks, CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress on Tuesday.
"Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees," Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was the first time a U.S. official publicly specified the number of people subjected to waterboarding and named them.