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Bob Marley - Lively Up Yourself
"Ours is a government of checks and balances. The Mafia and crooked businessmen make out checks, and the politicians and other compromised officials improve their bank balances."
-- Steve Allen
News and Opinion
The White Paper: This Isn’t the Memo You’re Looking For
As important as it is to see the white paper DOJ gave Congress to explain its purported legal rationale, it is just as important to make clear what this white paper is not.
First, is it not the actual legal memos used to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and who knows who else. As Michael Isikoff notes in his story, the Senators whose job it is to oversee the Executive Branch — even the ones on the Senate Intelligence Committee that are supposed to be read into covert operations — are still demanding the memos, for at least the 12th time. The release of this white paper must not serve to take pressure off of the White House to release the actual memos.
Which brings me to an equally important point: memos. Plural.
NBC suggests and the close tracking appears to support that this white paper is a version of the OLC memo written in June 2010 and reported on — the last time there was clamor to release the targeting killing authorization publicly — by Charlie Savage.
But as Colleen McMahon strongly hinted last month, that doesn’t mean that this white paper — and the OLC memo which it summarizes — describe the legal basis actually used to kill Anwar al-Awlaki.
Indeed, Ron Wyden has been referring to memos, in the plural, for a full year (even before, if Isikoff’s report is correct, this white paper was first provided to the Committees in June 2012).
Questions for John Brennan That Won't Get Asked
Several people have questions for John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser and his nominee for CIA director, whose confirmation hearing is tomorrow. Unfortunately, none of them are senators who’ll be asking questions.
One of the questioners is Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, a father of seven children and a Yemeni cleric who apparently opposed Al Qaeda and its allies in Yemen. While he was arguing, alongside his cousin, with several Al Qaeda members who were angry with him, he was blown to pieces in a drone strike carried out by the United States. Oh, wait, he can’t ask Brennan anything. He’s dead. Oops.
Another question for Brennan comes from Saleem Hussein Jamal. Jamal happened to give a lift to some people who’d offered to pay him for a ride. During the trip, because the five riders were apparently Al Qaeda members, the car was blown to smithereens, and rescuers couldn’t identify anyone except by scraps. “We found eyes, but there were no faces left,” said one. Oh, Jamal can’t ask Brennan his question. He’s dead, too. Oops.
Dozens of questions come from Yemenis who experienced a US military drone strike in December 2009, the first in Yemen during the Obama administration. Unfortunately, because dozens of civilians died in that strike, which carried cluster munitions, they’re not going to able to ask Brennan anything, either. They’re all dead, too. Oops.
Another question comes from Anwar al-Awlaki, by all accounts a scurrilous individual, an Al Qaeda fanatic who happened to be an American citizen. He’d like to know exactly what legal justification there was for a drone strike that killed him, and another one that later killed his son, also an American...
Lawmakers Ramp Up Pressure on Obama, Brennan to Come Clean Over DronesJoan Walsh confronts the awful silence of the liberals, which indicates that many may have no principles except that they want their team to be elected:
Committee promises to 'pull out all the stops' at Brennan hearing
A growing number of U.S. Congress members are now promising to ramp up pressure on the Obama Administration to reassess its lethal, and many say unconstitutional, use of drone strikes following this week's "white paper" leak, which exposed the Department of Justice's "profoundly disturbing" justification of drone executions of U.S. citizens. ...
In their letter to Obama, the 11 senators wrote, "We ask that you direct the Justice Department to provide Congress, specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, with any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch's official understanding of the President's authority to deliberately kill American citizens."
"The executive branch's cooperation on this matter will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate's consideration of nominees for national security positions," the Senators added, suggesting that Thursday's scheduled nomination of CIA director, and drone program architect, John Brennan could be held up if the administration doesn't release the full extent of legal memos. ...
On Wednesday committee member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., threatened to “pull out all the stops” at the hearing, suggesting the potential for a filibuster of Brennan's confirmation should Obama's team continue to hide the full extent of legal papers.
“I want it understood that because this is such a central [issue], you have an individual with enormous influence who is really the architect of the counterterror policy in the Obama administration that I am going to pull out all the stops to get the actual legal analysis because with out it, in effect, the administration is practicing secret law,” said Wyden.
When liberals ignore injustice
Why isn't there more outrage about the president's unilateral targeted assassination program on the left?
Last year Brown University’s Michael Tesler released a fascinating study showing that Americans inclined to racially blinkered views wound up opposing policies they would otherwise support, once they learned those policies were endorsed by President Obama. Their prejudice extended to the breed of the president’s dog, Bo: They were much more likely to say they liked Portuguese water dogs when told Ted Kennedy owned one than when they learned Obama did.
But Tesler found that the Obama effect worked the opposite way, too: African-Americans and white liberals who supported Obama became more likely to support policies once they learned the president did.
More than once I’ve worried that might carry over to bad policies that Obama has flirted with embracing, that liberals have traditionally opposed: raising the age for Medicare and Social Security or cutting those programs’ benefits. Or hawkish national security policies that liberals shrieked about when carried out by President Bush, from rendition to warrantless spying. Or even worse, policies that Bush stopped short of, like targeted assassination of U.S. citizens loyal to al-Qaida (or “affiliates”) who were (broadly) deemed (likely) to threaten the U.S. with (possible) violence (some day).
Those ugly parentheses are made necessary by Michael Isikoff’s exclusive report on the Obama administration “white paper” that justifies its unprecedented claim to the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process on foreign soil. The New York Times and the ACLU had sued to get the administration to release the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion in the case of the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki by drone strike in Yemen last year. The administration fought that effort, but Isikoff was leaked a summary, “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force.” It lays out a legal rationale far beyond anything the administration has claimed before.
CIA operating drone base in Saudi Arabia, US media reveal
The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.
A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.
US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.
Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia. ...
The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base
Afghanistan’s Karzai to leave power in 2014
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai confirmed Tuesday in Oslo that he plans to step down next year when his mandate expires.
“The question of me staying as the president beyond 2014 is out of the question,” Karzai said when reporters asked about recent speculation that he was keen to stay on.
“Neither am I seeking a third term, nor does the constitution allow it. There will be an election and a new president will come,” he said.
Karzai was elected in 2004, and re-elected in 2009 in a vote marred by accusations of fraud.
Afghanistan’s next presidential election is scheduled for April 2014, just a few months before the end of NATO’s mission.
Catholic laundries enslaved women and girls in Ireland as recently as 1996
After more than seven decades of exploitation and a 10-year struggle for justice, Ireland on Tuesday admitted its role in the enslavement of thousands of women and girls in the notorious Magdalene Laundry system, but stopped short of issuing a formal apology from the government.
A long-awaited report headed by Senator Martin McAleese said there was “significant state involvement” in how the laundries were run – a reversal of the official state line for years, which insisted the institutions were privately controlled and run by nuns. ...
Labelled the “Maggies”, the women and girls were stripped of their names and dumped in Irish Catholic church-run laundries where nuns treated them as slaves, simply because they were unmarried mothers, orphans or regarded as somehow morally wayward.
Over 74 years, 30,000 women were put to work in de facto detention, mostly in laundries run by nuns. At least 988 of the women who were buried in laundry grounds are thought to have spent most of their lives inside the institutions. ...
Established in 1922, some Magdalene laundries operated as late as 1996. Half of the women incarcerated in these institutions, which washed clothes and linen from major hotel groups and even the Irish armed forces, were under the age of 23.
What America's Most Vulnerable Need: A Bill of Rights for the Homeless
Homeless shelters began opening en masse three decades ago, but the crisis is only getting worse. In a survey of 25 cities from every region of the country, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found more than half are experiencing a spike in homelessness. A majority of the cities said families seeking shelter were turned away for lack of space and that they expect an increase in homeless families. Yet more and more cities are addressing homelessness not by creating housing, but by banning activities such as sitting, sleeping or lying down in public, effectively making being homeless illegal.
This year, advocates for the homeless are fighting back. Until new policies and programs address the causes of homelessness--a lack of affordable housing, lagging incomes that have not kept pace with rising housing costs and the severe cuts in housing assistance programs for the poor—the nation must stop treating our most downtrodden fellow humans like criminals.
Last June, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights, banning discrimination against homeless Rhode Islanders and asserting their right to use public parks, transportation and buildings like anyone else. In California, a Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (AB 5) was introduced last month by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, Similar bills are expected to be introduced in several other states, including Massachusetts and Oregon.
Ed Rendell Intervened For Fracking Giant Range Resources to Stop Texas EPA Water Contamination Case
A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA’s decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.
At the center of the scandal sits former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the National Governors’ Association. ...
A confidential report, contracted out to hydrogeologist Geoffrey Thyne by the Obama EPA, concluded that methane found in the drinking water of a nearby resident could have originated from Range Resources’ nearby shale gas fracking operation. ... In response, the Obama EPA ordered Range to halt fracking. ...
Emails obtained by EnergyWire reveal that Rendell intervened directly with Administrator Jackson at some point in 2011, presumably Rendell said he was there “as a spokesman for Range.”
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Rendell took almost $200,000 from the oil and gas industry in the run-up to his 2006 electoral victory and while governor, he described himself as the industry’s “best ally.”
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Johnny Guitar Watson - Space Guitar
Johnny Guitar Watson - Gangster Of Love
Johnny Guitar Watson - Hot Little Mama
Johnny 'Guitar' Watson - Three Hours Past Midnight
Johnny Guitar Watson - Cuttin' In
Johnny Guitar Watson - Someone Cares For Me
Johnny Guitar Watson - The Bear
Johnny (Guitar) Watson - One Kiss
Johnny Guitar Watson - Too Tired
Frank Zappa (w/Johnny Guitar Watson) - In France
Bob Marley & the Wailers - Stop That Train
Bob Marley: Live in Santa Barbara
Johnny Guitar Watson - 1977 Concert on German TV Show: Musikladen
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