Obama has authority for 'drone strikes' on US Soil
Barack Obama 'has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil' 06 Mar 2013 President Barack Obama has the authority to use an unmanned drone strike to kill US citizens on American soil, his attorney general has said. Eric Holder argued that using lethal military force against an American in his home country would be legal and justified in an "extraordinary circumstance" comparable to the September 11 terrorist attacks. "The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorise the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland," Mr Holder said. The administration claims it has the legal authority to assassinate Americans provided that they are a senior 'al-Qaeda' operative posing an imminent threat and it would be "infeasible" to capture them.
Obama admin refuses to rule out drone strikes on US soil --Sen. Paul branded Holder's refusal to comprehensively rule out drone strikes on US soil 'more than frightening.' 05 Mar 2013 American forces could launch a deadly drone strike against a target on US soil if there was an "extraordinary circumstance," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter seen Tuesday. The nation's top Justice Department official, in a letter to Republican Senator Rand Paul, who released it, stressed that US military and intelligence agencies currently have "no intention" of carrying out such an attack. "It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," Holder wrote.
Rand Paul ends epic filibuster over Brennan 07 Mar 2013 After nearly 13 hours on the Senate floor, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ended his filibuster blocking Senate confirmation of John Brennan, President Obama's pick for director of the CIA. "I'm going to speak as long as I can to draw attention to something I find very disturbing," Paul said when he started speaking around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. He finally ceded the floor at about 12:40 a.m. local time on Thursday. What started in the morning as a solo effort turned into a multi-senator debate that included one Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and at least seven Republicans questioning the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. citizens at home and abroad.
Paul mounts Senate filibuster of Obama's CIA nominee over drone concerns --Paul said he'd be raising the same complaints under a Republican president. 06 Mar 2013 Business in the Senate ground to a halt Wednesday as Sen. Rand Paul -- aided by colleagues from both parties -- launched into an old-fashioned filibuster, as he tried to hold up the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director over concerns about the president's authority to kill Americans with drones. Paul, R-Ky., is one of several lawmakers -- on both sides of the aisle -- who has raised concerns about the legal justification for launching drone strikes against Americans overseas. But Paul took to the floor after receiving a statement from Attorney General Eric Holder that creaked open the door to the possibility of using a drone to kill an American inside the United States. "To allow one man to accuse you in secret -- you never get notified you've been accused," Paul said on the floor. "Your notification is the buzz of propellers on the drone as it flies overhead in the seconds before you're killed. Is that what we really want from our government?"
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden Joins Rand Paul for Historic Bipartisan Filibuster Over Drone Strikes 06 Mar 2013 Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) filibuster of John Brennan's CIA nomination just became a bipartisan affair: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced he will join the effort to protest the Obama pick's appointment by railing against executive overreach on targeted killings. Several hours into his filibuster effort, Paul's Republican colleagues in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined him on the Senate floor. But it took nearly four hours for a Democrat to surprise everyone and make the filibuster a bipartisan one.
Rand Paul filibusters vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan over drones [Awesome!] 06 Mar 2013 Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is filibustering the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the CIA, delivering a protracted speech on the Senate floor in protest of the Obama regime's controversial drone program, of which Brennan has been a key architect. Paul, speaking during the debate surrounding Brennan's nomination on the Senate floor, said he would "speak until I can no longer speak" in order to get his point across. "I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court," he said.
Senate panel approves John Brennan's nomination as CIA director 05 Mar 2013 Barack Obama is close to filling all the key posts in his administration after the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday approved John Brennan as the next CIA director. Approval came after the Obama administration caved in to demands by the intelligence committee to see all classified legal advice prepared by the Justice Department about the use of drones. Brennan had been in line as director of the CIA in the first Obama administration, but withdrew his name from consideration in the face of concern in Congress about the use of torture during the Bush regime. Instead, Brennan, a CIA veteran, joined the Obama administration as deputy national security adviser, a post that did not require Senate confirmation.
Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres --Torture centres set up with millions of dollars of US funding 06 Mar 2013 The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from [alleged] insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war. Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades. A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.
US special forces veteran links General Petraeus to torture in Iraq 06 Mar 2013 (Video trailer) A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq. Another special forces veteran, retired Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services. This is an edited version of a longer film. The full-length film investigation about James Steele is here.
From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads --In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America's dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage 06 Mar 2013 Retired Colonel Jim Steele, whose military decorations include the Silver Star, the Defence Distinguished Service Medal, four Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart, is not at home. Nor is he at his office headquarters in Geneva, where he is listed as the chief executive officer of Buchanan Renewables, an energy company... For over a year the Guardian has been trying to contact Steele to ask him about his role during the Iraq war as US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld's personal envoy to Iraq's Special Police Commandos: a fearsome paramilitary force that ran a secret network of detention centres across the country -- where those suspected of rebelling against the US-led invasion were tortured for information.
Syria militants detain 20 UN peacekeepers in Golan Heights 06 Mar 2013 The foreign-sponsored militants fighting against the Syrian government have reportedly detained about 20 United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. According to UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey, the UN force stationed in the occupied Syrian territories of Golan Heights reported that approximately 30 armed militants stopped and detained about 20 peacekeepers in the area. "The UN observers were on a regular supply mission and were stopped near observation post 58," he added.
Grounded F-35s: Israeli company fraudulently changed test results over 15 years 04 Mar 2013 (CT) Pratt & Whitney discovered nearly two years ago that one of its foreign business units had fraudulently adjusted test results on tens of thousands of engine parts to bypass additional inspection, the company said Monday. The unit, Carmel Forge Ltd. in Israel, changed test results for more than 40,000 forged disks over 15 years, Pratt said. In jet engines, the disks serve as hubs to which compressor and turbine blades are attached. According to an internal company memo obtained by The Hartford Courant, Pratt launched an internal investigation in June 2011 after an employee tipped off the company to the problem. In late February, the military grounded its fleet of F-35s after examinations found a crack in a low-pressure turbine blade in Pratt's F135 engine.
Manchester Community College in lockdown; no shots fired --Students were apparently instructed to walk out of their rooms with their hands up until making it outside. 06 Mar 2013 (CT) Manchester police have been dispatched to Manchester Community College following a report that a student was witnessed with a gun on campus. Speaking from the campus by telephone Wednesday afternoon, college President Gena Glickman said that students and faculty must remain sheltered on campus until police sweep the campus and clear all the buildings. "They are going from classroom to classroom," said Glickman, who was also on lockdown in a secure location. "We had a [emergency drill] practice a couple weeks ago. So this went pretty smooth."
FAA investigating report of drone spotted near NYC 05 Mar 2013 The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating a pilot's report that he spotted a small unmanned aircraft at New York's Kennedy Airport. The Alitalia pilot told air traffic controllers that he saw the aircraft as he approached the runway at Kennedy at 1:15 p.m. Monday... An FBI spokesman says the pilot reported that the aircraft was about 3 feet wide. The pilot can be heard on radio calls captured by LiveATC.net, a website that posts air traffic communications. The pilot said, "We saw a drone, a drone aircraft."
Google offers data on FBI's national security-related requests for user identities --No court approval is necessary, and disclosing the existence of the FBI's request is not permitted. 05 Mar 2013 Google today became the first Internet company to shed light on a highly secret -- and controversial -- warrantless electronic data-gathering technique used by the FBI. The technique allows FBI officials to send a secret request to Web and telecommunications companies requesting "name, address, length of service," and other information about users as long as it's relevant to a national security investigation. Because of that legal prohibition, Google was able to disclose only the numerical ranges of requests it receives per year. Today's addition to the company's Transparency Report says that the company received somewhere between zero and 999 requests from the FBI seeking data on its users, targeting a total of between 1,000 and 1,999 accounts last year.
Attorney General: Aaron Swartz Case Was 'Good Use of Prosecutorial Discretion' 06 Mar 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said the suicide death of internet activist Aaron Swartz was a "tragedy," but the hacking case against the 26-year-old was "a good use of prosecutorial discretion." Holder, the nation’s top prosecutor, is the highest-ranking member of the President Barack Obama administration to defend the indictment and prosecution of the former director of Demand Progress, who committed suicide in January as his April trial approached. Holder's comments come seven weeks after Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, whose office was prosecuting Swartz, said the authorities' actions were "appropriate in bringing and handling this case."
Investigating Hugo Chávez's death --FOIA filed demanding information on possible assassination plans 05 Mar 2013 Within hours of the announcement of the death of President Hugo Chávez, civil rights groups in the United States filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demands with federal agencies seeking information and documents that "relate to or reference or discuss any information regarding or plans to poison or otherwise assassinate the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez." The records demands have been made to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and the Defense Intelligence Agency and have been filed by the civil rights legal organization, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, the anti-war group, ANSWER Coalition and Liberation Newspaper. The Venezuelan government is also calling for an investigation into the circumstances of President Chávez's illness, specifically whether he was poisoned or deliberately exposed to cancer causing elements, according to NBC News and other media outlets.
Ex-congressman Joe Kennedy praises Hugo Chavez's charity 06 Mar 2013 Former congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) is mourning the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today, praising Chavez as someone who made a difference for poor people. Kennedy told the AP that Chavez helped 2 million Americans through a heating assistance program that the two men worked on together through Kennedy’s Citizen's Energy charity. Kennedy said Chavez donated 200 million gallons of heating oil over eight years. Kennedy joins Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) among the few American politicians [but millions of people all over the world] to praise Chavez after his death Tuesday.
Chavez is dead, but his revolution goes on 06 Mar 2013 Thousands of saddened Venezuelans poured into the streets of Caracas crying, hugging each other and shouting slogans in support of President Hugo Chavez after learning of his death. "I feel such big pain I cannot even speak," said Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old office worker, to the Associated Press. "He was the best thing the country had... I adore him. Let's hope the country calms down and we can continue the tasks he left us." Leaders of the continent also showed their sorrow. "We are devastated by the death of the brother Hugo Chavez," Prensa Latina agency quoted Bolivian president Evo Morales as saying, while he was accompanied by several members of his cabinet.
US and Russia unite in bid to strengthen protection for polar bear 05 Mar 2013 A fight to protect polar bears from Arctic hunters has led cold war foes the US and Russia to unite against Canada ahead of a key international vote this week. The bitter row is over the 600 or so of the polar species killed each year by Canadian hunters terrorists, most of which are exported as bear skin rugs, fangs or paws. Diplomatic relations became even frostier on Tuesday, when the European Union attempted to block the US proposal to outlaw the export trade, which is strongly supported by Russia. The US is adamant the trade is unsustainable... Nikita Ovsyanikov, a leading polar bear expert and member the Russian delegation, rejects all the Canadian arguments. "They are just not true," he said. "Polar bears are struggling for survival already and exposing them to hunting will drive them to extinction."
Hours Away from Vote to End Profit Driven International Trade in Polar Bear Parts 06 Mar 2013 The vote on a US proposal to end the international commercial trade in polar bear parts will take place tomorrow in Bangkok, Thailand. The US proposal is before the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and is opposed by Canada, the only country where polar bears are found that still allows the killing of the animals to supply global demand for polar bear parts (skins, claws, teeth, skulls). The US delegation to CITES has been headed all week by USFWS Director, Dan Ashe, who has been rallying support for the US proposal. The proposal has gained Russian support, where polar bears are threatened by illegal killing to supply the international market, and the support of other countries around the globe. Nonetheless, securing protections for polar bears by banning their global trade won't be easy, as such a ban requires two-thirds support from all countries voting at CITES. [Sign petition to EU!]
Ask Prime Minister Cameron to Rally the European Union for Polar Bear Protection 06 Mar 2013 The U.K. Environment Minister has just announced that his nation is supporting the U.S. proposal to ban the global trade in polar bear parts, which will be voted on at the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in March 2013. But other key European nations are still on the fence about stronger polar bear protections -- and their votes will decide the outcome. Call on U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the E.U. toward a Yes vote that will end the deadly trafficking in polar bears once and for all! (Petition)
Jury acquits Occupy protesters 05 Mar 2013 A Common Pleas Court jury today acquitted 12 Occupy Philadelphia demonstrators arrested in a 2011 sit-in in a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Center City. The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated a total of about 13 hours since Friday before it returned, shortly before noon, to announce the verdicts: not guilty of conspiracy and defiant trespass against each of the 12 protesters. The 12 - one woman and 11 men - were arrested Nov. 18, 2011 when they staged a sit-in inside the Wells Fargo branch at 17th and Market Streets. The protesters said they wanted to call attention to what they called [and is] Wells Fargo's "racist predatory lending" policies that caused a disproportionately large number of home foreclosures in African American neighborhoods.
Pa. court: Reinstate health-care funding for the poor 06 Mar 2013 A state judge has ordered the Corbett administration to reinstate funding for programs that provided health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians. In his ruling Tuesday, Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini found that two statutes that stripped money from the adultBasic and Medicaid programs were unconstitutional because they diverted money from the federal tobacco settlement to finance items other than health care in the general budget. AdultBasic was created in 2002 to serve lower-income Pennsylvanians who fell into a gap.
Stealth Tax Subsidy for Business Costs Government Billions 05 Mar 2013 The ability to finance a variety of business projects cheaply with bonds that are exempt from federal taxes -- has not only endured, it has grown, in what amounts to a stealth subsidy for private enterprise. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the offices of the Goldman Sachs Group and the Bank of America Tower in New York -- these projects, and many more, have been built using the tax-exempt bonds that are more conventionally used by cities and states to pay for roads, bridges and schools. In all, more than $65 billion of these bonds have been issued by state and local governments on behalf of corporations since 2003, according to an analysis of Bloomberg bond data by The New York Times. During that period, the single biggest beneficiary of such securities was the Chevron Corporation, which issued bonds with a total face value of $2.6 billion, the analysis showed.
Mega barf alert! Obusha begging and bribing the GOP to let him slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so Exxon Mobil can keep its tax subsidies: At GOP outreach dinner, Obama picks up the tab 06 Mar 2013 As part of his effort to improve relations between the White House and Capitol Hill, President Obama dined with a small group of Republican senators this evening and, according to the White House, he paid for the dinner out of his own pocket. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Dan Coats, R-Ind., Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; are among the senators who joined the president for dinner tonight. The group dined at the Jefferson Hotel a few blocks from the White House.
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