Category Archives: Arbitrary executive powers

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki and American Exceptionalism

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Anwar al-Awlaki and American Exceptionalism

Why the assassination of an American citizen – by his own government – is a big deal
by Justin Raimondo, October 05, 2011

When US special forces took aim at Anwar al-Awlaki, and pulled the trigger, they ruptured the very foundations of our political system – and paved the way for its future collapse.

The skeptical reader is bound to ask: Really? Can it be true that the – no doubt well-deserved – death of a known terrorist, who was plotting and scheming to kill Americans, is inextricably bound up with the survival of our Republic?

The short answer is: yes. A somewhat longer answer, however, is embedded in some of the reactions to the Awlaki affair. Take, for example, the distinguished foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead, writing in The American Interest. Mead takes up the cudgels against Glenn Greenwald and Ron Paul for arguing that the killing is a legal and moral transgression. After a few self-congratulatory remarks to the effect that his notable book, Special Providence, predicted the confluence of left and right critics of untrammeled executive power in foreign affairs, he gets down to his basic argument:

“Al-Awlaki and his buds are at war with the people of the United States and that in war, people not only die: it is sometimes your duty to kill them. That the Al-Qaeda groupies are levying war against the United States without benefit of a government does not make them less legitimate targets for missiles, bullets and any other instruments of execution we may have lying around: the irresponsibility, the contempt for all legal norms, the chaotic and anarchic nature of the danger they pose and the sheer wickedness of waging private war make them even more legitimate targets with even fewer rights than combatants fighting under legal governments that observe the laws of war.”

One is struck by the moral condemnation of “private war,” as opposed to the presumably “public” war waged by states: is it really true that the much more efficiently deadly assaults launched by nation-states against their enemies are morally superior to the usually far less deadly and often ineffective attacks carried out by free-lancers? This hardly seems to be borne out by the record, and the sheer numbers involved: al-Qaeda killed three thousand New Yorkers – and we killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in our misdirected war of revenge. So which is the greater evil?

One could make the argument, as I think Mead does, that killing in a war setting, as opposed to cowardly attacks on innocent civilians by terrorists, attaches to the latter a weightier malevolence, but this says nothing about the legal status of Americans accused of such crimes.

In targeting and killing an American citizen, without going to the bother of indicting and convicting him in a court of law, we have stripped all Americans of what little protection they have left against the depredations of a tyrannical government. The authorities can read our emails, listen to our phone calls, and rifle through our garbage – all in the name of our endless “war on terrorism” – and now they can kill us, too, without even a nod to legality. Nor do they have to reveal the reasons for our summary execution: it’s all “secret,” because, after all, they have to protect their “sources and methods.” Their methods, though, are coming to resemble those of the Gestapo and the KGB, as opposed to the law enforcement practices of a free people.

It used to be that American citizenship exempted us from the vicissitudes regularly visited on less fortunate foreigners, inhabitants of various banana republics and absolute monarchies, who are subject to their rulers’ whims and random cruelties. This is the much-touted “American exceptionalism” conservatives rhapsodize over: this is what made us “a shining city on a hill” rather than just another statist shantytown.

Mead conjures Lincoln’s shade to justify the al-Awlaki killing, as do others, but this merely underscores the danger of Obama’s lawless act: does Mead really mean to liken the circumstances surrounding al-Awlaki’s death to the conditions prevalent in the American Civil War? This example bodes ill for those who, like myself, can easily visualize a repeat of the al-Awlaki affair on American soil. Mead doesn’t allay our fears when he writes the following:

“Mr. Al-Awlaki chose to make himself what used to be called an outlaw; a person at war with society who is no longer protected by the laws he seeks to destroy. He was not a criminal who has broken some particular set of laws; he was an enemy seeking to destroy all the laws and the institutions that create them. His fiery sermons inspired numerous jihadists, like Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, to attack Americans. He was personally involved with planning the attempted Christmas Day bombing in 2009 and he mentored several of the 9/11 bombers. That he was at war with the United States may not have been proved in a criminal court but is not really up for debate.”

Mead has created an entire category of American citizens, “outlaws,” who achieve this degraded status merely by virtue of their beliefs. He admits al-Awlaki broke no “particular set of laws,” but avers that the cleric’s crime was greater than that, because “he was an enemy seeking to destroy all the laws and the institutions that create them.” Yet this is precisely the definition of a revolutionary: that is, one who seeks to upend the status quo, whatever it may be, and create something new. And this new “crime” – or has it always been a crime? – is not necessarily limited to physical acts of destruction: one can, like al-Awlaki, merely “inspire” others by giving “fiery sermons,” and get the death penalty in Mead’s – and Obama’s – book. A faint link to actually planning a terrorist attack is invoked in the case of al-Awlaki’s alleged involvement with the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt, but the evidence for that – as is all the “evidence” involving the murdered cleric – is deemed too “sensitive” for public release. Even the legal justification for the killing has been classified “Top Secret”!

The Meadian justification for the killing of al-Awlaki could just as easily be used to rationalize the extra-judicial murder of government critics, or the detention of those whose invective might “inspire” others to act in a way displeasing to our beneficent rulers. He rushes to assure us that no such scenario is in the making, but how can he know that? Imagine a future United States of America beset by economic turmoil and political upheaval: for the first time since the Civil War, the Union is threatened. In that case, a large proportion of the population could conceivably be deemed “outlaws,” whose summary execution without benefit of trial is justified in the name of protecting the unity and sanctity of the State.

This would be the bloody and dreary end of “American exceptionalism” – a tragic fate the assassination of al-Awlaki brings that much closer.

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (ISI, 2008), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996).

Extra-judicial assassinations by the Obama Administration

Killings Pose Legal and Moral Quandary
By EVAN PEREZ And KEITH JOHNSON
Wall Street Journal    October 1, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203405504576603313410902934.html?mod=WSJ_World_MIDDLENewsIntl

Federal investigators needed a judge’s permission to wiretap Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who became a leader in Yemen’s al Qaeda affiliate. But to kill him in a drone strike Friday, the government could do so unilaterally.

The killing of U.S.-born Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen is seen as a boost in the U.S. war on terror. But as WSJ’s Neil Hickey reports from Washington, it’s raised questions about what actions can be taken against U.S. citizens.

The case of Mr. Awlaki and his extrajudicial killing poses a legal and moral quandary for the U.S.: Can a country that so closely guards the presumption of innocence take a citizen’s life without so much as a court order?

A federal judge referred to this post-Sept. 11 dilemma in 2010, rejecting a lawsuit by Mr. Awlaki’s father, who challenged the legality of the Obama administration’s targeted-killing program.

U.S. District Judge John Bates cited the wiretap comparison. But he reached what he called the “somewhat unsettling” conclusion that a president’s unilateral decision to kill a U.S. citizen overseas in the interest of national security is “judicially unreviewable.”

Mr. Awlaki in recent years drew a following in jihadist circles with anti-American sermons circulated on discs and the Internet, and became one of the top U.S. targets because of his effectiveness in winning recruits to al Qaeda.

The U.S. hasn’t made public any formal charges against him, nor any specific evidence to prove their allegations against him. While other Americans have been killed in anti-terror strikes abroad, Mr. Awlaki was the first American to be added to a list of U.S. targets deemed a danger to U.S. security.

By contrast, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires the government to seek permission from a secret court to spy on an American overseas, as it likely did in 2009, when the FBI discovered Mr. Awlaki had exchanged emails with Maj. Nidal Hasan, who allegedly carried out the Fort Hood shootings.

The Justice Department says it doesn’t comment on the existence of FISA court orders and hasn’t acknowledged the existence of the targeted-killing program or said whether Mr. Awlaki was one of the al Qaeda leaders the U.S. sought to kill. But the Obama administration has asserted the laws of war give the government the right to target an American who joins a terrorist group and poses an imminent threat, but is out of the reach of U.S. authorities.

Killed with Mr. Awlaki was Samir Khan, also American, who helped produce the Yemen-based group’s English-language magazine, Inspire, which regularly promoted its “exclusive” interviews with Mr. Awlaki.

The White House declined to talk about the propriety of killing the men because it wasn’t discussing the manner in which they were killed.

Mr. Awlaki made clear through his many Internet missives in recent years that he rejected the U.S. and didn’t claim any of the protections that come with citizenship.

Many lawmakers welcomed the killing, deferring to President Barack Obama on the effort to eliminate someone considered a threat.

The Hunt for Al Qaeda

The death of Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the U.S.’s most-wanted terrorists, is the latest blow to al Qaeda’s leadership. See who’s still at large, and take a look back.

However one lawmaker, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, told reporters in New Hampshire he was troubled by extrajudicial killing of Americans. “If the American people accept this blindly and casually…I think that’s sad,” he said.

Legal scholars have debated the constitutional issues. Robert Chesney, law professor at the University of Texas, doesn’t believe U.S. officials violated the Constitution by targeting Mr. Awlaki because they lacked the means to arrest him and considered him a threat to the country.

But he added: “I think we should all be uncomfortable” with the questions raised by the killing. “Awlaki is sort of an easy case. But what about the next case, in which it’s someone we’ve never heard of and all the government’s information is classified”… What if they’ve got the wrong guy?”

Some have argued for a requirement that the government seek court review like that required for wiretaps before targeting Americans overseas.

Jameel Jaffer, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who argued Mr. Awlaki’s father case before Judge Bates, said Friday: “It is a mistake to invest the president—any president—with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country.”

CIA drone kills U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric in Yemen
By Erika Solomon and Mohammed Ghobari
Reuters,  September 30,  2011
SANAA (Reuters)- Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamist militant, was killed in Yemen on Friday in a CIA drone strike described by President Barack Obama as “another significant milestone” in efforts to defeat al Qaeda.

Awlaki’s killing deprives the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) of its “chief of external operations,” and an eloquent propagandist in English and Arabic who was implicated in attacks on the United States.

“This is further proof that al Qaeda and its affiliates will have no safe haven anywhere in the world,” Obama said, adding that Awlaki’s death was a tribute to years of counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen.

A U.S. official said Awlaki, 40, had planned and directed attacks against the United States. “In addition, Awlaki publicly urged attacks against U.S. persons and interests worldwide and called for violence against Arab governments he judged to be working against al Qaeda,” the official said.

As a web-savvy preacher, Awlaki was seen as an influential international recruiter to the al Qaeda movement. New York’s police commissioner Ray Kelly said the city’s force was on high alert following the killing.
“We know al-Awlaki had followers in the United States including New York City, and for that reason we remain alert to the possibility that someone might want to avenge his death,” Kelly said in a statement. “He was a powerful recruiter of terrorists in the United States.”

Yemen’s embassy in Washington said Awlaki had been killed some miles from the town of Khashef in the northern province of Jawf, adjacent to Saudi Arabia, at about 9:55 a.m. (2:55 a.m. EDT).

“We found his body in pieces,” said Abubakr al-Awlaki, a leader of the Awalik tribe, to which Awlaki belongs. “Why kill him in this brutal, ugly way? Killing him will not solve their problem with al Qaeda, it will just increase their strength and sympathy for (AQAP) in this region.”

Earlier in his career, Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, preached at mosques in the United States attended by some of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks by al Qaeda, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. raid on his hideout in Pakistan in May.

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is clinging to power despite months of popular protests, may hope Awlaki’s death will improve his standing in the eyes of Washington. But the White House made clear it was sticking to its insistence that Saleh begin a transfer of power immediately.

DRONE MISSED IN MAY

A Yemeni government statement said Samir Khan, an American of Pakistani origin, and two others were killed with Awlaki. Khan, from North Carolina, was an editor of AQAP’s English-language online magazine Inspire, which often published Awlaki’s writings.

U.S. drone aircraft targeted but missed Awlaki in May. The United States has stepped up drone strikes in Yemen to try and keep al Qaeda off balance and prevent it from capitalizing on the strife and chaos gripping the country, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia and lies near vital shipping routes.

Awlaki orchestrated plots to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and U.S. cargo planes in 2010, officials said.

“With the attempted Detroit bombing and the airplane cargo bomb plots he has demonstrated his intent and ability to cause mass terror, whilst his murderous ideology was responsible for inspiring terrorist attacks in the UK and the US,”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

Washington also learned that Awlaki sought to uracingse poisons including cyanide and ricin to attack Westerners and exchanged e-mails with a U.S. military psychiatrist later accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood army base in Texas in 2009.

An official familiar with British counter-terrorism activities said Awlaki had been in contact with former British Airways employee Rajib Karim, who was convicted in February on terrorism charges, while a woman who stabbed a British member of parliament who voted for the Iraq War was inspired by Awlaki’s sermons.

AQAP, which established itself in Yemen after Saudi Arabia defeated a violent al Qaeda campaign from 2003-6, has emerged as one of the network’s most ambitious wings, attempting daring, if unsuccessful, attacks on U.S. and Saudi targets.

Bin Laden’s al Qaeda made its first mark in Yemen with an attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors on the warship Cole in Aden harbor in 2000.

AQAP has not acknowledged Awlaki’s death. It usually takes a few days to post an Internet response to such killings.

A tribal sheikh in Jawf said Awlaki and three other people had been killed. “We have retrieved their bodies. There was another car that had al Qaeda members inside it, but they were able to escape,” he said, asking not to be named.

HARD TO REPLACE

“Awlaki will be difficult to replace,” said Jeremy Binnie, a terrorism and insurgency analyst at IHS Jane’s in London. “It’s a blow for AQAP’s international operations. Awlaki has helped the group build its international profile.”

U.S. authorities have branded Awlaki a “global terrorist” and last year authorized his capture or killing, but Sanaa had previously appeared reluctant to act against him.

The killing drew immediate condemnation from U.S. civil libertarians who said it was illegal to carry out the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen without due process of law.

Obama, when asked in a U.S. radio interview whether he had personally ordered Awlaki’s killing, said: “I can’t talk about the operational details.”

Awlaki was not a senior Islamic cleric, nor a commander of AQAP, which is led by a Yemeni named Nasser al-Wuhayshi, but he played a key role in the group’s global outreach.

“The organization has lost an important figure for recruiting people from afar,” said Said Obeid, a Yemeni analyst on al Qaeda.

Yemen has been mired in turmoil after eight months of mass protests demanding that Saleh step down, something he has reiterated he will do only if his main rivals do not take over.

“Because if we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given into a coup,” Saleh told The Washington Post and Time magazine in an interview published on Friday, a week after he made a surprise return from Saudi Arabia.

He had been recuperating in Riyadh from a June bomb attack on his Sanaa compound that badly burned and wounded him.

His return halted talks over a Gulf-brokered transition plan that had been revived despite violence that has killed more than 100 people in Sanaa in the past two weeks.

Saleh’s troops have been fighting the forces of rebel General Ali Mohsen and those of tribal leader Sadeq al-Ahmar.

Saleh has repeatedly shied away from signing the Gulf plan at the last minute, and has called for patience, saying: “We are pressed by America and the international community to speed up the process of handing over power. And we know where power is going to go. It is going to al Qaeda, which is directly and completely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Opposition groups accuse Saleh of giving militants more leeway in a ploy to frighten Western powers and convince them that he is the best defense against al Qaeda.

In Yemen’s volatile south, where al Qaeda-linked fighters have posed a rising challenge to government control, security sources said one soldier and six militants were killed in clashes over the provincial capital of Zinjibar on Friday.

The army is trying to retain control of the coastal capital of Abyan province, which lies east of a strategic shipping lane. Militants have seized several cities in the area.

In the capital Sanaa, thousands of pro- and anti-Saleh demonstrators took to the streets on the Muslim day of prayer.

Protesters carried 13 bodies, wrapped in Yemeni flags, of people killed in fighting in the capital this week. Asked about Awlaki’s death, one demonstrator said it was irrelevant.

“Nobody cared about his death today and we wonder why the government announced it now. We have much bigger problems than Anwar al-Awlaki,” said Fayza al-Suleimani, 29.

U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
By LAURA KASINOF, MARK MAZZETTI and ALAN COWELL
The New York Times,  September  30,  2011
SANA, Yemen — Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate and was considered its most dangerous English-speaking propagandist, was killed in an American drone strike that deliberately targeted his vehicle on Friday, officials in Washington and Yemen said. They said the strike also killed a radical American colleague traveling with Mr. Awlaki who edited Al Qaeda’s online jihadist magazine.

Many details of the strike were unclear, but one American official said that Mr. Awlaki, whom the United States had been hunting in Yemen for more than two years, had been identified as the target in advance and was killed with a Hellfire missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. The official said it was the first C.I.A. strike in Yemen since 2002. Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed Mr. Awlaki’s death.

The strike appeared to be the first time in the United States-led war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately targeted and killed by American forces. It was also the second high-profile killing of an Al Qaeda leader in the past five months under the Obama administration, which ordered the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May

Yemen’s official news agency, Saba, reported that the attack also killed Samir Khan, an American citizen of Pakistani origin and the editor of Inspire, Al Qaeda’s English-language Internet magazine, and an American official said the United States government believed Mr. Khan had been killed as well. It was not clear whether Mr. Khan, who proclaimed in the magazine last year that he was “proud to be a traitor to America,” was also a deliberate target of the strike.

A Defense Ministry statement said that a number of Mr. Awlaki’s bodyguards were also killed.

Neither the Americans or Yemenis explained precisely how they knew that Mr. Awlaki had been confirmed dead.

An Awlaki family member, reached by telephone, said Mr. Awaki’s father, Abdulnasser al-Awlaki, was en route from Yemen’s capital of Sana to the site of the attack in northern Yemen on Friday afternoon to identify the body. “We don’t know anything aside from the news that has been released,” the family member said. “Obviously Mr. Awlaki is very upset and wants very much to find out if it is truly his son that has been killed. We don’t know if any relatives died with him.”

Both Yemeni and American officials called the strike a significant success in the campaign to weaken Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group American officials believe to be the most dangerous Qaeda affiliate.

The Obama administration has escalated military and intelligence operations in Yemen, and the White House decision to make Mr. Awlaki a top priority to be hunted down and killed was controversial, given his American citizenship.

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Mr. Awlaki, 40, began preaching in mosques while a college student in the United States. During that time, as a preacher in San Diego, he met two of the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers. He returned to Yemen in 2004 and his English-language sermons became ever more stridently anti-American.

His Internet lectures and sermons were linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before the shootings. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.

A high-ranking Yemeni security official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mr. Awlaki was killed while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces in northern Yemen — areas known for having a Qaeda presence and where there is very little central government control.

A senior administration official in Washington said the killing of Mr. Awlaki was important because he had become Al Qaeda’s greatest English-language propagandist and one of its top operational planners.

“First and foremost, we’ve been looking at his important operational role,” the official said. “To the extent he’s no longer playing that role it’s all to the good.”

President Obama’s top national security and counterterrorism officials held a video teleconference at 6:30 a.m. Washington time to discuss details of Mr. Awlaki’s death as well as its impact on the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen and the group’s broader organization.

Mr. Awlaki’s name has been associated with many plots in the United States and elsewhere after individuals planning violence were drawn to his engaging lectures broadcast over the Internet.

Those individuals included Major Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the shootings at Fort Hood in which 13 people were killed; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and a 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.

But his death could also play into the tangled politics of Yemen, where beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been resisting months of protests against his 30-year rule, arguing in part that he is a critical American ally in the war against Al Qaeda.

In early September, the Obama administration’s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, said recent cooperation with Yemen was better than it has ever been despite the prolonged absence of Mr. Saleh, who returned recently after four months in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds he suffered in a bomb attack on his presidential palace.

President Saleh’s family controls the armed forces responsible for counterterrorism, and the killing of Mr. Awlaki seemed likely to be used to further the argument that the current government is the best ally for the United States when it comes to combating Mr. Awlaki’s affiliate group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Awlaki may not matter much to Yemenis, but his presence in Yemen has influenced U.S. counter terrorism policy, which in turn has influenced transition politics,” said Ginny Hill, the head of the Yemen Forum at Chatham House in London.

A senior American military official in Washington said Mr. Awlaki’s death would send an important message to the surviving leaders and foot soldiers in Al Qaeda, both in Yemen and elsewhere. “It’s critically important,” the senior official said. “It sets a sense of doom for the rest of them. Getting Awlaki, given his tight operational security, increases the sense of fear. It’s hard for them to attack when they’re trying to protect their own back side.”

“You take out someone like this, it sends a message,” the military official continued. “Now they have to go into a succession effort that will cause a movement of people, of messages, which makes them more vulnerable. Bottom line, they’ve taken a severe impact.”

But some Islamist figures said Mr. Awlaki’s status could be elevated to that of a martyr. Anjem Choudhury, an outspoken Islamic scholar in London, said: “The death of Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki will merely motivate the Muslim youth to struggle harder against the enemies of Islam and Muslims.” He added: “I would say his death has made him more popular.”

Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a telephone interview: “In many ways, Awlaki was, operationally, more important than Bin Laden.”

“Clearly, he was one of the most motivated to attack the United States.”

Mr. King warned that the United States would need to guard against retaliatory attacks from Al Qaeda’s arm in Yemen, but other senior American military and counterterrorism officials said that, unless a plot was already well under way, the Qaeda affiliate is likely to be in too much disarray right now to launch an immediate counterstrike.

Earlier this year, the American military renewed its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen, using drone aircraft and fighter jets to attack Qaeda militants. One of the attacks was aimed at Mr. Awlaki. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in July that two of his top goals were to remove Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s new leader after the death of Laden in May, and Mr. Awlaki.

Word of the killing came after months of sustained American efforts to seriously weaken the terrorist group.

In August an American official said a drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner after Bin Laden was killed.

In July, Mr. Panetta said during a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda” and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A month earlier, an American official said the Central Intelligence Agency was building a secret air base in the Middle East to serve as a launching pad for strikes in Yemen using armed drones.

The construction of the base was seen at the time a sign that the Obama administration was planning an extended war in Yemen against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has repeatedly tried to carry out terrorist plots against the United States.

Last year, the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen sought to install Mr. Awlaki as the leader of the group, which apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s knowledge of the United States and his status as an Internet celebrity might help the group’s operations and fund-raising efforts.

Mr. Awlaki, who came from a prestigious Yemeni family, was accused of having connections to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian former engineering student at University College London, who is awaiting trial in the United States for his attempt to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. The bomb did not explode.

Mr. Awlaki has been linked to numerous plots against the United States, including the botched underwear bombing.

He has taken to the Internet with stirring battle cries directed at young American Muslims. “Many of your scholars,” Mr. Awlaki warned last year, are “standing between you and your duty of jihad.”

In Yemen, there was a muted reaction to the news of the death of Mr. Awlaki, who derived his importance from his ability to reach out to the Western, English-speaking world but was of little consequence to the Yemeni population.

Many saw the killing as confirmation of their belief that the United States becomes involved in Yemen only for counterterrorism. Mr. Awlaki’s death comes at a time when Yemeni protesters, who have been demonstrating against their government for eight months, are angry at the United States for not doing more to push President Saleh out of office.

Further the killing could further harm the image of the United States among average Yemenis, who are staunchly against outside military intervention in their country.

Laura Kasinof reported from Sana, Yemen, Mark Mazzetti from Washington, and Alan Cowell from London. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth from Washington, and Souad Mekhennet and Rick Gladstone from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 30, 2011
An earlier version of this article said that Yemeni forces had carried out the attack. The circumstances of the operation remain unclear.

Rights Groups Sue U.S. on Effort to Kill Cleric
By SCOTT SHANE
The New York Times,  August  30,  2011
WASHINGTON — Two human rights organizations went to court on Monday to challenge the Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric now hiding in Yemen.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington on behalf of Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, argues that the United State government should not be permitted to kill an American citizen away from the battlefield and without judicial review.

The human rights groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, asked the court to prohibit the government from killing Mr. Awlaki until the lawsuit is heard. They also demand that the government disclose the standards it uses to determine who should be singled out for killing.

The lawsuit is the first legal challenge since administration officials disclosed that Mr. Awlaki was the first American citizen to be designated for capture or killing by the Central Intelligence Agency. The authorization, which also applies to the Defense Department, came after intelligence agencies concluded early this year that Mr. Awlaki was actively participating in plotting attacks against the United States, including the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

Since then, Mr. Awlaki has escalated his criticism of the United States in a series of written and recorded statements broadcast by Al Jazeera and posted on the Web. Calling the United States “a nation of evil,” Mr. Awlaki said in a March Web posting that “jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

Obama administration officials have argued that Mr. Awlaki, now believed to be an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen branch of the terrorist network, has essentially joined the enemy in a time of war. The government does not need a court’s permission to kill an enemy soldier, the officials say.

But some legal experts and human rights activists have noted that the law requires the government to get a court warrant to eavesdrop on Mr. Awlaki or other American citizens. An order to kill him should require at least the same degree of review, the activists say, to meet the Fifth Amendment’s requirement of “due process” before depriving an American of life or liberty.

“The United States cannot simply execute people, including its own citizens, anywhere in the world based on its own say-so,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The lawsuit acknowledges that singling out someone for killing can be lawful “as a last resort to protect against concrete, specific and imminent threats of death or serious physical injury.” But terrorism suspects designated secretly by the government and left on the target list for months or years do not qualify as such an urgent threat, the lawsuit says.

A Justice Department spokesman, Matthew A. Miller, would not comment on the lawsuit. But he noted that Congress authorized the use of force against Al Qaeda after the 2001 terrorist attacks and that international law recognized a right of self-defense.

Anwar al-Awlaki was born in 1971 in New Mexico, where his father was a graduate student, and moved with his family to Yemen at the age of 7. He returned to the United States to attend Colorado State University and later served as an imam in three American mosques before moving to London and back to Yemen in 2004.

His publicly expressed views have grown steadily more militant, and his prolific writings and recordings have been cited as an important influence on suspects in more than a dozen terrorism cases in the United States, Canada and Britain.

The Obama administration has pursued terrorism suspects using missiles fired from drones in Pakistan and from ships and jets in Yemen. Such strikes have killed hundreds of people, but the effort to capture or kill Mr. Awlaki has drawn particular attention because of his citizenship and prominence as a cleric.

In July, the Treasury Department designated Mr. Awlaki as a terrorist, meaning that providing him legal or other services could be a crime. The A.C.L.U. and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit earlier this month challenging the Treasury regulations, but the department issued a license to the two groups permitting them to take legal action on Mr. Awlaki’s behalf. The lawsuit challenging the Treasury regulations is still pending.

William C. Banks, an expert on national security law at Syracuse University, said the lawsuit filed Monday faced numerous, probably insurmountable, legal obstacles. He said Nasser al-Awlaki might have difficulty showing that he had been injured by the actions taken against his son or overcoming the secrecy that protected counterterrorism programs.

Even if the elder Mr. Awlaki does have legal standing to sue, the government can cite the Congressional authorization of 2001 to justify its actions, Mr. Banks said. “The arguments in this lawsuit are creative,” he said, “but I think it’s unlikely to succeed.”

The Evolution of a Radical Cleric:
Quotes from Anwar al-Awlaki
ON ISLAM AND GOVERNANCE:
The New York Times,  May  8,  2011
“This is how, by taking [the Prophet Muhammad] as a role model, the image of the messenger gives us an example of somebody who was extremely successful as a head of state. Nevertheless, he never had to compromise his integrity.”

— July 20, 2001, sermon at Friday Prayer in the United States Capitol

ON SEPT. 11:
“Muslims still see bin Laden as a person with extremely radical ideas. But he has been able to take advantage of the sentiment that is out there regarding U.S. foreign policy. We’re totally against what the terrorists had done. We want to bring those who had done this to justice. But we’re also against the killing of civilians in Afghanistan.”
— Oct. 11, 2001, quoted by The Washington Times

ON RADICAL TALK AND SEPT. 11:
“In the past we were oblivious. We didn’t really care much because we never expected things to happen. Now I think things are different. What we might have tolerated in the past, we won’t tolerate any more. There were some statements that were inflammatory, and were considered just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and acted upon in a violent radical way.”
— Oct. 19, 2001, quoted by The New York Times

ON AMERICAN MUSLIMS:
“Yes, we disagree with a lot of issues when it comes to the foreign policy of the United States. We are very conservative when it comes to family values. We are against the moral decay that we see in the society. But we also cherish a lot of the values that are in America. Freedom is one of them; the opportunity is another. And that’s why there is more appreciation among the American Muslims compared to the Muslims in other parts of the world.”
— Nov. 1, 2001, interview with PBS

ON 2002 RAIDS ON THE FIQH COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA
AND OTHER AMERICAN MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS:
“If the offices of the Fiqh Council of North America were raided and attacked, who is next? Masjids [mosques] may be raided and closed down. Islamic schools — their reputation has been tarnished through the media. Where is it going to stop? Where is this going to lead to? Therefore it is a responsibility of us as Muslims to make it very clear to the world that American Muslims are persecuted on a religious basis.”
— March 2002 talk at Dar al-Hijrah mosque, Fairfax, Va.

ON THE WAR IN IRAQ AND OTHER PERCEIVED ASSAULTS ON ISLAM:
“The ummah [global Muslim community] is watching while Iraq is being devoured. It’s not going to stop there, because it’s going to spill over into Syria and Allah knows where. In your own city, and in this country, many people have been arrested. You know if you talk about Guantánamo Bay and all this — there’s a Guantánamo Bay in this country. It’s an insult to Islam. Allah will revenge for himself, but the thing is, we cannot allow such things to happen and just watch.”
— 2003 lecture at East London Mosque

“And then you had the incident of this Swedish cartoons which depicted Muhammad in the worst form, which is one of the worst forms of cursing Muhammad we have ever heard of. And then you now have the abuse of the book of Allah in ways that we have never heard of using it, as toilet paper and shooting at the book of Allah for target practice. So what is happening now and the enormous extent of it, even though it angers every Muslim, it is also a sign that the end of these kuffar [unbelievers] is near.”
— 2008 audio lecture from Yemen

ON THE FORT HOOD, TEX., SHOOTING SUSPECT:
“Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a U.S. soldier. The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges. The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly, they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation.”
— Nov. 9, 2009, statement on his now-defunct Web site, anwar-alawlaki.com

“I, for one, was born in the U.S. I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

— Mar. 17, 2010, audio statement posted to Web

May 8, 2010

The Evolution of a Radical Cleric: Quotes from Anwar al-Awlaki

ON ISLAM AND GOVERNANCE:

“This is how, by taking [the Prophet Muhammad] as a role model, the image of the messenger gives us an example of somebody who was extremely successful as a head of state. Nevertheless, he never had to compromise his integrity.”

— July 20, 2001, sermon at Friday Prayer in the United States Capitol

ON SEPT. 11:

“Muslims still see bin Laden as a person with extremely radical ideas. But he has been able to take advantage of the sentiment that is out there regarding U.S. foreign policy. We’re totally against what the terrorists had done. We want to bring those who had done this to justice. But we’re also against the killing of civilians in Afghanistan.”

— Oct. 11, 2001, quoted by The Washington Times

ON RADICAL TALK AND SEPT. 11:

“In the past we were oblivious. We didn’t really care much because we never expected things to happen. Now I think things are different. What we might have tolerated in the past, we won’t tolerate any more. There were some statements that were inflammatory, and were considered just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and acted upon in a violent radical way.”

— Oct. 19, 2001, quoted by The New York Times

ON AMERICAN MUSLIMS:

“Yes, we disagree with a lot of issues when it comes to the foreign policy of the United States. We are very conservative when it comes to family values. We are against the moral decay that we see in the society. But we also cherish a lot of the values that are in America. Freedom is one of them; the opportunity is another. And that’s why there is more appreciation among the American Muslims compared to the Muslims in other parts of the world.”

— Nov. 1, 2001, interview with PBS

ON 2002 RAIDS ON THE FIQH COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA AND OTHER AMERICAN MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS:

“If the offices of the Fiqh Council of North America were raided and attacked, who is next? Masjids [mosques] may be raided and closed down. Islamic schools — their reputation has been tarnished through the media. Where is it going to stop? Where is this going to lead to? Therefore it is a responsibility of us as Muslims to make it very clear to the world that American Muslims are persecuted on a religious basis.”

— March 2002 talk at Dar al-Hijrah mosque, Fairfax, Va.

ON THE WAR IN IRAQ AND OTHER PERCEIVED ASSAULTS ON ISLAM:

“The ummah [global Muslim community] is watching while Iraq is being devoured. It’s not going to stop there, because it’s going to spill over into Syria and Allah knows where. In your own city, and in this country, many people have been arrested. You know if you talk about Guantánamo Bay and all this — there’s a Guantánamo Bay in this country. It’s an insult to Islam. Allah will revenge for himself, but the thing is, we cannot allow such things to happen and just watch.”

— 2003 lecture at East London Mosque

“And then you had the incident of this Swedish cartoons which depicted Muhammad in the worst form, which is one of the worst forms of cursing Muhammad we have ever heard of. And then you now have the abuse of the book of Allah in ways that we have never heard of using it, as toilet paper and shooting at the book of Allah for target practice. So what is happening now and the enormous extent of it, even though it angers every Muslim, it is also a sign that the end of these kuffar [unbelievers] is near.”

— 2008 audio lecture from Yemen

ON THE FORT HOOD, TEX., SHOOTING SUSPECT:

“Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a U.S. soldier. The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges. The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly, they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation.”

— Nov. 9, 2009, statement on his now-defunct Web site, anwar-alawlaki.com

“I, for one, was born in the U.S. I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

— Mar. 17, 2010, audio statement posted to Web

Updated September 30, 2011 09:56 AM

How Dangerous Is Anwar al-Awlaki?

Introduction

Site Intelligence Group, via Associated Press A video message from Anwar al-Awlaki posted on radical Web sites in November 2010.

Update, Sept. 30, 2011: Anwar al-Awlaki was killed on Friday by an American drone attack. Here is a Room for Debate discussion on him that was published on May 31, 2011.

In the weeks after Osama bin Laden’s death, the U.S. also tried to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who has been blamed for inspiring the Fort Hood shooter and is thought to be hiding in Yemen. American officials report that a stream of Qaeda operatives are making their way to Yemen from other parts of the world as turmoil there grows.

But some analysts say that while Mr. Awlaki’s propaganda skills are undimmed, there is little evidence that he wields significant influence in Al Qaeda’s leadership, and has limited power even on the Arabian peninsula.

With Yemen on the verge of a civil war between government forces and opposition tribesmen, and as Islamic militants gain control of some parts of the country, how big a threat is Mr. Awlaki and how central a place should he have in U.S. counterterrorism strategy?

The Key to Reining Him In

Updated June 1, 2011, 10:54 AM

Fawaz A. Gerges is the director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and a professor of international relations. He is author of “The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda,” a forthcoming book.

As violence grips many parts of Yemen, including the capital, the poorest Arab country is sliding closer to the brink of civil war. There are reports that Al Qaeda has already exploited the escalating fighting to spread its tentacles particularly in the restive south.

Anwar al-Awlaki has few followers in Yemen and the wider Arab world. He is not even the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (known as AQAP). The Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda is led by Nasser al-Wahishi, a former private secretary to Bin Laden and a disciplined and experienced operative, and Qassim al-Raymi, a military commander of Al Qaeda.

Killing Awlaki would transform the fugitive preacher into a martyr and would likely further poison Yemeni public opinion against the U.S.

Killing him, in addition to the moral and legal questions involved, would not substantially disrupt Al Qaeda. In fact, it would transform the fugitive preacher into a martyr and would likely further poison Yemeni public opinion against the U.S.

A more effective measure would be to shut down Awlaki’s propaganda shop by convincing the tribe that gives him shelter, the Awalik in southern Yemen, to turn him over to the Yemeni authorities. Although the current turmoil in Yemen works in favor of Awlaki and Al Qaeda, there is no ideological affinity between them and the tribes. The anti-Saleh opposition — a broad spectrum of nationalist voices — must be empowered to negotiate directly with the tribes and reach an understanding against providing shelter to Awlaki and Al Qaeda. Although complicated and messy, long-term measures that can turn Yemenis against Awlaki and his associates — as opposed to counterterrorism measures such as armed attacks — are the most promising strategies.

However, waiting on President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen to wage an all-out war against Al Qaeda and bring Awlaki to justice is naïve. Saleh is fighting for his political survival and has become the major obstacle to stabilizing the failing country. For Saleh, Awlaki’s presence is a good bargaining card with the West.

The tribes hold the key to deactivating the Qaeda minefield in Yemen. Any strategy or post-Saleh government that does not fully involve them will most likely fail in reining in Awlaki. In the meantime, unless Saleh steps down as the public demands, Yemen will explode — a godsend for Awlaki and Al Qaeda that will allow them to entrench themselves deeper in the country’s fault lines.

Although U.S. officials pay lip service to the benefits of socioeconomic and political development in Yemen, they act as if confronting Al Qaeda requires mainly counterterrorism measures such as drone strikes. Although dangerous, Al Qaeda is one of Yemen’s least critical challenges.

In June 2010, the White House announced it was tripling its humanitarian assistance to Yemen, to $42.5 million — a paltry sum given that the U.S. may provide as much as $250 million in increased counterterrorism assistance. Over-reliance on unilateral counterterrorism will not only worsen America’s security dilemma in Yemen and supply Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with recruitment tools, but will also alienate Muslim opinion and open the door to a wider circle of opposing forces.

Last January, nearly 200 prominent clerics in Yemen signed a statement pledging to lead a jihad against any foreign forces that occupied their country, sending a clear message that the U.S. should not expand military and intelligence cooperation with the Saleh regime. Of all Arabs, Yemenis currently voice the strongest anti-American sentiment.

Any policy that neglects the local context and social conditions in Yemen will only reconfirm Al Qaeda’s one-size-fits-all narrative that paints every battle, everywhere, as an extension of the transnational jihad against the West.

Waging War With Words

May 31, 2011

Rick (Ozzie) Nelson is the director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ben Bodurian is a research assistant at the center. They are co-authors of “A Growing Terrorist Threat? Assessing ‘Homegrown’ Extremism in the United States.”

Anwar al-Awlaki’s proven ability to inspire would-be terrorists and to facilitate their transition to violence makes him an extraordinarily dangerous individual worthy of efforts to apprehend him.

Over the past few years, U.S. officials have increasingly highlighted his operational importance to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). At the same time, though, at least one prominent Yemeni expert has downplayed Awlaki’s role within AQAP, labeling the cleric a mediocre religious scholar with limited appeal among Arabic-speaking population.

Awlaki’s proven ability to inspire would-be terrorists makes him an extraordinarily dangerous individual.

Both of these characterizations — “Awlaki as a terrorist operator” and “Awlaki as a two-bit cleric” — are valid on some level. Neither of these two viewpoints, however, fully captures Awlaki’s real danger — his potential to incite Islamist terrorism among far-flung constituencies living in the United States, Europe and even Asia.

The American-born, Yemeni-raised cleric delivers scathing English-language online lectures to audiences in the West. Awlaki’s rhetoric plays up a war between the West and Islam and has led some Muslims living throughout the world to embrace Al Qaeda’s toxic ideology and to plan attacks. Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber; Roshonara Choudhry, a British student convicted of trying to murder a member of Parliament; and Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, a member of the Singapore military, are a few of the individuals whom Awlaki appears to have guided or inspired.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates do not lack for terrorist operators or self-proclaimed religious scholars. The groups do, however, prize a figure like Awlaki, who possesses a cultural duality that allows them to exploit opportunities for recruitment in the West while operating freely in safe havens provided by failed or dysfunctional Muslim-majority states. Ultimately, Awlaki’s true danger lies not in his ability to conduct or plan attacks, but rather in his potential to inspire a new kind of cohort to move beyond rhetoric to violent action, and in the process, embrace Al Qaeda’s brand of terrorism.

The Freelance Jihadist

May 31, 2011

Noman Benotman is a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a jihadist organization that fought the Qaddafi regime in the 1990s. He left the group in 2002 and renounced Islamist violence. He is a senior analyst at the Quilliam Foundation in London.

Anwar al-Awlaki is undoubtedly dangerous to the West, but his importance must be assessed objectively. The Western media’s fascination with Awlaki as a born and bred American — as one of “ours” — has led to his importance being vastly overestimated. This fascination is likely to increase as the conflict in Yemen between President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition continues to escalate toward an all-out civil war.

Awlaki’s distinctly American individualism contrasts with the hierarchical nature of Al Qaeda.

Awlaki’s fluent English certainly sets him apart from most other Al Qaeda members. It also makes him a potent force among Western Muslims. Thanks to a long immersion in American culture and many years of working with Muslims living in the West, he understands how to recruit impressionable young Muslims with his message that Muslims will never be accepted by the West, and that the only correct Islamic response to the West’s cultural, political and economic influence is jihad.

However, Awlaki’s ability to inspire Western Muslims does not necessarily translate into influence within Al Qaeda or even the Arab world at large. Awlaki has made little effort to reach out to Arabic speakers. His name is rarely ever seen in the Arab media except in second-hand stories taken from the Western press. Al Qaeda statements hardly ever refer to him, and online jihadist forums do not rate him as a theologian or as a man of action. In the Arab jihadist scene where credibility comes from long stints in prison, by bona fide religious credentials or by acts of bravery “on the battlefield,” Awlaki has no real track record.

Awlaki’s distinctly American individualism has led him to act as a somewhat freelance jihadist cleric rather than to become part of a strictly hierarchical organization like Al Qaeda. Indeed, while his speeches and statements powerfully promote Al Qaeda’s understanding of jihad, he pays much less attention to promoting Al Qaeda as an organization.

In consequence, while Al Qaeda’s leaders recognizes Awlaki as someone who is useful to their cause, they lack confidence in his ability to work within their organization, follow their strategy or obey their instructions.

The Freelance Jihadist

May 31, 2011

Noman Benotman is a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a jihadist organization that fought the Qaddafi regime in the 1990s. He left the group in 2002 and renounced Islamist violence. He is a senior analyst at the Quilliam Foundation in London.

Anwar al-Awlaki is undoubtedly dangerous to the West, but his importance must be assessed objectively. The Western media’s fascination with Awlaki as a born and bred American — as one of “ours” — has led to his importance being vastly overestimated. This fascination is likely to increase as the conflict in Yemen between President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition continues to escalate toward an all-out civil war.

Awlaki’s distinctly American individualism contrasts with the hierarchical nature of Al Qaeda.

Awlaki’s fluent English certainly sets him apart from most other Al Qaeda members. It also makes him a potent force among Western Muslims. Thanks to a long immersion in American culture and many years of working with Muslims living in the West, he understands how to recruit impressionable young Muslims with his message that Muslims will never be accepted by the West, and that the only correct Islamic response to the West’s cultural, political and economic influence is jihad.

However, Awlaki’s ability to inspire Western Muslims does not necessarily translate into influence within Al Qaeda or even the Arab world at large. Awlaki has made little effort to reach out to Arabic speakers. His name is rarely ever seen in the Arab media except in second-hand stories taken from the Western press. Al Qaeda statements hardly ever refer to him, and online jihadist forums do not rate him as a theologian or as a man of action. In the Arab jihadist scene where credibility comes from long stints in prison, by bona fide religious credentials or by acts of bravery “on the battlefield,” Awlaki has no real track record.

Awlaki’s distinctly American individualism has led him to act as a somewhat freelance jihadist cleric rather than to become part of a strictly hierarchical organization like Al Qaeda. Indeed, while his speeches and statements powerfully promote Al Qaeda’s understanding of jihad, he pays much less attention to promoting Al Qaeda as an organization.

In consequence, while Al Qaeda’s leaders recognizes Awlaki as someone who is useful to their cause, they lack confidence in his ability to work within their organization, follow their strategy or obey their instructions.

More Than a ‘Big Mouth’

Updated June 1, 2011, 05:06 PM

Lydia Khalil, a former counterterrorism analyst for the New York Police Department, is a board member of the Project on Middle East Democracy and a non-resident fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Awlaki are all names that have entered the terrorist lexicon, becoming so well known that they are referred to by one name, like Oprah or Bono. Since the spate of homegrown terrorists attacks that hit the United States in 2009, Awlaki’s reputation has grown more than the rest.

Awlaki is dangerous because he encourages a do-it-yourself terrorism, which can be just as potent as big-scale attacks.

But lately, some experts have questioned his influence and importance. Awlaki holds no official role in the AQAP hierarchy, and if he were killed, the threat from Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch would remain just as potent. Awlaki’s own father recently said in an interview, “He’s just a big mouth” and nothing more.

This may be true, but Awlaki remains a potent threat to U.S. security. He has a proven ability to radicalize would-be violent extremists in the West in a way that Bin Laden, Zawahiri and others could never have.

He has a unique talent in reaching out to a segment of disaffected people, mostly male and English-speaking, who may or may not have originally come from a Muslim background. Unlike the beatific Bin Laden or the strident Zawahiri, Awlaki seems like one of them — a young man who lived in the West, looked for a cause, and found it in the world of jihad.

He is able to reach them through snazzy graphics, videos and speeches posted online. Inspire Magazine, an online English publication thought to be published by Awlaki, encourages a kind of do-it-yourself terrorism — inspiring them to commit violent acts of their own volition without the benefit of formal training within a terrorist or insurgent group and without organizational support.. He encourages them to take their own initiative and commit “jihad” by carrying out small-scale attacks, like running people over with trucks. He even offered a manual called, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” Unlike other radical preachers who drone on using formal language and obscure Koranic passages, Awlaki’s speeches make references to things and events they can relate to and understand.

This ability to radicalize lone wolf terrorists in the English-speaking world is precisely what makes him so dangerous. These lone wolf terrorists are difficult to track, let alone identify, before they attempt a violent act. Their capabilities are not as devastating as a plane through a skyscraper, but cumulatively they are able to wreak havoc and fear.

The real danger of Al Qaeda is its ability to sustain an violent ideological narrative that carries on beyond the organizational capabilities. Awlaki is integral to this effort.

Communiqué by Elias Davidsson on Osama bin Laden’s murder

Communiqué by Elias Davidsson on Osama bin Laden’s murder

According to mass media, Osama bin Laden was murdered yesterday, on May 1st, 2011.  He was murdered with “other family members”, whose identity is still unknown.  The President of the United States of America took credit for this act of murder. Murder is prohibited in every jurisdiction. It is regarded as a criminal act both under national and international law. President Barack Obama should henceforth be charged for ordering an act of outright murder.

1.  Mass media report Americans “celebrating” the murder of Osama bin Laden.  CNN reported that a crowd was singing “God Bless America” near Ground Zero and that outside the White House a crowd was “jubilating.” Others reportedly sung the national hymn, as if murder was a patriotic act.  Celebrating murder is a barbaric practice.  Civilized people never condone murder, let alone celebrate it.

2.  Osama bin Laden was not charged for any links to 9/11. U.S. leaders did not directly attribute to him the crime of 9/11.  In March 2002, President George W. Bush said in a press conference that he was not anymore concerned by the fate or whereabouts Osama bin Laden (OBL). Was he lying, or was bin Laden already dead by that time, as reported in Pakistani media?  The FBI admitted in 2006 that it possesses no “hard evidence” to connect OBL to the events of 9/11.  This admission was made after a journalist discovered that the FBI fails to mention OBL’s nexus to 9/11 on its website. Mass media have deliberately suppressed this lack of evidence, in order to keep the public supporting the war on Afghanistan and the “war on terrorism”.   President Barack Obama has now demonstrated his mendacity by suggesting that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the mass-murder of 9/11. Those reading the exact wording of his speech – in which he announced the murder of Osama bin Laden – will note that he did not directly link Osama bin Laden for 9/11. He merely suggested this allegation by rhetorical means, the typical conduct of a masterful swindler.

3.  Even suspected criminals are entitled to a fair trial.  At the very threshold of civilized conduct, persons may be sentenced to death after having been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by an impartial court for the most odious crimes.  Osama bin Laden was accused of many crimes.  But he was not proven guilty of any crime in a court of law.  He was not charged for any connection to the mass-murder of 9/11. He was widely suspected to pose as a radical Muslim but actually acting for Western intelligence services in discrediting Islam.  Whatever he ever said, or is alleged to have said, was, however, no ground for murder.  To hound and murder a fugitive – if that was his condition – would make this murder particularly odious.

4.  One of the persons murdered yesterday is alleged to have been Osama bin Laden.  But this is not certain.  According to CNN, an unnamed U.S. official said that bin Laden “was buried at sea”. He explained that this was done in order to abide by “the Islamic tradition.”  How dare people who commit murder claim to have respect for religious traditions, let alone Islam?  Do Muslims throw bodies of dead people into the sea?  Another claimed that by throwing the body into the sea, the U.S. tried to prevent his burial ground to become a shrine, as if Osama bin Laden was widely perceived as a hero!  The swift disposal of his body suggests, however, that the murderers were concerned that the public would discover that the victim was mutilated or that the body did not belong at all to Osama bin Laden.

5.  The silence surrounding the identities of the “other family members” who also were murdered, demonstrates the disregard by the U.S. government for human lives.  Even if their deaths was not directly desired, it was taken into account.  Their killing would be considered under common law as “reckless murder”, for which President Barack Obama must be held to account.

6.  Congratulations by world leaders for this act of cowardly murder should raise concern to every member of the human family.  When national leaders express their satisfaction over an act of outright murder, they forfeit their claim to remain in power.  Decent people around the world should seek the removal from public office of any person who commends murder.

7.  The murder of a person alleged to be Osama bin Laden is obviously an effort to revive the monstrous lie that Muslims committed the mass-murder of 9/11, a lie that is being increasingly exposed as the 10th anniversary of the mass-murder is approaching. The US government of Barack Obama has decided to enforce this lie by an act of cowardly murder and by further lies.  These efforts will not succeed.  This episode of evil will be duly documented and justice will prevail.  The killers of Osama bin Laden must be charged, prosecuted and punished in order that such acts will not be repeated.

The above text was written under the impact of the shock that befell the author by learning about the cowardly murder and the barbaric sequels to that murder.  Those who doubt some of the claims made above are invited to request sources from the author.

Elias Davidsson
Bonn, Germany
2 May 2011,  11:00 a.m. GMT

Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly

Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly

in Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

Sources:
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse website, December 7, 2007
Title: “In FISA Speech, Whitehouse Sharply Criticizes Bush Administration’s Assertion of Executive Power”
Author: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The Guardian, December 26, 2007
Title: “The Rabbit Hole”
Author: Marcy Wheeler

Student Researchers: Dana Vaz and Bill Gibbons

Faculty Evaluator: Noel Byrne, PhD

On December 7, 2007, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disclosed on the floor of the US Senate that he had declassified three legal documents of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) within the Department of Justice that state:

1. An executive order cannot limit a president. There is no constitutional requirement for a president to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the president has instead modified or waived it.

2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.

3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.

Whitehouse discovered the OLC’s classified legal opinions while researching the Protect America Act legislation passed in August 2007, which Whitehouse warns will allow the administration to bypass Congress and the Courts in order to facilitate unchecked spying on Americans. He noted that for years under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Council has been issuing highly classified secret legal opinions related to surveillance.

The senator warned of the danger of the poorly written Protect America Act legislation, which provides no statutory restrictions on government wiretapping of Americans and eliminates checks and balances from the legislative and judicial branches. The only restriction on government eavesdropping on Americans is an executive order that limits surveillance to those who the attorney general determines to be agents of a foreign power. However, in light of the first declassified OLC proclamation that the president can secretly change his signing statements at will, we are left exposed to the whims of a secret, unchecked executive agenda.

Of the second OLC legal determination, Whitehouse reminded Senate that Marbury v. Madison, written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, established the proposition that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Yet the OLC, operating out of the judicial department, has declared that it is now the president who decides the legal limits of his own power.

Lastly, Whitehouse repeated the third of these legal declarations several times as if in disbelief, asking members of Senate to allow the assertion to sink in: “The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.”

Whitehouse said, “These three Bush administration legal propositions boil down to this: one, ‘I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them’; two, ‘I get to determine what my own powers are’; and three, ‘The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.’”

Whitehouse closed his address to Senate with the statement, “When the Congress of the United States is willing to roll over for an unprincipled president, this is where you end up. We should not even be having this discussion. But here we are. I implore my colleagues: reject these feverish legal theories. I understand political loyalty, trust me, I do. But let us also be loyal to this great institution we serve in the legislative branch of our government. Let us also be loyal to the Constitution we took an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. And let us be loyal to the American people who live each day under our Constitution’s principles and protections. . . . The principles of congressional legislation and oversight, and of judicial approval and review, are simple and longstanding. Americans deserve this protection . . .”

UPDATE BY MARCY WHEELER

The president’s claimed authority to be able to ignore his own executive orders without revising the orders themselves—reported in “The Rabbit Hole”—was one of several issues discussed in an April 29, 2008, Senate Judiciary Hearing on “Secret Laws and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government.”

In that hearing, the Office of Legal Counsel Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Elwood confirmed the proposition that “The activities authorized by the President cannot violate an executive order in any legally meaningful sense.” Effectively, the Department of Justice’s key advisory lawyers confirmed they believe the President can act contrary to his own executive orders without formally changing those executive orders.

The hearing attracted some new media attention to this story. In the New York Times’ reporting of the hearing, Scott Shane and David Johnston referred to the “previously unpublicized method to cloak government activities,” for example. In addition, commentator Nat Hentoff wrote a column on the hearing as a whole.

The hearing did not answer one question raised in “The Rabbit Hole”: whether the President had altered the executive order on classification (12958, as amended by 13292) as well as the executive order on intelligence activities (12333) that Senator Whitehouse cited in his first comments on the OLC opinion. But Bill Leonard, the former head of the Information Security Oversight Office who testified at the hearing, did reveal that top administration lawyers were seemingly violating that executive order with regards to a key opinion on torture even as they were revising the order itself.

What is most disturbing is that at the exact time these officials were writing, reviewing, and being briefed on the classified nature of this memorandum [on enhanced interrogation], they were also concurring with the president’s reaffirmation of the standards for proper classification, which was formalized the week after the OLC memo was issued when the president signed his amended version of the executive order governing classification.

In other words, it remains unclear whether the administration has “altered” this executive order, or whether it is simply ignoring it when convenient.

And that remains the significance of this story. The Yoo Memo on torture, by all accounts, should have been released to the public in 2003. Had it been, the US’s policy on torture—and the dubious opinions on which that policy is based—would have been exposed five years earlier. But for some reason, it wasn’t. In the arbitrary world where the president can ignore his own executive orders, we have no way of knowing what to expect.

For information on Senator Whitehouse, see http://whitehouse.senate.gov/.

For the Senate Hearing (including the statements of witnesses), see http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=3305.

For Leonard’s statement, see http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=3305&wit_id=7148.

For Nat Hentoff’s article, see http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/may/12/let-the-sunshine-in/.

The New York Times cannot anymore be found.

US executives may financially kill a person

# 5 Seizing War Protesters’ Assets

in Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

Sources:
Global Research, July 2007
Title: “Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement”
Author: Michel Chossudovsky

The Progressive, August 2007
Title: “Bush’s Executive Order Even Worse Than the One on Iraq”
Author: Matthew Rothschild

Student Researchers: Chris Navarre and Jennifer Routh
Faculty Evaluator: Amy Kittlestrom, PhD

President Bush has signed two executive orders that would allow the US Treasury Department to seize the property of any person perceived to, directly or indirectly, pose a threat to US operations in the Middle East.

The first of these executive orders, titled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq,” signed by Bush on July 17, 2007, authorizes the Secretary of Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, to confiscate the assets of US citizens and organizations who “directly or indirectly” pose a risk to US operations in Iraq. Bush’s order states:

I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined 1) to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq . . . or 2) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order . . .

Section five of this order announces that, “because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine . . . there need be no prior notice of listing or determination [of seizure] . . .”

On August 1, Bush issued a similar executive order, titled “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions.” While the text in this order is, for the most part, identical to the first, the order regarding Lebanon is more severe.

While both orders bypass the Constitutional right to due process of law in giving the Secretary of Treasury authority to seize properties of those persons posing a risk of violence, or in any vague way assisting opposition to US agenda, the August 1 order targets any person determined to have taken, or to pose a significant risk of taking, actions—violent or nonviolent—that undermine operations in Lebanon. The act further authorizes freezing the assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose property is frozen. The executive order on Lebanon also bans providing food, shelter, medicine, or any humanitarian aid to those whose assets have been seized—including the “dependent children” referred to above.

Vaguely written and dangerously open to broad interpretation, this unconstitutional order allows for the arbitrary targeting of any American for dispossession of all belongings and demands ostracism from society. Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former Justice Department official in the Reagan administration says of the order, “This is so sweeping it’s staggering. I have never seen anything so broad. It expands beyond terrorism, beyond seeking to use violence or the threat of violence to cower or intimidate a population.”

In an editorial for the Washington Times, Fein states, “The person subject to an asset freeze is reduced to a leper. The secretary’s financial death sentences are imposed without notice or an opportunity to respond, the core of due process. They hit like a bolt of lightning. Any person whose assets are frozen immediately confronts a comprehensive quarantine. He may not receive and benefactors may not provide funds, goods, or services of any sort. A lawyer cannot provide legal services to challenge the secretary’s blocking order. A doctor cannot provide medical services in response to a cardiac arrest.” Fein adds, “The Justice Department is customarily entrusted with vetting executive orders for consistency with the Constitution. Is the Attorney General sleeping?”1 (see Story #8).

Citation

1. Bruce Fein, “Our Orphaned Constitution,” Washington Times, August 7, 2007.

UPDATE BY MATT ROTHSCHILD

This is a story that went virtually nowhere that I know of in the mainstream press. When I traveled around the country giving speeches last summer and brought up the subject of this executive order, people couldn’t believe it and wondered why they hadn’t heard about it. I’m still wondering that myself.

Here are a couple of good places to check for issues related to this story:

The American Civil Liberties Union, http://www.aclu.org.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, http://www.ccrjustice.org.

Bush restricts Congress members’ access to classifed information

BUSH RESTRICTS LAWMAKER ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFO

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2001/10/101001.html

In an extraordinary exercise of official secrecy, President Bush ordered six agency heads to withhold classified information from all but eight designated members of Congress. The move immediately drew sharp criticism from Congressional leaders.

In an October 5 memo on "Disclosures to the Congress," the President said that "the only Members of Congress" who may be briefed "regarding classified or sensitive law enforcement information" are the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

"It’s a reflection of the fact that our nation is now at war, and the rules have changed," said White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer yesterday. "It’s a reflection of the reality that disclosure of information in a time of war is far different from an inadvertent disclosure at a time of peace. It could literally mean the loss of lives of people who are embarking on missions."

Congress was quick to object and to assert its prerogatives, threatening to suspend needed legislation until the restrictions are eased.

"The defense bill is not moving until we are included," said Senator Ted Stevens, the ranking Republic on the Senate Appropriations Committee, as quoted in the Washington Times.

"I think it’s an overreaction," said Senator Richard Shelby, who is perhaps the most outspoken congressional critic of "leaks" of classified information. Senator Shelby, speaking on CNN, said that at a minimum, members of the armed services committee and the defense appropriations subcommittee needed to be included in classified briefings. He also volunteered that "I do believe that there is too much information that is classified."

There are a number of categories of classified information that, by statute, may be provided to only a select subset of congressional leaders. These include the reporting of covert actions (see 50 USC 413b) and the reporting of certain Pentagon special access programs known as "waived programs" (see 10 USC 119).

In contrast to those narrow provisions, President Bush’s directive appears to overreach because it refers generically to "classified information" and "sensitive law enforcement information" (presumably related to the current anti-terrorist campaign). Moreover, it completely excludes congressional committees that have related oversight responsibilities, including the armed services, foreign relations, judiciary and appropriations committees.

The text of President Bush’s October 5 memorandum to agency heads is posted here:

Excerpts from the October 9 White House press briefing at which the memo was discussed may be found here:

Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers’ documents

Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers’ documents

Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/23/BA9P133LEA.DTL

The Bush administration has overturned a 22-year-old policy and now allows customs agents to seize, read and copy documents from travelers at airports and borders without suspicion of wrongdoing, civil rights lawyers in San Francisco said Tuesday in releasing records obtained in a lawsuit.

The records also indicate that the government gives customs agents unlimited authority to question travelers about their religious beliefs and political opinions, said lawyers from the Asian Law Caucus and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They said they had asked the Department of Homeland Security for details of any policy that would guide or limit such questioning and received no reply.

"We’re concerned that people of South Asian or Muslim-looking background are being targeted inappropriately" for questioning and searches, said Asian Law Caucus attorney Shirin Sinnar.

Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the new policies reflect "the realities of the post-9/11 environment."

Kudwa noted that courts have allowed federal agents more leeway in searches at borders and airports than elsewhere. She also said customs agents are entitled to ask questions that "may be relevant to admissibility determinations that relate to an alien’s purpose for entering the United States" under certain types of visas.

The Bay Area legal groups filed a Freedom of Information Act suit against the government in February, seeking documents on the policies that govern searches and questioning of international travelers.

The organizations said they had received more than 20 complaints in the previous year, mostly from South Asians and Muslims. The travelers said customs agents regularly singled them out when they returned from abroad, looked at their papers and laptop computers, and asked them such questions as whom they had seen on their trips, whether they attended mosques and whether they hated the U.S. government.

Homeland Security’s customs and border protection division provided 661 pages of documents in response to the suit, but blacked out portions of many records and withheld others, Sinnar said. She said the legal groups would return to court to seek more documents.

In the meantime, the customs agency publicly released its policies on border searches in July, including a statement that agents are authorized to "read and analyze" any documents in a traveler’s possession and keep them for a reasonable time to make copies.

What the agency didn’t announce – but what the documents obtained in the lawsuits reveal – is that the current practices represent a substantial change from earlier government policies, Sinnar said.

She said those policies were first enacted by President Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1986, in response to lawsuits by U.S. citizens who were questioned and searched after returning from Nicaragua. President Bill Clinton’s administration refined the policies in 2000 but made no major changes, Sinnar said.

Those policies allowed customs agents to glance at travelers’ documents to see if they contained anything the agents were authorized to intercept – such as smuggled currency or obscene material – but required agents to have grounds for reasonable suspicion before taking and reading any documents, the legal groups said, quoting the newly released records.

The 1986 and 2000 policies required agents to meet a more-demanding standard – showing evidence that contained probable cause of smuggling or other wrongdoing – before copying documents, the lawyers’ groups said.

"For more than 20 years, the government implicitly recognized that reading and copying the letters, diaries, and personal papers of travelers without reason would chill Americans’ right to free speech and free expression," Sinnar said. "But now customs officials can probe into the thoughts and lives of ordinary travelers without any suspicion at all."

Read the documents

The government documents and the legal groups’ analysis of them are available at:

links.sfgate.com/ZEXO

E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page A – 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive May 2007

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html


NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51

HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/HSPD-20

Subject: National Continuity Policy

Purpose

(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.

Definitions

(2) In this directive:

(a) "Category" refers to the categories of executive departments and agencies listed in Annex A to this directive;

(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(c) "Continuity of Government," or "COG," means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;

(d) "Continuity of Operations," or "COOP," means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

(f) "Executive Departments and Agencies" means the executive departments enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), Government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C. 103(1), and the United States Postal Service;

(g) "Government Functions" means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;

(h) "National Essential Functions," or "NEFs," means that subset of Government Functions that are necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP and COG capabilities; and

(i) "Primary Mission Essential Functions," or "PMEFs," means those Government Functions that must be performed in order to support or implement the performance of NEFs before, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency.

Policy

(3) It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.

Implementation Actions

(4) Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.

(5) The following NEFs are the foundation for all continuity programs and capabilities and represent the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation during a crisis, and therefore sustaining the following NEFs shall be the primary focus of the Federal Government leadership during and in the aftermath of an emergency that adversely affects the performance of Government Functions:

(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government;

(b) Providing leadership visible to the Nation and the world and maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people;

(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(d) Maintaining and fostering effective relationships with foreign nations;

(e) Protecting against threats to the homeland and bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(f) Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident;

(g) Protecting and stabilizing the Nation's economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems; and

(h) Providing for critical Federal Government services that address the national health, safety, and welfare needs of the United States.

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.

(7) For continuity purposes, each executive department and agency is assigned to a category in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities in support of the Federal Government's ability to sustain the NEFs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall serve as the President's lead agent for coordinating overall continuity operations and activities of executive departments and agencies, and in such role shall perform the responsibilities set forth for the Secretary in sections 10 and 16 of this directive.

(8) The National Continuity Coordinator, in consultation with the heads of appropriate executive departments and agencies, will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), which shall include prioritized goals and objectives, a concept of operations, performance metrics by which to measure continuity readiness, procedures for continuity and incident management activities, and clear direction to executive department and agency continuity coordinators, as well as guidance to promote interoperability of Federal Government continuity programs and procedures with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate. The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.

(9) Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch's COOP and COG policies in support of ECG efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.

(10) Federal Government COOP, COG, and ECG plans and operations shall be appropriately integrated with the emergency plans and capabilities of State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to promote interoperability and to prevent redundancies and conflicting lines of authority. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall coordinate the integration of Federal continuity plans and operations with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.

(11) Continuity requirements for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and executive departments and agencies shall include the following:

(a) The continuation of the performance of PMEFs during any emergency must be for a period up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed, and the capability to be fully operational at alternate sites as soon as possible after the occurrence of an emergency, but not later than 12 hours after COOP activation;

(b) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;

(c) Vital resources, facilities, and records must be safeguarded, and official access to them must be provided;

(d) Provision must be made for the acquisition of the resources necessary for continuity operations on an emergency basis;

(e) Provision must be made for the availability and redundancy of critical communications capabilities at alternate sites in order to support connectivity between and among key government leadership, internal elements, other executive departments and agencies, critical partners, and the public;

(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; and

(g) Provision must be made for the identification, training, and preparedness of personnel capable of relocating to alternate facilities to support the continuation of the performance of PMEFs.

(12) In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary's designee.

(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall:

(a) Conduct an annual assessment of executive department and agency continuity funding requests and performance data that are submitted by executive departments and agencies as part of the annual budget request process, in order to monitor progress in the implementation of the Plan and the execution of continuity budgets;

(b) In coordination with the National Continuity Coordinator, issue annual continuity planning guidance for the development of continuity budget requests; and

(c) Ensure that heads of executive departments and agencies prioritize budget resources for continuity capabilities, consistent with this directive.

(14) The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall:

(a) Define and issue minimum requirements for continuity communications for executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President;

(b) Establish requirements for, and monitor the development, implementation, and maintenance of, a comprehensive communications architecture to integrate continuity components, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President; and

(c) Review quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities, as prepared pursuant to section 16(d) of this directive or otherwise, and report the results and recommended remedial actions to the National Continuity Coordinator.

(15) An official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall:

(a) Advise the President, the Chief of Staff to the President, the APHS/CT, and the APNSA on COGCON operational execution options; and

(b) Consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to ensure synchronization and integration of continuity activities among the four categories of executive departments and agencies.

(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(a) Coordinate the implementation, execution, and assessment of continuity operations and activities;

(b) Develop and promulgate Federal Continuity Directives in order to establish continuity planning requirements for executive departments and agencies;

(c) Conduct biennial assessments of individual department and agency continuity capabilities as prescribed by the Plan and report the results to the President through the APHS/CT;

(d) Conduct quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(e) Develop, lead, and conduct a Federal continuity training and exercise program, which shall be incorporated into the National Exercise Program developed pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 of December 17, 2003 ("National Preparedness"), in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(f) Develop and promulgate continuity planning guidance to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators;

(g) Make available continuity planning and exercise funding, in the form of grants as provided by law, to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators; and

(h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.

(17) The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall produce a biennial assessment of the foreign and domestic threats to the Nation's continuity of government.

(18) The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall provide secure, integrated, Continuity of Government communications to the President, the Vice President, and, at a minimum, Category I executive departments and agencies.

(19) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall execute their respective department or agency COOP plans in response to a localized emergency and shall:

(a) Appoint a senior accountable official, at the Assistant Secretary level, as the Continuity Coordinator for the department or agency;

(b) Identify and submit to the National Continuity Coordinator the list of PMEFs for the department or agency and develop continuity plans in support of the NEFs and the continuation of essential functions under all conditions;

(c) Plan, program, and budget for continuity capabilities consistent with this directive;

(d) Plan, conduct, and support annual tests and training, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to evaluate program readiness and ensure adequacy and viability of continuity plans and communications systems; and

(e) Support other continuity requirements, as assigned by category, in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities

General Provisions

(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.

(21) This directive:

(a) Shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations;

(b) Shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect (i) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, and legislative proposals, or (ii) the authority of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of Defense, including the chain of command for military forces from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the commander of military forces, or military command and control procedures; and

(c) Is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(22) Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Germany Wants to Use Spying Software for Private Computers

Germany Wants to Use Spying Software for Private Computers

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2757168,00.html?maca=en-bulletin-433-html

Deutsche Welle, 29 August 2007

According to two German daily newspapers, Germany's interior ministry plans police-controlled spying of private computers to combat terrorism. Keyboard movements and password entry could also be monitored.

 

Cologne's Stadt-Anzeiger (KSTA) and the national tageszeitung (taz) newspapers reported Wednesday that Germany's interior ministry wants to employ fake e-mails to allow agents to search private computers.

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency


May 18, 2007 By Matthew Rothschild

With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack.

In a new National Security Presidential Directive, Bush lays out his plans for dealing with a “catastrophic emergency.”

Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch. And he gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.”

He laid this all out in a document entitled “National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51 ” and “Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20.”

The White House released it on May 9.

Other than a discussion on Daily Kos led off by a posting by Leo Fender, and a pro-forma notice in a couple of mainstream newspapers, this document has gone unremarked upon.

The subject of the document is entitled “National Continuity Policy.”

It defines a “catastrophic emergency? as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”

This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include “localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies.”

The document emphasizes the need to ensure “the continued function of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government,” it states.

But it says flat out: “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.”

The document waves at the need to work closely with the other two branches, saying there will be “a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government.” But this effort will be “coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers.”

Among the efforts coordinated by the President would ensuring the capability of the three branches of government to “provide for orderly succession” and “appropriate transition of leadership.”

The document designates a National Continuity Coordinator, who would be the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

Currently holding that post is Frances Fragos Townsend.

She is required to develop a National Continuity Implementation Plan and submit it within 90 days.

As part of that plan, she is not only to devise procedures for the Executive Branch but also give guidance to “state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure.”

The secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to develop planning guidance for “private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators,” as well as state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.

The document gives the Vice President a role in implementing the provisions of the contingency plans.

“This directive shall be implanted in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 USC 19), with the consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved.”

The document also contains “classified Continuity Annexes.”

Bush signs bill authorizing torture of detainees

"It allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court," Senator Russ Feingold said. "And the new law would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and even allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death."

Bush signs bill to interrogate, prosecute terror suspects
 

CNN POSTED: 2056 GMT (0456 HKT), October 17, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of the most notorious names in the war on terror are headed toward prosecution after President Bush signed a law Tuesday authorizing military trials of terrorism suspects.

The legislation also eliminates some of the rights defendants are usually guaranteed under U.S. law, and it authorizes continued harsh interrogations of terror suspects, a provision Bush had said was vital.

Imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and awaiting trial are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker, and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al Qaeda cells.

"With the bill I’m about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice," Bush said in a White House ceremony. (Watch Bush explain how this bill will protect the U.S. — 2:53 Video)

The Pentagon expects to begin pre-trial motions early next year and to begin the actual trials in the summer.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law, so Bush urged Congress to change the law during a speech on September 6 in the White House East Room attended by families of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims. He also insisted that the law authorize CIA agents to use tough — yet unspecified — methods to interrogate suspected terrorists.

Six weeks later, after a highly publicized dispute with key Republicans over the terms of the bill, Bush signed the new law "in memory of the victims of September 11."

"It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."

Civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as a violation of American values. The American Civil Liberties Union said it was "one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history." Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation’s history."

"It allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court," Feingold said. "And the new law would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and even allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death."

The legislation, which sets the rules for court proceedings, applies to those selected by the military for prosecution and leaves mostly unaffected the majority of the 14,000 prisoners in U.S. custody, most of whom are in Iraq.

It does apply to 14 suspects who were secretly questioned by the CIA overseas and recently moved to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
Good news for White House

The swift implementation of the law is a rare bit of good news for Bush as casualties mount in Iraq in daily violence. Lawmakers are increasingly calling for a change of strategy, and political anxieties are jeopardizing Republican chances of retaining control of Congress.

Bush has been criticizing Democrats who voted against the law, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006, during campaign appearances around the country. He has suggested that votes against the law show that Democrats would not protect the country from another terrorist attack.

Republican House leaders, in a tough battle to maintain their majority, echoed those criticisms Tuesday in an attempt to get some political points out of the legislation they supported.

"The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

Bush noted that the law came amid dispute.

"Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex," he said. "Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously? And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?"

A coalition of religious groups staged a protest against the bill outside the White House, shouting "Bush is the terrorist" and "Torture is a crime." About 15 of the protesters, standing in a light rain, refused orders to move. Police arrested them one by one.

The legislation says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts. Bush said such measures have helped the CIA gain vital information from terror suspects and have saved American lives.

After Bush signed the law, CIA Director Mike Hayden sent a note to employees saying it gives them "the legal clarity and legislative support necessary to continue a program that has been one of our country’s most effective tools in the fight against terrorism."

"We can be confident that our program remains — as it always has been — fully compliant with U.S. law, the Constitution and our international treaty obligations," Hayden wrote.

The White House has said that disclosing the techniques that are used would give the enemy information to resist those techniques. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush would probably eventually issue an executive order that would describe his interpretation of the standards, but those documents are not usually made public.

Snow rejected the idea that Americans should be able to see and judge the standards for themselves, particularly in the aftermath of illegal abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.

"The only way accountability doesn’t exist is if you believe that the military is not committed to it," Snow said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Blair’s Big Brother Legacy

In the guise of fighting terrorism and maintaining public order, Tony Blair’s government has quietly and systematically taken power from Parliament and from the British people. The author charts a nine-year assault on civil liberties that reveals the danger of trading freedom for security?and must have Churchill spinning in his grave
Blair’s Big Brother Legacy

By HENRY PORTER
19 June 2006
http://www.vanityfair.com/commentary/content/articles/060619roco03

In the shadow of Winston Churchill’s statue opposite the House of Commons, a rather odd ritual has developed on Sunday afternoons. A small group of people – mostly young and dressed outlandishly?hold a tea party on the grass of Parliament Square. A woman looking very much like Mary Poppins passes plates of frosted cakes and cookies, while other members of the party flourish blank placards or, as they did on the afternoon I was there, attempt a game of cricket.

Sometimes the police move in and arrest the picnickers, but on this occasion the officers stood at a distance, presumably consulting on the question of whether this was a demonstration or a non-demonstration. It is all rather silly and yet in Blair’s Britain there is a kind of nobility in the amateurishness and persistence of the gesture. This collection of oddballs, looking for all the world as if they had stepped out of the Michelangelo Antonioni film Blow-Up, are challenging a new law which says that no one may demonstrate within a kilometer, or a little more than half a mile, of Parliament Square if they have not first acquired written permission from the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This effectively places the entire center of British government, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, off-limits to the protesters and marchers who have traditionally brought their grievances to those in power without ever having to ask a policeman’s permission.

The non-demo demo, or tea party, is a legalistic response to the law. If anything is written on the placards, or if someone makes a speech, then he or she is immediately deemed to be in breach of the law and is arrested. The device doesn’t always work. After drinking tea in the square, a man named Mark Barrett was recently convicted of demonstrating. Two other protesters, Milan Rai and Maya Evans, were charged after reading out the names of dead Iraqi civilians at the Cenotaph, Britain’s national war memorial, in Whitehall, a few hundred yards away.

On that dank spring afternoon I looked up at Churchill and reflected that he almost certainly would have approved of these people insisting on their right to demonstrate in front of his beloved Parliament. "If you will not fight for the right," he once growled, "when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

Churchill lived in far more testing times than ours, but he always revered the ancient tradition of Britain’s "unwritten constitution." I imagined him becoming flesh again and walking purposefully toward Downing Street?without security, of course – there to address Tony Blair and his aides on their sacred duty as the guardians of Britain’s Parliament and the people’s rights.

For Blair, that youthful baby-boomer who came to power nine years ago as the embodiment of democratic liberalism as well as the new spirit of optimism in Britain, turns out to have an authoritarian streak that respects neither those rights nor, it seems, the independence of the elected representatives in Parliament. And what is remarkable – in fact almost a historic phenomenon – is the harm his government has done to the unwritten British constitution in those nine years, without anyone really noticing, without the press objecting or the public mounting mass protests. At the inception of Cool Britannia, British democracy became subject to a silent takeover.

Last year?rather late in the day, I must admit”I started to notice trends in Blair’s legislation which seemed to attack individual rights and freedoms, to favor ministers (politicians appointed by the prime minister to run departments of government) over the scrutiny of Parliament, and to put in place all the necessary laws for total surveillance of society.

There was nothing else to do but to go back and read the acts?at least 15 of them – and to write about them in my weekly column in The Observer. After about eight weeks, the prime minister privately let it be known that he was displeased at being called authoritarian by me. Very soon I found myself in the odd position of conducting a formal e-mail exchange with him on the rule of law, I sitting in my London home with nothing but Google and a stack of legislation, the prime minister in No. 10 with all the resources of government at his disposal. Incidentally, I was assured that he had taken time out of his schedule so that he himself could compose the thunderous responses calling for action against terrorism, crime, and antisocial behavior.

The day after the exchange was published, the grudging truce between the government and me was broken. Blair gave a press conference, in which he attacked media exaggeration, and the then home secretary, Charles Clarke, weighed in with a speech at the London School of Economics naming me and two other journalists and complaining about "the pernicious and even dangerous poison" in the media.

So, I guess this column comes with a health warning from the British government, but please don’t pay it any mind. When governments attack the media, it is often a sign that the media have for once gotten something right. I might add that this column also comes with the more serious warning that, if rights have been eroded in the land once called "the Mother of Parliaments," it can happen in any country where a government actively promotes the fear of terrorism and crime and uses it to persuade people that they must exchange their freedom for security.
Blair’s campaign against rights contained in the Rule of Law?that is, that ancient amalgam of common law, convention, and the opinion of experts, which makes up one half of the British constitution – is often well concealed. Many of the measures have been slipped through under legislation that appears to address problems the public is concerned about. For instance, the law banning people from demonstrating within one kilometer of Parliament is contained in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005. The right to protest freely has been affected by the Terrorism Act of 2000, which allows police to stop and search people in a designated area – which can be anywhere – and by antisocial-behavior laws, which allow police to issue an order banning someone from a particular activity, waving a banner, for instance. If a person breaks that order, he or she risks a prison sentence of up to five years. Likewise, the Protection from Harassment Act of 1997?designed to combat stalkers and campaigns of intimidation – is being used to control protest. A woman who sent two e-mails to a pharmaceutical company politely asking a member of the staff not to work with a company that did testing on animals was prosecuted for "repeated conduct" in sending an e-mail twice, which the act defines as harassment.

There is a demonic versatility to Blair’s laws. Kenneth Clarke, M.P. (Member of Parliament), a former Conservative chancellor of the Exchequer and home secretary, despairs at the way they are being used. "What is assured as being harmless when it is introduced gets used more and more in a way which is sometimes alarming," he says. His colleague David Davies, M.P., the Conservative shadow home secretary, is astonished by Blair’s Labour Party: "If I had gone on the radio 15 years ago and said that a Labour government would limit your right to trial by jury, would limit?in some cases eradicate – habeas corpus, constrain your right of freedom of speech, they would have locked me up."

Indeed they would. But there’s more, so much in fact that it is difficult to grasp the scope of the campaign against British freedoms. But here goes. The right to a jury trial is removed in complicated fraud cases and where there is a fear of jury tampering. The right not to be tried twice for the same offense – the law of double jeopardy?no longer exists. The presumption of innocence is compromised, especially in antisocial-behavior legislation, which also makes hearsay admissible as evidence. The right not to be punished unless a court decides that the law has been broken is removed in the system of control orders by which a terrorist suspect is prevented from moving about freely and using the phone and Internet, without at any stage being allowed to hear the evidence against him – house arrest in all but name.

Freedom of speech is attacked by Section Five of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which preceded Blair’s government, but which is now being used to patrol opinion. In Oxford last year a 21-year-old graduate of Balliol College named Sam Brown drunkenly shouted in the direction of two mounted police officers, "Mate, you know your horse is gay. I hope you don’t have a problem with that." He was given one of the new, on-the-spot fines?

Bush Has Widened Authority of C.I.A. to Kill Terrorists

Bush Has Widened Authority of C.I.A. to Kill Terrorists

 

By James Risen and David Johnston
The New York Times
December 15, 2002

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 ? The Bush administration has prepared a list of terrorist leaders the Central Intelligence Agency is authorized to kill, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized, senior military and intelligence officials said.

The previously undisclosed C.I.A. list includes key Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, the officials said. The names of about two dozen terrorist leaders have recently been on the lethal-force list, officials said. "It’s the worst of the worst," an official said.

President Bush has provided written legal authority to the C.I.A. to hunt down and kill the terrorists without seeking further approval each time the agency is about to stage an operation. Some officials said the terrorist list was known as the "high-value target list." A spokesman for the White House declined to discuss the list or issues involving the use of lethal force against terrorists. A spokesman for the C.I.A. also declined to comment on the list.

Despite the authority given to the agency, Mr. Bush has not waived the executive order banning assassinations, officials said. The presidential authority to kill terrorists defines operatives of Al Qaeda as enemy combatants and thus legitimate targets for lethal force.

Mr. Bush issued a presidential finding last year, after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, providing the basic executive and legal authority for the C.I.A. to either kill or capture terrorist leaders. Initially, the agency used that authority to hunt for Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. That authority was the basis for the C.I.A.’s attempts to find and kill or capture Mr. Bin laden and other Qaeda leaders during the war in Afghanistan.

The creation of the secret list is part of the expanded C.I.A. effort to hunt and kill or capture Qaeda operatives far from traditional battlefields, in countries like Yemen.

The president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the C.I.A. required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although officials said Mr. Bush had been kept well informed about the agency’s operations.

In November, the C.I.A. killed a Qaeda leader in a remote region of Yemen. A pilotless Predator aircraft operated by the agency fired a Hellfire antitank missile at a car in which Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, also known as Abu Ali, was riding. Mr. Harethi and five other people, including one suspected Qaeda operative with United States citizenship, were killed in the attack.

Mr. Harethi, a key Al Qaeda leader in Yemen who is suspected of helping to plan the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000, is believed to have been on the list of Qaeda leaders that the C.I.A. had been authorized to kill. After the Predator operation in Yemen, American officials said Mr. Bush was not required to approve the mission before the attack, nor was he specifically consulted.

Intelligence officials said the presidential finding authorizing the agency to kill terrorists was not limited to those on the list. The president has given broad authority to the C.I.A. to kill or capture operatives of Al Qaeda around the world, the officials said. But officials said the group’s most senior leaders on the list were the agency’s primary focus.

The list is updated periodically as the intelligence agency, in consultation with other counterterrorism agencies, adds new names or deletes those who are captured or killed, or when intelligence indicates the emergence of a new leader.

The precise criteria for adding someone to the list are unclear, although the evidence against each person must be clear and convincing, the officials said. The list contains the names of some of the same people who are on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s list of most wanted terror suspects, although the lists are prepared independently.

Officials said the C.I.A., working with the F.B.I., the military and foreign governments, will seek to capture terrorists when possible and bring them into custody.

Counterterrorism officials prefer to capture senior Qaeda leaders for interrogation, if possible. They regard killing as a last resort in cases in which the location of a Qaeda operative is known but capture would be too dangerous or logistically impossible, the officials said.

Under current intelligence law, the president must sign a finding to provide the legal basis for covert actions to be carried out by the C.I.A. In response to past abuses, the decision-making process has grown into a highly formalized review in which the White House, Justice Department, State Department, Pentagon and C.I.A. take part.

The administration must notify Congressional leaders of any covert action finding signed by the president. In the case of the presidential finding authorizing the use of lethal force against members of Al Qaeda, Congressional leaders have been notified as required, the officials said.

The new emphasis on covert action is an outgrowth of more aggressive attitudes regarding the use of lethal force in the campaign against terrorism. Moreover, such operations have become easier to conduct because of technological advances like the development of the Predator, which has evolved from a camera-carrying surveillance drone into an armed robot warplane controlled by operators safely stationed thousands of miles from any attack.

The development of the armed Predator drone has made it much easier for the C.I.A. to pursue and kill terrorists in ways that would almost certainly not have been tried in the past for fear of the potential for American casualties. In the strike in Yemen, for example, Mr. Harethi was living in a remote, lawless region where the Yemeni government had little control. Not long before the Predator strike, Yemeni forces attacked Qaeda operatives in that same area and were beaten back with many casualties.

The more aggressive approach to counterterrorism is showing results.

George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, said in a speech last week that more than one-third of the top leadership of Al Qaeda identified before the war in Afghanistan had been killed or captured.

One recent success, he said, came with the capture of Al Qaeda’s operations chief for the Persian Gulf region who had been involved in the planning of the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa as well as the bombing of the Cole in 2000. Since September 2001, Mr. Tenet added, more than 3,000 suspected Qaeda operatives or their associates have been detained in more than 100 countries.

But the decision by the Bush administration to authorize, under certain circumstances, the killing of terrorist leaders threatens to thrust it into a murky area of national security and international law that is almost never debated in public because the covert operations are known only to a small circle of executive branch and Congressional officials.

In the past, the Bush administration has criticized the targeting of Palestinian leaders by Israeli forces. But one former senior official said such criticism had diminished as the administration sought to move aggressively against Al Qaeda.

Still, some national security lawyers said the practice of drawing up lists of people who are subject to lethal force might blur the lines drawn by government’s ban on assassinations. That prohibition was first ordered by President Gerald Ford, and in the view of some lawyers, it applies not only to foreign leaders but to civilians. (American officials have said in the past that Saddam Hussein would be a legitimate target in a war, as he is a military commander as well as Iraq’s president.)

"The inevitable complication of a politically declared but legally undeclared war is the blurring of the distinction between enemy combatants and other nonstate actors," said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a former State Department official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. "The question is, what factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?"

 

Bush White House embraces assassination

Bush White House embraces assassination

By Bill Vann
3 October 2002

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/oct2002/bush-o03.shtml
World Socialist Web Site
 

“The Bush administration represents the coming to power of a criminal element in the American ruling class … in its political methods, social base and foreign policy, the Bush administration is gangsterism personified.”

There may be some who interpreted this analysis made in the World Socialist Web Site?s September 9 statement “Oppose US war against Iraq! Build an international movement against imperialism!? as political hyperbole.

The statements of presidential spokesperson Ari Fleischer at the White House Tuesday should have clarified any such misconceptions. Speaking from a podium bearing the presidential seal, Fleischer publicly advocated political assassination as a means of realizing US foreign policy.

Asked about the estimated $9 billion-a-month price tag for a war against Iraq, the presidential spokesman replied: “The cost of a one-way ticket is substantially less than that. The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people takes it on themselves, is substantially less than that.”

Repeatedly prodded by reporters over whether he was calling for the murder of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Fleischer did not budge from his statement, declaring only that “regime change? remained Bush’s objective and that there existed “many options? to carry that out.

The irony of a government that claims that it is preparing a war to enforce international law simultaneously appealing for the murder of a head of state was predictably lost on the media. Most newspapers passed over the statement without comment. CNN urged its viewers to respond to the question of whether assassination was “a good idea.”

Nor did anyone in the establishment media pose the obvious question of what kind of “regime change? the Bush administration is seeking if it can be brought about with “one bullet.” Clearly, the aim of the war buildup against Iraq is not, as administration officials have improbably claimed, the “liberation” of the Iraqi people. Washington is fully prepared to accept a Saddam regime without Saddam, so long as it subordinates itself to US foreign policy and cedes control of Iraq’s oilfields to US companies.

Administration officials later claimed that Fleischer’s statement did not mean that the administration is lifting a 26-year-old prohibition on US intelligence agents assassinating foreign leaders. But the ban, they added, does not limit the activities of Iraqi opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime. The administration recently announced that the CIA is providing unspecified training to Iraqi “dissidents” that Washington’s payroll.

An executive order enacted by President Gerald Ford bars US officials from engaging in or conspiring to engage in assassinations. It also bars officials from “contracting out? these activities, i.e., soliciting or aiding others outside the government’such as the Iraqi dissidents?to carry out political murders. The order was enacted in response to the post-Watergate revelations that the CIA was operating as an international Murder Inc., staging multiple attempts on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro, and participating in the successful assassination of Congolese nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba as well as numerous other murder plots.

Last year, the Bush administration revealed that the president had issued a new ruling – a so-called intelligence “finding”?that the ban did not prevent the military or the CIA from organizing the murders of Osama bin Laden and other alleged members of his Al Qaeda organization.

Fleischer’s statements indicate that the administration has in practice extended this exemption to include Hussein and perhaps other heads of state classified by the Bush administration as threats to US national security.

Well before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, sections of the Republican Party were demanding the repeal of the assassination ban. In January 2001, Congressman Robert Barr introduced a bill entitled the “Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001? lifting most of the restrictions on the murder of foreign leaders.

Meanwhile, thinking among the right-wing ideologues in charge at the Pentagon was spelled out in the Autumn 2002 edition of Parameters, the magazine of the Army War College, which trains senior US military commanders. An article headlined “Can we put the leaders of the Axis of Evil in the crosshairs”? spells out various ways in which the White House can circumvent the assassination ban.

This includes ordering military actions aimed at killing a foreign leader’such as the 1986 US bombing of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s residence that claimed the life of his young daughter?to the outright repeal of the executive order. In between, the article cites a Justice Department recommendation that the president may make an exception to the ban by declaring that the assassination of a given head of state is “important to national security interests.”

“Under the current circumstances, assassination may prove to be a more frequent and necessary means of countering the asymmetric threats our nation will continue to face,” the article continues. “The new world order created by the end of the Cold War and punctuated by the impressive victory of the 1991 Persian Gulf War finds the United States as the lone super power, unchallenged militarily.” It goes on to argue that murder is a justifiable weapon against leaders of “rogue states.”

“We cannot afford to overlook the possibility that a well-placed rifle shot, or properly targeted laser-guided weapon, just might preclude the need for massing our forces on the border of a hostile rogue nation,” the article concludes.

It advises, however, that the ban on assassinations be kept on the books. It would serve, the article states, as “a public statement that can be pointed to when our international critics decry the unilateralism of US foreign policy” and an argument that “the United States is not as savage as it may be perceived to be.”

It will take far more, however, than a 26-year-old order that in practice has been repudiated by the White House to dispel a growing international perception that those directing US foreign policy are a criminal Mafia, prepared to use the methods of Murder Inc. to get whatever the American ruling elite wants.

Alabama legislature wishes to allow assassinations of foreign individuals

42744-1:N:09/18/2001:MCS/ap LRS2001-16904

HJR156
By Representatives Hooper, Venable, Carns, Gaston, McMillan, McKee, Hubbard, Allen, McClurkin, Haney, Sanderson, Gipson, Oden, Hill, Morrison, Turner, Seibenhener, Bridges, Willis, Johnson, Carothers, White, Ford (C), Barton, Beason, Clouse, Greene, McDaniel, Millican, Sanderford, Thomas (E) and Warren
RFD
Rd 1 18-SEP-2001

REQUESTING PRESIDENT BUSH TO NULLIFY PREVIOUS EXECUTIVE ORDERS WHICH BAN ASSASSINATIONS BY U.S. GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS.

WHEREAS, past Presidents have issued Executive Orders which severely limit the use of the military when dealing with potential threats against the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, these Executive Orders limit the swift, sure, and precise action needed by the United States to protect our national security; and

WHEREAS, present strategy allows the military forces to bomb large targets hoping to eliminate a terrorist leader, but prevents our country from designing a limited action which would specifically accomplish that purpose; and

WHEREAS, on several occasions the military has been ordered to use a military strike hoping, in most cases unsuccessfully, to remove a terrorist leader who has committed crimes against the United States; and

WHEREAS, as the threat from terrorism grows, as evidenced by the September 11, 2001, attack, America must continue to investigate effective ways to combat the menace posed by those who would murder American citizens simply to make a political point; and

WHEREAS, actions by the United States Government to remove such persons is a remedy which should be used sparingly and considered only after all other reasonable options have failed or are not available; however, this is an option our country must maintain for cases in which international threats cannot be eliminated by other means; and

WHEREAS, Bush administration officials have reviewed the prior Executive Orders, and have concluded that the earlier orders do not limit the ability of the United States to act in self-defense; and

WHEREAS, H.R. 19 of the 107 U.S. Congress, The Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001, seeks to repeal Section 5 (g) of Executive Order 11905, Section 2-305 of Executive Order 12036, and Section 2-11 of Executive Order 12333, all of which ban or reinforce the ban on assassination of terrorists; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEROF CONCURRING, That we hereby request President Bush, by copy of this resolution, to issue an Executive Order to repeal the restrictive provisions of Executive Order 11905, 12036, and 12333, to effectively lift the ban on assassination of known terrorists.


U.S. policy on assassinations

U.S. policy on assassinations

(CNN) — In 1976, President Ford issued Executive Order 11905 to clarify U.S. foreign intelligence activities. The order was enacted in response to the post-Watergate revelations that the CIA had staged multiple attempts on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

In a section of the order labeled “Restrictions on Intelligence Activities,” Ford outlawed political assassination: Section 5(g), entitled “Prohibition on Assassination,” states: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

Since 1976, every U.S. president has upheld Ford’s prohibition on assassinations. In 1978 President Carter issued an executive order with the chief purpose of reshaping the intelligence structure. In Section 2-305 of that order, Carter reaffirmed the U.S. prohibition on assassination.

In 1981, President Reagan, through Executive Order 12333, reiterated the assassination prohibition. Reagan was the last president to address the topic of political assassination. Because no subsequent executive order or piece of legislation has repealed the prohibition, it remains in effect.

The ban, however, did not prevent the Reagan administration from dropping bombs on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s home in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. troops.

Additionally, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles at suspected guerrilla camps in Afghanistan in 1998 after the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Following the September 11. 2001, attacks, the White House said the presidential directive banning assassinations would not prevent the United States from acting in self-defense.

According to an October 21, 2001, Washington Post article, President Bush in September of last year signed an intelligence “finding” instructing the CIA to engage in “lethal covert operations” to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization.

White House and CIA lawyers believe that the intelligence “finding” is constitutional because the ban on political assassination does not apply to wartime. They also contend that the prohibition does not preclude the United States taking action against terrorists.

Bush Gives Green Light to CIA to assassinate suspects

 



Bush Gives Green Light to CIA
for Assassination of Named Terrorists
by David Gow, October 29, 2001, The Guardian (U.K)

 

‘Covert killings to take in less important al-Qaida figures’

President Bush has given the CIA an explicit go-ahead to carry out covert missions to assassinate Osama bin Laden and his supporters around the world, effectively lifting a 25-year ban on such activities.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed reports of such a move yesterday by telling CNN that the US would be acting in self-defence in carrying out such missions.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Mr Bush has decided that executive orders banning assassinations since a series of botched attempts in the 1960s and 1970s allow him to single out a named terrorist or terrorists for death by covert action.

Mr Rumsfeld said: "It is not possible to defend yourself against terrorists at every single location in the world and at every single moment.

"The only way to deal with terrorists is to take the battle to them and find them and root them out and that’s self-defence. We’re going after these people and their organisations and capabilities and to stop them killing Americans."

The US president, according to senior government officials quoted by the Post, signed an order last month known as an intelligence "finding", which broadens the list of potential targets beyond Bin Laden and his immediate circle of some 15 operational planners ” and beyond Afghanistan.

The CIA, pilloried in some quarters along with the FBI last month for its fatal failure to detect the movements and plans of the al-Qaida terrorist network, is said to be willing and able to "take the lives of terrorists designated by the president".

Mr Bush has apparently circumvented the legal constraints on clandestine killing missions imposed since the Church committee found in 1975 that plots against five foreign leaders under presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon had been organised in terms "so ambiguous that it is difficult to be certain at what levels assassination activity was known and authorised".

The new presidential order, drawing on one signed by President Clinton against al-Qaida three years ago, apparently overcomes such problems by making plain that responsibility and accountability rest with the president and his senior colleagues.

"I would want the president’s guidance to be as clear as it could be, including the names of individuals. You have got to have the political levels behind you so the intelligence officers are not left hanging," the recently retired CIA deputy director, John Gannon, told the Post.

But history suggests that covert assassinations remain fraught with danger and carry a high risk of failure.

Jeffrey Richelson, an intelligence historian and author of a new book on the CIA, said of pre-1975 efforts: "They never succeeded in killing anyone. They were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight."

Agents carried out numerous inept missions to kill Fidel Castro, using among other botched devices bacteria in his favourite type of cigar, an exploding seashell, and a poisoned wet suit. Other botched missions were undertaken in central America, the Congo and Iraq, though Mr Richelson has said the CIA did significantly aid the assassins of Che Guevara, and, indirectly, the overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973.

Yesterday’s report suggested that President Bush’s order could extend well beyond the al-Qaida network concentrated around Bin Laden and the FBI’s 22 "most-wanted" terrorists, with the CIA debating how many of the 35 or more countries identified as places where the terrorist network is active could figure on the list.

Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, said yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press: "It could take years but we are going to do everything we can to rout the terrorists in Afghanistan and then get them all around the world."

Financiers of the al-Qaida ? "the Gucci guys, the guys who write the cheques", according to one unnamed CIA official could also be targets but the report said it was unclear whether Mr Bush had "signed orders that would amount to individual death warrants".

 


 

Bush can lock up anyone forever without charge

POLICE STATE IN AMERICA: Now Bush can lock up anyone forever without charge
 
The final levee has given way…



September 10, 2005


As if the official ineptitude of the Bush administration in the aftermath of Katrina and the callousness of the Bush family were not enough to digest, a U.S. Federal appeals court has just delivered this bombshell in the Jose Padilla case:

“The Congress of the United States, in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution, provided the President all powers necessary and appropriate to protect American citizens from terrorist acts by those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001… [T]hose powers include the power to detain identified and committed enemies such as Padilla, who associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban regime, who took up arms against this Nation in its war against these enemies, and who entered the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war by attacking American citizens and targets on our own soil…”

What this means is that unless the Supreme Court overturns this verdict, the U.S. government can keep Mr Padilla, a U.S. citizen, in jail indefinitely, without charge. Worse, the government will be tempted to invoke this power against pretty much anyone it likes since the Appeals Court made no attempt to verify the authenticity of the allegations made against the prisoner. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the judgment “does not authorize the government to designate and detain as an ‘enemy combatant’ anyone who it claims is associated with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups”, the bitter truth is that U.S. citizenship will not protect individuals from being deprived of their liberty if the Administration decides they are a threat to U.S. national security. Its Guantanamo time for everyone. And since the war on terror has been described by U.S. officials as “an endless war”, the period of incarceration will also be endless. This is precisely what the Italian scholar, Giorgio Agamben, means when he says the State of Exception — which in ‘democratic’ countries is meant to be a ‘provisional measure’ — has become a normal , routine, paradigmatic form of rule.

In his State of Exception, published in 2004, Agamben writes:

“President Bush’s decision to refer to himself constantly as the “Commander in Chief of the Army” after September 11, 2001, must be considered in the context of this presidential claim to sovereign powers in emergency situations. If, as we have seen, the assumption of this title entails a direct reference to the state of exception, then Bush is attempting to produce a situation in which the emergency becomes the rule, and the very distinction between peace and war (and between foreign and civil war) becomes impossible.” (Translated by Kevin Attell)

In designating Mr Padilla an ‘enemy combatant’, President Bush invoked his authority as Commander in Chief and instructed Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfled to detain him indefinitely. In his Writ of Habeas Corpus (2 July 2004), Mr Padilla said he disputed this designation and allegations and wanted to be able to go to trial so that the true position could be established:

“Padilla is not an ‘enemy combatant’. He has never joined a foreign Army and was not arrested on a foreign battlefield. He was arrested in a civilian setting within the United States. Padilla carried no weapons or explosives when he was arrested. He disputes the factual allegations underlying the Government’s designation of him as an ‘enemy combatant’.”

So confident were Mr Padilla’s lawyers of their client’s case — and so pressing the urgency for resolution since he had already been in detention for more than two years — that on October 20, 2004, they filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that he was “entitled to judgment as a matter of law even if all of the facts pleaded [in the Government’s allegations] are assumed to be true.” That confidence proved well-founded when a district court in South Carolina on 28 February 2005 granted the summary judgment motion and habeas petition and ordered that Mr Padilla either be released or charged with a crime.

The U.S. government went on appeal and has now won.

The Appeal court essentially cited the Quirin precedent (the case of German saboteurs who entered the U.S. during World War II and were detained as enemy combatants) but cleverly rejected Padilla’s argument that if Quirin were to apply, then he should be given the benefit of a trial as one of the defendants in that case, Haupt, also a U.S. citizen, had been. The court said:

“We are convinced, in any event, that the availability of criminal process cannot be determinative of the power to detain, if for no other reason than that criminal prosecution may well not achieve the very purpose for which detention is authorized in the first place — the prevention of return to the field of battle. Equally important, in many instances criminal prosecution would impede the Executive in its efforts to gather intelligence from the detainee and to restrict the detainee’s communication with confederates so as to ensure that the detainee does not pose a continuing threat to national security even as he is confined ?- impediments that would render military detention not only an appropriate, but also the necessary, course of action to be taken in the interest of national security.”

Implicit in this monstrous logic is the possibility that the factual position of the Government’s allegations — which the court assumed to be correct — might not stand up to scrutiny at a trial. Which, one might have thought, is precisely the reason Mr Padilla should be allowed to have his day in court.

Incidentally, the 9 September Appeal court judgment was written by Judge J. Michael Luttig on behalf of a three judge bench. Described in 2001 by CNN as “a rising star among conservatives”, Judge Luttig is one of several judges in the running for a U.S. Supreme Court slot.

Siddharth Varadarajan is Deputy Editor of The Hindu and a frequent contributor to Global Research. His edited volume on the Gujarat violence, Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy, was published by Penguin in 2002.