Tuesday, March 06, 2012

He turns his back on everyone





Saturday night on NBC's The Firm (airing new episodes in the second hour of prime time and featuring Juliette Lewis delivering an amazing performance in the role of Tammy -- played by Holly Hunter in the film) a military officer heard his son shot while the two were on the phone. He needed Mitch (Josh Lucas) and Ray (Callum Keith Rennie) to help him find out what happened to his son. They quickly figure out that they're dealing with an assassination ordered by the White House.

Ray: This kill list, an actual list created by the feds?

Mitch: Approved by the White House, enemies of the state who are pre-approved for assassination.

Ray: Pre-approved?

Mitch: If US agents or military come across names on that list they are authorized to kill -- no due, process nothing.

Ray: Okay, I understand that on a battlefield but Rashad's an American on US soil.

Mitch: We've killed people on this list before, even US citizens, but never here in the US.
Ava and I noted the dialogue at Third. As the episode(written by Lukas Reiter and Jonathan Shapiro) progresses, the government tries to stonewall the FISA court. Mitch wants to know when it became acceptable to kill US citizens on US soil and when the discussion on that took place? Today Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reports the disturbing news that US Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking at Northwestern University, declared that such assassinations were "legal and constitutional" and that Barack Obama -- or apparently any other US president to come -- making the decision to assassinate equaled "due process." No, it doesn't. Some will quibble and say that Holder was speaking of overseas (which doesn't make it any more legal) but if he's declaring that it can happen anywhere -- anywhere includes the United States.
In remarks delivered at the Northwestern University School of Law today, Attorney General Eric Holder provided the Obama Administration's most detailed public description yet of the legal authority under which it believes it can carry out targeted killings, including of U.S. citizens abroad. Unfortunately, the remarks still amounted to a broad defense of the government's claimed expansive authority to conduct targeted killings far from a battlefield, without judicial review of its legal justifications or evidence, either before or after a killing. The remarks also mischaracterized the debate over the need for judicial review of targeted killing decisions
Echoing statements made by Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson last month, Holder claimed that "some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen" (our emphasis), and argued that courts should not get involved in the "real-time decisions" to deploy lethal force. But Holder is constructing a straw man argument here. We are not aware of anyone who has argued that judicial review before a targeted killing is always required, or that courts should exercise real-time oversight over lethal operations.
Rather, in a lawsuit we filed with the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2010 on behalf of the father of Anwar al-Awlaki (who was placed on a government kill list in 2009 and died in a joint CIA/military drone strike in fall 2011), we asked the court to set standards describing when the government could constitutionally use lethal force against a U.S. citizen away from an active battlefield. We also asked the court to order the government to reveal the criteria it used to place al-Awlaki on so-called "kill lists." And we made clear to the court that we were not asking it to intervene in real-time decision-making by the Executive Branch. The court dismissed our lawsuit on the grounds that it raised "political questions," and held that the judiciary had no role to play in deciding the legal criteria pursuant to which the executive branch could take the life of one of its own citizens.
As Holder's speech demonstrates, though, judicial oversight is critically important given the breathtaking authority the government has claimed. Holder acknowledged that all U.S. citizens, including those accused of being terrorists, have a right to due process under the Constitution, but he argued that the Executive Branch, alone, should determine whether the due process requirement is satisfied when the government claims law of war or self-defense authority to kill. In a system of constitutional checks and balances, that simply cannot be the case. Courts must have a role in determining whether the government's authority to kill its own citizens is legal and whether a decision to kill complies with the Constitution. Otherwise, the government can wield the power to take life with impunity. We should not trust any president -- whether this one or the next -- to make such momentous decisions fully insulated from judicial review. As the Supreme Court has admonished, "a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens."
Josh Lucas plays an attorney (Mitch McDeere) on The Firm, Nathan Freed Wessler is a real attorney and we'll stay with real attorneys to note that on this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights). Among the topics they explore this week is a potential secret indictment against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Excerpt.
Michael Ratner: But what brings us really and brings me particularly to focus on these documents is the Center for Constitutional Rights and myself are advisors to Julian Assanfe and WikiLeaks, legal advisors. And we've been particular advisors about the Bradley Manning trial [. . .] So in these documents, these Stratfor documents, there's one document from Fred Burton who is the vice president, former US official, a counter-terrorism official, that says, "We have a sealed indictment on Julian Assange. Keep this private." He did this in January 2011, just over a year ago. And, of course, WikiLeaks is analyzing documents and sees this document and says, "What's this? Is this true? Is this valid?" And, of course, until we see it and know it, we don't know that it's 100% valid, but what Fred Burton has done in the past has been very reliable. And he's very well connected. So, for example, in another e-mail he says, within 10 days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he said, "I can get the documents that were seized in that house from Osama bin laden." So these guys have very close connections with US intelligence. Other parts of these documents, in addition to this claim that there's an indictment, where they talk about Julian Assange, they talk about Julian Assange as a high tech terrorist, that's what Fred Burton says, and that we have to bring him down the way that we bring down al Qaeda.
Heidi Boghosian: No.
Michael Ratner: That's what they say.
Heidi Boghosian: No.
Michael Ratner: And the way we're going to do it, we're going to jail him wherever we can, we're going to cut off all his finances and, of course, that's exactly what happened. They cut off Master Card contributions to WikiLeaks, they cut off Visa donations to WikiLeaks, they cut off pay pal to WikiLeaks, and they're obviously going after them any way they can. So there's a lot of accuracy in this. But, lookit, from my point of view, the fact that there might be, or it looks like there is, a sealed indictment against Julian Assange is just incredible to me. I mean, first of all, it would be, I think it's the first time in US history that a US journalist has actually been indicted for publishing classified documents that he himself didn't have access to as a classified person. SO that's the first thing. The second thing that's amazing, the secrecy. If he's been indicted, it's by a secret grand jury sitting in Alexandria [Virginia], it's a secret indictment and it's secret to me, one of his --
Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys, legal advisors.
Michael Ratner: -- legal counsel, legal advisors, right. It's secret to Julian Assange, it's secret to WikiLeaks, but it's apparently not secret to a private security company that's like a back door for the US spy agencies.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, how often are secret indictments brought and under what circumstance?

Michael Ratner: The normal case of a secret indictment is when a person is not in custody and they're afraid, if a person gets news of a secret indictment, they'll flee. Now, of course, Julian Assange is in custody. I mean, he sort of is in custody. He has a [monitoring] bracelet on, he's under court --
Heidi Boghosian: He's under house arrest.
Michael Ratner: He's under house arrest essentially in the UK -- not house arrest exactly, but he has to go back to his house every day at six o'clock [p.m.], he could meet people for lunch or something --
Heidi Boghosian: He's under supervision.
Michael Ratner: And he has a bracelet that he can't get off. So the normal case would be when a person -- not really Julian Assange -- but when a person doesn't really know about it and then they do it in the sealed way so the person doesn't flee. Now I think in this case, it may be --
Heidi Boghosian: I was going to say, could this be because he's enjoyed such broad support, especially in the online communities? That the government, with their private arm, is afraid that there would be such a tremendous outcry and more support? And perhaps more 'hacktivism,' as they say?
Michael Ratner: There's certainly going to be hacktivism as a result of this. I actually think the explanation may be differnent. Two things. One, let's hope it's not really an indictment and that the government isn't so crazy, Obama isn't so crazy -- and Holder, aren't so crazy to make their legacy to be the execution of a person I consider to have exposed -- along with Bradley Manning if it's true that he was the source --
Heidi Boghosian: Murder.
Michael Ratner: Murder. Serious War Crimes. Thousands of deaths in Iraq. The Collateral Murder video of the Reuters people being killed. So these people have done an amazing, an amazing piece of work. And the idea --
Heidi Boghosian: A public service.
Michael Ratner: A public service. And the idea, of course -- I mean this is what happens to whistle blowers. They first get -- You know the government in power or charge, Obama and Holder, go after them --
Heidi Boghsian: Retaliation.
Michael Ratner: Right. And eventually they're seen as what they really are, which are people who have played the crucial role in trying to change society in a positive direction.
Last week, the Center for Constitutional Rights weighed in on the possible secret indictement:
A sealed indictment against Julian Assange would underscore the very thing Wikileaks has been fighting against: abuses the government commits in an environment of secrecy and expansive, reflexive calls for "national security." From the shocking, inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning, to secret grand jury proceedings, to Stratfor's apparent knowledge of the existence of a sealed indictment before either Mr. Assange or the American public had such knowledge, the government's conduct in this case reveals why more transparency, not more secrecy, is essential. This would also mark perhaps the first time a journalist has been prosecuted for allegedly receiving and publishing "classified" documents. Indicting Julian Assange would represent a dramatic assault on the First Amendment, journalists, and the public's right to know.
Rather than promoting transparency as promised, the Obama administration has aggressively pursued whistleblowers and dissenters, launching Espionage Act prosecutions twice as many times as all previous administrations in the last century combined. Attorney General Eric Holder should rethink this dangerous course. Instead of pursuing Julian Assange, Mr. Holder should investigate the serious crimes and abuse of government authority exposed by Wikileaks.
From shredding democracy in the US to the apparently failed 'democracy' 'experiment' of Iraq, early this morning in Iraq, police forces were attacked in Haditha. Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) reports, "This was obviously a very well-planned attack. It began when gunmen, dozens of them according to police sources, commandeered and stole SWAT vehicles. The SWAT teams are part of the counterterrorism forces. They drove around the city, dressed as SWAT members, in black-and-blue univorms. As they were stopped at a checkpoint, they opened fire." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes one of the assailants was killed in the attacks and that they used "at least 14 black USVs". Jack Healy (New York Times) reports that there were approximately 40 assailants and that they wore police uniforms and used vehicles which were like or were similar (or actually were) police vehicles and that they passed through police checkpoints by claiming "they had arrest warrants for criminal suspects." David Blair (Telegraph of London) adds, "The nine officers on duty, who appear to have been taken in by this deception, were then disarmed and shot dead." AFP states that, in addition to the "stolen army vehicles," they had others dispersed throughout the city in civilian cars and that police Col Mohammed Shauffeur and Captain Khaled Mohammed Sayil's homes were attacked with both men kidnapped and three bodyguards killed. Later Shauffer's corpse turned up in with "gunshots to the head." Bassim al-Anbari (AFP) quotes police Lt Col Owaid Khalaf who states, "More than 50 gunment altogheter started attacking checkpoints all over the town." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) reports, "Three policemen survived the attacks with wounds and were being treated at Haditha hospital. A medical source at Haditha hospital confirmed the hospital received 27 bodies of slain victims and was treating three wounded." BBC News reports both Col Mohammed Shauffeur and Captain Khaled Mohammed Sayil corpses were discovered ("shot dead") shortly after they were kidnapped, "According to the Associated Press news agency, an al-Qaeda flag was raised at one of the checkpoints that was hit." NPR, in their hourly news updates, notes that "reportedly" the flag was raised.
AP really milks the "al Qaeda" -- notice it's not "al Qaeda in Iraq" and, turns out, they're yet again wrong. Why do they lie? Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "During the clashes, the attackers raised the black flags of Islamic State of Iraq -- an umbrella group which includes al Qaeda in Iraq." Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) offers, "The Islamic State of Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for a string of recent bombings, across the country appears to be stepping up efforts to eliminate all those who played a prominent role in the anti-al Qaeda Awakening movement launched by the U.S. military at the height of its presence in Iraq five years ago."

Alsumaria TV notes that, using "machine guns and grenades" the assailants carried out the attacks and quotes an unnamed "source in operational command of Anbar province" stating that "the gunmen took control of the majority of the checkpoints in the judiciary." The Herald Sun states, "Shauffeur's body was found in a Haditha marketplace and Sayil was discovered in an alleyway, blindfolded with fatal gunshots to the head." Alsumaria explains that there is a vehicle and pedistrian ban in Haditha currently as a result of the attacks.


No comments: