Ironically, in 2011, the year of the assassination of his son and grandson, targeted killings, which, it is alleged, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate President of America personally makes the decisions on a weekly basis (ii) Tawakel Karman, a graduate in Political Science from Sana’a University was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first Yemeni and Arab woman so honoured.
Abdelrahman was born in Denver, Colorado, returning to Yemen when he was seven: “My grandson was killed by his own government.”
His grandfather describes a: “ … typical teenager”, who watched “The Simpsons”, listened to rapper Snoop Dogg, had a multi-friended Facebook page and: “A mop of curly hair and glasses, like me.”
In September 2011, the sixteen year old had left the home in Sana’a, where he lived with his mother and grandfather, in the early morning. He left a note for his mother saying he was going to look for his father, who he had not seen for some years, who he missed. He asked her forgiveness for leaving without permission, says Nasser al-Aulaqi. A journey mirrored by countless young people across the globe, where family break ups and separations have left often long hidden scars on the young.
Two days after Abdelrahman left, his mother and grandfather heard from relatives in southern Yemen, from where the family originated, that he was safely there with them and his cousins.
On September 30th, his father was executed by drone, far away in the north of the country, killed with twenty eight year old Samir Khan, also an American citizen, and three other people.
Samir Khan edited Inspire magazine, cited as aiming to radicalize young Muslims against the West and in which Anwar al-Aulaqi has been said to have been deeply involved.
The Drone War is outrageous and it's telling that Barack was able to mince around last Friday talking about nonsense like 'followed in stores' and his grandma clutching her purse (we recognized that old story, didn't we, he told it before).
As he pretended to talk about the value of life, he should have been laughed at and jeered for being the commander of The Drone War that kills innocents in Pakistan, Yemen and around the world.
But we will pretend like his killing by robot makes him less of a killer. That's not reality.
He orders death and destruction to be rained down on living, breathing human beings. He is a killer. His actions are outragoues.
But clearly not called out enough because otherwise he wouldn't have dared to have tried to hector others about the value of life.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Through Monday, Iraq Body Count counts 684 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. With eights days left in the month, AFP is declaring July to have "the highest monthly figure in a year marked by spiraling violence."
Federal News Radio notes, "Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail after comrades launched a military-style assault, authorities said on Monday." The Sunday prison news only became news outside of Iraq when the number of prisoners who escaped were announced on Monday. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) concludes:
These weren't attacks on mosques or markets, designed to spread terror by killing unprepared civilians in public spaces. These were attacks on the militarized prisons of Abu Ghraib and Taji, both of which have large contingents of insurgents among their inmates and have long been targets for Iraq's jihadis. Yet the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to scramble attack helicopters and rush troops to join pitched battles. Even so, they may not have staved off a stunning symbolic defeat.
Alsumaria reports today that al Qaeada in Iraq has issued a statement claiming responsibility for 'invading' the prisons in Abu Ghraib and Taji and breaking down the walls to allow for the release of the prisoners. BBC News adds, "In an online statement, al-Qaeda said Sunday's attack was the final one in a campaign aimed at freeing inmates and targeting justice system officials." Salam Faraj and Mohamad Ali Harissi (AAP) point out the note proclaims "dark days ahead."
Ari Soffer (Israel National News) explains, " Iraqi officials had initially denied that any prisoners had escaped, but were forced to backtrack as the sheer scale of the jailbreak became clear." Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling (CNN) note, "At least 21 inmates and at least eight prison guards were killed, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said, while 25 inmates and 14 guards were wounded." Mona Mahmood and Peter Beaumont (Guardian) report:
Yousef Ali had just sat down at his home near Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison at shortly after 9pm on Sunday evening to break his Ramadan fast when he was startled by the sound of explosions from the direction of the prison. "We began to hear mortars and gunfire, followed by two car bombs," he said. "We could tell there was a big fight inside the prison. We could see aircraft hovering above the prison and nearby areas."
The scope and magnitude of the attacks drawfed earlier attempts at breaking out which is another reason that the prison attacks and break outs are news. Also making the events news? The issue of how and the issue of what it says about the state of Iraq today as well as the issue of the attempt to locate the escapees. On the last one, Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Iraqi security forces on Tuesday set up dragnets at airports and along highways leading out of the country in a hunt for hundreds of Al Qaeda-allied militants broken out of jail by a massive, coordinated assault on two prisons near Baghdad, Arab media reported." NBC News' Richard Engel reported (video and text) on the prison break this morning for NBC's Today:
Checkpoints were set up Tuesday as the search continued for up to 500 militants freed by the attack, which followed the deaths of 250 Iraqis in 10 days of violence.
[. . .]
They added that checkpoints had been set up around Abu Ghraib, as the search for the escapees continued.
Both attacks took place exactly a year after The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's most senior leader, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launched a campaign dubbed "Breaking the Walls" to make freeing imprisoned members a top priority.
“The mujahideen brigades set off after months of preparation and planning to target two of the biggest prisons of the Safavid government," the group said in the statement, Tuesday.
Suada al-Salhy (Reuters) also quotes that section of the statement from the Islamic State of Iraq, "In response to the call of the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to seal the blessed plan of 'Breaking the Walls'... the mujahideen brigades set off after months of preparation and planning to target two of the biggest prisons of the Safavid government." David Blair (Telegraph of London) offers this on the statement and its meaning:
No Iraqi would have missed the subliminal message of al-Qaeda’s triumphant announcement yesterday. When the movement’s leaders claimed credit for two audacious prison breaks outside Baghdad, they declared how “months of preparation and planning” had culminated in these blows against a “Safavid government”.
The Safavids have not actually been in government for a while – for a good 300 years, in fact. They were a Persian dynasty that dominated Iran and its empire, including a big slice of present-day Iraq, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under their founder, Shah Ismail I, the Safavids managed the extraordinary feat of making Shia Islam the state religion in Iran, while imposing their faith on conquered peoples living between the Tigris and Euphrates.
Iraqis will grasp the analogy: al-Qaeda’s Sunni zealots believe that the Shia politicians who dominate Baghdad today are heirs to foreign invaders. Once, the violence in Iraq was directed towards the Anglo-American occupiers; today, the killing has become a sectarian struggle between a Shia majority that holds the reins of power and a beleaguered Sunni minority.
Let's move on to the questions of how the two attacks were carried out. Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) notes that questions are being asked about the hows of the attack and break out:
Questions were also asked as to why it took the Iraqi government 10 hours to send in helicopter gunships to quell the fighting at Abu Ghraib, a delay that some said suggested poor command and control within the security establishment.
One Iraqi politician, who asked not to be named, claimed that the assault on the prison at Taji was planned simply to divert security forces from what was to be the main strike at Abu Ghraib, where an estimated 15,000 inmates are held.
He added that a number of senior Sunni guards at Abu Ghraib had gone missing since, and that it was possible that they had been acting as "inside men". Other reports claimed that inmates had started riots just prior to the attacks to distract the guards, and had been armed with weapons.
Adam Schreck (AP) observes, "The attacks, among the most stunning in Iraq since a surge in violence began in April, have provoked sharp criticism from opposition lawmakers of the government's efforts to keep the country's safe." All Iraq News notes that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has declared the prison attacks are the "beginning of the terrorist attacks and the biggest security breach in Iraq." He is calling for Nouri and others to appear before the Parliament for questioning. Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the head of the Iraqi National Alliance. He is also a former prime minister of Iraq and, had the White House not stepped in, but would have been renamed prime minister for a second term. (Instead, in 2006, the Bush White House insisted Nouri be named prime minister; just as, in 2010, the Barack White House insisted Nouri get a second term despite the will of the voters.) All Iraq News reports that al-Jaafari is calling for an investigation into the prison attacks and escape. Comments are also coming in from US observers. RT offers:
However, despite widespread claims that the escapees are largely affiliated with Al-Qaeda, there is no way of knowing, says Sara Flounders, head of the International Action Center. She also told RT that not much is known about Abu Ghraib itself after the US handed over control to the Iraqi government, following its withdrawal from the country.
“The state of security hasn’t substantially improved since. We know also there are many operatives left in Iraq that continue US policy aims. There’s a lot that’s uncertain and unknown today in Iraq. We do know there was a prison break. But before we rush to label everyone Al-Qaeda, let’s be aware that Abu Ghraib itself as a prison was notorious for US torture techniques… it was turned back over to the Iraqi government and we have no idea if any conditions improved.”
But ultimately, Flounders concludes that the international audience shouldn’t be surprised at the news, because Western efforts in Iraq have not shown any signs of addressing the actual spread of sectarian violence after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, while billions of dollars were misspent – an opinion shared by defense consultant Moeen Raoof.
“The Iraqi government isn’t controlling anything… [It] hasn’t been spending its oil funds on security… the toppling of Saddam Hussein was a fatal, fatal mistake,” one that will be repeated in Afghanistan, after complete US withdrawal, he believes.
And there's is criticism from a US Senator. Lauren Fox (US News and World Reports) notes:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blamed the Obama Administration Tuesday for the massive prison break in Abu Ghraib outside of Baghdad.
"It's the result of our failure to leave a residual force behind. The whole place is unraveling," McCain says. "We won the peace and lost the war. It is really tragic. And those people who are out of Abu Ghraib now, they are heading right to Syria."
Press TV finds someone who also feels the US government is to blame -- along with the British government:
“This is a legacy of the occupation of Iraq by the United States and the British for the past ten years or so,” said Sabah Jawad in a Tuesday interview.
“They recruited a lot of pro-Ba’athists within the security system. There [are] a lot of people in the security system who do not feel allegiance to Iraq as such,” he added.
The analyst highlighted links between the terrorists in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, including in Syria, and said, “They (terrorists) have links with the regional powers. They are part and parcel of the whole plan to destabilize and divide the Middle East on sectarian lines as well.”
Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) examines the increase in violence and notes:
Five years after pulling itself out of civil war, the country is again mired in a relentless series of bombings, political assassinations and sectarian attacks that have stalled progress many Iraqis hoped they would achieve.
This year the holy month of Ramadan - when many Muslims fast in the day and gather in mosques, cafés and markets in the evening - has been marked by almost daily attacks on a widening range of targets.
Almost 600 people have been killed so far in July, most of them civilians. This month's toll follows a grim landmark in May when the UN reported at least 963 civilians had been killed and more than 2,000 injured in the biggest monthly casualty toll since 2008.
Rick Gladstone and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) declare, "The audacity of the assaults underscored the deterioration of Iraq's stability, punctuated recently by an almost daily litany of car bombings and other violence tied to a resurrection of sectarian tensions in the country, largely between the majority Shiites and minority Sunnis." Colin Wolfgang (Huffington Post) observes:
Following this mass prison break, the question of what this attack means for the future of Iraq remains. For one thing, al Qaeda has flexed their muscles and demonstrated their capability to wreak havoc on the Iraqi people. It is worth noting that one of the jails attacked -- the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, which gained notoriety for the abuse U.S. soldiers once inflicted on their prisoners -- is one of the most high-security facilities within Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), as this particular faction of the terrorist organization is known, is estimated to have members numbering between 2,000 and 3,000, according to an article today in Time magazine. With no shortage of mujahideen ready to continue escalating the violence, Iraqi military forces may need to prepare for a lengthy and bloody campaign.
"Iraq is now back in a civil war, US officials tell NBC," Richard Engel announced this morning. And that's not surprising except for the fact that if US officials believe Iraq is "back in a civil war," you'd think they'd be addressing that and asked about it in press briefings. Engel reported that fact on this morning's Today show. Hours later at the White House press briefing, no one bothered to raise the issue and, even later, at the State Dept press briefing no one raised the issue.
France's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:
France condemns the particularly lethal attacks carried out in recent days in Iraq.
It offers its condolences to the families of the victims and expresses its solidarity with the Iraqi authorities in their fight against terrorism.
In this situation, France calls for unity and the rejection of all forms of violence, and reaffirms the importance of a political process that does not exclude any community.
The UK's Foreign Ministry issued the following:
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt said:
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The British Government strongly condemns the terrorist attacks that took place at the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Al-Taji in Iraq yesterday. My condolences go out to families of the members of the Iraqi Security Forces who were killed in these attacks.
Like the vast majority of the Iraqi people, we are clear that violence and terrorism have no place in Iraq’s future. The United Kingdom supports the Iraqi government in its efforts to uphold the rule of law and apprehend those inmates that escaped.
These attacks follow a number of horrific incidents that have taken place across Iraq recently. That these attacks have taken place during the holy month of Ramadan, a time for tolerance, is especially disturbing and I urge all political, religious and community leaders to work together to combat terrorism and violence.
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So France and Great Britian condemned the violence and it was noted in Iraq -- for example here and here. There was no statement from the US and it's very doubtful that the Iraqi people failed to note that. The Iraqi government regularly issues statements such as the one All Iraq News reported on yesterday:
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry mourns the death of the Palestinian Ambassador to Iraq, Daleel Mikhail al-Qasous.
A statement by the Ministry cited "With deep sorrow, we mourn the death of the Ambassador of Palestine to Iraq who passed away on last Saturday morning."
"The Iraqi Ministry extends its condolences to the government and people of Palestine on the Ambassador's death, asking Allah Almighty to give his family patience and solace," the statement added.
So think about how that looks to the Iraqi people. They hear sop about the US government cares and is present for them but they notice a stronger commitment from France and England. The US Embassy in Baghdad did condemn a killing yesterday:
The United States strongly condemns the assassination today of Sheikh Abdullah Sami al-Assi al-Obeidi, head of the Arab bloc in the Kirkuk Provincial Council and member of the Kirkuk Security Council, and members of his security detail south of Kirkuk city. Sheikh al-Assi was a senior member of the al-Assi tribe and a well-respected leader, who worked tirelessly for peaceful co-existence and equal treatment of all Kirkuk’s ethnic groups. This reprehensible and pointless act represents a tremendous loss for Kirkuk province and for all Iraqis working toward a secure, unified and democratic Iraq.
Sheikh al-Assi was a friend to many who work for the cause of peace and understanding, and we express our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
The United Nations also issued a statement:
The current top United Nations official in Iraq today strongly condemned the killing of a tribal leader in the northern city of Kirkuk, who was assassinated along with two of his bodyguards.
Gyorgy Busztin, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, condemned in the strongest terms the assassination yesterday of Sheikh Abdallah Sami Al-Assi, Head of the Arab bloc in the Kirkuk Provincial Council and Deputy Chairman of the Provincial Council Security Committee, and two of his bodyguards, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement.
Sheikh Al-Assi was a “pivotal and well-respected political figure in Kirkuk” who always advocated dialogue and peaceful coexistence in the province, the statement continued.
The Mission added that the Sheikh engaged with them in discussions on the way forward for holding Kirkuk elections.
Today National Iraqi News Agency reports a Muqdadiya mortar attack has left thirteen people injured, a Kirkuk grenade attack claimed the life of 1 Peshmerga, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left one police officer injured, 2 guards were killed in Rashad (and the local council building blown up), a Kut car bombing claimed 2 lives and left three more people injured, a Baghdad car bombing "near Omer al-Mokhtar Mosque" left 3 people dead and fifteen more injured, a second Baghdad bombing claimed 6 lives and left twenty-eight people injured, and "Gunmen killed a guard and wounded another in Badush prison in western Mosul." All Iraq News adds that an armed attack n a Mosul sheep market left 3 people dead, and that a Kirkuk suicide bomber attacked a mosque killing 7 people and leaving thirty more injured.
Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a two-day visit to Iraq. Both he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stressed the various bonds their two countries shared. Sunday All Iraq News reported that Jawed Aoji, Director General of the National Company for Gas, had declared Iraq and Iran had reached an agreement for Iran to provide natural gas to "Baghdad and Mansouriya electricity stations." The news outlet notes that the discussions on this had been ongoing for two-and-a-half-years. AP notes the deal requires Iraq to purchase "850 million cubic feet [of gas] a day." On the deal, David Kashi (International Business Times) reports that some are saying the deal is not a concern for the US government and quotes the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Simon Henderson stating, "Washington is relatively powerless to intervene. The U.S. is more concerned about Iranian overflights of Iraq with arms supplies for Syria." However, the Tehran Times notes:
Based on the agreement, Iran would earn $3.7 billion a year from natural gas exports to Iraq.
The U.S. has asked the Iraqi government about the deal, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Monday.
Baghdad "has been receptive to these discussions in the past and has expressed its desire to remain compliant with U.S. sanctions," she said. "We would, of course, make clear the implications were any activity to be deemed as at variance with U.S. sanctions."
Changing topics, Eduardo Galeano contributes a pointed column at Huffington Post and includes:
Robots with Wings(October 13)
Good news. On this day in the year 2011 the world’s military brass announced that drones could continue killing people.
These pilotless planes, crewed by no one, flown by remote control, are in good health: the virus that attacked them was only a passing bother.
As of now, drones have dropped their rain of bombs on defenseless victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Palestine, and their services are expected in other countries.
In the Age of the Almighty Computer, drones are the perfect warriors. They kill without remorse, obey without kidding around, and they never reveal the names of their masters.
Thomas Gaist (WSWS via Global Research) explains, "While Obama has claimed that 'the tide of war is receding,' actually the US government is intensifying military operations worldwide. During the past decade, the Pentagon has assembled a fleet of hundreds of high-altitude, 'unmanned aerial vehicles' (UAVs), which now carry out missions on a daily basis in service of the strategic aims of US imperialism. The 'Predator' drone series alone has carried out at least 80,000 sorties in conflict areas including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia." On The Drone War, it turns out that the actual number of people killed is much higher than Barack Obama and his administration have led people to believe. Chris Woods (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) reports:
A secret document obtained by the Bureau reveals for the first time the Pakistan government’s internal assessment of dozens of drone strikes, and shows scores of civilian casualties.
The United States has consistently claimed only a tiny number of non-combatants have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan – despite research by the Bureau and others suggesting that over 400 civilians may have died in the nine-year campaign.
The internal document shows Pakistani officials too found that CIA drone strikes were killing a significant number of civilians – and have been aware of those deaths for many years.
Of 746 people listed as killed in the drone strikes outlined in the document, at least 147 of the dead are clearly stated to be civilian victims, 94 of those are said to be children.
The confidential 12-page summary paper, titled Details of Attacks by Nato Forces/Predators in FATA was prepared by government officials in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Chris Woods appeared on Democracy Now! (link is audio, text and video) today:
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the most significant findings in this report. I should say we are going to talk about children today, though, but we’ll talk about children in Pakistan.
CHRIS WOODS: I think the most important thing about this—as you know, the work that the Bureau does and people like New American Foundation, the big studies that have taken place in Pakistan, they’re often driven by media reports. What’s really interesting to me about this document, which was never meant to be published, is that it’s driven from the inside. This is from the villages upwards. This is put together by civilian officials in the tribal areas who pull together information from the towns, from the villages, and feed that back up. They’re not interested in political grandstanding; they’re simply saying who got killed, what got destroyed, what the—how many were injured, and so on. And all of that information is then collated. So what we’ve seen emerge here is a completely parallel and independent tracking of civilian deaths in Pakistan in the U.S. drone strikes, which pretty closely match where the numbers seem to be falling now, which is in this 400 to 600, 700 civilian deaths over the entire period of the CIA’s bombing. So I think that it really is an important document—first big document to emerge either from the U.S. or the Pakistan government that’s out there in its entirety now.
[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk more about what the Pakistani government report does not say, Chris.
CHRIS WOODS: There are some really interesting omissions. So, there are some strikes that are just missing. So, for some reason, all of 2007 is missing. There were only four or five strikes that year. It’s not a significant number, but it’s a strange omission. They only start in 2006, so the very small number of strikes in 2004 and '05 are missing. Fascinatingly, there is no naming of individuals, whether civilian or militant. And some very big-name militant leaders were killed in some of these strikes. For example, Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban, who was killed back in August 2009, you read the entry in this Pakistan document, which you can find online on the Bureau's website, by the way—we published it in full there—no reference at all to the fact that one of the most dangerous men in Pakistan at that time, an existential threat to the people of Pakistan, had been killed. It just says, "One woman killed, one man killed," and it leaves it at that. It’s a very strange document, from that point of view.
Also missing—and this is where I think it gets really interesting, is when we get into Obama’s first year, in 2009, civilian deaths disappear from the record. Now, partly that’s because the document ends at the end of that year, and some of these investigations were clearly still ongoing. But we found examples where we know the civilian administration of the tribal areas in Pakistan knew that civilians had died. In fact, there are documents showing that. But somehow and for some reason, those records of civilian deaths under Obama just slide away from the record. So they’re just not there for 2009, and we don’t really have a good explanation as to why that is.
So, some really curious omissions, but otherwise, you know, I think a very important document. And it just adds to this growing canon of publicly available evidence that says, "You know what? This claim that CIA killed 50 to 60 civilians in Pakistan, it just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t add up at all." And really, all of the questioning needs, in my view, to be focusing back on CIA right now. They are the holders of the key information that we need to be hearing: Who did they kill? When did they kill them? Why did they kill them? And these are the answers I think we really need now.
Attorney and former Judge John J. Gibbons (Los Angeles Times via the Provo Daily Herald) shares:
On Friday, a federal judge in Washington will hear a challenge to the Obama administration's approach to targeted killings. I find myself frustrated by how little progress we've made.
In 2004, I represented Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court in Rasul v. Bush, challenging President George W. Bush's claim that he could hold noncitizens at Guantanamo without judicial review based on the administration's unilateral claim that the detainees were enemies of the United States. I argued that the president's position presented a profound threat to the role of the courts in safeguarding the rule of law, and that the prisoners were entitled to due process, including judicial examination of the government's reasons for holding them. The Supreme Court agreed, reaffirming that an asserted "state of war is not a blank check" for the executive branch when civil liberties are at stake.
When campaigning for office, then-Sen. Barack Obama agreed with the court's decision and criticized Bush's abandonment of basic checks and balances in the so-called war on terror. Yet today, President Obama has taken his predecessor's assertion of executive fiat even further. His administration says it has the power not just to detain suspected terrorists but also to kill them without any judicial oversight or accountability.
Dropping back to the June 6th snapshot for that day's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:
Senator Susan Collins: Mr. Attorney General, it troubles me that the President has virtually unreviewable, unfettered authority to order the killing of any American citizen overseas who is suspected of terrorist activity -- without any kind of charge or trial or judicial review. We've all read this morning of the controversy over the NSA having access to phone records of American citizens. It seems to me that an American currently receives a greater degree of due process from the judicial branch if the government is seeking to listen in on his phone conversations or get information about his phone conversations than if the President is seeking to take his life. That just doesn't make sense to me. Why hasn't the administration proposed to Congress a process that would require some degree of independent judicial review for a targeted lethal strike against a US person overseas -- something, either an expansion of the FISA court or a different kind of classified proceeding before a court to ensure that there's some kind of judicial review rather than vesting that authority to take a life -- an American life, I'm talking about, overseas -- only in the President.
Attorney General Eric Holder: Well -- it -- With all due respect, I-I would say that, uhm, it's incorrect to say that it's only in the, uhm, -- it's in the un- the President has unlimited authority in this regard -- with regard to the use of drones. And we're talking about being more transparent.
They're talking about it. They're violating the Constitution but, have no fear, they are talking about creating some faux court that would assist them in violating the Constitution. They're also talking about NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden. Not about how to fix the illegal actions of the government that Ed exposed but how to punish Ed, how to pursue him, how to silence truth tellers. From today's White House press briefing:
Q Jay, thanks. There are reports that Edward Snowden might get his travel documents in Russia any day now, possibly as early as Wednesday. Is that the administration’s understanding? And in light of that, have there been recent conversations between President Obama or other senior administration officials and Russian officials?
MR. CARNEY: I have no new understanding about those reports. I would simply say that our position is the same as it has been, which is that we believe Mr. Snowden ought to be expelled and returned to the United States, where he faces felony charges, and that there is ample legal justification for that and precedent in terms of cooperation with Russia in the law enforcement arena that would allow for that. But I have no new information on his disposition, if you will.
And while I am confident that conversations are ongoing between the administration and the Russian government on this and many issues, I don’t have any White House conversations to read out.
Q And is the President still traveling to Moscow?
MR. CARNEY: As I’ve said, the President intends to travel to Russia for the G20, and we have no further announcements to make beyond what we’ve said in the past about that travel.
Q And, Jay, some Russian officials are accusing the United States of a double standard, saying that the U.S. has repeatedly refused extradition requests; one official saying, “We’ve been denied the extradition of murderers, bandits and bribe-takers.” Is that a fair assessment? What’s your reaction? Is that harming your efforts to try to get Snowden?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, you would have to give me a specific case. The fact is that we have worked with Russia to -- in this arena, in both directions, and as well as with other countries, so we believe there’s ample precedent here. And our position has been conveyed to the Russian government, much as it has been conveyed by me and others publicly, which is that Mr. Snowden is not a dissident, he’s not a human rights activist. In the view of the government which brought the case, he very clearly violated the law in disclosing classified information. And he, as a citizen charged in this country, will be afforded all of the many rights given to defendants in our country, in our system of justice, when he returns.
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