Tag Archives: citizens

FBI wouldn’t exclude extrajudicial killings in the US

United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently explained how the president can order the assassination of his own citizens abroad. But did his rationalization justify executions within the US? Apparently, the FBI wouldn’t exclude it.
Responding to a congressional inquiry this week on the rationale of assassinating Americans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller affirmed that he himself isn’t too clear on the what Holder explained.
The attorney general addressed an audience at Northwestern University in Chicago this week with an explanation for US President Barack Obama’s killing of three American citizens overseas last year. Alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki and two other US-born citizens were executed in a drone strike last year in Yemen, a kill that the White House has been reluctant to discuss in detail until just recently. Speaking from Northwestern this week, Holder insisted, however, that the details the president acted on were “sufficient under the Constitution for the United States to use lethal force against a US citizen abroad.”
Following up on Wednesday, US Congressman Tom Graves, a Republican from Georgia, asked the FBI’s Mueller if Holder’s qualifications for an ordered kill could be applied domestically.
“I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not,” responded an unsure Mueller.
Rep. Graves from there rephrased his inquiry, asking if, “from a historical perspective,” the federal government has “the ability to kill a US citizen on United States soil or just overseas.” Mueller once again suspended an explanation.
“I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice,” responded the director.
When prompted by Fox News to extrapolate on Mueller’s deferral, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department defaulted to Holder’s earlier address, simply repeating the attorney general’s insistence that US citizens outside of the US are fair-game for an Executive Branch-ordered assassination. Under Holder’s explanation offered at Northwestern, however, it could be inferred that even those on American soil aren’t excluded. Congress wants to know if that is the case and with the feds unsure themselves, it might mean President Obama himself has to put in his two cents so Americans know if they are eligible for one of his personalized assassination orders too.


Obama admin wants warrantless access to cell phone location data

By Timothy B. Lee | Published 2 days ago

A Maryland court last week ruled that the government does not need a warrant to force a cell phone provider to disclose more than six months of data on the movements of one of its customers. Two defendants had been accused of armed robbery, and a key piece of evidence against them was data about the movements of the pair’s cell phones. The defendants had sought to suppress this location evidence because the government did not get a warrant before seeking the data from network providers. But last Thursday, Judge Richard D. Bennett ruled that a warrant is not required to obtain cell-site location records (CSLR) from a wireless carrier.

Courts all over the country have been wrestling with this question, and the government has been on something of a winning streak. While one court ruled last year that such information requests violate the Fourth Amendment, most others have reached the opposite conclusion.

The Obama administration laid out its position in a legal brief last month, arguing that customers have “no privacy interest” in CSLR held by a network provider. Under a legal principle known as the “third-party doctrine,” information voluntarily disclosed to a third party ceases to enjoy Fourth Amendment protection. The government contends that this rule applies to cell phone location data collected by a network provider.

While this may be a plausible reading of previous precedents, the practical implications are alarming. While CSLRs are not as detailed as data that can be gathered via GPS, months of data can still reveal a host of sensitive information about a person’s movements. If the third-party doctrine allows the government to obtain such information without a warrant, that’s a strong argument for re-considering the third-party doctrine.


Holder: U.S. Government May Kill American Citizens Without Trial

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: March 5, 201

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

While Mr. Holder is not the first administration official to address the targeted killing of citizens — the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, did so last month at Yale Law School, for example — it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. Mr. Holder’s remarks about the targeted killing of United States citizens were a centerpiece of a speech describing legal principles behind the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies.

“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”


Obama issues new guidelines for indefinite detention and torture

Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

President Obama issued a policy directive on Tuesday that was quickly portrayed as a resolve to his right to detain US citizens without trial. In reality, the plan is a carefully crafted PR move that doesn’t strip his absolute power over Americans.
The presidential policy directive released by the White House this week comes nearly two months to the day after US President Barack Obama approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA FY12), a detrimental law to each and every American that has attracted criticism from all sides of the political system since passed. On December 31, 2011, the president inked the legislation allowing for the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists and the confinement of those accused under the jurisdiction of the US military without due process. In his latest offering from the Oval Office though, Obama is insisting that the United States requires more wiggle-room in how it goes about regulating the provision that puts suspects in the Pentagon’s custody.
[A .PDF COPY OF THE NDAA IS AVAILABLE HERE]
The signing could indeed bring a cease to the requirement of military detainment for alleged adversaries of America, a requirement that is authorized under Section 1022 of the act. It does not, however, squash the indefinite detention without trial provision of Section 1021, nor does it negate the fact that the US government has already allowed itself to approve a nasty legislation that denounces the civil liberties of every American and has marred the administration of a president who campaigned on upholding constitutional rights.
Only hours after the New Year’s Eve signing, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said, “President Obama’s action … is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
The president is now responding, but the truth is his reply is much too little and almost, legally, too late.
In explaining his reasoning for issuing this week’s directive, Obama did not exactly denounce any provision of the NDAA, but instead insisted that the White House “must retain the flexibility to determine how to apply those tools to the unique facts and circumstances we face in confronting this diverse and evolving threat.” To do so, wrote the president, the United States government must go about handling Section 1022 of the NDAA in a different manner that would relieve the country from any added security threat.
Under Section 1022 as approved by Congress and authorized by the president, the US Armed Forces can hold and capture a wide range of applicants under military provision, including but not limited to “a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force” and anyone “to have participated in the course of planning of carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.”
In section ‘a,’ paragraph 3 of the provision, “Military Custody for Foreign Al-Qaeda Terrorists,” the president is allotted the power to pen a waiver for national security that would waive selected foreign parties from the military detainment allowance. Section ‘c,’ paragraph 1, gives Obama 60 days to detail procedures for implementing Section 1022 — this week’s policy directive comes exactly 59 days into the two-month window.
Under his latest addendum, the president argued that placing alleged terrorists into military custody “would undermine the national security interests of the United States, compromising our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals.”
“That system … must continue to be an unrestricted counterterrorism tool going forward,” added Obama.
As a compromise to the military detainment provision, the president is now insisting that alleged terrorists don’t necessarily have to be handed over to the Pentagon for prosecution or, as otherwise granted in the NDAA, indefinite detention without trial under the watch of the Armed Forces. Instead, wrote Obama, a captured alleged criminal should be subjected to the standard practices for federal law enforcement that agencies have acted on according to pre-NDAA operating procedures; until, of course, a handful of governmental high-ups authorize the transfer to a military prison. At that point, every word of the NDAA will once again be a-okay.

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Utah asks for repeal of NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions

Utah is now the latest state to draft legislation specifically condemning the provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that allow the president to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge.

The Utah House is currently considering legislation that would publically put down Congress for drafting the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA. The United States House and Senate passed the NDAA late last year before sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama to approve on December 31, 2011. Although the legislation legitimizes the use of funds for the US military to spend throughout 2012, it also includes some controversial provisions that grant the Executive Branch the power to indefinitely detain Americans considered terrorists in the eyes of the government.

Unfortunately, how the government goes about defining a terrorist is vaguely explained, which has many Americans concerned that they could someday find themselves forever behind bars in a military prison for expressing discontent with their country.

“Our concern is in the definition of ‘terrorist,’ ” Dalane England of the Utah Eagle Forum tells the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Should the government deem an American a terrorist and apply the punishments permitted through the NDAA, alleged criminals could be condemned to a shadow prison, such as the one at Guantanamo Bay, until their death.

Todd Weilier, a Republican senator representing the Woods Cross district of Utah, adds to the paper that other legislation with good intentions have been used in the pass to implement harsh punishments on Americans that are otherwise undeserving of such. “I have a legitimate fear this National Defense Authorization law will do the same thing,” says the senator, who is sponsoring the bill, formally called the ‘Concurrent Resolution on the National Defense Authorization Act.’

“It is indisputable that the threat of terrorism is real and that the full force of appropriation and constitutional law must be used to defeat this threat,” reads the bill proposed in the Utah House. “However,” it continues, “winning the war against terror cannot come at the great expense of mitigating basic, fundamental, constitutional rights.”

Other state’s lawmakers have drafted legislation since the creation of the NDAA that aims to cancel out those provisions as well, and Utah is the latest to follow suit. Earlier this month, lawmakers in the lower house of the VirginiaGeneral Assembly voted 96-to-4 to approve HB 1160, a bill that will ban state officials from abiding by some elements of the NDAA. Should the act see similar support in the state’s Senate, Virginia will be spared from the detainment provisions that have garnered opposition against Congress and the Obama White House over the NDAA’s passing.


Virginia votes to refuse NDAA

The outside of the "Camp Five" detention facility is seen at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. (Reuters / Mandel Ngan/Pool)

The outside of the “Camp Five” detention facility is seen at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. (Reuters / Mandel Ngan/Pool)

TAGS: PoliticsTerrorismLawUSA

 

Although Congress approved this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers on another level continue to find faults with its nasty detainment provisions. Virginia is now the latest state to consider laws that nix some of the NDAA.

When US President Barack Obama signed his name to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, he authorized the US military to detain and torture anyone on Earth — Americans included — without charge. Opposition was widespread even before the commander-in-chief put pen to paper, but critics are continuing to condemn the legislation only two months after Obama approved it. So weary of the NDAA are lawmakers in Virginia, in fact, that a recent vote within the state’s House of Delegates led to the passing of a counter-act that will keep those detainment provisions out of VA.

A recent meeting of lawmakers in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly yielded an impressive 96-to-4 approval for HB 1160, a bill that will ban state officials from abiding by some elements of the NDAA. Should the act see similar support in the state’s Senate, Virginia will be spared from the detainment provisions that have garnered opposition against Congress and the Obama White House over the NDAA’s passing.

Under the Virginia law-in-waiting, state agents are forbidden from aiding “an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution or detention of any citizen pursuant to 50 U.S.C. § 1541 as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.”

The Virginia bill would specifically see to it that Section 1021 of the NDAA is made illegal, which, per President Obama’s approval, legitimizes the detainment of any alleged terrorist, including Americans, that are believed to have committed a “belligerent act” or have supported “hostilities,”

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ACLU sues Obama administration over assassination secrecy

 

BY GLENN GREENWALD THURSDAY, FEB 2, 2012 1:57 AM PST
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (Credit: AP)

The ACLU yesterday filed a lawsuit against various agencies of the Obama administration — the Justice and Defense Departments and the CIA — over their refusal to disclose any information about the assassination of American citizens. In October, the ACLU filed a FOIA request demanding disclosure of the most basic information about the CIA’s killing of 3 American citizens in Yemen: Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan, killed by missiles fired by a U.S. drone in September, and Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, killed by another drone attack two weeks later.

The ACLU’s FOIA request sought merely to learn the legal and factual basis for these killings — meaning: tell us what legal theories you’ve adopted to secretly target U.S. citizens for execution, and what factual basis did you have to launch these specific strikes? The DOJ and CIA responded not only by refusing to provide any of this information, but refused even to confirm if any of the requested documents exist; in other words, as the ACLU put it yesterday, “these agencies are saying the targeted killing program is so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.” That refusal is what prompted yesterday’s lawsuit (in December, the New York Times also sued the Obama administration after it failed to produce DOJ legal memoranda “justifying” the assassination program in response to a FOIA request from reporters Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, but the ACLU’s lawsuit seeks disclosure of both the legal and factual bases for these executions).

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Obama sued over indefinite detention and torture of Americans act

Russia Today Published: 17 January, 2012, 02:28

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington January 13, 2012 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington January 13, 2012 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

In the past, journalist Chris Hedges has worked for NPR, The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor. In his latest endeavor, however, he is teaming up with an unlikely pair: a couple of attorneys that will help him take on the president.

US President Barack Obama is the target of a suit filed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Hedges, and the reasoning seems more than obvious to him. The decision to take the commander-in-chief to court comes as a response to President Obama’s December 31 signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a legislation that allows the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely at off-site torture prisons like Guantanamo Bay.

Obama amended the NDAA with a signing statement on New Year’s Eve, insisting that while the Act does indeed give him the power to detain his own citizens indefinitely without charge, that doesn’t mean he will do so. Specifically, Obama wrote that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” Under another piece of legislation, however, the government is being granted the right to suspend citizenship of any American if the Enemy Expatriation Act joins the ranks of the NDAA as an atrocious act approved by the president.

“Once again, you just have to be accused of supporting hostilities which could be defined any way the government sees fit. Then the government can strip your citizenship and apply the indefinite detention section of the NDAA without the benefit of a trial,” journalist Stephen Foster Jr. wrote earlier this month of the Act.

In a blog post published on Monday to TruthDig.com, Hedges announces his effort to take Obama to court, and says his team of attorneys will challenge the president over the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, a provision promised under the NDAA.

In his explanation, Hedges says the signing signals “a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.”

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