Large numbers of demonstrators in Baghdad are now calling for the removal of Medhat al-Mahmoud, Iraq's Chief Justice and head of the Ministry of Justice, citing a need for “the eradication of judicial corruption.”
Al-Mahmoud was proclaimed head of the ministry by Paul Bremmer's Coalition Provisional Authority while the U.S. was hastily trying to rebuild a government they had just dismantled. Previous attempts to imit his power. Previous attempts to limit his power claimed that he unfairly supported then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The deontological-to-consequential spectral realm of pacifism, through conditional pacifism through defensive justification through just wars is a mighty complex arena for most of us in the middle. It’s easy to ‘follow the rule’ of strict pacifism and declare all drone strikes as wrong since they incur violence as solution. At the other end it is just as easy to ‘bomb them all to hell’ if they pose a threat to us.
Most of us live in a more relative world in which each case must be weighed on its own merits. And that is the conundrum facing the administration in this case. Let us assume, for the moment, that the intelligence about this individual is factual: he is “an al-Qaida facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.” Even so, the path is not obvious. The current prevalence of ndividual and small group, distributed terrorism strains our current social, legal and moral standards.
Where you stand is where you live. You can weigh the factors: innocent lives lost, future attacks thwarted and innocent lives saved, blowback, America’s reputation, increased dislike of the U.S., retaliatory attacks, increased recruitment for terrorist organizations…the list goes on.
But you are the President and the consequences of your actions fall upon all of your citizens. We will all be affected by the results of your decision. Perhaps you should lay out the facts and the sources of these facts so that we might better understand the situation. Do we have first-hand information? Does it come from trusted, possibly embedded, sources? Is it from recorded events in photographs or videos? Is there enough evidence for him to be tried in absentia? Should that be the standard?
Public trials, without the veil of excessive ‘secrecy’…it’s just an idea.
The people are in the streets again. Understandably so. The cries are for justice. The death of Trayvon Martin has awakened dissatisfied people who want their truth heard. It is painful to admit that "white people who kill black people in 'Stand
Your Ground' states are 354% more likely to be cleared of murder." [dailymail.uk]
And when the anger subsides, either in either frustration or satisfaction, 'Stand Your Ground' will still be the law in 31 states.
There are in existence quite tolerable laws concerning the conditions under which one can use deadly force and they could be set as a standard for state law.
New York State law includes provisions for the use of deadly force in self defense. The allowable circumstances are listed and each is detailed. The conditions are well detailed and leave little room for interpretation.
If you read the NYS Law (I found it quite interesting to think of the authors...) you will find the word 'retreat.' You see, if you can retreat then deadly physical force is not condoned. So if you're holding the gun, even if you're scared, you have to retreat. It seems like a good idea to me.
If such a law, The Martin Law, was made a national standard we would be a long way toward paying a just tribute to Trayvon Martin. But we could build a great monument to his memory if we turned our attention and energy to understanding the causes of violence in America.
Prism didn’t stop the Boston bombings and it didn’t stop the
Obama administration from illogical support of an anti-American practice. In a
valiant effort to justify spying on all Americans, the administration claims
that the case of Najibullah Zazi proves their point. In fact, it proves that
blanket surveillance is not needed at all.
The claim, as touted by CBS’s John Miller (who claims to
know a lot about secret stuff), “So on September 6, 2009, around dawn, an
e-mail comes from an IP address to another IP address. One of them is nothing
we're paying attention to. The other is one that has been flagged as an al
Qaeda mail drop that is rarely used." [nymag.com]
They already had
their eye on the al-Qaeda address. The address was found on a laptop when a different terrorist was captured in 2009, not by Prism. Then they investigated someone who was
writing to the address. Prism? Blanket surveillance? It was not needed at all.
Simple police work supported with a warrant for the known email address would have
been enough. And my email would not have been monitored. And yours, too. Well
over 100 terrorists attacks occurred in the U.S. since Prism’s 2007 birth (the
majority were non-Islamist related). Evidently only one was thwarted.
This is just another example of panic induced responses by our
government that end up doing not much more than increasing the profits of the
Having embarked on this massive data gathering effort of
uncontrolled cost the Obama administration is loath to admit that Prism uses
the same ‘first level intelligence’ that all investigative procedures use. Start
with a clue and then follow it up! Making believe law enforcement can’t do
their job doesn‘t help anyone but the technology purveyors. And, oh, yes. It
also makes Obama look like he’s doing something to effectively disrupt
terrorism so that he needn’t focus intelligently on the causes.
Our ally Saudi Arabia has banned Viber and Skype. Al-Akhbar reports they had previously complained that Islamist militants were taking advantage of social media to foment unrest. Some see these bans as further restictions on free speech by an increasingly nervous government. Saudi Arabia is being criticized by human rights activists for its tight restrictions on free speech.
It's 'What a World' time. Some folks are freaking out over the IRS' unwarranted scrutiny of right wing organizations. The media are stirring up the populace. The need for oversight of those who choose targets to investigate is plain to see. While this is a wasteful misuse of public funds it poses no danger to organizations unless they are breaking the law.
But nobody seems to care about President Obama's uncontrolled listing of people to kill. This is a license to murder. Where's the media?. Where's the outcry? Have you bothered to let your representatives know how you feel about the lack of due process in targeted killing?
Guantanamo, Boston, and al-Qaeda's Inspire Magazine
May 9, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
You may have thought, “Whatever else is wrong with
Guantanamo prison, it is making us safer.”
Think again. Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have
been using the torture chambers of Guantanamo as a recruiting tool for years.
(Yes, indefinite detention after charges have been dropped is torture. So is
forced feeding; especially when administered roughly with oversized feeding
The Boston Marathon bombers were readers of al-Qaeda’s Inspire
magazine, and the captured brother claims that they were self-radicalized partly
by reading internet inducements to violence, including Inspire. Guantanamo
is referenced 20 times in the first 10 issues. It is a powerful cognitive symbol.
Guantanamo conjures up images of torture, humiliation,
injustice, and hypocrisy. It reminds readers of Abu Ghraib and all the other
black sites used to torture people with no regard for the law.
President Obama can order the
closing of Guantanamo.
It will take courage on his part,
but we will all be safer for his valor.
The Boston bombers were not the only terrorists known to
have read Inspire. The following list will indicate its recently broad
• On April
15, 2013 Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly
exploded 2 devices at the annual Boston Marathon. They had allegedly assembled
at least four types of improvised explosives from plans they read in Inspire
• In March,
2103, three men in the United Kingdom pleaded guilty to terrorism charges
related to attending terrorism training camps in Pakistan. The men allegedly
were motivated by Inspire.
• On Nov.
29, 2012, two brothers from Florida, Raees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi,
were arrested and charged with plotting attacks in New York. Prosecutors noted
that the pair had been motivated by Inspire magazine.
• On Oct.
17, 2012, Bangladeshi national Quazi Nafis was arrested as part of an FBI sting
operation after he attempted to detonate a vehicle bomb outside New York's
Federal Reserve Bank. Nafis reportedly was an avid reader of Inspire magazine.
• On Sept.
15, 2012, Adel Daoud, another avid Inspire reader, was arrested after he parked
a Jeep Cherokee outside a Chicago bar and attempted to detonate the bomb he
thought it contained. His was also an FBI sting operation.
• On April
25, 2012, four men were arrested in the British town of Luton and charged with
plotting attacks against a British army base. The four were also charged with
downloading and possessing six editions of Inspire magazine. They pleaded
guilty March 1, 2013.
2011, PFC Jason Abdo was arrested trying to assemble a bomb from Inspire
instructions. He intended to blow up a restaurant that was popular with
soldiers from Fort Hood.
2011, Jose Pimental was arrested in Manhattan as he was constructing a bomb
from Inspire instructions.
2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people. A second soldier who was plotting an
attack was found to have copies of Inspire.
Is the Guantanamo courtroom being bugged by unknown parties? This weekly summary of proceedings is by Valerie Lucznikowska of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization that continues to lobby for the closure of the Guantanamo Detention Center. Invited as a 'family member' who lost someone in the 9/11 attacks she has documented some surprising aspects of the trial.
Lasar and I attended the Guantanamo hearings through CCTVthis week at
Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn. (Each of us missed someportion of
the events, but one of us was always present.) The current hearingsare
to review and decide motions brought by the defense in the cases of
KhalidSheik Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Walid binAttash, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Ali Abd al-Aziz Al, the so-called 9/11co-conspirators.
January 28 began the pre-trial motions. The participantsare named in
the attached chart of the courtroom, with the accused and counselon the
left and the government team on the right (CCTV showed the room
theopposite way, from behind the judge). Open sessions were held on
Monday,Tuesday and Thursday (morning only). Special closed sessions were
calledfor when classified information was to be discussed, or when the
judge calledfor an ex parte (pertaining to one party or not requiring the attendanceof all parties) session.
I had not attended such proceedings before this, I was struckon Monday
by the realization that most of the motions (which can be seen on theOMC
website) were procedural, and precedents were called up largely
fromfederal law and also from military law. That stands to reason as the
military commissionscourt (also referred to as the military court and
tribunal) is based on theMilitary Commissions Act of 2009 (which
replaced the Military Commissions Actof 2006) and has no precedents in
capital cases, nor many precedents at all.(NB: Military commissions law,
first established in 2006, is not the same asmilitary law, and normal
military courts rarely deal with anything as seriousas death penalty
cases.) So we are dealing with a whole new structurethat has to be
articulated, and sometimes invented, as it occurs. Motions thatwere to
be heard (not all of which were taken up during these sessions) are inan
attached document, previously sent by Karen Loftus. Not all motions
listedwere actually heard, and some were named as classified and heard in camera (private session).
also provided the most significant (and startling)event of this week's
hearings: an unknown source cut off the CCTV video andaudio while KSM
lead counsel Nevin was referring to a motion relating to blacksites. CCTV
stream is on a40-second delay to all (family members and press are in a
sound-proof roomwatching the proceedings) to allow time to cut off the
feed if classifiedinformation is inadvertently mentioned. This sent the
usually calm andcollected Judge Pohl into a state of high irritation,
asking why this hadhappened as he is the only one in his court who can
order the security officerto push the button that cuts off the feed, and
he had not ordered it. DoJ(Department of Justice) lawyer Joanna Baltes
explained that the "OCA"(Original Classification Authority) in this
motion, which refers to interrogationsat black sites, would be the CIA –
pointing to that agency as the source. In turn, this provoked deep
concern in the defense attorneys who wantedto know if the communications
among themselves and with their clients - in andout of court - were
being recorded or overheard. Subsequently, the judgeordered the cut
audio and video to be publicly released, as there was noclassified
material divulged, and ordered "an undisclosed” governmentagency to
remove any enabling equipment from his courtroom (“unplugged”).
defense introduced an emergency motion to haltproceedings until they
are assured they are not being overheard. JudgePohl did not rule on
that motion, but said that this must be resolved firstthing at the next
session on February 11, and it will be discussed among theparties in the
another important development, the defense leveled acharge of “unlawful
command influence”, meaning interference from thegovernment. Responding
to this, the judge has orderedthe
“convening authority” – the Pentagon’s most senior official responsible
forthe war court, retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, to testify in a
pre-trialhearing the week of Feb. 11.
Pohl heard arguments on 15 motions and ruled on six, onewas withdrawn
by the defense and one was mooted. A number of othermotions that are
not yet decided deal with information flow among defenselawyers and
their clients, and between the prosecution and defense. One
defensemotion asks the judge to remove the language allowing the OCA to
determinewhether a piece of information is allowed to be given to the
defense on a“need-to-know” basis.
important motion dealt with the defense's request thatdefense lawyers
be granted 48-hour stays in the area of confinement of theirclients to
properly investigate the conditions of their confinement. The judgehas
not ruled on this as yet, and indicated that the hearing could be
partiallyclosed as classified.
is clear from viewing the proceedings that reinventing ajustice system
is a long and arduous road, and thousands of motions may stillbe in the
offing, indicating a trial date at the very minimum of a year,
andconceivably much more, away. One defenseattorney thinks
it will be at least 2-3 years away. Most agree that if thetrials had
been held in federal court, they would have been over and done withby
I found the proceedings fascinating, and hope Iwill be able to attend
the February sessions (Feb. 11-14 - see attached) whenarguments will be
heard on motions to dismiss (such as "Motion to DismissBecause the
Military Commissions Act Unconstitutionally Requires the
ConveningAuthority to Act as Both Prosecutor and Judge of the
Defendants") will beheard, as well as, perhaps, a resolution to the
mystery of the governmentagency that bugged the courtroom!"
[Passed on to you as received on February 2, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact]