Drone Policy Questioned
Philip Alston, U.N. special representative on extrajudicial executions, has filed a report criticizing U.S. drone policy. As reported by the New York Times, Mr. Alston is concerned that the existing policy “could quickly lead to a situation in which dozens of countries carry out ‘competing drone attacks’ outside their borders against people ‘labeled as terrorists by one group or another.’”
Newsweek‘s The Gaggle blog, like Alston, is concerned that the drone policy has no inherent geographic limitations. “Terrorists can be lurking in any country, including our own,” they say, “and striking them with missiles is not a feasible approach to eliminating them entirely.” While the drones may be useful in disrupting specific plots, the piece suggests they may also create hostility and are not a solution to underlying problems.
The U.S. and the “Freedom Flotilla” Raid
The Israeli government was in contact with the United States before the Monday raid on the “Freedom Flotilla” en route to Gaza. “We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told the Washington Post. Nineteen year-old Furkan Dogan, a U.S. citizen, was among the people killed aboard the Mavi Maramara.
Terrorism and the Courts
A hearing scheduled for this past Tuesday in the case against Faisal Shahzad has been postponed for almost three weeks. The hearing is intended to be the deadline either for the filing of an indictment or a guilty plea.
Canadian authorities transferred Abdirahman Ali Gaal, a Somali permanent resident in the U.S. whose name is on the no-fly list, into U.S. immigration custody. He was arrested in Montreal after his flight bound for Mexico was rerouted to avoid U.S. airspace. While he doesn’t face terrorism charges, he may be deported.
New weapons charges that could lead to 10 years in prison have been filed against four of the nine people charged in the Hutaree militia case in Michigan.
Mohamud Said Omar, a Somali terror suspect, is appealing a ruling by a Dutch court that he can be extradited to Minneapolis. He allegedly provided funding for al-Shabab, a charge he denies.
Intelligence and Law Enforcement Infrastructure
A report submitted to the president shortly before Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair stepped down said that the DNI’s office should be smaller but invested with more authority, according to Politico. The report came from the Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board.
The F.B.I. is considering candidates to head its New York office. Among those in contention are Andrew Arena, Janice Fedarcyk, James Davis, and Amy Jo Lyons, according to Main Justice.
While the death by drone strike of Mustafa Abu al-Yazid has been described by U.S. officials as “a severe setback” to al Qaeda, the organization “it seems, has gotten used to filling the No. 3 spot,” according to the Washington Post. Within the post 10 years, at least 10 people who had been described as al Qaeda’s “No. 3″ have had to have been replaced, according to the Post.
Al-Yazid’s death is a “significant but not fatal setback” for al Qaeda, according to Bruce Riedel in Foreign Policy. “Al Qaeda itself has never identified anyone as the third man in its chain of command, and most likely there is more than one individual, at any one time, who reports to Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden directly,” he writes. Riedel notes of the drones that “Obama’s strategy uses them as one tool in a broader diplomatic and military offensive.”
Responding to Torture
New Chinese rules would ban the use of information gathered through torture in criminal cases.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act does not prevent Mohamed Ali Samantar, a former Somali prime minister who now lives in Virginia, from being sued for torture, the Supreme Court held on Tuesday.
A bill proposed by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins would “give the federal government the power to take over civilian networks’ security, if there’s an ‘imminent cyber threat,’” according to Wired‘s Danger Room blog. If the measures were ever put into place, they would last for 30 days but could be renewed.
News stories compiled by Maggie Reeb and the staff of the Center on Law and Security