Two Arrested with Rifles at CENTCOM HQ Entrance
A man and a woman armed with rifles and other “military gear” were arrested at the gates of MacDill Air Force Base in Florida yesterday afternoon. MacDill is the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military’s efforts in both Iraq an Afghanistan. Washington Post, TBO.com.
General Petraeus “Slumped Over” During Senate Hearing
The House and Senate are holding hearings over the next few days to address the slower than expected progress of military surges in the southern Afghani provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, delays that could interrupt President Obama’s planned timeline for troop withdrawal. General Petreaus was taken from a Senate hearing room after he “slumped over” but quickly revived. He returned to the room about twenty minutes later.
Slow progress against Taliban insurgents in the south and uncertainty over Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s allegiances has raised serious doubts within the military and the government over administration plans for troop withdrawals beginning in July of 2011. LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post.
Supreme Court Declines Rendition Case
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear the case of Arar v. Ashcroft. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was picked up by federal authorities in 2002 at JFK airport and rendered to Syria where he was tortured for ten months. The Second Circuit had dismissed the case out of deference to the executive branch and Congress. Officials have claimed that the facts of Arar’s case are too sensitive to discuss, successfully claiming the states secrets privilege. The Toronto Star reports that the Canadian Mounties are investigating U.S. and Syrian officials, and may bring charges. “[T]he courts have never questioned that a wrong was done. They have simply said that it is up to the political branches to fashion a remedy,” said David Cole, an attorney for the Center on Constitutional Rights, which represented Arar, according to the Star. Glenn Greenwald contrasts the way the governments of the U.S. and Canada have dealt with the case, and calls the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear it “a ringing statement about our country’s willingness to right the wrongs it commits and to provide access to our courts to those whose lives we devastate with our behavior.”
The judge in the trial of four men accused of plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx has said that she will consider dismissing the case on the basis of misconduct. The trial has been indefinitely delayed after Judge McMahon determined that a memo saying that the lead defendant would be no threat without aid from an informant was exculpatory and therefore had to be provided to the defense. Prosecutors said that, given the judge’s ruling, they would have to re-examine numerous documents in order to determine wheter there were other pieces of exculpatory evidence that must be turned over, warning that many documents may be classified. The judge has also set a hearing date to consider assigning bail for the defendants. Defense attorneys have argued that the four defendants were victims of entrapment. AP, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily News.
Five men involved in a faux-kidnapping scheme and robbery in 2004 have been put on trial in France for allegedly sending some of the $1.2 million of the stolen funds to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a terrorist organization linked to suicide attacks on Casablanca in 2003.
Mohammed Iqbal from Long Island, New York, received an apology from the FBI for their raid on his house during the investigation into the Times Square bombing attempt. “I think they felt bad for all the bother to someone who is really loyal to this country,” he told reporters. Newsday, AP.
Perspectives on Counterterrorism
In the Wall Street Journal, Senator Joseph Lieberman argues that the Obama administration should say that the war on terror is being fought against “violent Islamic extremism.”
Guantanamo and Detention
On Monday the Department of Defense reaffirmed its decision to ban three reporters from Guantanamo, but suggested that the ban might be lifted at some later date. The journalists were banned in response to their publishing the name of a witness in the Omar Khadr case whose identity had long been public knowledge.
The LA Times weighs in on the recent release of the government’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, which recommended indefinite detention without trial for 48 detainees whom the government argues are too dangerous to release. The paper acknowledges that there are no good choices in the matter, but reluctantly admits that this may be the only course forward. The piece says that “[a]llowing the status quo to continue is unsatisfactory, but action by Congress or the high court to provide judicial review would institutionalize a practice abhorrent to fundamental American principles. We uneasily would choose the second course, but only if the courts subject the executive branch’s decisions to searching and sustained scrutiny.”
Twenty-four members of Witnesses Against Torture were acquitted of charges by a D.C. judge after being arrested at the U.S. Capitol on January 21st while protesting for the closure of Guantanamo.
California Man Arrested in Pakistan for Going After Osama bin Laden
A 52-year-old American construction worker has been arrested in western Pakistan after dodging his police escort. The man, armed with a pistol, a sword, and night-vision goggles, said he was on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden. MSNBC, CNN, Daily News.
The United States is spearheading efforts to create a multinational organization dedicated to creating safeguards against computer viruses and combating potentially “lethal” cyber attacks by terrorist groups.
Director of National Intelligence
The Atlantic reports that, contrary to the Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board’s advisory position assumed in a key document produced earlier this year, the White House has in practice chosen to emphasize the DNI’s role as a “coordinator and facilitator” rather than a leader of the intelligence agencies which it ostensibly oversees, and has not shared the full report with DNI nominee James Clapper.
China and Pakistan
The Obama administration has claimed that a deal between China and Pakistan, which would have Chinese companies build two nuclear reactors on Pakistani soil, violates international nuclear regulations because Pakistan is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Eleven leaders of the Thai protest movement, which ended in a bloody clash with 90 dead last month, have been charged with terrorism and could potentially be sentenced to death.
U.S. and Syria
In an attempt to reach out to Syria, the Obama administration has sent a delegation of high-ranking diplomats and executives of American technological and telecommunications companies to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Syrian businesses.
News reports compiled by the staff of the Center on Law and Security