Powerful Americans are beginning to listen to Farea al-Muslimi, a 23-year-old, California-educated Yemeni who wants to stop the drone strikes in his country. Including some in the White House.
Danger Room has confirmed that before he leaves Washington D.C. on Friday, al-Muslimi will meet with White House officials to tell them what he told a Senate subcommittee yesterday: CIA and military drone strikes are strengthening al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate and making average Yemenis hate America.
“He will meet with a working-level expert on Yemen policy,” a White House official confirms, declining to provide the name of the official or the time of the meeting. In other words, he shouldn’t count on an Oval Office sit-down with the President — or even a quick meet with Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco. And the meeting isn’t a response to al-Muslimi’s testimony yesterday.
But there’s buzz now around al-Muslimi, a Sana’a-based freelance writer on public policy. …
Obama administration bypasses CISPA by secretly allowing Internet surveillance
Scared that CISPA might pass? The federal government is already using a secretive cybersecurity program to monitor online traffic and enforce CISPA-like data sharing between Internet service providers and the Department of Defense.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has obtained over 1,000 pages of documents pertaining to the United States government’s use of a cybersecurity program after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, and CNET reporter Declan McCullagh says those pages show how the Pentagon has secretly helped push for increased Internet surveillance.
“Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on portions of networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws,” McCullagh writes. …
In these poignant words from Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer reveals exclusively to the Observer the pain of being separated from his family for 12 years
ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either. …
President Barack Obama is trying to solve big problems in his proposed 2014 budget. His efforts to curtail entitlement spending have gotten most of the headlines. But he also seems determined to complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters, the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon rose in the 1940s. The cost: $3.9 billion. …
A moment’s reflection is enough to understand why intellectually honest people should shun the loaded metaphor.
The Obama Administration deliberately uses the word “surgical” to describe its drone strikes. Official White House spokesman Jay Carney marshaled the medical metaphorhere, saying that “a hallmark of our counterterrorism efforts has been our ability to be exceptionally precise, exceptionally surgical and exceptionally targeted.” White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan attributed ”surgical precision” and “laser-like focus” to the drone program. He also spoke of “delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us.” And a “senior administration official” told The Washington Post that “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”
They’ve successfully transplanted the term into public discourse about drones. …
Today in his “On Security and Liberty” column at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald demonstrates once again that he is one of the Left’s most tenacious and fearless voices.
In “Three Key Lessons From The Obama Administration’s Drone Lies,” Greenwald acknowledges the fact that “establishment sources” have finally begun to call out the Obama Administration for not telling the truth about who is being targeted for death-by-drone. Indeed, the word “lies” is now being employed. Greenwald cites a recent report by McClatchy as well as an article by Micah Zenko in Foreign Policy as evidence of this trend.
Greenwald believes that three lessons can be gleaned from these reports:
(1) The Obama administration often has no idea who they are killing.
(2) Whistleblowers are vital for transparency and accountability, which is precisely why the Obama administration is waging a war on them.
(3) Secrecy ensures both government lies and abuses of power.
With these lessons in mind, Greenwald closes with some strong words for the media:
In light of this evidence, any journalists that continue to rely on US government statements about its killing program are revealing themselves to be eager propagandists, willing to be lied to and help amplify those lies (the same was true of journalists who continued to rely on government statements about “militants” being killed even after they knew how Obama officials had broadened that term to the point of meaninglessness). How many times do we have to learn these same lessons before recognizing their universality?
TWO MONTHS ago, men stopped eating at the American prison at Guantanamo Bay. By last week, the Guantanamo hunger strike had spread to dozens of other inmates. The government puts the number of protesters at about 40; lawyers for the prisoners say that a majority of the more than 160 men being held are refusing food. At least 11 are being force-fed. After a visit to the detention facility last week, the Red Cross saw “a clear link” between the hunger strike and the “emotional state” of men held in suspended animation, illegally deprived not only of freedom, but of hope.
A month ago, President Obama said, “I am not a dictator.” He lacks the power, he explained, to “do a Jedi mind-meld” on legislators who thwart his proposals. He was speaking of a paralyzed budget process, but he could have been talking about Guantanamo. On his first day in office, in 2009, he signed an executive order closing the detention facility “no later than one year” from that date. It did not happen. Almost a year later, he ordered that a prison in Illinois be readied to receive detainees from Guantanamo. It did not happen. A year after that, he signed another order, to establish a review process for detainees. It did not happen. …