January 6, 2013
Congress and President Obama have been buffeted by criticism for the way they handled, or mishandled, legislation designed to prevent the economy from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. Comparatively, little attention has been paid to another recent failure of statesmanship by both of those branches of government: the perpetuation of laws and policies that undermine civil liberties and government transparency in the name of the "war on terror. " On Wednesday, Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a $633-billion blueprint for Pentagon spending that is objectionable for both what it contains and what it omits.
January 5, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - As dean of Yale Law School, Harold Hongju Koh was among the fiercest critics of President George W. Bush's "war on terror," arguing that his administration had trampled the Constitution and tarnished America's international standing by claiming the power to capture "enemy combatants" abroad and hold them without charges at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The next administration must "restore the rule of law in the national security arena," end "excessive government secrecy" and set aside the "claims of unfettered executive power," Koh told a House panel in 2008.
January 4, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama is expected to nominate Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator and Vietnam veteran, to be Defense secretary, officials said, setting up a confirmation battle with lawmakers and interest groups critical of Hagel's views on Israel and Iran. White House officials said Friday that the president hadn't formally offered the job to Hagel, but others familiar with the process said that the announcement could come as soon as Monday. Hagel, who was elected to the Senate from Nebraska in 1996 and retired in 2008, was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds he received as a soldier in Vietnam.
December 5, 2012 |
WASHINGTON -- The House has voted to give lifelong Secret Service protection to former presidents and their wives, due to increased national security threats posed post-Sept. 11. The bill passed Wednesday morning by voice vote. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), said in a statement that “the increased mobility and youth” of still-living former presidents added to the necessity of the extension. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, would reverse a 1994 law limiting Secret Service protection to 10 years after a president leaves office.
November 16, 2012 |
In 1954, psychologist Benjamin Karpman wrote a prescient book about "sexual offenders" in the United States. Karpman focused especially on homosexuals who were drummed out of government jobs on the grounds that their sexual orientation made them security risks. If you were gay, the argument went, you were susceptible to blackmail by communist spies. But the real problem lay in the taboo on homosexuality, which paved the way for exactly the kind of extortion that the government feared.
November 13, 2012 |
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she has no reason to believe that the Congress was improperly kept in the dark about the abrupt resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus last week. It was a “personal indiscretion” that led to the FBI investigation of emails, which uncovered an affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, but not a matter of national security, Pelosi said at a news conference Tuesday. “Why somebody would be personally indiscreet is their own problem,” the San Francisco Democrat said.
November 9, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - CIA Director David H. Petraeus abruptly resigned Friday after a brief but troubled tenure as head of America's clandestine spy service, citing his "extremely poor judgment" for engaging in an extramarital affair that the FBI had uncovered in an unrelated investigation. The scandal threw the CIA into turmoil three days after the presidential election and caused consternation at the White House, which had assumed the widely respected former war commander in Iraq and Afghanistan would keep his national security position in the second Obama administration.
October 18, 2012 |
Alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed lashed out Wednesday at his military judge and prosecutor, saying Americans had killed "millions" more people than the nearly 3,000 who died during the 2001 airplane attacks. "My only advice for you is that you do not get affected by the crocodile tears," he told Judge James L. Pohl. "Because your blood is not made of gold and ours is made out of water. We are all human beings. " Wearing a green camouflage vest over his white robes, his thick, orange beard hiding most of it, Mohammed sat at his counsel table in front of the judge and sternly ridiculed the military judicial process at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
October 11, 2012 |
GOP vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan said in the debate that American troops should not be placed in harm's way for humanitarian purposes, unless it is in the interest of national security. “It's got to be in the strategic national interests of our country,” the Wisconsin congressman said during his face-off Thursday night with Vice President Joe Biden in Danville, Ky. Pressed by moderator Martha Raddatz, Ryan said that every situation must be evaluated independently and that America could offer other aid, but stuck by his original statement.
October 9, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has ended a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit against the nation's telecommunications carriers for secretly helping the National Security Agency monitor phone calls and emails coming into and out of this country. The suit was dealt a death blow in 2008 when Congress granted retroactive immunity to people or companies aiding U.S. intelligence agents. Without comment, the justices turned down appeals from civil liberties advocates who contended this mass surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.