Watching the Shadows

House approves 9-11 suits against Saudi Arabia

The US House of Representatives approved legislation (PDF) Sept. 9 that would allow US nationals to seek relief from foreign governments believed to have had involvement with a terrorist attack taking place within the US that caused physical damage to that citizen's person or property. The Act, titled the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," would allow families of those killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. President Barack Obama is in opposition to the bill because of its major foreign policy implications, including the possibility that US approval of the Act would open the country up to receiving civil suits by foreign nationals in return. The Saudi government has warned that if such legislation is enacted it may begin selling off up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets. The US government maintains that Saudi Arabia did not fund the 9-11 attacks. The bill was approved by the Senate in May, and Obama has threatened to veto it.

Ex-Gitmo detainee hospitalized in hunger strike

A former Guantánamo detainee who was resettled in Uruguay was hospitalized and released on Sept. 6 after a hunger strike left him weak. Since his release from the hospital, Abu Wa'el Dhiab has resumed his hunger strike, vowing that he will continue until he is either reunited with his family or dead. Dhiab is a native of Syria and was one of six detainees accepted by the Uruguayan government after their release from Guantánamo Bay. Dhiab, however, has said that he feels as if he is a prisoner in Uruguay. The Uruguayan government is continuing to figure out a way to reunite Dhiab with his family.

Propaganda and the dystopia of social media

Bill Weinberg rants against the totalizing propaganda environment of social media, and how Facebook is destroying our ability to think, analyze and access information outside our own "confirmation bias" bubble. The so-called "information revolution" actually sounds the death knell of information freedom and real journalism—and even of literacy itself. This phenomenon partially explains the complicity of the "left" and "alternative" media in the Putin-Pendejo* fascist convergence. This YouTube video is a test run for the rebooted version of the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade vlog—please forgive the imperfections, we are still working out the bugs! Watch this website for the next episode, coming soon...

US transfers 15 Guantánamo detainees to UAE

The US Department of Defense on Aug. 15 announced the transfer  of 15 Guantánamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates. Twelve of the detainees were from Yemen, and the other three were from Afghanistan. Six of the detainees had been approved for release since 2009, and the others were cleared for release more recently. Thirteen of the detainees had never faced any charges, and two of the Afghan detainees had their military commission charges drops. This marks the largest single detainee transfer so far, as the Obama administration works toward its goal of shuttering the detention center. After these transfers, there are 61 detainees remaining at Guantánamo.

Congress releases details of Saudi 9-11 links

The House Intelligence Committee on July 15 released a declassified "28-pages" (PDF) detailing possible connections between Saudi Arabia and the 9-11 hijackers. Whether the "28-pages" should be released was a hotly debated matter, spanning years as victims' families and lawmakers pressed for the report to be issued. Some calling for the release of the report believed that the US had been attempting to cover up Saudi Arabia's involvement in the attacks. The document acknowledges that "some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government." But other sources, including the 9-11 Commission report, have held that the Saudi government was in no way involved in the attacks. Despite containing only leads to possible Saudi ties to the hijackers, former Sen. Bob Graham applauded the release, saying it would lead to further questioning of the Saudi government's potential involvement. He stated: "I think of this almost as the 28 pages are sort of the cork in the wine bottle. And once it's out, hopefully the rest of the wine itself will start to pour out."

White House releases (contested) drone kill count

The White House said July 1 that between 64 and 116 civilians have been killed by drone and other US strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya since Barack Obama took office in 2009. But this first public assessment by the administration put the civilian death toll significantly lower than estimates by various human rights groups, which range as high as 1,100 killed. Obama also signed an executive order outlining US policies to limit civilian casualties, and ostensibly making protection of civilians a central element in US military operations planning. The order requires an annual release of casualty estimates, and says the government should include “credible reporting” by non-government groups when it reviews strikes to determine if civilians were killed.

Ex-CIA agent faces extradition to Italy

Former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative Sabrina de Sousa will be extradited to Italy to serve a four-year prison sentence following a ruling by Portugal's Constitutional Court on June 8. De Sousa filed an appeal in April, a last attempt to prevent her extradition to Italy to serve a sentence for her involvement in a US extraordinary renditions program. De Sousa was arrested at a Portuguese airport after she had been convicted in absentia by an Italian court for her part in the 2003 kidnapping and "rendition" of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr (AKA Abu Omar). The Portugal Supreme Court rejected her appeal of an extradition order, leaving de Sousa no choice but to argue that her extradition order is unconstitutional. De Sousa was one of 26 Americans convicted in the kidnapping.

Court dismisses request for drone records

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on April 21 upheld a district court's dismissal of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about the US government's use of drones for "targeted killings." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sought to obtain legal memoranda on drone use as well as compilations of data on government strikes that can detail who intended targets were, locations of strikes, and how many people have been killed, among other information. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) argued that the documents are exempt from disclosure, and the lower court granted summary judgment in their favor. The appeals court agreed with the CIA that the requested documents were properly classified and exempt from FOIA requests because they pertain to intelligence activities and/or foreign activities of the US. The court also agreed with the CIA that there we no "segregable portions" of the documents which could be disclosed.

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