Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Eat, Drink and be Merry - Happy Purim.From Giyus.Purim is probably one of the favorite holidays in the Jewish year - costumes, feasts and the flow of wine make it a merry holiday indeed.
Queen Esther is the heroine of this holiday and one of the most popular costumes for little girls in Israel. She was the beautiful Jewish woman selected by the King of Persia to be his wife. After she became queen, she begged the king to save her people from Haman's wicked plan to destroy them. He did, and thus the Jews were saved.But there's more to this story then meets the eye, read the rest of this post here, and this great version of the Purim story.
Purim provides the Jewish comics' classic example of a Jewish Holiday:
"They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat!"
The Jews of Palestine used to celebrate heartily at the Purim Adloyada ["until they don't know"] festival and parade held in Tel Aviv in the 1920s and 30's.
Some commentators make a crude comparison to Marde Gras partying, but the merriment is based on an ancient rabbinic tradition of Jews imbibing on Purim to the point where they do not know the difference between sobriety and drunkenness, between Mordechai and Haman -- but without losing their wits.
The Purim tale did not take place in Eretz Yisrael, but in Persia. A villain named Haman arose and tried to destroy the Jewish people. Through guile and disguise, Mordechai and Esther were able to thwart Haman's genocidal plans and save the Jewish people. To this day there is a custom to dress up in disguises.More here at "Picture a Day".
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Indonesia 5.3 ; India 5.6 !More info here.
- Exclusive Obama Ally Won't Release Alinsky Tape.(Breitbart).By Ben Shapiro.Sources inform Breitbart.com today that Pam Dickler, director of the 1998 production of The Love Song of Saul Alinsky in Chicago that included a panel discussion featuring then-State Sen. Barack Obama, has a video tape of the play. And she won’t release it.Read the full story here.
- Ten Questions Obama Should Be Asked at Tuesday’s Press Conference.(Heritage).President Obama will hold his first official press conference since October on Tuesday. Plenty has happened since then: the president has illegally appointed four officials to federal posts, Energy Secretary Steven Chu has again demonstrated his lack of concern for rising gas prices, Iran has continued its march towards nuclear weapons, and the Department of Health and Human Services has usurped Americans’ rights to free practice of their religion.In light of these and other happenings over the last few months, here are ten questions that we feel should be asked of the president when he takes the podium on Tuesday.
- Your Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it is not the policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?
- Your administration has touted the declining unemployment rate. Do you plan any policy proposals to deal with the steady – and ongoing – decline in labor force participation?
- According to The Heritage Foundation, there are over $2 trillion in tax hikes in your latest budget proposal, when you yourself stated that raising taxes is anathema to economic recovery. How will tax hikes spur job growth, or is that secondary to some other policy goal?
- Your Justice Department insisted the Senate was in recess over the holidays for the purposes of recess appointments. But the Senate passed the payroll tax cut extension during that period. Do you think Presidents should dictate when Congress is in session, were these appointments legitimate, and will you go around Congress on future travel weekends?
- What provision of the Constitution grants the federal government the authority to require religiously-affiliated groups to pay for contraception in violation of their own moral teachings?
- Does China’s decision to boost its defense budget by more than 11% give you any pause about repeatedly slashing our own military capabilities?
- Do you regret your administration’s hands-off approach to the Iranian Green Revolution given the country’s increasing belligerence and its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons?
- Your administration has no plan to reform unsustainable entitlement programs, according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Why haven’t you proposed any real solutions?
- You continue to tout an “all of the above” approach to energy policy, but your budget proposal singles out the oil industry for punitive tax hikes, while preserving preferential tax treatment for wind energy, despite the fact that wind energy companies get roughly 100 times the amount in subsidies that oil companies do per kilowatt-hour. Do you believe the playing field should be leveled by eliminating all energy subsidies, or should government continue trying to pick winners and losers?
- Have you instructed Attorney General Holder to comply with the congressional subpoena related to the more than 60,000 documents that the Department of Justice has not turned over to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee?Read the full story here.
- In Syria, al Jazeera’s Credibility Implodes.(ICH).The guy who runs al Jazeera’s Syrian coverage is the brother of a opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) bigwig.The main event, or what should be the main event, for Western observers of Syria is the messy implosion of Al Jazeera’s credibility. Somebody disgruntled with the diktat of channel management that the Syrian revolution (at least the SNC version of it) “must be televised” leaked some raw footage of Homs coverage and interviews staged for maximum anti-regime effect.As’ad AbuKhalil, proprietor of the Angry Arab newsblog, hails from the atheist/Marxist/feminist quadrant and is no friend of the Bashar regime. He had this to say about recent trends in programming on Syrian state TV:“It seems that Syrian regime had agents among the rebels; or it seems that the Syrian regime obtained a trove of video footage from Baba Amru. They have been airing them non-stop. They are quite damning. They show the correspondent or witness (for CNN or from Aljazeera) before he is on the air: and the demeanor is drastically different from the demeanor on the air and they even show contrived sounds of explosions timed for broadcast time…“PS This is really scandalous. It shows the footage prior to Aljazeera reports: they show fake bandages applied on a child and then a person is ordered to carry a camera in his hand to make it look like a mobile footage. It shows a child being fed what to say on Aljazeera.”Later in the day:“This is rather explosive. You know how low Aljazeera has sunk when Syrian regime TV stations have a field day with the shoddy journalism and fabrication procedures of Aljazeera. It seems that people inside Aljazeera have leaked raw footage and pre-air reports to someone in Syrian regime TV. I am not surprised of the leak at all: I am in contact from people inside Aljazeera who are disgusted by the propaganda work of the network in the last few months. … I know how those things work and they know that I know. The footage that are being shown show staging of events of calling a civilian an “officer” in the Syrian army, of faking injuries and feeding statements to people before airtime, etc. Aljazeera seems to be writing its own professional obituary. I don’t know how it can really resurrect itself again. It is mortally wounded. I know that there are people in the network who are pained about what is happening but royal orders are royal orders in the network and no one dare to disobey. I am told that orders came down to the effect that no half-position would be tolerated and that categorical adoption of the Qatari foreign policy on Syria is a job requirement.” Actually, information about Al Jazeera’s Syria biases had already reached the English language media on February 24 (and Syria watchers when Josh Landis posted it on his Syria Comment blog), when an article in al Akhbar reported on some e-mails hacked off al Jazeera’s servers by the Syrian regime’s “electronic army”:“The major find to be made public was an email exchange between anchorwoman Rula Ibrahim and Beirut-based reporter Ali Hashem. The emails seemed to indicate widespread disaffection within the channel, especially over its coverage of the crisis in Syria.“Ibrahim … protested that she had ‘been utterly humiliated. They wiped the floor with me because I embarrassed Zuheir Salem, spokesperson for Syria’s Muslim Brothers. As a result, I was prevented from doing any Syrian interviews, and threatened with [a] transfer to the night shift on the pretext that I was making the channel imbalanced.’“Ibrahim also spoke of how Syrian activists invited onto Al Jazeera use terms of sectarian incitement on air, ‘which Syrians understand very well.’“They also confirmed an allegation Ibrahim had reportedly made in one of her emails: That Ahmad Ibrahim, who is in charge of the channel’s Syria coverage, is the brother of Anas al-Abdeh, a leading member of the opposition Syrian National Council. He allegedly stopped using his family name to avoid drawing attention to the connection.”Yes, emphasis added. The guy who runs al Jazeera’s Syrian coverage is the brother of a SNC bigwig.The requisite ironic coda (and what should be the obituary for al Jazeera as a serious news outfit, at least as far as its current Syrian coverage is concerned) is contained in this observation:“However, the scoop did not attract the attention that had been hoped for. Like other official Syrian media, the channel is not widely watched and has suffered a loss of viewer confidence.“Thus the report was barely noticed, and Al Jazeera itself completely disregarded it.”Yes, news you can report just by walking into your newsroom; that’s too far for al Jazeera (and, probably CNN).Read the full story here.
'Better To Be a Dictator than Gay' Germany Slams Lukashenko Over Slur.(Spiegel).German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday dismissed a comment about his homosexuality by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who had said: "Better to be a dictator than gay."
Westerwelle, who last week described Lukashenko as "Europe's last dictator," said on Monday: "This statement condemns itself. I won't budge one millimeter from my commítment to human rights and democracy in Belarus after these comments."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Lukaschenko's comment "shows very clearly the position that the Belarus president takes in relation to basic rights. It's interesting to find out this way that Mr. Lukashenko too now classes himself as a dictator.""That by the way is a view that the federal government reached some time ago and on which the Belarus president delivers proof almost daily," he added.
Relations between European Union governments and Minsk have worsened since Lukashenko's violent crackdownon the opposition following a disputed December 2010 election in which he won almost 80 percent of the vote. The European Union and Belarus made tit-for-tat withdrawals of ambassadors last Tuesday in a row over sanctions imposed by the EU's last week to punish Minsk's human rights record. The EU widened its sanctions to include entry prohibitions on 21 judges and senior police officers.
Belarus told the ambassador of the European Union and of Poland to leave the country, and recalled its own envoys from Brussels and Warsaw. In response, EU states withdrew their ambassadors in Minsk.Lukashenko is worried that the EU will impose economic sanctions next, which would hit its key oil industry. Belarus is one of the biggest suppliers of oil products to Germany and Poland, and has recently been able to increase its exports to the EU significantly.
If Europe were to carry out its threat to introduce economic sanctions, its economy would be hit hard. Experts say Belarus would no longer be able to keep up its payments after just three months.
Lukashenko had managed to stabilize his economy by devaluing the currency by two thirds to cope with the financial crisis.
Plans by the EU to target more people involved in financing Lukashenko's government fell through last week after objections from Slovenia and Latvia, which have firms building two luxury hotels in Minsk. Members of the European Parliament described their behavior as "shameful."Hmmmmmm......."Lord of the Belarussians"?Read the full story here.
Syria bombs key refugee bridge used last week to transport wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier out of Homs.
Syria bombs key refugee bridge used last week to transport wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier out of Homs.(HD).Syrian forces on Tuesday bombed a bridge used as a main escape route to evacuate the wounded and refugees from the central flashpoint province of Homs to Lebanon, a monitoring group said."Regime forces on Tuesday bombarded a bridge near Qusayr, in Homs province, which is used by refugees and the wounded fleeing to Lebanon," Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP."They are trying to cut off all access routes between Lebanon and Syria, especially in the region of Qusayr and Tall Kalakh," he added.
Both towns are in Homs province, east of the Lebanese border.Abdel Rahman said the bridge bombed was located some three kilometers (nearly two miles) from the border and straddles the Orontes River.
Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in Homs, said the bridge was the main route used to evacuate the wounded from the battered city, which has suffered a relentless onslaught by regime forces.
"The bridge was hit by artillery shells," said Abdallah, reached by telephone from Beirut. "It can no longer be used."It was the main route used to transport the wounded," he added.
The UN refugee agency said Tuesday that some 2,000 Syrians have crossed over into neighbouring Lebanon since the weekend after fleeing the violence in Homs.Dana Sleiman, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut, told AFP that 170 families had sought refuge in the village of El Fakha, located in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region, and 50 others were in the nearby town of Aarsal."We are trying to verify whether there are additional people in other areas and how many have returned to Syria," Sleiman said.Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in Homs, said the bridge was used last week to transport wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier out of Homs, which has been the target of a fierce assault by regime forces.Read the full story here, more here.
Former CIA Officials Say Iran’s Clerics Want to Goad Israel Into an Attack.(Stratrisk).Source: Daily Beast.Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington today, is laying more political groundwork for a possible preemptive Israeli airstrike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
But as Netanyahu rallies his American supporters and discourages diplomatic engagement with Tehran, some intelligence officials and Iran experts tell The Daily Beast that an Israeli attack may be exactly what Tehran’s most hard-line leaders have been trying to provoke.Marty Martin, a former senior officer in the CIA, ran the unit that hunted Al Qaeda terrorists from 2002 to 2004. Iran’s most militant leaders “are goading the Israelis,” he tells The Daily Beast, “because a bombing will help them put their internal problems aside.”
Martin, who spent most of his 25-year career at the CIA in the Middle East, argues that some clerics and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, confronted with a discontented and restless population, are looking for ways to solidify public support. “The way they see it, if Israel bombs them it relieves the internal pressure,” says Martin. “Amid this turmoil, its always good to have an outside enemy.”
Iran’s internal troubles include a 12 percent unemployment rate, a shattered economy (due in part to international sanctions), resentment over the oppressive regime, and widespread disgust over corruption.Martin, who retired from the agency in 2007, now works as an independent consultant. He was prominent inside the agency not just for his leadership against Al Qaeda but also for his expertise on the Middle East: his Louisiana drawl disguises the fact that he speaks fluent Arabic.
“If you are an Iranian,” he says, “there is actually a benefit to an Israel strike—an Israel strike which won’t be successful completely militarily, but will be successful for saying ‘game on’!”
Paul Pillar, the former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, agrees, though he emphasizes that only part of the Iranian leadership is likely plotting this way. “It’s quite rational,” he said, “from the perspective of the specific elements in the regime that believe it would work to their political advantage.” Pillar, who spent 28 years at the CIA, is now a professor at Georgetown University. “I strongly believe that the net political effect of an attack would be to help the hardliners,” he says.
“The White House is mindful of the fact that there are radical elements in Tehran who might like to provoke an attack for their own domestic expediency.”“The White House,” Sadjadpour says, “is mindful of the fact that there are radical elements in Tehran who might like to provoke an attack for their own domestic expediency.”(The National Security Council spokesperson, asked to comment, said no one was available to address the issue this weekend.)
“I do think that a military conflagration could be one of the few things that could potentially rehabilitate the regime,” said Sadjadpour. “It could resuscitate revolutionary ideology and repair the deep fractures both amongst the political elite and among the population and the regime.”Pillar says the theory has some historical evidence on its side. “The big data point in support of this concept is the Iran-Iraq war: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq attacking Iran,” he says. “Iraq was the aggressor, and the attack [had] a big rally-around-the-flag effect and it had a positive effect in bolstering support for the [Iranian] regime. That’s the most applicable way to look at.”
Iran, in this view, could intentionally cross so-called “red lines” laid out by the Americans or Israelis, to invite an attack that it believes would be largely ineffective against its nuclear sites, and that would not bring large numbers of casualties.Another veteran of the CIA’s clandestine services, who spent years working with Iranian agents, says he finds the explanation “entirely logical.” (He asked that his name not be used because much of his work was classified.)“The guys you are talking about, they are not going to die,” he says. “They are not the ones who are going to get bombed. They can always find another lab technician, or another scientist. Those are the ones who are going to die.”Hmmmmmm.........Read the full story here.
Pakistan test-fires short-range missile with nuclear capabilities.(Stratrisks).The Pakistani military on Monday said it has successfully test fired a short-range ballistic missile which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It follows the test of another short-range missile in October 2011.
In a brief statement, a military spokesperson said the short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Hatf II (Abdali), has a range of approximately 180 kilometers (112 miles) and is capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads with high accuracy.“It provides an operational level capability to Pakistan’s Strategic Forces, additional to the strategic and tactical level capability, which Pakistan already possesses,” the spokesperson said in a statement. It said the test was witnessed by senior military officials as well as scientists and engineers of strategic organizations.
Following the test, Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani congratulated the scientists and technicians who worked on the missile.
In October 2011, the Pakistani military said it successfully test-fired the Hatf – VII (Babur) missile which has a range of 700 kilometers (434 miles). “Babur Cruise Missile is a low flying, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability, pin point accuracy and radar avoidance features,” a military spokesperson said at the time. “It can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads and has stealth capabilities.”Read the full story here.
Israel - Holocaust survivors rally against Lithuanian FM.(YNet).Some 15 people, including Holocaust survivors, protested Monday evening against the Lithuanian foreign minister, who is visiting Israel to attend a commercial business conference at Tel Aviv's Dan Panorama hotel.
The protesters, who held signs in Hebrew and English reading "where is your conscience? Where is your solidarity with the Holocaust survivors?", claimed Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis had made anti-Semitic comments in the past, and that the Lithuanian government has made attempts to "belittle the memory of the Holocaust."
Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Dr. Efraim Zuroff said that Azubalis is "a guest of honor for Israeli groups doing business here. However, this is a man who has made anti-Semitic remarks and opposed a bill that would have helped Lithuanian Jews get their stolen property returned." According to Zuroff, "Lithuania's government has been fighting a battle to turn the Holocaust into another tragedy among many. Their aim is to place Nazis and Communists on an equal footing. That is to say they are comparing between those who build the Auschwitz and those who liberated it. This angers us and that's why we're protesting," he exclaimed.
Attorney Yossef Melamed, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who attended the protest told Ynet: "I was 17 during the Holocaust. After the war, me and a few of my friends compiled a list of 3,000 Lithuanians who we believe cooperated with the Nazis."Melamed said he later discovered that "some names on the list are considered to be national heroes in Lithuania," adding that he was accused of making false allegations and even interrogated by police officers who came to his house and told him that he might be sued.
"The list we wrote is proven, and I don't mind going to trial, as long as it is here in Israel and I don't have to go back to Lithuania," he noted. Read the full story here.
"Unidentified " Boy treads in Holocaust victim's ashes on visit to Majdanek death camp.(YNet).An embarrassing incident occurred some 10 days ago during a High School trip to the Majdanek extermination camp mausoleum (Mountain of Ashes) in Poland. The mountain contains the ashes of tens of thousands of Jews who were exterminated in the camp during the Holocaust.
Ynet has learned that as the group stood near the mountain receiving a briefing on the death camp and its horrors, one of the students walked into the site and treaded on the ashes in spite of the fact that to do so is clearly prohibited. The guides and members of the educational team that were on site grabbed him and removed him from the site.
The group's leaders then held an initial inquiry into the incident and made the severity of the incident clear to the entire group.
Moreover, the event was immediately reported to the Education Ministry who demanded comprehensive clarification of the incident.
The Majdanek extermination camp is adjacent to the city of Lublin and it is estimated that over 80,000 Jews were murdered within its walls. The Mountain of Ashes which sits at the southern corner of the camp contains seven tons of human ashes which were collected into one giant mound.
A source within the Education Ministry who often visits the site with school groups said: "There is no doubt that this is improper and prohibited behavior but it should be noted that tens of thousands of students visit the site annually and behave in an exemplary fashion. This is an isolated case of one single student who acted wrongly."
The Education Ministry said in response: "A breach of discipline which was immediately handled by the staff occurred during a class trip to the Majdanek extermination camp in Poland. Furthermore, upon the group's return to the hotel, the group's staff held a comprehensive inquiry with all the relevant factors. "The case was brought to the notice of the entire group and educational talks were conducted with the entire group. An additional inquiry into the incident is currently being held in order to draw conclusions and prevent a recurrence of incidents of this kind."Hmmmm.........Read the full story here.
Iran says it will allow IAEA into military complex..........after IAEA eight year patience.(JPost).Iran said it will give the UN nuclear watchdog access to its Parchin military complex, news agency ISNA reported on Tuesday.
An IAEA report last year said that Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, in which to conduct high-explosives tests that the IAEA says are "strong indicators" of possible weapons development.
During visits by IAEA inspectors to Tehran in January and February, Iranian officials stonewalled requests for access to Parchin, seen as central to its investigation."The fact that Parchin is a military site and accessing it has a time consuming process, therefore the visit cannot be allowed frequently ... Once again we will allow the IAEA to visit it one more time," Iran's representative office in Vienna said in a statement Tuesday, according to ISNA.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano on Monday told a news conference after a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna there were indications of unspecified "activities" at the Parchin facility.
His remarks confirmed comments made by IAEA diplomats to Reuters last week when one said: "we have heard about possible sanitation" of the Parchin site that he called "very concerning," suggesting Iran may be delaying access while it removed evidence of suspect activities.
"We have some indication that activities are ongoing at the Parchin site. It makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later," Amano told reporters, giving no details.Hmmmmm......Read the full story here.
Lord Weidenfeld: Europe Threatened by the 'Flames of a Unrelenting Religion'.(IF).Lord Weidenfeld published an interesting article in the German tabloid Bild recently.The English Lord George Weidenfeld is a publisher and member of the upper house in the British parliament. As a Jew, he had to flee to England after the Nazi annexation of Austria.He worked for the BBC for a while as a political commentator.
The forces that confront us and threaten our democratic, political institutions, are inspired by a fanaticism that stirs up the flames of a merciless religion and an anti-western ideology against those very ideals that hold we Europeans together.The extreme Islamists are serious when they talk about future Jihad, the reconquest of a lost empire.
The terror offensive, as it played out on 11 September 2001 in New York, must be considered a turning point and a grim warning. The Arab Spring was an uprising of the powerless, but it quickly turned into another period of political uncertainty, threatening the reign of terror of radical elements. Three-quarters of Egypt's voters sought salvation in radical parties inclined towards religious fanaticism.Hmmmm...........“The powers that stand against us and threaten our democratic, political institutions are inspired by a fanaticism that feeds the flames... Read the full story here.(Googletranslate).
Warning - contains VERY graphic images.
Britain's Channel 4 exposes Patients tortured in Syrian hospitals (with video). HT: IsraelMatzav.What a humane country. What a shining example of 'human rights.' I'd like to show you what's going on in Syria, a country that until recently was nearly a member in good standing of the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' with a spotless record in that council's proceedings - the subject was barely even raised. And on Britain's Channel 4 last night, video was shown of pictures of Syrians being tortured in a hospital in Homs.Hmmmm............Hillary's 'Reformer' the 'butcher' Assad.Read the full story here.
Commander of the Iranian Basij: Only burning White House will compensate for burning Quran.(AA).In a move likely to irk tension between Iran and United States, a top Iranian military commander said on Saturday that nothing short of burning the White House and hanging American military commanders can compensate for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan last week.“The U.S. has committed such an ugly act and burnt Qurans because of the heavy slap it has been given by Islam,” commander of Iran’s Basij force, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi told the semi-official Fars news agency.
U.S. President Barack Obama wrote a letter of apology to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Thursday, in an effort to quell furor among Afghans who have been protesting for five days after charred remains of the Muslim holy book was found at the Bagram air base outside of Kabul.
However in response to Obama’s apology, Nagdi said “nothing but burning the White House can relieve the wound on us, the Muslims, caused by burning the Quran.”“Their apology can be accepted only by hanging their commanders; hanging their commanders means an apology,” he added.According to Fars, Nagdi stressed that Muslims can no longer give consent to U.S. apologies, since the Americans have made numerous mistakes in Afghanistan and continue to so only to then offer an apology and “this is simply not acceptable.”
Nagdi’s comments came after two U.S. military advisers took the death toll from raging anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan to around 30.On Friday, the prayer leader in Tehran said the burning of the Quran was intentional and proves American aggression towards Islam.“Based on reports by reporters, this was an intentional move prompted by the hatred of American statement for Islam,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said. “I announced with a loud voice, the world should know that the U.S. administration is hostile to Islam; Americans’ insult was not a mistake, rather deliberately because Washington rulers are hostile to Islam.”Read the full story here.
Holder: Law gives 'clear authority' to kill US citizens overseas.(Fox).CHICAGO -- US Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday gave the Obama administration's most high-profile account to date of its legal rationale for targeting US citizen terrorists abroad.
The administration had barely acknowledged its so-called targeted killing program, which allowed the US to kill Anwar al Awlaki, a New Mexican-born radical Muslim cleric, in a drone strike in Yemen last year.Civil liberties advocates applauded the push toward greater transparency in the controversial policy, but remained skeptical about its bounds and urged the government to release more details about the program for public debate.
In a lengthy speech at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder said, "It may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack.""In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force," he added.
Though the administration did not make public any formal charges against Awlaki, US intelligence officials believe he was linked to a US army major charged with shooting dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a US airliner on Dec. 25, 2009.
Holder said Monday he was not permitted to discuss "any particular program or operation" and never mentioned Awlaki by name. He simply stated, "I believe it is important to explain these legal principles publicly."His speech did little to allay the concerns of civil liberty advocates, however, who are urging the administration to make public its legal framework for justifying such killings."Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security," says Holder. "The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process." cbsnews.com
Before the attorney general's speech, snippets of information on the targeted killing program usually entered the public sphere through media reports, usually citing anonymous or low-level officials.
In a rare move, Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, defended the targeted killings as a legitimate weapon of war in front of audience of law students last month at Yale University.
The complete rationale is apparently contained in a classified Department of Justice memo. Peter Scheer, of the First Amendment Coalition, is demanding in a lawsuit that the DOJ make public a redacted version of the justification.Scheer told NewsCore that Holder's speech was a "good start in what I hope is a continuing public debate about this murky area of the law," but felt it ultimately left many questions unanswered.Hmmmm......Hi i'm from the U.S. Gov, I'm your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner, all in one - what more due process do you want? "Read the full story here.
PM: I'll never let Israel live under shadow of annihilation.(JPost).Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned against allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons in his speech to the AIPAC Convention in Washington Monday night local time, vowing to never let Israel live under the shadow of annihilation or gamble with its security.
Addressing concerns about the cost a military strike aimed at stopping its nuclear program, Netanyahu said: "It's about time we start talking about the cost of not stopping Iran."
A nuclear-armed Iran, he warned, would provide a nuclear umbrella for terrorists and thereby increase global terrorism, could choke off the world's oil supply, and could threaten the world with nuclear terrorism.Iran, the prime minister asserted, must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
Israel, he explained, has been waiting for years to see if diplomacy and sanctions against Iran's nuclear program would work, but said they have not been successful. He warned that Israel cannot wait much longer.As the prime minister of Israel, "I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation." "In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. In this generation, we are blessed to live in a time when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people," he concluded, thanking AIPAC and the United States for supporting Israel and its right to self-defense.The speech followed a meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House earlier Monday, after which he said Israel's position on Iran was "accepted with understanding" by the American administration.Read the full story here.