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Posted on Thu, Dec. 24, 2009
Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis
By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
In a sign that the bitter litigation between victims of the 9/11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia is far from over, Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday introduced legislation that would overturn court rulings barring lawsuits that contend the desert kingdom helped cause the terrorism.
Specter (D., Pa.) said the legislation would clarify that lawsuits by U.S. citizens could go forward without a sign-off from the State Department.
A federal appeals court in Manhattan last year dismissed claims against the Saudi government, saying such litigation can proceed only if the State Department finds that the Saudis provided financial aid and other assistance to terrorist groups.
Besides clarifying the law, the bill would reinstate those lawsuits.
By Jason Lewis and Simon Parry
Last updated at 6:42 PM on 27th December 2009
The investigation into the so-called Warmergate emails - the leaked data from the University of East Anglia’s climate change department - took a new twist last night when The Mail on Sunday tracked the stolen messages to a suspect computer which provides internet access to China.
The address used to post the emails is also on an international ‘black list’ which highlights suspicious behaviour on the internet.
The revelation comes after the Russian security service, the FSB – the former KGB – authorised the release of confidential information that allowed us to retrace the route taken by the email traffic.
A computer company in Siberia was ultimately used to post the controversial messages - which cast doubt on the reliability of scientists’ global warming claims - on the internet.
The revelation led to claims that the Russians were behind the release of the information.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — When the call came, the Rev. Tom Winslow did not hesitate.
Terrorists had destroyed the World Trade Center, and rescue workers needed the spiritual support of clergy.
So for one week in November of 2001, Winslow, an Episcopal priest and the chaplain for the Wisconsin FBI, ministered to rescue workers in an area of ground zero dubbed "the pit."
Winslow was one of many clergy attached to federal agencies who rotated through ground zero. He remembers praying over a rib cage, the only body part left of one victim.
Now, eight years later, Winslow thinks the toxic air he breathed that week led to a life-threatening health crisis. He received a lung transplant at UW Hospital three weeks ago and was back Monday for his first clinic visit.
"There are a lot of people out there who are still victims of 9/11, and they are going to be showing up in a wave at hospitals in the years ahead," said Winslow, 65, of Pewaukee.
Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport
By Sheena Harrison | MLive.com
December 26, 2009, 2:22PM
A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport.
Kurt Haskell of Newport, Mich., who posted an earlier comment about his experience, talked exclusively with MLive.com and confirmed he was on the flight by sending a picture of his boarding pass. He and his wife, Lori, were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday.
Haskell said he and his wife were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man.
Kurt and Lori Haskell are attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor. Their expertise includes bankruptcy, family law and estate planning.
While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. “The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'”
December 26, 2009
By BENJAMIN WEISER
Since the government’s announcement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried with others in Manhattan in connection with the 9/11 attacks, some lawyers and others have expressed skepticism that such a trial will ever be held in the city.
They are confident that defense lawyers will ask that the trial be moved, and believe that a judge might even consent.
But a review of previous terrorism trials and interviews with lawyers involved in those cases and other legal experts show that such an outcome is hardly guaranteed.
Federal juries in Manhattan, for instance, have not imposed the death penalty against any of the six defendants who could have received it since the federal death penalty was reinstated some two decades ago. Lawyers for Mr. Mohammed could well calculate that their greatest legal obligation is not to win acquittal but to save his life, and that there is no better place to try to do that than in a Manhattan federal courtroom.
By Joey Bunch
The Denver Post
Posted: 12/25/2009 03:42:39 PM MST
Updated: 12/25/2009 05:06:24 PM MST
Actor Charlie Sheen was booked into the Pitkin County Jail on felony domestic violence charges today, authorities in Aspen said.
Aspen police were summoned by a 9-1-1 to a home at 320 West Hallam St. near downtown at about 11:20 a.m..
A unnamed "victim did not require transport to the hospital," according to a statement from police.
The home at that address is for sale for $7.45 million, but the owner's name is not listed, according to real estate records.
Sheen married 29-year old real estate investor and actress Brooke Mueller last year and she gave birth to twins, Max and Bob, in March.
Booked into the county lockup under his real name, Carlos Irwin Estevez, Sheen was arrested on charges of felony second-degree assault, felony menacing and a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department. His hometown was listed as Encino, Calif.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Member of Subcommitte on Defense: "I'm not even sure Bin Laden is still alive"
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is a progressive Democrat serving his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and a member on the Subcommittee on Defense.
In 1999 Hinchey wrote an amendment to intelligence reauthorization legislation that forced the declassification of documents that revealed the active role the Nixon Administration --especially Henry Kissinger-- played in the illegal overthrow of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, in 1973.
He has consistently been one of the most outspoken opponents of the 2003 war in Iraq. And has consistently maintained since 2002, that the Bush Administration intentionally let Osama bin Laden escape capture.
Kathleen Wells: You stated recently that the Bush Administration intentionally let Osama Bin Laden escape capture. Can you elaborate on this?
By Joe Valiquette
MANHATTAN — Although the Manhattan federal court trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others on 9/11-related charges has yet to be scheduled — and, according to some legal experts, may be more than a year off — the New York City law enforcement community is already in high gear as it prepares for the event.
The FBI confirmed to DNAinfo.com that it is forming a new multi-agency squad, tentatively called the "Trial Squad," within its Joint Terrorism Task Force to assist in the prosecutions of the 9/11 defendants.
The new squad will include agents, analysts and other personnel who have a wide variety of experience working on major trials and investigations. Many of the squad members have participated in the 9/11 investigation since its beginning, and some were involved in previous high-profile investigations and trials, including those of Ramzi Yousef and Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh, according to FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.
The Obama administration has picked the worst possible case for its first torture trial.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Monday, Dec. 14, 2009, at 6:38 PM ET
For close to a year now, the Obama administration has been playing judicial Whac-a-Mole over accountability for Bush administration torture policies. Each time an opportunity arises to assess the legality of Bush-era torture, the Obama administration shuts it down. When another case pops up, the administration slaps it down. This all started last February when the Justice Department invoked the alarming "states secrets" privilege in an effort to shut down an ACLU lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in Bush's "extraordinary rendition" program. (That case will be reheard at the 9th Circuit tomorrow).
Bin Laden 'seen in Afghanistan in early 2009'
By Orla Guerin
BBC News, Islamabad
A Taliban detainee in Pakistan claims to have information about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts in January or February of this year.
His claims cannot be verified, but a leading American expert says his account should be investigated.
The detainee claims to have met Osama Bin Laden numerous times before 9/11.
He claims that in January or February he met a trusted contact who had seen Bin Laden about 15 to 20 days earlier in Afghanistan.
"In 2009, in January or February I met this friend of mine. He said he had come from meeting Sheikh Osama, and he could arrange for me to meet him," he said.
"He helps al-Qaeda people coming from other countries to get to the sheikh, so he can advise them on whatever they are planning for Europe or other places.
"The sheikh doesn't stay in any one place. That guy came from Ghazni, so I think that's where the sheikh was."
The province of Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan has an increasingly strong Taliban presence.
December 11, 2009
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.
By JAMES RISEN and MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.
The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.
Obama's Big Sellout
The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway
Posted Dec 09, 2009 2:35 PM
Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.
Then he got elected.
House passes $70 million for 9/11 health care, News Release from Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), and Michael McMahon (D-NY), 12/10/09
Washington, D.C. – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), and Michael McMahon (D-NY) today applauded the House passage of $70.7 million in new funding for federal 9/11 health programs. The funding is contained in the conference report for the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations bill (H.R. 3288).
“This funding is another payment on the debt America owes 9/11 responders and others who lost their health because of the attacks,” said Rep. Maloney. “In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to expand federal 9/11 health programs and improve outreach to Americans with 9/11-related illnesses. In addition, with the support of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, I’m hopeful that we’ll soon reach our ultimate goal of passing comprehensive legislation to address the 9/11 health crisis.”
Lawmakers Want to Bar Sites From Posting Sensitive Government Docs
By Kim Zetter, December 10, 2009
Three Republican lawmakers have asked the Department of Homeland Security what can be done to bar or criminally penalize whistleblower sites that reposted a sensitive airport-screening manual that was published on the internet by a government worker.
They also asked about enacting regulations that would bar such publication in the future.
The congressmen are outraged that sites like Cryptome and Wikileaks republished the manual after it was posted online by a government contractor working for the Transportation Security Administration. The manual was posted last March on a government procurement site and was discovered Sunday by a blogger.
Exclusive: 9-11 Grand Jury Now Hearing Evidence in NYC
Regular New Yorkers hearing evidence against accused Sept. 11 plotters
By JONATHAN DIENST
A federal grand jury in New York is now hearing evidence and testimony in the 9-11 terror case, NBCNewYork.com has learned. The Justice Deparment is moving forward in seeking an indictment against self-proclaimed 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terror suspects.
The panel of everyday New Yorkers was convened after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the alleged 9-11 plotters would face civilian trial in New York instead of a military tribunal. If the alleged plotters are convicted, prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Justice Department spokesmen in New York and Washington declined to comment. Spokesmen for the U.S. District Court and the FBI also would not comment.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other suspects are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammed had been indicted in New York back in 1996 for his alleged role in an al Qaeda plot to blow up U.S. airliners over the Pacific.
World Trade Center Health Effects: Finding the Links
December 7th, 2009
Dana Farrington filed this report from City Hall.
Impatience was contagious in City Hall today as three City Council committees heard from concerned parties about the World Trade Center Medical Working Group’s second annual report, released in September. Of particular concern was a bill, currently stalled in the U.S. Senate health committee, which would provide long-term medical care for those affected by the World Trade Center collapse — mentally and physically — and worries over which side effects would not be covered in the meantime.
An Open Letter From U.S. Scientists on Climate Change
December 06, 2009 - Znet
As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process.
We would like to set the record straight.
By Glen Ford
If you're looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it's the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world's heroin.
WASHINGTON — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden may periodically slip back into Afghanistan from his remote hideout in neighboring Pakistan, a senior White House official says, adding a new twist to the mystery of the elusive terrorist's whereabouts.
President Barack Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, said bin Laden, believed hiding mainly in a rugged area of western Pakistan, may be spending some time in Afghanistan, where he was based while plotting the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
But Obama's Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, said the U.S. has lacked good intelligence on bin Laden for a long time – "I think it has been years" – and did not confirm that he'd slipped into Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the United States has not had good intelligence on the whereabouts of terrorist Osama bin Laden in years.
Gates made the comment in an interview to be aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Asked whether he could confirm recent reports that bin Laden had been seen recently in Afghanistan, Gates said "no." Media reports late this week mentioned accounts of unconfirmed bin Laden sightings in recent weeks.
Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, is believed to be hiding on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan.
Of course, propaganda that justifies the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is not new. But with President Obama's recent decision to send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, more propaganda is being issued to generate support for the occupation. Obama's speech placed Bushian emphasis on the "we didn't start this" meme, returning 9/11 to the propaganda foreground.
Case in point: CNN has an article today titled "For 9/11 families, finishing job in Afghanistan is personal." The headline is misleading, since not all 9/11 families have had the same response to that tragedy. For example, The Family Steering Committee found serious deficiencies in the 9/11 Commission Report.
The Associated Press has a more measured headline for its story on the Afghan "surge": "9/11 families back Afghan surge, but some are wary."
December 2, 2009
The World's Least Powerful Man
The Obama Puppet
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
It didn’t take the Israel Lobby very long to bring President Obama to heel regarding his prohibition against further illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Obama discovered that a mere American president is powerless when confronted by the Israel Lobby and that the United States simply is not allowed a Middle East policy separate from Israel’s.
Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else either, if he ever intended to do so.
The military/security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its agenda, and a mere American president can’t do anything about it.
President Obama can order the Guantanamo torture chamber closed and kidnapping and rendition and torture to be halted, but no one carries out the order.
Essentially, Obama is irrelevant.
In case you have been wondering about the differences between a military commission and federal criminal courts, the Congressional Research Service has just published "Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court."
Here is the introduction:
Attorney General Holder’s decision to try certain detainees in federal criminal court, including
those accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to try other detainees by
military commission, has focused attention on the procedural differences between trials in federal
court and those conducted under the Military Commissions Act, as amended. Some who are
opposed to the decision argue that bringing detainees to the United States for trial poses a security
threat and risks disclosing classified information, or could result in the acquittal of persons who
are guilty. Others have praised the decision as recognizing the efficacy and fairness of the federal
court system and have voiced confidence in the courts’ ability to protect national security while
Links in the original.
Programmers are introducing tools to analyze the hundreds of thousands of pager messages, supposedly dating from Sept. 11, released last week by WikiLeaks, an organization that releases sensitive documents and materials.
More than half a million messages were released by WikiLeaks, which has not disclosed who turned over the messages. Jeff Clark, a data visualization research who is not involved in WikiLeaks, interpreted the data in the aggregate, creating a video that shows the most commonly used terms that day, like “complex has evacuated” or “possible terrorist act.” The words grow brightest when they hit their peak and are sized by how frequently there were used.
“I recognize the pager data was very much like Twitter data, because it’s basically a time stamp with a bit of text,” said Mr. Clark, who had done work with Twitter.
He also created small time lines showing when certain key phrases hit their peaks, and then ordered the phrases by the peak time to create a moving narrative of the day.
The senior Republican on the House Homeland Security committee has begun an investigation into how the WikiLeaks.org Web site obtained thousands of pager messages from September 11, 2001.
Rep. Peter King, who represents a congressional district east of New York City on Long Island, has directed his staff to look into last week's release of about 573,000 lines of messages sent to pagers on that day. The logs included Secret Service, FEMA, FBI, and private sector messages.
"The staff is in a preliminary investigation period," Kevin Fogarty, an aide to King, told CBSNews.com on Tuesday. He said that his office was currently focused on the White House party crashing, and would return to the WikiLeaks disclosure after a hearing on the White House breach scheduled for Thursday.
WikiLeaks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Death penalty in 9/11 trials may be difficult
Legal experts say Obama was overly confident when he said that critics of the New York trial would be silenced 'when the death penalty is applied to' suspect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
By David G. Savage
November 30, 2009
Reporting from Washington - After Zacarias Moussaoui -- the accused "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks -- was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 because one juror in Virginia refused to agree to the death penalty, Moussaoui clapped his hands and called out, "America, you lost and I won." Now the Obama administration plans to seek a death sentence for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind.
Some legal experts say President Obama was overly confident when he predicted that critics of trying Mohammed in a federal courtroom in Manhattan would be silenced "when the death penalty is applied to him." The only modern-day terrorist sentenced to death in federal court was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh.
TORA BORA REVISITED: HOW WE FAILED
TO GET BIN LADEN AND WHY
IT MATTERS TODAY
On October 7, 2001, U.S. aircraft began bombing the training
bases and strongholds of Al Qaeda and the ruling Taliban across
Afghanistan. The leaders who sent murderers to attack the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon less than a month earlier and the
rogue government that provided them sanctuary were running for
their lives. President George W. Bush’s expression of America’s desire
to get Osama bin Laden ‘‘dead or alive’’ seemed about to come
Two months later, American civilian and military leaders celebrated
what they viewed as a lasting victory with the selection of
Hamid Karzai as the country’s new hand-picked leader. The war
had been conceived as a swift campaign with a single objective: defeat
the Taliban and destroy Al Qaeda by capturing or killing bin
Laden and other key leaders. A unique combination of airpower,
Central Intelligence Agency and special operations forces teams
and indigenous allies had swept the Taliban from power and ousted
Leaked 9/11 Texts a Gold Mine for Historians, Truthers, Voyeurs
11/25/09 at 11:43 AM
Throughout the day today, the website Wikileaks will be publishing over half a million messages sent from text pagers on 9/11. According to the website, they range "from Pentagon and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults to their operators as the World Trade Center collapsed." It's a little arduous sifting through all the computer gibberish in the documents, but the information contained within can be fascinating. CBS News's Dean McCullagh found messages discussing an evacuation to Mount Weather, "the government's sort-of secret bunker buried under the Virginia mountains west of Washington, D.C." He finds another that warned of a threat to Air Force One, and even one that seemed to celebrate the death of a disliked business executive onboard one of the doomed flights. Other texts refer to a bomb going off in the World Trade Center and military planes forcing down a commercial jet, which, as McCullagh points out, are sure to pique the interest of 9/11 Truthers.
See the original for links.
15 Signs American Society Is Coming Apart at the Seams
By David DeGraw, Amped Status
Posted on November 21, 2009, Printed on November 21, 2009
Editor's note: The following is an edited excerpt from the Amped Status report, "The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society."
The economic elite have launched an attack on the U.S. public and society is unraveling at an increased rate. You may have missed it in the mainstream news media, but statistical societal indicators are reading red across the board. Let’s look at the top 15 statistics that prove we are under attack.
1) The inequality of wealth in the United States is soaring to an unprecedented level. The U.S. already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1 percent, the gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population has grown to a record high.
NYC 9/11 Trial Will Shine the Lights on the Roots of Terrorism
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News
Posted on November 17, 2009, Printed on November 21, 2009
Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.
“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.
No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.