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Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis

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.

Chinese hackers linked to 'Warmergate' climate change leaked emails controversy

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.

Chaplain blames 9/11 for lung problems

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 |
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 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.'”

NY Times: Will the KSM trial be moved from NYC?

December 26, 2009
Deciding Terror Trial’s Venue Is a Complex Case

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.

Charlie Sheen arrested

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"

Bush Intentionally Let Osama bin Laden Escape, Asserts Congressman Hinchey

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?

FBI Forms New Task Force for Manhattan 9/11 Trials

FBI Forms New Task Force for Manhattan 9/11 Trials

By Joe Valiquette
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

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 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.

Slate: The Obama administration has picked the worst possible case for its first torture trial

Torture Roulette
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).

BBC: "Bin Laden 'seen in Afghanistan in early 2009'"

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.

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

December 11, 2009
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

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.

Matt Taibbi: "Obama's Big Sellout"

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

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

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

Exclusive: 9-11 Grand Jury Now Hearing Evidence in NYC
Regular New Yorkers hearing evidence against accused Sept. 11 plotters

A federal grand jury in New York is now hearing evidence and testimony in the 9-11 terror case, 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.