The son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani network was been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said Sunday, providing the first public confirmation of rumors that have been swirling for days about the key member of a militant group the U.S. considers one of the most dangerous in the region.
The Taliban rejected reports of Badruddin Haqqani’s death, however, saying that he was alive and well in Afghanistan.
The US has refused to comment on the reports that Haqqani was killing in an "airstrike" – read "drone strike" – in Pakistan. Ironic, considering U.S. officials had plenty to say when a US citizen (Anwar Al-Awlaki) and then his innocent American son were killed in drone strikes in Pakistan.
Now, even though it appears that - unlike al-Awlaki's son, who was by all reports innocent of terrorist activity - Badruddin Haqqani, son of terrorist network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, was actually an operational leader in the terrorist network.
Badruddin is considered a vital part of the Haqqani structure and is believed to have played an active role in kidnappings, extortion and high-profile operations in Afghanistan.
The US drone program has international relations consequences beyond even the dire constitutional consequences of killing Americans without a shred of due process, but the American public is relegated to conflicting reports from Afghanistan about the drone program because:
... the US does not comment publicly on its drone program, which is widely reviled by the Pakistani public and has been a source of tension with Islamabad.
Attorney General Eric Holder recently complained in the wake of his congressional contempt citation – the first ever for an Attorney General – that Republicans are using him as a proxy for Obama in an election year.
In his first interview since Thursday’s vote, Holder said lawmakers have used an investigation of a botched gun-tracking operation as a way to seek retribution against the Justice Department for its policies on a host of issues, including immigration, voting rights and gay marriage. He said the chairman of the committee leading the inquiry, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), is engaging in political theater as the Justice Department tries to focus on public safety.
I agree that in the political theater of the contempt citation, Holder is being used as a proxy for Obama. However, Holder has done plenty in his tenure as Attorney General to upset both sides of the aisle, and ought to take some responsibility for the actions the Justice Department has taken under his watch.
Obama might have ordered the assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without charge or trial, but it was Holder's Justice Department that drafted the legal memo "authorizing" the killing. It is also Holder's Justice Department that continually asserts absurd secrecy claims to keep the memo from the public and the drone program from court oversight.
Under Holder, the Justice Department has
endorsed indefinite preventative detention and targeted assassination of Americans,
continued to use the state secrets privilege to shut down lawsuits challenging torture and extraordinary rendition, and
maintained pro-secrecy positions in high-profile Freedom of Information Act suits.
The government is playing dumb in its public statements on the "leak hysteria" in Washington:
“We have tried more leak cases — brought more leak cases during the course of this administration than any other administration,” Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I was getting hammered by the left for that only two weeks ago. Now I’m getting hammered by the right for potentially not going after leaks. It makes for an interesting dynamic.”
Surely Attorney General Eric Holder knows the difference between high-level administration officials leaking to the media (or Hollywood!?!) for political gain, and whistleblowers disclosing government waste, fraud, abuse or illegality. But, Holder's obtuse statement deliberately obfuscates the administration's hypocritical policy on so-called "leaks." No doubt because the Justice Department has broken a record prosecuting whistleblowers, while ignoring high-level leaks for political gain.
Unfortunately many in the main stream media (MSM) have been more than willing to perpetuate the confusion by reporting that the Espionage Act prosecutions and pressure to go after high-level leaks are about the same types of disclosures.
The MSM should recognize that the issue is not the need for more than six Espionage Act prosecutions, but for the Obama administration to stop the blatant hypocrisy of criminally prosecuting low and mid-level officials, while simultaneously feeding the media secrets that serve as pro-administration talking points.
Holder's whine about being called out on hypocrisy is almost as bad as the administration's double-speak on its war on whistleblowers, which essentially boils down to:
The Espionage Act prosecutions were an accident, but we want credit for them.
A House panel led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) voted yesterdayto hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt after the Obama administration's first assertion of the rarely used Executive Privilege to withhold information from Congressional investigators about the botched Operation "Fast & Furious." (Full disclosure: GAP represents some of the Fast & Furious whistleblowers).
I'm no fan of Rep. Issa, and suspect this contempt citation has more to do with politics than transparency, but the Obama administration is not doing itself any favors by picking this moment and this scandal as its first assertion of Executive Privilege. To the extent the Obama administration wants to combat the recent "leak" hysteria and accusations that the White House leaked highly-classified information about sources and methods for political gain, this is a horrible moment to assert executive privilege.
The president’s move to invoke executive privilege was the first time that he had asserted his secrecy powers in response to a Congressional inquiry. It elevated a fight over whether Mr. Holder must turn over additional documents about the gun case into a constitutional struggle over the separation of powers.
But, it is not the first time the Obama administration has sought to control the flow of information to the public. The Obama administration has continually asserted the state secrets privilege to shut down lawsuits seeking accountability for Bush-era torture, extraordinary rendition, and warrantless domestic surveillance. The Obama administration's record-breaking number of Espionage Act prosecutions brought against so-called "leakers," who are usually whistleblowers, sends a disastrously chilling message to all government employees: if you reveal government fraud, waste, abuse, illegality, or embarrassing information, you risk not only choosing your conscience over your career, but also over your freedom.
Yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder defended his choice to appoint two U.S. attorneys to investigate the latest "leaks" and again rejected calls from Committee Members to appoint a more independent special counsel. Congress is understandably outraged at the Obama administration's hypocrisy of waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers using the archaic Espionage Act while feeding pro-government information to the media.
Three of my whistleblower clients (Tom Drake, Bill Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe) warned us a year ago that the NSA was already doing this: collecting and storing massive amounts of private data on innocent Americans with no connection whatsoever to terrorism, or any crime.
Now Attorney General Eric Holder is just making it official, with new guidelines that permit the federal counterterrorism investigators to collect, search and store data about Americans who are not suspected of terrorism, or anything. This is beyond even the "pre-crime" world of the then-fictional movie Minority Report. Now the government is admittedly collecting and storing information on Americans who are not even thinking about committing a crime, and is resorting to the usual fear-mongering to justify it.
The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.
According to the Justice Department, law enforcement and other national security agencies can copy entire databases and sift through the data for suspicious patterns to stop potential terrorist threats. But the Justice Department is operating under one major logical fallacy: investigating innocent people tells you nothing about the guilty.
Meanwhile, the relaxed guidelines – which privacy advocates compare to the Bush-era now-defunct "Total Information Awareness" program – come on the heels of a blockbuster WIRED Magazine cover story by National Security Agency (NSA) expert Jim Bamford, featuring two GAP clients, NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe. Bamford's article sheds light on construction of a massive NSA facility in Utah designed to store a yottabyte of data, or in Bamford's words:
. . . it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.
The American people can be — and deserve to be — assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws.
I agree, Mr. Holder, but if you really cared about informing the American public more than silencing critics of the administration's Executive power grab, you would release the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos "legalizing" assassinating American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki without a shred of due process and engaging in secret drone warfare in the airspace of sovereign nations. Even the conservative Washington Post editorial board (whose opinion on drone strikes differsfrom mine) agrees on release of the memos:
If the administration is intent on reassuring the American public, it should release the Justice Department memorandum that lays out the domestic and international strictures which, it says, undergird its drone policy.
The offensiveness of the Justice Department's hypocritical secrecy is trumped only by Holder's Constitution-shredding rationalizations.
The factual scenarios Holder says would be enough to assassinate Americans amount to punishing individuals for thoughts. First Amendment need not apply.
[Holder] said the president is not required by the Constitution to delay action until some “theoretical end stage of planning — when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear.”