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Tag: Obama

Congress Passes Extensions of Key Provisions of Patriot Act; 2 Senators Question Justice Dept. Interpretation of Act


By CHARLIE SAVAGE
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Two senators claimed on Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly interpreted the so-called Patriot Act in a twisted way, enabling domestic surveillance activities that many members of Congress do not understand.

At the same time, Congress and the White House were rushing to enact legislation to prevent a lapse in several of the federal government’s investigative powers under the Patriot Act that were set to expire at midnight.

The Senate passed the bill 72 to 23 late in the afternoon, and within hours the House approved it 250 to 153. In an unusual move, a White House spokesman said that President Obama, who was in Europe, would “direct the use” of an autopen machine to sign the bill into law without delay.

To Read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Atty. Gen. Holder Not Going Anywhere For Now

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It’s been anything but smooth sailing for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. since he took the job on Feb. 3, 2009.  In fact, he’s often been a pinata for some key Republicans, who have bashed him at hearings time and again.

Still, despite the shuffling of people in the Obama administration, and the departure of some key figures, it appears Holder is staying put for the time being, according to Josh Gerstein of Politico.

Earlier in the week, he gave a pep talk to some 150 Justice Department employees and laid out his plan of attack in going after crime and terrorism.

“I’ve enjoyed my two years here, which is not to say that every day has been great. There have been disappointments, but there’ve also been substantial victories as well,” Holder told reporters, according to Politico. “My confidence, my faith in this department is constantly renewed as I interact with people in this department, and I see how dedicated they are — the sacrificing they do.”

“We have a long list of agenda items, and I will be pushing those over the next couple of years,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m content. My wife says I’ve got some more time. So long as she’s in the same place, I’ll be around.”

Politico reported that a senior Justice Department official said the move to prosecute Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others before a military commission has freed Holder to speak out.

“In some sense, KSM being finally over is liberating, and that’s why you’re seeing him out now doing other things that he has wanted to do all along as attorney general,” the official said, according to Politico.

“He has been working on other things near and dear to his heart as long as he’s been AG,” but they just always have “been overshadowed by KSM. That shadow is gone now,” said the official.

U.S. Sending Drones into Mexico

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The war against drugs is looking more and more like a war.

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has started sending drones deep into Mexico to gather intelligence on the location and activities of major drug traffickers.

The Times reports that the Pentagon began flying the unarmed drones last month. The paper reported that the information is being turned over to Mexican law enforcement.

The paper also reported that a Homeland Security drone “helped Mexican authorities find several suspects linked to the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata, a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration agent.”

To read more click here.

ICE Still Investigating Who Leaked Immigration Info About President’s Aunt Before 2008 Election

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– Who leaked the info on President Obama’s aunt’s immigration status days before the 2008 election campaign?

Well, according to the website Talking Points Memo, the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility still wants to know.

The Office of Professional Responsibility still has an “ongoing law enforcement investigation”, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer Catrina M. Pavlik-Keenan wrote in response to a FOIA request from the website.

AP reported three days before the 2008 election that Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango was in the country illegally. TPM reported that it was told in August by the Department of Homeland Security that the investigation was wrapping up.

Column: al Qaeda “Adaptive, Agile and Resilient”

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer,  is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad.”

Bruce Riedel/broookings inst. photo

By Bruce Riedel
Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Page

Al Qaeda has just released the latest in its series of how-to guides for jihadists in the West who want to murder without the bother of flying to Pakistan to be trained.

This time, the offering is an English-language manual explaining in detail how to build a bomb, and it demonstrates how nimbly Al Qaeda has adapted to become the world’s first truly global terrorist organization, able to recruit and train fanatics on the Internet as well as on the ground.

Almost 10 years after the most devastating attack on the American homeland by a foreign power since the British army burned Washington in 1814, Al Qaeda remains alive and deadly.

President Obama has placed considerable pressure on Osama bin Laden and his gang with drone strikes in Pakistan, but the group is remarkably adaptive, agile and resilient.

To read more click here.

Detained Teen Says FBI Pressed Him During Interrogation in Kuwait

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A controversy is surfacing over the questioning of an American teen in Kuwait who is on the no-fly list.

The New York Times reports that the teen Gulet Mohamed says he was detained in Kuwait and “underwent a heated interrogation by F.B.I. agents for several hours on Wednesday, in a case that has renewed debate over the Obama administration’s expansion of the no-fly list after the attempted bombing of a passenger plane bound for Detroit in 2009.”

The New York Times wrote: “The interrogation grew steadily more hostile when the agents pressed the teenager, Gulet Mohamed, on his travels to Yemen and Somalia and began calling him an ”embarrassment to his country,” accusing him of lying about his contacts with militants overseas, he said.”

The Times reported that the teen says agents began yelling the name of the radical cleric”Anwar al-Awlaki”, who is wanted by the U.S. Kuwaiti officials then asked that the interrogation end.

The teen, who spoke to the Times by phone from a Kuwait deportation facility, claims the FBI continued to question him even after he asked to be represented by a lawyer.

”They wanted me to lie about myself, and pushed me to lie about things I had done,” he said, according to the Times.

The FBI declined comment, the Times reported.

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Detainee Should Have Day in Court Against Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By the Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

Granting a request by the Obama administration, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether former Atty. Gen. John Aschroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who says he was wrongly arrested as a material witness.

Rather than reflexively protecting a former government official, the justices should pay close attention to an appeals court opinion explaining why Ashcroft isn’t entitled to immunity.

The case concerns Abdullah Kidd, a convert to Islam who was known as Lavoni Kidd when he played football for the University of Idaho. According to Kidd, in 2003 he was arrested at Dulles International Airport and then shuttled between detention facilities, under the pretense of securing his appearance as a witness at someone else’s trial on visa fraud charges.

Kidd’s arrest was predicated on a false FBI report that Kidd had purchased a one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia.

After two weeks of confinement, Kidd was released to his wife’s custody but deprived of his passport and subjected to limitations on his travel. In 2004, a court lifted the restrictions and dismissed Kidd as a material witness. He was never called to testify at the trial at which he was supposed to be a witness.

Kidd argues that Ashcroft adopted and implemented a policy of using material-witness warrants to detain suspected terrorists when probable cause of their wrongdoing was lacking — a policy that led to his arrest on the basis of a false statement.

To read more click here.

Conner Eldrige Nominated for U.S. Atty in Arkansas

arkansas-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON– As part of what seems like a never ending process of filling the U.S. Attorney posts nationwide, President Obama on Wednesday nominated Conner Eldridge to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Eldridge has served as a Special Deputy Prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Ark. since 2009, the White House said.

He previously worked for Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp, Inc., from 2004 to 2010 in various senior management positions and was ultimately named Chief Executive Officer in 2008, the White House said.