Government Policies Under Scrutiny

  • Hackers claim attack on Justice Department website

    Source: Reuters. Hackers sympathetic to the late computer prodigy Aaron Swartz claimed on Saturday to have infiltrated the website of the U.S. Justice Department’s Sentencing Commission, and said they planned to release government data.

     
  • U.N. Panel to Investigate Rise in Drone Strikes

    Source: New York Times. A prominent British human rights lawyer said on Thursday that a United Nations panel he leads would investigate what he called the “exponential rise” in drone strikes used in counterterrorist operations, “with a view to determining whether there is a plausible allegation of unlawful killing.” The lawyer, Ben Emmerson, special investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said that the nine-month study would look at “drone strikes and other forms of remotely targeted killing.”

     
  • UN to examine UK and US drone strikes

    Source: The Guardian. A United Nations investigation into targeted killings will examine drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the British lawyer heading the inquiry.

     
  • No classified FISA court rulings made public as a result of review

    Source: Washington Post. When FISA provisions came up for reauthorization in the Senate last month, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) raised concerns that court rulings allow the FBI to obtain records and other information about Americans caught up unwittingly in a foreign terrorism investigation.

     
  • Four years after Obama’s signature promise, Gitmo is still open

    Source: The Washington Times. It was one of Barack Obama’s marquee campaign promises in 2008: Close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which would erase a terrorist recruiting tool and a black spot on America’s human rights record. But as he took the oath of office 166 detainees remain at the prison — officially named Camp Delta — and his failure to close it has become emblematic of a first term in which his major successes were matched by some of his failures, particularly where he ran into bipartisan opposition in Congress.

     
  • Naked-Image Scanners to Be Removed from U.S. Airports

    Source: Bloomberg. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will remove airport body scanners that privacy advocates likened to strip searches after OSI Systems Inc. (OSIS) couldn’t write software to make passenger images less revealing.

     
  • Justice Department refuses ACLU request for GPS tracking practices

    Source: The Hill. The Justice Department is refusing to reveal details about how its agents use GPS technology to track suspects. The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday released two internal memos it received from the Justice Department on GPS tracking, but the documents were almost entirely redacted.

     
  • Justice Department Keeps GPS Tracking Legal Opinions Secret

    Source: FireDogLake. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has received what it considers to be two key memos, which indicate how the Justice Department views when it can and cannot legally track Americans with GPS tracking devices. The memos requested after the ACLU sued the department in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request are both heavily redacted to the point where it makes it pretty much useless that the Justice Department released them.

     
  • Senator Asks to View Files on Killings of Americans

    Source: NYT. A Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee demanded Monday that he and other committee members be allowed to review secret Justice Department legal opinions justifying the killing of American citizens in counterterrorism operations.

     
  • Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare

    Source: Dissent Magazine. The targeted killing of insurgents and terrorists in wartime is subject to the same constraints as any other act of war. It will have to meet very strict standards of proportionality; given that the target is a single person, it will be difficult to justify any injury to innocent bystanders. So the targeting must be undertaken with great care; collecting information about the targeted individuals, their schedules, their whereabouts, their families and neighbors, is critically important, and if it involves risk for agents in the field, the risks must be accepted before the killing can be justified.