Via the Daily Mail: TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and the UK-based think tank Quilliam have released their full report on the video of the black-clad ISIS executioner and 21 of his compadres beheading 22 Syrians that ISIS identified as pilots.
The report finds several mistakes in the video. It suggests that "Jihadi John" had a body double. It finds Peter Kassig was killed earlier, likely by a bullet. It identifies a few of the killers. [More....]
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Ferguson DA Rob McCulloch broke his silence today. In an interview, he said that he thinks some grand jury witnesses lied.
[McCulloch] acknowledged that witnesses he did not believe to be truthful had come before the jurors. Mr. McCulloch said that one female witness, who provided testimony that appeared to bolster Officer Wilson’s account of events, “clearly wasn’t present” when the shooting occurred.
....[He] added that the grand jury also heard from other witnesses whose testimony was also in doubt. “It went both directions,” he said.
McCulloch said he decided to let them testify even though he thought they were lying. He wanted the grand jury to hear everything. [More...]
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President Obama said today that Sony made a mistake in deciding to cancel "The Interview."
That's not who we are. That's not what America's about....We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States...
...Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they do when they start seeing a documentary they don't like, or news reports they don't like. Or even worse, imagine if producers or distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.
...The company shouldn't have been deterred from releasing its movie "any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack, any more than Boston didn't run its marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to cause harm."
Obama said he wished Sony called him before making the decision. Good to know that Sony can just pick up a phone and get put through to the President. Can any other corporations do that?
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It may be time soon to go back to paying by check or in cash. There was another breach announced today: Staples Office Supplies. If you shopped there between July and September, this is for you.
Staples said on Friday that an investigation showed that the criminals used malware that may have allowed access to information for transactions at 115 of its United States stores. That includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and card verification codes. The company is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to customers who might be at risk.
In what may be one of the most fascinating articles I've read this year, the Guardian (writers Shiv Malik, Ali Younes, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili )reports play by play details of an attempt by the FBI, working with prominent activist New York lawyer Stanley Cohen, to free Peter Kassig. The FBI authorized and paid for Cohen and a translator to travel to Kuwait and Jordan to negotiate with ISIS for Kassig's release. There would be no ransom or prisoner release, but Cohen had come up with other terms ISIS might approve of.
At the time of the rescue effort, Cohen was awaiting sentencing on criminal tax charges, having plead guilty in April, 2014 to two indictments, one in the Northern District of NY and one in the Southern District. The Southern District case was transferred to the Northern District for sentencing. His plea agreement called for an agreed upon sentence of 18 months. A few weeks after his return from the rescue effort, he was sentenced to 18 months as agreed, and is scheduled to report to prison on January 6. A few days ago, his request for a delay was denied. [More...]
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It's the end to a busy week for me. Our last open thread is about to be filled. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.
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In its key findings, the report warns of the negative consequences of assassinating so-called High Level Targets (HLT), a prediction that has been proven right. “The potential negative effect of HLT operations include increasing the level of insurgent support […], strengthening an armed group's bonds with the population, radicalizing an insurgent group's remaining leaders, creating a vacuum into which more radical groups can enter, and escalating or de-escalating a conflict in ways that favor the insurgents.”
There's even a "best practices" section on targeted killings.
Al-Akhbar analyzes the report. and notes that it finds that the least successful HVT operations are those involving countries that the US and Israel have occupied or are currently at war with.
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Denver civil rights attorney David Lane, who represented the family, had this to say:
"The death of Christopher Lopez was easily preventable and was caused by a mentality that the lives of prisoners are worthless. Hopefully, this settlement sends a message not just to Colorado prison authorities but to prison and jail authorities all over the country that the human beings they incarcerate must be treated like human beings."
Three guards were fired, five were disciplined and the Colorado Department of Corrections said:
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Police in India have obtained a 15 day extension of time to hold Shami Witness (Mehdi Masroor Biswas) as they continue their investigation of him and his Twitter account. They had asked for an additional 25 days. Shami has been allowed to meet with his parents.
Biswas was arrested under Sec 125 of IPC (waging war against the Government of any Asiatic power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India or attempts to wage such war or abetting waging of such war), Sec 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sec 66 of the Information Technology Act.
India has now moved to have ISIS added to its list of designated terror organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. However, the list already included any organizations that were designated terror organizations by the U.N. and ISIS has been designated by the U.N.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of committing the Boston Marathan bombing, was in court this morning. Reporters in the courtroom are live-tweeting. Almost all say he appeared much more alert, interested and engaged in the proceedings than at his prior appearance. He smiled when talking to his attorney Judy Clarke.
He wore slacks and a sweater, not an orange jumpsuit. He has a short beard and his hair is longer than at his last appearance.
As I wrote Monday, the Government asked for him to appear so that he could be quizzed about whether he is satisfied with his counsel, in case he is convicted and claims differently in an appeal. Today Dzhokhar (aka Jahar) assured the court he was satisfied with his attorneys, answering "Very much so." (One reporter tweeted he answered "Pretty much" and another said he responded "Yes Sir." Are they attending the same proceeding?)
One reporter said the Judge ruled the witness lists will be sealed until the jury is seated. Another said the judge said he will release the list on Dec. 28. [More...]
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Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.
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Following threats by hackers to launch attacks on theaters who show "The Interview", a comedy movie by Sony Pictures about a planned assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Sony announced yesterday it is canceling the release of the film. The announcement followed decisions by several movie chains not to show the movie. Sony has no plans to release the film in the future.
Some criticize Sony's cancellation saying they are giving in to cyberterrorists, and it's a slippery slope. Others say better safe than sorry.
According to Reuters, the U.S. believes North Korea, not keyboard terrorists sitting in their parents' basement, is behind the Sony hacks and threats.
Why didn't Sony just release it to cable "On Demand", Netflix, iTunes and Amazon?
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President Obama issued 12 pardons and 8 sentence commutations today. Some of the commutations went to those serving life sentences under the old, unduly harsh crack cocaine guidelines.
The full list is here.
These are the first commutations under Obama's new clemency guidelines.
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After 50 years, the U.S. has restored ties with Cuba.
After 18 months of secret talks, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on Tuesday on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other's countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.
The two leaders made the announcement in simultaneous televised speeches. The Vatican and Canada facilitated the deal.
Obama is also calling for an end to the embargo. Republicans aren't happy with that and Congressional approval is necessary to lift it. There was also a prisoner exchange: [More...]
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Thanks to the passing of a little known amendmment inserted via amendment into the omnibus spending bill by by sponsors Rep. Dana Rorsbacher and Samm Farr, the DEA will be unable to conduct medical marijuana raids in states that allow medical pot. That's 32 states plus the District of Columbia.
Here's the actual text: [More...]
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