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Boston Marathon Bombing

I just got online and saw the news about the Boston Marathon bombing. How awful. Here's a thread to discuss it.

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Guantanamo: Thousands of Defense Emails Made Accessible to Prosecution

A military commissions judge at Guantanamo has delayed proceedings in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri for two months due to the discovery by an IT team that 540,000 private defense emails were made available to the prosecution.

The mishandling of the e-mails was detected when IT specialists were conducting a search of the government’s computer system on behalf of prosecutors in a particular case. When they did so, they came across not only the e-mails they were seeking but also e-mails between defense lawyers.


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AQAP's Saeed Al-Shehri Not Killed...Again

Saeed al-Shehri (also spelled al-Shihri) the second in command of AQAP in Yemen is not dead. He released a tape today critical of Saudi Arabia. This is the third time he's been declared dead and later surfaced, alive and well. (The first time was in 2009 and the second time was in 2012.) The former Guantanamo detainee, refugee from the Saudi reconciliation program, and co-founder of AQAP, seems to have as many lives as Ilyas Kashmiri.

What I really want to know is what happened to young Yousef, al-Shehri's stepson, whose father has been trying to find him since 2009. It reads like a soap opera, kind of like a terrorist version of Elian Gonzales. [More....]

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Intel Chief says Sequestration to Hamper Cyberthreats Fight

At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee today, National Intelligence Director James clapper said cyberthreats are the biggest problem facing the U.S. today. His prepared remarks are here.

Clapper explained that cyber threats are broken into two terms: cyberattacks and cyberespionage. Cyberattacks aim at creating physical effects or to manipulate, disrupt or delete data. “It might range from a denial-of-service operation that temporarily prevents access to a website to an attack on a power turbine that causes physical damage and an outage lasting for days,” he said. Cyber espionage refers to stealing data from a variety of sources.

“We judge that there is a remote chance of a major cyberattack against U.S. critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage,” Clapper said.


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Al-Qaeda Promotes Lone Terrorist and Aims for Suburbia

Thanks to Wired for publishing the full version of the new issue of Inspire, the magazine of al-Qaeda Arab Peninsula (the rest of the media and the corporate terror-monitoring sites either just refer to it or want you to buy a subscription to access it.)

Apparently, the U.S. has made air travel so problematic, AQAP is recommending alternative ways to terrorize those in the U.S. [more...]

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Is the president empowered to target persons in the United States? No

In a piece in Mother Jones, Adam Serwer argues:

[W]hy didn't Obama just say, "no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil"? Because the answer is probably "yes." That may not be as apocalyptically sinister as it sounds.

I disagree that the answer is yes and I disagree that it does not sound apocalyptically sinister. Serwer relies on law professor Steven Vladeck:

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Classified Drone and Targeted Killing Memo Released

Via Michael Isikoff at NBC News, here is the 16 page DOJ white paper titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force." Isikoff writes:

It concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The paper has an expanded definition of threat. [More...]

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Senate Report Blasts Fusion Centers

A Senate Committee has released the results of its two year investigation into the $1.4 billion post-9/11 fusion centers The bi-partisan report finds the programs, intended to facilitate sharing of information among law enforcement, were ineffective, overly expensive and intruded on civil liberties.

“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the Subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation.

The investigation determined that senior DHS officials were aware of the problems hampering effective counterterrorism work with the fusion centers, but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner.

The iinvestigation reviewed 600 reports and found most had nothing to do with terrorism. The full report is here. [More...]

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Romney Campaign Memo Urging Return to Use of Enhanced Interrogation

A few days ago, the New York Times reported that Mitt Romney would overturn Obama's position barring the used of enhanced interrogation techniques.

There are 18 lawyers, most of whom were part of the Bush Administation, on Romney's National Security team.

Here's the memo they wrote.

In related news, Romney and Ryan are now getting security briefings from the Obama administration.

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Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Released After Questioning

California film producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been released after voluntarily going to an LA Sheriff's station to be questioned by federal probation officers. According to sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, he decided not to return to his besieged home and was taken to an undisclosed location. His most recent attorney, Steven Seidman, who did not represent him in his federal bank fraud case for which he is on supervised release, visited the home this morning saying he was not at liberty to discuss his representation.

Nakoula is a Coptic Christian. In his federal case, an Arabic translator was required and appeared at all proceedings. He is a U.S. citizen. His lawyer in the case was James Henderson, Sr., who replaced Jack Whitaker due to a potential conflict of interest issue that arose.

Nakoula was detained in that case since his arrest in June, 2009. The Government asserted he was an extreme flight risk. He did not contest detention. After cooperating with the government in exchange for leniency at sentencing, in June, 2010, he was sentenced to 21 months, to be followed by 6 months in a halfway house. The Judge recommended he serve his sentence at Lompoc, and BOP records show his release date as June, 2011. There is no indication in the court record of any subsequent violations. He was also ordered to pay $794,700.57, in restitution. [More...]

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Marines Arrive in Yemen, Bomb Threats at U.S Schools

The U.S. Marines have arrived in Yemen following an attack there on the U.S. embassy.

Closer to home, bomb threats at University of Texas and North Dakota State University have led to evacuations.

Rhonda Weldon, the school’s director of communications, said the university received a call about 8:35 a.m. from a man claiming to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. The man said he'd placed bombs all over the campus that would detonate in 90 minutes.

There have also been attacks on embassies in Tunisia and Sudan.

The protests are rapidly escalating around the world. The U.S. has now identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as the a self-described Coptic Christian, as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that sparked the protests. He is on federal probation in California for bank fraud and the Probation Department confirms they are reviewing his case to see if he violated his probation. One of the terms was he could not use the internet. Authorities say he is "a self-described Coptic Christian."

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Yemen Says AQAP Leader #2 Killed

Update: Al-Shihri says he's alive. So does a Yemen official:

The Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted an unnamed senior Yemeni defense ministry official as saying that DNA tests of the body have proved that the dead man was not al-Shihri.

Saeed Ali al-Shihri, the former Guantanamo inmate who after release, went to a Saudi rehabilitation camp and then returned to Yemen to form AQAP and become its second in command, has been killed in Yemen. The Yemen News Agency announcement is here.

This isn't the first time Yemen has announced al-Shihiri is dead. More on Al-Shehri (also spelled al Shihri) and the other top AQAP leaders here. You can read his father's statements disowning him here.

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"60 Minutes": Death of Bin Laden

The former Seal who goes by the name Mark Owen was on 60 minutes tonight. He said the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound was not a kill mission.

He then describes how they were going up the stairs and had been told to expect one of bin Laden's sons to be there. They saw a figure disappear behind a door. They didn't know who it was. A Seal, on a hunch, whispers "Khalid." The figure peeks around the corner. The Seal shoots him dead. It was Khalid bin Laden.

Owen: “Curiosity killed the cat. I guess Khalid, too.”

But this was not a kill mission.

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33 Years for Pakistani Doctor Who Aided CIA on Bin Laden

Pakistan has sentenced Dr. Shakil Afridi, who aided the CIA in finding Osama Bin Laden to 33 years in prison. The New York Times has more here.

The CIA had asked Afridi to run a fake Hepatitis vaccine program. Details here. Leon Pannetta criticized his arrest on "60 Minutes".

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A New AQAP Airplane Plot

The CIA says it thwarted a planned attack on a commerical airliner by al Qaeda Arabian Penisula (AQAP) in Yemen. They say it was more sophisticated than the Underwear Bomber's device.

The FBI is conducting tests on the device. It may have been made by AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.

The bomb had not been picked up by the would-be suicide bomber who was to do the attack. A target had not even been selected.

The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought a plane ticket when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It's not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.

Did the suicide bomber get cold feet and go to the authorities? CBS reports:

The would-be suicide bomber was told to buy a ticket on the airliner of his choosing and decide the timing of the attack. It's not immediately clear what happened to the would-be bomber, the AP reported.

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