John Brennan's Confirmation Hearing
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing at 2:30 pm ET today on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director.
Yesterday, President Obama announced that the Office of Legal Counsel's targeted kill memo(s) will be provided to the members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
Brennan's answers to pre-hearing questions are here. His answers pertaining to rendition, detention and interrogation begin on page 21.
Brennan, who is expected to be confirmed, will face some tough questioning, especially by Democrats. [More...]
On a related note, in the civil lawsuit brought by family members of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, who were targeted for killing and killed, the ACLU filed this response Tuesday to the Government's motion to dismiss the suit.
On another related matter, Brennan's answers make clear he agrees with Obama's policy of getting other government to do our bidding by arresting and detaining suspects Americans suspect of being terrorists so they can be extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges, even when their actions were not against the U.S. Shades of the DEA's African sting cases and Victor Bout, and the most recent case of Mahdi Hashi in Brooklyn and some of the Somali Pirate cases.
Here is the story of Mahdi Hashi, a British-Somali man who vanished from east Africa and turned up in a New York Federal court, charged with providing material support to terrorism seven though he had no plans to act against the U.S. He was held on a ship for interrogation for months. The CIA has a strong presence in Africa -- especially Somalia and Djibouti.Then he id brought to a New York federal court alongside two Swedish men. All three appear to have been rendered by the United States from Djibouti, and have now been charged with terrorism offences. More at the Washington Post here. Marcy Wheeler of Empty Wheel wrote about it here. Here is the DOJ press release on it.
The nine-count indictment, which was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York late last week, does not accuse Warsame of carrying out or plotting attacks against U.S. targets. It charges him with conspiracy and providing material support to two groups the United States considers terrorist organizations: al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group opposed to Somalia’s weak, U.S.-backed government, and Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Warsame is also accused of weapons offenses related to both alleged conspiracies; conspiracy to teach and demonstrate explosive-making; and receiving military training from AQAP.
So there's rendition and interrogation at our request, conducted, via kidnapping and transfer to a foreign country's prison, and then there's proxy detentions, where we ask the other governments to hold the guys for a while, so they can be interrogated and then brought to the U.S. to face criminal charges under our laws, even though their actions weren't intended to have any effect here. And if convicted, we will pay $27,000 a year for each to warehouse them for decades, when they were no threat to America.
I thought it was just the DEA that wanted to play Global Holy Warrior, but now the intelligence agencies want their piece of the pie. Since they can't detain and interrogate suspects in their own facilities any more, they borrow from "friends" in other countries. The effect is the same. Either no criminal charges and a death sentence is meted out by the Executive Branch, with no judicial oversight, or charges are brought, followed by a
kidnapping flight to America to stand trial in a foreign land, get convicted, and spend the rest of the lives or most of it in our overcrowded American prisons.
It seems to me Congress is only interested in reading papers to learn how the Adminsitration justifies it. I want to know when the brakes will get put on these programs of overseas detention, targeted killing, drone strikes and proxy detentions. One judge has tried in the case of a Somali man, Ali Ali, whose case is now on appeal. Her decision is here.
None of this should be a surprise to Congress, since in 2009, it authorized $75 million for counter-terrorism assistance directed at Shabab and Al Qaeda in Somalia.
Is it better to be extradited to the U.S. and tried in federal court than killed by a drone when you haven't even been charged with a crime? Of course. But they are both lousy choices.
As Law Prof Jonathan Hafetz wrote recently:
More important is the extent to which the United States is utilizing foreign governments to avoid procedural safeguards against arbitrary detention; the increased risk of abusive treatment in proxy detention; and the implications of aggressively using the material support statute without a nexus to the United States. These issues do not trigger the same alarms as the sheer lawlessness that characterized extraordinary rendition, but they are worthy of continuing scrutiny nonetheless.
If you are watching the hearing today, please let us know how it is going in comments. Cong. Mark Udall will be one of the questioning Brennan, about 3:45 ET.
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