Archive for October, 2007

News and Analysis (10/19/07)

Friday, October 19th, 2007

In a dramatic turn of events at the Attorney General nomination hearing, Mike Mukasey suggested the NSA warrantless spying and waterboarding torture might be acceptable under the Constitution; meanwhile the US government offers its first detailed legal defense of how it treated Jose Padilla under its custody:

In a perverse undermining of its own mission the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom offers shutting down of a religious school as means of combating religious intolerance. The school in question “angrily denied that they are teaching radical Islam and said that the commission never asked to speak with any school staff members and never asked to see any materials:”

Benazir Bhutto’s dramatic return to Pakistan ends on a very deadly note as the Taliban are suspected of a committing a bombing near Bhutto’s motorcade, killing at least 134 and wounding 150:

In response to Turkey’s readiness to conduct cross-border raids against Kurdish militant groups, President Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government rejects accusations of providing cover for militants and vows to fight Turkish incursions:

Faced with the influx of immigrants shaking up Italy’s cultural homogeneity in its largest cities, a backlash against their presence, particularly against Muslims, grows:

News and Analysis (10/18/07)

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Bush Administration scores major victory in Senate against Americans’ right to privacy, reaching an important “consensus” agreement with members of Congress to grant immunity to telecoms while providing little oversight:

Amid a very cordial tone, members of Congress throw softball questions at Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey and fail to press him on his knowledge of the NSA wiretapping and some other controversial policies advocated by former AG Gonzales:

Former PM Bhutto is met with joy from over 250,000 Pakistanis upon her return from exile, however some unease remains about what her return means for the country’s political future:

“Beirut should be combining a foreign policy that stresses the refugees’ right of return with a domestic one that strives to accomodate their stay here as humanely as possible.”—Daily Star Lebanon Editorial

Grassroots reconciliation efforts appear to make more progress than at the national level as prominent Shi’a politician meets with Sunni leaders in Anbar who reciprocate by expressing their willingness to meet with Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf:

US Government watchdog slams Saudi for its violations of international religious freedom, including restrictions against Shi’as and women, but also recommends closing a Saudi-sponsored school in Virginia over concerns of teaching religious radicalism without requesting and analyzing their curriculum materials:

News and Analysis (10/17/07)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

The Department of Justice’s shift away from normal crime fighting toward a national security and counterterrorism focus correlates with an overall rise in national street crime, while a recent study from New York University shows the DoJ’s reprioritization is not met by the actual threat, as very few cases billed as “terrorism-related” end up prosecuted as such:

In light of the upcoming attorney general nomination hearing for Mike Mukasey, the New York Times has four legal experts pose questions they would ask to Mukasey, including issues of detainee status and treatment, independence and integrity of the AG’s office, and secrecy vis-á-vis civil liberties:

Hamas throws a wrench in US-Israel-Fatah plans for peace talks without the Islamist movement by publicly declaring negotiations with Israel to be religiously permissible:

Tensions between the Turkish government and Kurdish militant groups reach a new high as Ankara readies its soldiers to conduct raids into northern Iraq despite appeals from the US and Iraq, while international oil prices respond to the possible escalation of regional conflict by hitting a new high at $87 a barrel:

Former principal of New York City’s first Education Department-approved dual Arab-English language school seeks to return to her old position and alleges that she was forced to resign due to threats from city officials saying they would close the school unless she left:

News and Analysis (10/16/07)

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Verizon, believing its role is not to “second-guess the legitimacy of emergency government requests” disclosed its collusion with Big Brother in a letter to congressional investigators saying that it provided telephone and Internet user data on an emergency basis without court orders 720 times:

Seeking to head off a major political crisis, Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir meets with Southern leaders after withdrawing their ministers from the national unity government:

“The shift is not so much that American officials no longer mention human rights and democracy; it is more that they do not follow up to ensure results. Instead, there seems to be a tacit understanding whereby Washington criticizes Egypt’s human rights failings, Egypt takes umbrage at the “interference” in domestic affairs and little changes.”—Michael Slackman, New York Times reporter

Citing historical examples of the US Civil War, cold war diplomatic engagement with the USSR and the Soviet’s failed invasion of Afghanistan, a former international CNN correspondent argues America will dig itself deeper into a ditch by attacking Iran and launching its third war, while on a visit to Iran, Russian president Vladimir Putin strongly hints at the US not to attack Iran and Azerbaijan not give them the air bases to do so:

New York Times editorial sees the high enlistment bonuses and Marines’ planned shift to Afghanistan as more ominous signs of desperation in Iraq, while a senior State Department official publicly states corruption in Iraq is pervasive and hinders developing a stable democracy, but some Congressmen accuse the agency of masking the full depth of the problem by avoiding direct questions on the issue and classifying and heavily redacting relevant documents:

International maritime watchdog finds lawlessness on land in Somalia leads to criminality at sea, threatening trade-shipping routes in that region of the world:

News and Analysis (10/15/07)

Monday, October 15th, 2007

The US government looks at possibly redoing status hearings for detainees in order to avoid a recent court ruling that determined the first round of hearings were not legal and delay other challenges from defense lawyers, while a lawyer for detainee Majid Khan decries the lack of court transparency, alleging that secrecy has been abused to cover up the brutal and extralegal means of his detention:

Some US military officials have declared Al-Qaeda in Iraq badly and possibly irreversibly crippled, however others within the military and intelligence communities caution against such a “mission accomplished” type of declaration, citing past cases of AQI’s ability to rebound and adapt to new situations…

…Meanwhile several of Iraq’s largest Sunni militant organizations have formed an umbrella political coalition that seeks to establish a “technocratic, non-sectarian government” but also completely rejects the occupation and the laws and government established under it, and Sadrists reject yesterday’s statement from a rival Shi’a party calling for decentralization:

In Sudan, political troubles loom on the horizon as Southern Sudanese present their list of demands to the government in Khartoum after withdrawing their ministers, while Darfur rebel groups are scrambling to develop a common negotiating position in time for talks with the government:

Muslim interfaith activist Eboo Patel argues that Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s superficial and biased analysis of Islam, not only does injustice to the faith, but also undermines the very Enlightenment principles she claims to defend:

News and Analysis (10/13-14/07)

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Member of prominent Shi’a party calls for a complete withdrawal of all foreign troops and rejects permanent foreign military bases, but also supports greater decentralization of the Iraqi government, while Australia calls for snap election with the front-runner party declaring support for a complete withdrawal from Iraq:

A New York Times editorial finds that once again the Bush administration has been exaggerating the threat of terrorism to scare Congress and the American people into passing unconstitutional and anti-privacy legislation, however one report finds that the administration was allegedly secretly seeking such power even before 9/11:

Political infighting within Somalia’s weak transitional government only adds to its woes as its insurgency and refugee problems continue to intensify:

Some good news from Iraq: “one small tactical victory in need of a much larger strategic or political triumph:”

News and Analysis (10/12/07)

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The Vatican’s head of interfaith dialogue and the head of the Anglican Church respond positively to the consensus letter from 138 top Muslim scholars of different schools of thought:

The CIA’s inspector general, a vocal inside critic of the agency’s “detention and interrogation” programs, receives support from members of Congress after agency director Mike Hayden opens an investigation on him:

After being allegedly tortured and detained for years without charge, Guantanamo detainee finally gets charged with a crime within the flawed parallel military commission system:

DHS uses exception clause within an information sharing agreement with the European Union to collect data on union leaders traveling by air from Europe to the US:

Bhutto’s return to Pakistan is uncertain as the nation’s Supreme Court weighs in on whether or not the corruption amnesty deal is legal:

News and Analysis (10/11/07)

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

“In refusing to consider Mr. Masri’s appeal, the Supreme Court has left an innocent person without any remedy for his wrongful imprisonment and torture. It has damaged America’s standing in the world and established the nation as Supreme Enabler of the Bush administration’s efforts to avoid accountability for its actions.”—New York Times editorial

Disputes over implementing the 2005 power-sharing deal between northern and southern Sudanese groups lead to southern party withdrawing its ministers from the national government:

Letter to Pope and other top Christian leaders from 130 top Muslim scholars around the world urge better relations between the two faiths for the sake of global peace:

In an attempt to counter Hamas’ religious credentials, putatively “secular” Fatah violates Islamic teachings of freedom of religion by establishing “morality police” that imposes public observation of Ramadan fasting on all citizens, including Christians, and continues to clamp down on Hamas affiliated mosques…

…meanwhile the Palestinian Islamist movement renews its calls for dialogue with Fatah and possibly hints at relinquishing power its power in Gaza:

Praised by some for his pro-market economic policies, Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, is scorned by others for his likely undemocratic succession to power:

Set to return to Pakistan next week in spite of pleas from Musharraf, opposition leader Benazir publicly states that she wishes to see the Armed Forces held transparent and accountable to parliament:

News and Analysis (10/10/07)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

With nauseating irony, a federal circuit court judge prevents the release a Guantanamo detainee for fear of being tortured in his home country, while the Supreme Court refuses to hear Lebanese-German citizen’s appealing claiming he was abducted and tortured based on the government’s argument of “state secrets privilege”:

Partisanship and the inflated threat of terrorism are the motivations behind the some Congresspersons’ opposition to timid revisions of the Protect America Act:

Human Rights Watch report condemns violent, rich and corrupt “Godfathers” of Nigeria, and urges President Yar’Adua to follow through on promises to investigate alleged crimes committed during April’s presidential elections:

“Is police torture a bigger problem today? There’s no question… Fifteen years ago, we used to say that this or that police station is bad… Today, I can’t name a single police station that’s good. And the victims are middle-class, they’re educated, they’re homeless. It doesn’t make any difference.”—Gasser Abdel Razak, regional director for Human Rights Watch

Confusion of presidential succession and lack of federal engagement with local tribal governments compound Pakistan’s heightened security problem with Taliban militants:

Tunisia’s authoritarian political system allows little room for peaceful political dissent by Islamist groups, leading to speculation among some prominent analysts and activists that this may be forcing young people toward hard-line and militant ideologies:

Political violence in Afghanistan is increasingly pervasive as 2 are killed and 10 wounded after suspected Taliban members fire on a mosque during prayers:

News and Analysis (10/9/07)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Some members of Congress are ready to put electoral viability above the principle of liberty, signaling their willingness to make permanent the Big Brother powers of the Protect America Act:

Failed satire or a dirty trick? Flyers posted on college campus to embarrass a group involved in a planned “Islamo-Fascism Awareness” campaign have the opposite effect, promoting hate against Muslim groups:

King Abdullah rolls out another important reform, creating specific guidelines that streamline a previously informal process of monarchial succession:

Forced off of their lands by the Soviet state, Muslim Tatars return to their home in the Crimea, but face a myriad of economic and social problems:

Attempting to model itself off of successful programs in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, the United States seeks to de-radicalize detainees through mainstream Muslim religious teachings:

Alarmed over the possibility of an ascendant Iran, the United States abandons the failing strategy to bring democracy and liberty to the Middle East and returns to the precarious failed strategy seeking “energy security, counterterrorism, and stability” by support of Sunni Arab dictators: