Archive for January, 2008

News and Analysis (1/13/08)

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Concerns over identity security and privacy have civil libertarians and some state governments resisting new standards for a national ID card:

DNI Mike McConnell’s says waterboarding would be torture “if used against him, or if someone under interrogation was taking water into his lung”:

Iran’s Supreme Leader makes a defiant speech directed at US regional policy and the UN’s nuclear watchdog announces “outstanding questions” on Iran’s activities will be answered in a month…

…meanwhile Bush continues to put pressure on Iran by hyping up the recent naval incident in the Persian Gulf and accusing it of “being the world’s one number sponsor of terrorism”:

Iraqi parliament bill meant to ease restrictions on de-Baathification laws makes only incremental changes:

Army-backed caretaker government formally charges Ex-PM Sheikh Hasina with corruption:

“”The original Islamic movement spread its doctrine by a combination of military action and compassion. Charity was a key tenet…. That ingredient is missing in the al-Qaeda/Taliban approach to the world. To them, winning hearts and minds means, ‘Agree with us or else.'” – Gary Anderson, George Washington University lecturer

News and Analysis (1/11/08)

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and neo-cons continue same tactics to persecute Virginia-based Islamic Saudi Academy, first accusing the Saudi government and now the State Dept. of non-cooperation:

New York Times op-ed slams America’s bloated and ineffective Homeland Security bureaucracy and the “hyperbolic alarms” used to justify it…

…meanwhile the FBI’s inability to pay its telephone bills on time, not Congressional oversight, limits its ability to spy on Americans:

Defense for Padilla and co-defendants allege the government is wildly exaggerating conviction charges to push for life sentences:

News roundup by the Christian Science Monitor and analysis by independent political historian Gareth Porter shows the US’ version of the near flare-up in the Persian Gulf is sinking:

Bush remains optimistic about Mideast peace and continuing pressure on Iran in spite of any political breakthroughs while visiting the Holy Land and Kuwait’s refusal to be used as a base to attack Iran:

Analysts say economic and diplomatic engagement, not isolation, can help counter Iranian influence in Syria:

News and Analysis (1/10/08)

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

World Health Organization estimates 100,000 to 220,000 Iraqis have been killed since the 2003 invasion:

Lawyers for Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo call it letting the fox guard the henhouse,  there will be no independent probe into the destruction of the CIA torture tapes:

After almost 7 years of lopsided support for Israel, and with no intention to include democratically elected representatives from Hamas in the effort, Bush declares that he will make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis before his term ends:

In latest Blackwater row incident, questions arise over the mercenaries’ past (mis)use of a riot control agent that temporarily left several Iraqis and US soldiers dangerously incapacitated:

Playing surge whack-a-mole, the US sends an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan to counter anticipated Taliban offensive:

News and Analysis (1/9/08)

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Former Marine tells military court that 19 Afghan civilians were “needlessly killed”, violating laws of war:

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail argues sectarian violence in Iraq is largely driven by policies enacted by the occupation:

President Bush lands in Tel Aviv to begin his push for Mideast peace, while upping pressure on Iran:

Pakistan’s readies itself for another round of violence as Sunni extremists may try to exploit Shi’a mourning during the month of Muharram as a pretext for attacks…

…meanwhile analysts note that pro-Taliban religious parties are losing support due to empty sloganeering, alleged corruption, ideological extremism and sympathy from Bhutto’s death:

News and Analysis (1/8/08)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

With the recent 2007 NIE deflating some tensions between Iran and the US and rising inflation, Supreme Leader Khamanei has largely withdrawn support for President Ahmadinejad’s policies:

Although US-backed Sunni groups continue to increase their influence, questions remain over loyalties; meanwhile Iraq’s main nationalist militant group, the Islamic Army of Iraq, rejects any cooperation with US military forces:

A former key regional Taliban commander who switched sides to NATO/Afghan forces becomes governor of the volatile Helmand province; while bribes are used again to free a high-ranking Taliban leader for a third time:

Seeking to improve its chances of entering the EU, Turkey sends a bill to its parliament reforming law criminalizing “insulting Turkishness”:

A coalition of groups call on Indonesia’s attorney general to protect the heterodox Ahmadiyya movement’s right to religious freedom…

… while other civil society organizations question the legality of allowing officials convicted of corruption in the past to run an upcoming regional election:

News and Analysis (1/7/08)

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Harris Interactive poll finds majority of Americans are dissatisfied with current status of counterterrorism policies and health of civil liberties:

In spite of recent hullaboo made over alleged Iranian assistance to militias in Iraq, a government think-tank’s “snapshot” look at Muslim foreign fighters finds Saudis and Libya are the most active:

Religious advisers to President Karzai misuse Islam as a club to expand their political influence by touting archaic and un-Islamic punishments as a solution to dealing with alleged Christian proselytizing and seek to clampdown on certain television shows for their supposed immorality:

Bush will use his extended tour of the Middle East to continue drumming up support for his confrontational policy with Iran despite a damning NIE report and Arab states’ warming relations with Tehran:

The friction unleashed in the wake of Bhutto’s assassination has more to do with ethno-nationalist Sindhi aspirations than the divide between religious extremism and moderation …

… while some analysts and officials look to the new Army Chief, Ashfaq Kayani to help stabilize the country, restore the Army’s moral and fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants:

News and Analysis (1/6/08)

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds alleges criminal negligence and/or complicity is behind some important US officials selling nuclear secrets to Pakistani intelligence through Turkish agents and Turkish and Israeli penetration of sensitive military and academic institutions:

Antiwar activist and 1972 Presidential candidate George McGovern makes the case for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney:

Fighting cultural patriarchy and fears of post 9/11 authority, advocates of battered Muslim women slowly gain ground by allying with sympathetic imams, interpreting the Qur’an, and establishing more social support organizations:

One historian argues much of Western Europe’s medieval identity formation is based not only on Christianity, but political opposition to Muslim territorial expansion and desire to rival Muslims’ intellectual progress:

Lebanese parliamentary majority endorses draft Arab League plan to end the country’s constitutional crisis after Syria gives its endorsement:

Gulf states seek greater rapprochement with Iran due to business interests and quashing of domestic political reform movements:

Bush continues to rely on the same failed strategy of support individual politicians, not civil society, to bring security to Pakistan, but may undermine those efforts if he decides expand U.S. covert action in Pakistan:

News and Analysis (1/4/08)

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Ranking Congresswoman Jane Harman reveals back in 2003 that she advised the CIA to not destroy the torture tapes, while Constitutional expert John Turley argues on TV the investigation of the torture tapes “could lead to criminal culpability of the President”:

Civil liberties group Center for Democracy and Technology fights for better oversight of warrantless wiretapping, while tech writer Mike Elgan argues fighting for privacy also means making certain things more public:

Cities are unable to combat rising crime rates largely due to shift in resources from walking regular beats and violence prevention programs to anti-terrorism strategies:

Political paralysis in Lebanon continues as Hezbollah makes high demands for one-third of all cabinet seats in order to agree to vote in the next presidential candidate:

Media experts say Al-Jazeera now treats Saudi Arabia “with kid gloves” because Qatari state interests overrule journalistic independence:

In the latest of a string of religious freedom issues in Malaysia, maintains a farcical and un-Islamic ban on the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications:

News and Analysis (1/3/08)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

As AG Mukasey appoints widely respected fed prosecutor John H. Durham to head the criminal investigation of the CIA torture tapes, a Washington Post editorial gives cautious approval to the investigation in spite of its somewhat limited scope and argues that Congress should focus its own inquiry on “the administration’s past and current detention and interrogation policies”:

After being heralded as a possible break from entrenched political interests, President Umaru Yar’Adua’s supposedly “more ethical” governance comes into question by pushing out Nigeria’s top corruption fighter, Nuhu Ribadu:

As Pakistan brings in Scotland Yard to lead a very tough investigation of Bhutto’s death, Nawaz Sharif begins setting himself up the new point man for the opposition, gaining greater attention from the US:

Seeking to help themselves and their fellow young Muslims with issues ranging from drinking and dating to post 9/11 discrimination, Imran and Yasmine Hafiz developed “The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook”:

News and Analysis (1/2/08)

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, Chairman and Vice Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, respectively, charge the CIA and Bush administration obstructed its lawful requests for information on the 9/11 attacks, including the destroyed torture tapes:

Pakistan’s electoral commission delays the country’s vote for a month, citing violence and instability, however opposition leaders allege it is a government tactic to buy time for voters’ anger over Bhutto’s death to recede:

International human rights watchdog Privacy International releases a report showing a general trend of creeping government intrusion into individual privacy and cites the US and UK as “endemic surveillance societies”:

After 138 Muslim scholars send an open letter to Christian leaders, the Vatican’s “official” response is an invitation to three of those signatories to come to Rome in the spring for an interfaith meeting:

Fed up with being stranded for a week in Egypt after finishing the hajj, over 1,000 Palestinians cross over into Gaza in defiance of Israeli demands:

With financial punching power that accounts for about one-fourth of all foreign policy lobbying, according to one prominent special interest watchdog, and manipulation of issues of anti-Jewishness, AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobby groups maintain enormous leverage over members of Congress: