At least one civilian was killed in Pakistan on Wednesday when a U.S. drone struck the tribal area of North Waziristan. Two others were also reportedly wounded and possibly killed.
The Obama administration has secretly developed a new long-term mechanism for monitoring, capturing and killing suspected terrorists well into the future. According to the Washington Post, the administration is maintaining what it calls a "disposition matrix" that would help future administrations continue militaristic policies such as the drone warfare and kill lists of President Obama’s first term. The disposition matrix contains detailed information of terror suspects for use in efforts to target them through "extradition requests, capture operations, and drone patrols." As part of the program to launch attacks overseas, the Washington Post also reveals, the United States is using its military facility in Djibouti as the "launching pad" for covert operations across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, has also established a secret center for targeting militants across the Potomac River, just 15 minutes from the White House. The report comes just days after it was revealed the CIA is seeking a major expansion of its fleet of armed drones to carry out attacks overseas. In a statement, Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project said: "Anyone who thought U.S. targeted killing outside of armed conflict was a narrow, emergency-based exception to the requirement of due process before a death sentence is being proven conclusively wrong. ... A bureaucratized paramilitary killing program that targets people far from any battlefield is not just unlawful, it will create more enemies than it kills."
The topic of the Obama administration’s "kill list" recently led to some surprising answers from top Democrats and Obama campaign surrogates. After the second presidential debate earlier this month, Luke Rudkowski of the media group We Are Change asked Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, about Obama’s widely reported "kill list" of Americans and foreigners who can be assassinated without charge or trial. In response, Schultz dismissed the question by claiming that she hadn’t even heard of the "kill list."
Luke Rudkowski: "If President Romney becomes president, he’s going to inherit President Barack Obama’s secret 'kill list'? This is going to be debated. How do you think Romney will handle this 'kill list,' and are you comfortable with him having a 'kill list'?
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "I have no idea what you’re talking about."
Luke Rudkowski: "Obama has a secret 'kill list' which he has used to assassinate different people all over the world."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "I’m happy to answer any serious questions you have."
Luke Rudkowski: "Why is that not serious?"
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "Because I have no idea what you’re talking about."
Luke Rudkowski: "Of course you don’t."
The existence of the U.S. 'kill list' has been publicly known for nearly two years and was the subject of a 6,000-word exposé in the New York Times in May.
At the same event, former White House Press Secretary and current Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs was asked about the U.S. killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki, the teenage son of Anwar al-Awlaki. In response, Gibbs blamed the elder Awlaki for his son’s assassination by U.S. drones.
Sierra Adamson: "Do you think that the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who was an American citizen, is justifiable?"
Robert Gibbs: "I’m not going to get into Anwar al-Awlaki’s son. I know that Anwar al-Awlaki renounced his citizenship."
Sierra Adamson: "His son was still an American citizen."
Robert Gibbs: "Did great harm to people in this country and was a regional al-Qaeda commander hoping to inflict harm and destruction on people that share his religion and others in this country. And..."
Sierra Adamson: "That’s an American citizen that’s being targeted without due process of law, without trial. And he’s underage. He’s a minor."
Robert Gibbs: "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father. If they’re truly concerned about the well-being of their children, I don’t think becoming an al-Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business."
New polls show a tightening presidential race less than two weeks before the November 6 election, with President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney virtually tied. Speaking to supporters in Nevada, Romney said Obama’s campaign is "slipping and shrinking."
Mitt Romney: "So the Obama campaign is slipping and shrinking. President can’t seem to find an agenda to help America’s families. Our campaign is a growing movement across this country where people recognize we’re going to build a brighter future for the American family, for every family in this great country. We’re coming together with more power, more energy. I’m counting on you, you guys here. I need you to vote."
Campaigning in Iowa, President Obama continued to criticize Romney for a plan that would cut taxes for the wealthy and radically increase military spending.
President Obama: "The problem is, you’d need to invent a new kind of math to actually make this true. The arithmetic does not work. So we know Governor Romney’s jobs plan doesn’t create jobs. His deficit plan doesn’t reduce the deficit. And we joke about Romnesia, but all of this speaks to something that’s really important, and that is the issue of trust. There’s no more serious issue on a presidential campaign than trust. Trust matters."
Federal prosecutors in New York have filed a $1 billion civil suit accusing the financial giant Bank of America of a massive fraud. The Justice Department says Bank of America executed a scheme that would blindly hand out mortgages without proper checks and then turn around and sell the toxic loans to the government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While Bank of America reaped a windfall, Fannie and Freddie were stuck with huge losses and foreclosed properties. The scheme was known as the "hustle" and originated under the firm Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America took over in 2008. It was the sixth time in less than 18 months that U.S. prosecutors in New York have filed suit against a major U.S. financial firm for mortgage practices that helped cause the financial crisis. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Bank of America’s "fraudulent conduct ... was spectacularly brazen in scope."
Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta has been sentenced to two years in prison on a conviction of insider trading. The sentence marked a major loss for prosecutors, who had sought a minimum 10-year term. Gupta was convicted of one of the biggest insider trading cases in history, passing on stock tips that helped a billionaire hedge fund manager amass over $75 million in profits. Gupta’s sentence will begin early next year.
The Supreme Court has upheld a Montana law that limits donations to political campaigns. The law was among several that had been struck down in Montana in decisions citing the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling that allowed unlimited outside spending on elections. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court ruling from earlier this month that affirmed Montana’s right to regulate contributions in state elections.
The Justice Department is suing state and local officials in Mississippi for allegedly violating the rights of children — especially black and disabled — with routine and unjustified arrests. A federal complaint accuses officers in Meridian, Mississippi, of operating a "school to prison pipeline," in which youth are consistently arrested after being suspended from school for infractions such as dress code violations or talking back to teachers. It is the first time the Justice Department has used a 1994 federal anti-discrimination law on behalf of youths.
Sudan has accused Israel of bombing a weapons factory in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, killing two people and leaving another seriously wounded. Sudanese officials say four aircraft were able to evade radar defenses to hit the Yarmouk military facility in the middle of the night, causing a massive fire and damaging several nearby homes. It was the latest in a series of bombings in Sudan blamed on Israel over the past several years. The Israeli military has refused to confirm or deny Wednesday’s attack.
Ecuador has asked the British government to assure the safe passage of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should he require medical treatment in a hospital. On Wednesday, an Ecuadorean diplomat said that concerns have been raised about Assange’s health that may require medical attention. Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, and ultimately, he says, to the United States.
In other WikiLeaks news, the whistleblowing group has just released a new cache of files detailing U.S. guidelines for jailing foreign prisoners at military prisons from Iraq to Guantánamo Bay. According to WikiLeaks, the "Detainee Policies" includes one manual instructing how to "disappear" prisoners into other government agencies while hiding their names from U.S. military records.