Thursday, May 24, 2012

  • With Control of Drone Strikes, Is Counterterror Chief John Brennan the U.S. "Assassination Czar"?

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    President Obama’s counterterrorism chief John Brennan is heading up a new team to determine who should be targeted by armed U.S. drones overseas. The newly revealed procedure for drone attacks means Brennan’s staff consults the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies before ultimately deciding who will be targeted. One official said there is growing concern over "how easy it has become to kill someone" under the administration’s drone strike policy. We speak with investigative blogger Marcy Wheeler of the website, "Empty Wheel." "I think we’re now calling Brennan the 'assassination czar,'" she says. Wheeler disputes the government’s assertion the drone attacks are finely targeted, noting that it is unclear who the targets really are and that civilians have been killed. [includes rush transcript]

  • Senate Advances Expanded, "Orwellian" Gov’t Surveillance with FISA Amendments, CISPA

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    The Senate is closer to renewing controversial measures that critics say would allow the emails and phone calls of U.S. citizens to be monitored without a warrant. The Select Committee on Intelligence has voted to extend controversial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were set to expire at the end of this year. "What we’re asking is that they slow down this process and start first with the question: What type of information are they picking up? How many Americans are being affected? What is the government doing with it?," says Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued over the U.S. government’s surveillance practices, saying agencies would be able to tap their communications with clients and sources overseas.

    We’re also joined by William Binney, who served in the National Security Agency for nearly 40 years, including a stint as technical director of its World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, Binney has warned that the NSA’s data mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state." "This is a continuation in the mindless legislation that our Congress has been putting out, just to justify what they’ve been doing for a decade or more," Binney says. "Instead of trying to use discipline and living up to their oath of office to defend the Constitution, they’ve decided to violate the civil liberties and the rights of all U.S. citizens." The Senate is also set to vote soon on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill opposed by many civil liberties and privacy groups. [includes rush transcript]

  • Egyptian Voters on the Promise, and Limits, of Historic Election: Sharif Kouddous Reports from Cairo

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    Voters are heading to the polls for the second day in Egypt’s first competitive presidential election following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago. The first day of voting saw numerous reports of minor violations, but was largely hailed as free of fraud and violence. Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister and now a leading candidate, was swarmed by protesters outside his polling station who hurled shoes and debris at him. Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous and videographer Hany Massoud spent the day traveling to polling stations around Cairo speaking to voters about their choices for president and their concerns in the election. [includes rush transcript]