Saturday, December 24, 2005

Another day, another revelation

I am happy that the torture story has stayed in the news, especially since Secretary of State Rice's recent visit to Europe, where she gave a non-denial denial that secret prisons exist and that the U.S. kidnaps people and has them tortured. It seems like every day now there is a new story about the U.S. spying on Americans without warrants; or torturing detainees; or lying about it.

Here are a couple new ones:

22 Purported CIA Operatives Accused of Kidnapping Imam
An Italian court has issued European arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA operatives accused of kidnapping a radical imam in Milan, and expanded the dragnet for the suspects to 25 countries, a prosecutor said today.
The abduction is one of several controversial cases in which American intelligence agencies are suspected of using European soil and airspace to imprison or to transport terror suspects to third countries without judicial authorization. These so-called extraordinary renditions are one of the most controversial elements of the Bush administration's efforts to fight terrorism.
In the Italian case, 22 CIA operatives including the Milan station chief were accused of snatching Hassan Osama Nasr, a Muslim cleric better known as Abu Omar, as he walked to a mosque in Milan nearly three years ago.
He was spirited away on a secret flight to his native Egypt where he was imprisoned and, he later told friends, tortured...

Berlusconi said this week that while he did not believe the CIA had kidnapped Abu Omar, he thought such an operation was completely justifiable.
"You can't tackle terrorism with a law book in your hand," Berlusconi said. "If they fight with a sword, you have to defend yourself with a sword. ... When hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk, countries have to use the secret methods and arms available to them to defend those lives.''

...The Europe-wide arrest warrant was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, designed as a way to better apprehend terror suspects who cross European borders with ease. Law enforcement agencies in member countries are obliged to detain and hand over people named in the warrants.
FBI Monitors for Radiation at Some Mosques
Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that FBI agents have secretly monitored radiation levels at mosques, businesses and homes for several years in large cities, including Los Angeles, to determine whether radioactive, or "dirty," bombs were being assembled.
The officials said no suspicious radiation levels have been found.
The disclosure, following the revelation a week ago that the government has secretly spied on U.S. citizens without court permission, angered some U.S. Muslim leaders. They cited a Supreme Court ruling three months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which the justices rejected such government monitoring...
But Justice Department officials said the monitoring was lawful. They said investigators used special equipment to gauge radiation levels at homes, businesses, warehouses and centers of some Muslim groups, and that the testing was sometimes carried out in or near parking lots and driveways — areas the government believes to be public property. The equipment also checked for chemical weapons.
They said the testing was still taking place. It was first reported Friday by U.S. News & World Report.
"This is being done in a manner that protects U.S. constitutional rights," said Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman. "FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected areas without proper legal authority."
...Another federal source, who asked not to be identified because the program has been secret, said government lawyers reviewed the process and found it legal for the tests to proceed without agents first seeking court authorization.
The tests are frequent and could pose grave logistical problems if court permission had to be routinely sought, he said.
"The FBI believes it has the legal authority," the official said. "A parking lot or a driveway is not necessarily private property, and our equipment is not intrusive."

In [the June 11, 2001, Supreme Court decision that found a similar monitoring program to be unlawful], government agents used thermal imaging to determine whether marijuana was being grown inside a home in Florence, Ore. The imaging device detected infrared radiation inside the house similar to that from marijuana beds, and the homeowner, Danny Kyllo, was arrested. He challenged the legality of the search.
In a 5-4 Supreme Court decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled that the test was an illegal search that violated the 4th Amendment.
"The surveillance is a search, and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant," Scalia wrote.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing a dissent, said no privacy was compromised and that the agents in Oregon gathered "information in the public domain" by operating the detection device outside the home.
Earlier this month:

12/22/05: Police Infiltrate Protests, Videotapes Show

12/21/05: Judge Reportedly Resigns Over U.S. Spy Program

12/20/05: F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show

12/18/05: Planted PR Stories Not News to Military: U.S. officials in Iraq knew that a contractor was paying local papers. Discretion was the key.

12/16/05: Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts

12/13/05: Inquiry Details Claims of C.I.A. Prisons in Europe

12/9/05: Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim

12/6/05: German Sues Over Abduction Said to Be at Hands of C.I.A.


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