Comment: Was the Killing of Osama bin Laden Legal?

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By IAN ALLEN* | intelNews.org |
The reaction of Americans to news of the assassination of Osama bin Laden has been overwhelmingly jubilant. Many will say that the killing of al-Qaeda’s founder was justified. But was it legal? Responding to news of the killing, famed linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky suggested that “we might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic”. Commenting from a different viewpoint, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin argues that the legal complications of arresting bin Laden would have been immense, and would have perhaps signaled “the most complex and wrenching legal proceeding in American history”.  We could would add to this that the White House was probably concerned about a prolonged state of heightened security for American embassies and civilian or military installations around the world, which could have lasted for as long as bin Laden’s hypothetical trial continued —which could have been years. Read more of this post

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Comment: Is There a ‘DNA Problem’ in US Spying?

Sam Tanenhaus

Sam Tanenhaus

By IAN ALLEN* | intelNews.org |
The controversy of the apparent ineffectiveness of US intelligence agencies to uncover the so-called Christmas Day bomb plot has reignited the discussion about the operational shortcomings of the US intelligence community. Sam Tanenhaus, editor of of The New York Times Book Review, has authored an interesting commentary, in which he delves into some of what he sees as the design deficiencies in American intelligence.

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News you may have missed #0051

  • Instigator of Church committee hearings speaks about domestic intelligence. Christopher Pyle, the American whistleblower who in the 1970s sparked the Church Committee hearings on intelligence activities, has spoken about the recent revelations of US Army personnel spying on activist groups in Washington state. Pyle provided interesting historical context linking domestic espionage in the 1960s and 1970s with current developments in the so-called “war on terrorism”.
  • Declassified US President’s Daily Brief is reclassified. The CIA says that extracts of the President’s Daily Briefing (PDB) that were declassified in 2006, during the prosecution of former vice presidential aide Scooter Libby, are “currently and properly classified”. PDB declassifications occur extremely rarely.
  • Australian intelligence to focus on cybersecurity. David Irvine, the recently appointed director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, has identified cyberespionage as “a growing national security risk”.

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News you may have missed #0045

  • Ex-CIA, -NSA director defends warrantless wiretapping. Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009 and of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, has penned an article in The New York Times, in which he says that the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program helped the US intelligence community “connecting the dots, something for which we were roundly criticized after Sept[ember] 11 as not sufficiently doing”.
  • US House intelligence panel member calls for new Church Committee. Rush Holt (D-NJ) a senior member of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has called for a resuscitation of the Church and Pike investigations into intelligence practices of the 1970s.
  • BBC radio launches series on MI6. The BBC’s Radio 4 has launched today a new three-part series examining the 100-year history and operations of MI6, Britain’s foremost external intelligence agency. The programs, which can also be listened to online, include interviews with senior intelligence officers, agents and diplomats.

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