Jay Carney

Yesterday’s “Symbolic” Gesture Is Today’s Long-Held Political Stance

Yesterday morning, the White House explained that it hadn’t prioritized legally ending the Iraq War because doing so would be just a symbolic act.

But “the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and we therefore would fully support any move to repeal it,” a senior administration official told Yahoo News Tuesday. “However, we have not prioritized proactively seeking to repeal it, because the effect would be entirely symbolic and we have many more pressing priorities to take up with Congress.” [my emphasis]

Later in they day, Robert Gates’ memoir came out, with the claim that he witnessed a conversation between Hillary and Obama in which the “President conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political.”

Which elicited this defense, from Jay Carney, of Obama’s consistent opposition to the Iraq War.

What I don’t understand about that is, anybody who has covered Barack Obama, going all the way back to his race for the Senate, knows that he was opposed to the Iraq War. That was his view running for the Senate, it was his view as a Senator, it was his view as candidate for the Presidency, so it would be entirely inconsistent for him not to hold the position that he held with regards to the surge.

Carney’s right: Obama has claimed opposition to the Iraq War since 2002.

So why would legally ending it be no more than symbolic?

Cruise Killing on the Passive Voice

Before I lay out the chronology of the road to war against Syria, check out the language National Security Advisor Susan Rice used to blow off the UN investigation.

Ms. Rice sent the email to Ms. Power and others, officials said. “The investigation is…too late, and will actually tell us what we already know: CW was used,”

While the WSJ quotes Rice claiming to know who actually used the chemical weapons in the next line, ultimately it comes down to this:

“CW was used.”

Jay Carney today also used the passive voice in dismissing the UN investigation.

So the work of that team is redundant, you might say, because it is clearly established already that chemical weapons have been used on a significant scale.

The fucking passive voice.

But before we got to that point consider what happened. First (according to WSJ’s Arab diplomats) the always trustworthy Israelis caught someone moving CW into place.

One crucial piece of the emerging case came from Israeli spy services, which provided the Central Intelligence Agency with intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons, Arab diplomats said. The intelligence, which the CIA was able to verify, showed that certain types of chemical weapons were moved in advance to the same Damascus suburbs where the attack allegedly took place a week ago, Arab diplomats said.

Then after the attack, according to Foreign Policy, US spooks overheard a Syrian Defense official “demanding answers” from an officer in the chemical weapons unit from which the CW would have been used.

Last Monday [sic], in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned.

FP goes on to point out a lot of the important things we don’t know, such as why and on whose authority, even while laying out the case that CW was used. (Though here are some doubts about whether it was really sarin.)

Meanwhile, according to Gareth Porter, it took until Saturday for the UN to request access to the attack site. Syria granted that access Sunday. At which point John Kerry attempted to personally intervene to stop the investigation.

After the deal was announced on Sunday, however, Kerry pushed Ban in a phone call to call off the investigation completely.

The Wall Street Journal reported the pressure on Ban without mentioning Kerry by name. It said unnamed “U.S. officials” had told the secretary-general that it was “no longer safe for the inspectors to remain in Syria and that their mission was pointless.”

But Ban, who has generally been regarded as a pliable instrument of U.S. policy, refused to withdraw the U.N. team and instead “stood firm on principle”, the Journal reported. He was said to have ordered the U.N. inspectors to “continue their work”.

Meanwhile, the Administration also seems to be delaying the release of its own intelligence report, after promising it would already be out.

Q And there’s a lot of speculation that this intelligence report that presumably would link Assad directly to the chemical weapons attack might be released today. Can you give us an update on the timing?

MR. CARNEY: What I would say is that yesterday I made clear that the intelligence community is working on an assessment and that once we had that assessment we would provide information to the public about it in the coming days. And that remains true. I think that that’s speculation that it would come today rather than some other day. But it will come and I think you can expect it this week.

Do you get the feeling there are some holes in the intelligence report? Such as, if this was ordered by someone in Assad’s chain of command, why a Defense Ministry official would be making “panicked calls” about the strike?

There’s one more thing I find at least interesting about the intelligence.

Recall back in December, when the CW scares first started. We had evidence — as the Israelis claim we have no — of Syria pre-positioning weapons. And then Syria lost its Toobz access. I noted at the time that the utter lack of panic about the latter event suggested that we knew precisely why and how the Toobz came down. That detail may mean nothing about today’s events (though at the time it suggested that the source of the intelligence wasn’t SIGINT, because if the US had just lost its intelligence access it would have been panicking). But it seems notable, given the centrality of the “moving chemicals” intelligence again.

There is, to be sure, a great deal of evidence that (as both Rice and Carney said) “CW were used.”

But the Administration seems increasingly squirrelly allowing time to discover the rest of the occasion, which may be why a Syrian officer release CW without having had received an order from his superiors.

American Drone War: Murder and Democracy

In his post on the drone killing of Waliur Rehman Mehsud earlier this week, Jim noted that CIA has sworn revenge for the 2009 Pakistani Taliban supported suicide attack on CIA’s base in Khost.

Sure enough, one of the things Press Secretary Jay Carney mentioned when asked about the strike yesterday was Rehman’s role in the “murder” of 7 CIA officers in Khost in 2009.

While we are not in the position to confirm the reports of Waliur Rehman’s death, if those reports were true or prove to be true, it’s worth noting that his demise would deprive the TTP — Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan — of its second in command and chief military strategist. Waliur Rehman has participated in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against U.S. and NATO personnel and horrific attacks against Pakistani civilians and soldiers. And he is wanted in connection to the murder of seven American citizens on December 30, 2009, at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.

Now, I’m sorry that 7 CIA officers died, but let’s consider what it means that the US continues to call the attack murder.

As I noted almost 3 years ago when DOJ first sanctioned TTP and indicted Hakimullah Mehsud, the notion that they should be legally held responsible — in the US, at least — for “murder” is laughable. The Khost attack took place after an extended campaign to kill Baitullah Mehsud, as Jane Mayer recounts.

Still, the recent [in 2009] campaign to kill Baitullah Mehsud offers a sobering case study of the hazards of robotic warfare. It appears to have taken sixteen missile strikes, and fourteen months, before the C.I.A. succeeded in killing him.

[snip]

On June 14, 2008, a C.I.A. drone strike on Mehsud’s home town, Makeen, killed an unidentified person. On January 2, 2009, four more unidentified people were killed. On February 14th, more than thirty people were killed, twenty-five of whom were apparently members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, though none were identified as major leaders. On April 1st, a drone attack on Mehsud’s deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud, killed ten to twelve of his followers instead. On April 29th, missiles fired from drones killed between six and ten more people, one of whom was believed to be an Al Qaeda leader. On May 9th, five to ten more unidentified people were killed; on May 12th, as many as eight people died. On June 14th, three to eight more people were killed by drone attacks. On June 23rd, the C.I.A. reportedly killed between two and six unidentified militants outside Makeen, and then killed dozens more people—possibly as many as eighty-six—during funeral prayers for the earlier casualties. An account in the Pakistani publication The News described ten of the dead as children. Four were identified as elderly tribal leaders. One eyewitness, who lost his right leg during the bombing, told Agence France-Presse that the mourners suspected what was coming: “After the prayers ended, people were asking each other to leave the area, as drones were hovering.” The drones, which make a buzzing noise, are nicknamed machay (“wasps”) by the Pashtun natives, and can sometimes be seen and heard, depending on weather conditions. Before the mourners could clear out, the eyewitness said, two drones started firing into the crowd. “It created havoc,” he said. “There was smoke and dust everywhere. Injured people were crying and asking for help.” Then a third missile hit. “I fell to the ground,” he said.

When CIA finally got Baitullah, they also took out his young new bride.

The people Humam al-Balawi took out at Khost were all, as far as is known, active participants in the drone campaign that created all this carnage. As NYU’s Sarah Knuckey laid out yesterday, the Khost attack is probably murder under Afghan law, but not under international law, which would count CIA drone killers as civilians directly participating in hostilities.

In an international armed conflict (IAC), members of the armed forces have combatant immunity and combatant privilege. Meaning: they can kill the other side’s combatants (if rules on killing satisfied in individual case), AND, they cannot be prosecuted under domestic law (of their enemy, if e.g., they were captured) for a killing that was permitted under IHL. They could be tried by the capturing enemy for any violation of IHL, e.g. war crimes.

But, this immunity only attaches to members of the armed forces. It does not apply to “civilians who directly participate in hostilities [DPH]” (e.g the farmer who picks up arms to fight the Americans one day, the US civilian – yes, including any CIA officer who “directly participates”). So, a CIA officer (not any of them, only those DPH’ing, eg. involved in, say, drone strikes, or night raids) could, under the laws of war, be arrested and tried in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and tried for murder under domestic law. (This is so, even if the “murder” was permitted by IHL). Ditto for some AQ or Taliban member – they have no immunity. Their killing might be permitted by IHL, but not by Afghan law. Whether the Khost killings violated Afghan criminal law, I don’t know (haven’t studied the Afghan crim code), but I’d assume yes.

In other words, calling Khost “murder” simply imposes a double standard, in which we’re allowed to kill scores of civilians, including funeral goers and young wives not directly participating in combat, but those DPHs are not allowed to strike back.

But that’s not the only thing that likely went on with this strike. As McClatchy lays out (and Jim also hinted at) it was probably just as much an effort to thwart peace discussions between the civilian government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban.

Waliur Rehman Mehsud’s death comes just before the assumption of power next month of a government led by Nawaz Sharif, a center-right politician who’ll become the prime minister for a record third time. Sharif based his appeal partly on his demand for an end to drone strikes and a pledge to seek peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

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AP President Focuses on White House Claims about OBL Anniversary Threats

A lot of people are pointing to this Bob Schieffer interview of AP President Gary Pruitt because, later in the interview, Pruitt claims seizing the AP’s records without narrowing the scope or notifying the AP is “unconstitutional.” While that might make an interesting — though probably unsuccessful — argument if the AP takes this to court (note, Schieffer also asked whether the White House was trying to intimidate the AP, which seems the only basis for making a claim about constitutionality), I actually wanted to point to how Pruitt described the leak.

He emphasizes something that I pointed to here: the AP believed (or now says it believed) this was newsworthy because the White House had repeatedly said the government knew of no credible threat tied to the anniversary.

Pruitt: It was a very big story. And while the Justice Department hasn’t told us this is the case, we know there’s an announced public investigation to leaks in this case the focus was on this story. It was a story that only AP had. AP obtained knowledge that the US had thwarted an al Qaeda plot to place a bomb on an airliner bound for the United States. And it was round about the one, the year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Schieffer: So this was good news?

Pruitt: This was very good news. But strangely, at the same time, the Administration, through the Press Secretary and the Department of Homeland Security were telling the American public that there was no credible evidence of a terrorist plot related to the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. So that was misleading to the American public. We felt the American public needed to know this story.

Schieffer: You got this story, at first the people that gave it to you asked you to hold it for a certain time.

Pruitt: Yeah, so what happened was we got this story, we went to the government — the White House, intelligence agencies. They said, “there’s a national security risk if you run this, if you go with this story at this time.” We respected that. We acted responsibly. Withheld the story. We held it for five days. On the fifth day, we heard from high officials in two parts of the government that the national security issues had passed. And at that point we released the story.

Schieffer: Am I correct in saying that when you decided finally to release it then you got word that the White House did not want it released because they wanted to announce it themselves?

Pruitt: The White House wanted to, wanted us to hold it another day because they wanted to announce this successful foiling of the plot.

Schieffer: So they didn’t want to get scooped?

Pruitt: I guess! They didn’t tell us their motive, but that certainly seemed that way to us. We didn’t think that was a legitimate reason for holding the story. The national security issues had passed, we released this story.

Schieffer: And if memory serves the top counterterrorism official at the White House went on television the next morning and told the story.

Pruitt: Yes. The Administration was very aggressive in telling the story. [my emphasis]

What Pruitt is referring to, in part, is that Jay Carney introduced his April 26, 2012 press briefing by offering up the information that there were not threats tied to the OBL anniversary.

On a second matter, I just wanted to let you know that as part of his regular briefings on homeland security and counterterrorism, the President met today with members of his national security team to review the threat picture as we head into the anniversary of the bin Laden takedown.

At this time, we have no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the anniversary of bin Laden’s death. However, we asses that AQ’s affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks in the homeland, possibly to avenge the death of bin Laden, but not necessarily tied to the anniversary.

The President thanked his team and directed them to continue taking all necessary measures to protect the American people. [my emphasis]

Note the timing: this announcement came 2 days after Robert Mueller had an unscheduled 45-minute meeting in Yemen, where I suspect he picked up the UndieBomb that had been turned over several days earlier. So when Carney said this, UndieBomb 2.0 (to the extent it was a real plot in the first place) had already been rolled up.

And conflicting claims about threats must be what the AP told the White House was newsworthy, because — even though it played a fairly minor part of the original AP story — it is what John Brennan emphasized when explaining why he had to have a conference call that would lead to Richard Clarke figuring out the plot was actually a sting.

I said there was never a threat to the American public as we had said so publicly, because we had inside control of the plot and the device was never a threat to the American public.

[snip]

I — I — what I’m saying is that we were explaining to the American public why that IED was not in fact a threat at the time that it was in the control of individuals. When — when we say positive control, inside control, that means that we (inaudible) that operation either environmentally or any number of ways. It did not in any way reveal any type of classified information. And I told those individuals and there are, you know, transcripts that are available of that conversation, “I cannot talk to you about the operational details of this whatsoever.”

I’m still not entirely why this was so sensitive to the White House. As I’ve noted, there were several possible ways for Brennan to explain the discrepancy away that wouldn’t have outed their insider.

I think there are several possibilities, which I’ll lay out in a follow-up post. But one detail seems clear: the question of whether and why the Administration was sending mixed signals about the anniversary threat is the bone of contention here.

Department of Pre-Crime, Part 4: The NDAA Congress Is Not About to Legislate Targeted Killing

In three earlier posts, I have discussed the problem with turning the FISA Court into the Drone and/or Targeted Killing Court: As I noted, the existing FISA Court no longer fulfills the already problematic role it was set up to have, ensuring that the government have particularized probable cause before it wiretap someone. On the contrary, the FISA Court now serves as a veil of secrecy behind which the government can invent new legal theories with little check.

In addition, before the FISA Court started rubberstamping Drone Strikes and/or Targeted Killings of Americans, presumably it would need an actual law to guide it. (Though Carrie Cordero, who is opposed to the Drone and/or Targeted Killing FISA Court idea because it might actually restrain the Executive, seems to envision the Court just using the standards the Executive has itself invented.) And there’s a problem with that.

The same Congress that hasn’t been successful passing legislation on detention in the 2012 NDAA is certainly not up to the task of drafting a law describing when targeted killing is okay.

As a reminder, here’s what happened with the NDAA sections on military detention. The effort started with an attempt to restate whom we are at war with, so as to mandate that those we’re at war with be subject to law of war detention. The language attempting to restate whom we’re at war with ended up saying:

(a) IN GENERAL.—Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.

(b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section is any person as follows:

(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

Compare that language with what the actual AUMF says:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Part of the difference arises from the shift to focusing exclusively on persons (you can’t detain a nation, after all, though Palestine might disagree).

Part of the difference comes from the effort — clause 2 above — to extend the AUMF to those associated forces. This was meant to cover groups like AQAP and al-Shabaab, but as we’ll see, it’s one source of the problem with the law.

But part of the problem is that the NDAA language smartly took out the “he determines” and “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism” language. The former has long been a giant loophole, allowing the President to define in secret whom we’re at war against. And I increasingly suspect the Administration has been using the latter language to expand the concept of imminent threat.

In other words, in an effort to parrot back its understanding of whom we’re at war against, Congress both introduced some new fuzzy language — associated forces — and took out existing loopholes — the “he determines” and “prevent any future acts.”

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Dianne Feinstein’s Limited Hang-Out

Shorter Dianne Feinstein: “Well, the magical release of that white paper sure eliminates any need to release the Office of Legal Council memos that depict far worse legal theories, even to the grunt members of my committee who have are legally entitled to read it.”

I have been calling for the public release of the administration’s legal analysis on the use of lethal force—particularly against U.S. citizens—for more than a year. That analysis is now public and the American people can review and judge the legality of these operations. The administration has also described its legal analysis in speeches by the Attorney General and several senior officials during the past two years.

The white paper itself was provided to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in June 2012 as a confidential document. The white paper (along with other documents and briefings) has allowed the Intelligence Committee to conduct appropriate and probing oversight into the use of lethal force. That oversight is ongoing, and the committee continues to seek the actual legal opinions by the Department of Justice that provide details not outlined in this particular white paper.

While the analysis in the white paper is not specific to any one individual, there has been significant question over the death of a U.S. citizen and operational leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula named Anwar al-Aulaqi. As President Obama said at the time of his death, Aulaqi was the external operations leader for AQAP. He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009 and was responsible for additional attempts to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010. He was actively plotting and recruiting others to kill Americans until the time of his death in Yemen.

The analysis is completely disingenuous for a number of reasons. As I have shown, DiFi utterly rolled John Cornyn when he tried to get the legal analysis released last year. She has done — and appears to be doing — far more to obstruct the release of the actual legal analysis than to facilitate it. And as at least 12 Senators strongly suggest, the white paper probably doesn’t reflect the memos (note that DiFi, like Wyden, uses the plural) — or at least one memo — that claims the authority to kill Americans solely on the President’s Article II power. At best, the intelligence (not evidence) to support the claims she advances about Anwar al-Awlaki is not a slamdunk; perhaps the  CIA is lying to her again, perhaps DiFi is lying herself to prevent Americans from assessing how badly she is fulfilling her role as a member of the Gang of Four who has presumably read the Administration’s legal justification and not objected to the President killing another American without due process.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, DiFi’s statement accords nicely with what Jay Carney said at the White House.

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Latest “Isolated Incident” Raises Death Toll to 15 NATO Troops Killed by Afghan Troops This Year

Reacting to the killing of two senior NATO officers inside the previously secure Interior Ministry building in Kabul, Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney on February 27 continued to insist that the ongoing killing of NATO troops by Afghan troops is just a series of “isolated incidents”. This stance is necessary in order for Obama administration and Pentagon officials to continue their attempts to hide the retroactively classified report “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” (pdf) which clearly describes the cultural barriers which contribute to the disturbing trend of green on blue killings. Sadly, today marks another “isolated incident”, with the killing of two more NATO soldiers by a man “in an Afghan army uniform”:

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Monday, military officials said, the latest in a string of shootings that have undermined trust between allies.

The gunman was killed by NATO troops shortly after he opened fire on a group of foreign troops, the military said in a statement. A military spokesman said officials were investigating whether the man was an Afghan soldier or an infiltrator wearing the uniform. No other details were released.

So-called “green on blue” shootings have become a rising threat this year, following a series of incidents that have created distrust between Afghan forces and their international coalition partners. The most significant was last month’s burning of Korans by U.S. troops. The episode sparked violent riots and prompted the Taliban to call on Afghan security forces to open fire on foreign troops.

From Reuters, we get an update on the fratricide statistics, along with an observation on the importance of this trend:

Before Monday’s attack, 13 members of the NATO-led force had been killed this year in what appeared to be attacks by members of Afghan forces, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces, General John Allen, told a U.S. senate committee last week.

About 70 members of the NATO force have been killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 to January this year.

The shootings raise new concern about the reliability of Afghan forces and their ability to take over security responsibilities by the end of 2014, when most Western combat forces leave.

So far, there has been no indication from the Obama administration that the clearly increasing trend of fratricide or other catastrophic events like the Panjwai Massacre will prompt a review of strategy in Afghanistan until after the November election. However, there is a hint that the Pentagon realizes they now stand on the precipice, as the blood money paid to the survivors in Panjwai is significantly higher than what was paid in previous incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan: Continue reading

US Vows No Change of Course in Afghanistan Despite 17% of NATO Deaths in 2012 From Fratricide

"There is absolutely no reason to change course when we're making the kind of progress we're making" -- Pentagon spokesman George Little, February 27, 2012

Displaying a remarkable inability to process the meaning of ongoing events, both White House spokesman Jay Carney and Pentagon spokesman George Little ventured dangerously close to “Baghdad Bob” territory on Monday, declaring that there is no reason to change the strategy or timetable for withdrawal in Afghanistan despite violence levels that have been on a steady rise since the US diverted its attention from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2003 and a rising toll of NATO forces being killed by Afghan forces.

The first question in Monday’s White House press briefing went right to the heart of the crisis that is ongoing in Afghanistan:

But I’m wondering how you explain to the average American who has seen this war go on for 10 years and is ready for troops to come home — how do explain it when the people that we’re training turn their guns on us, or U.S. officers in a secure Afghan Interior building are shot dead?  How do you explain why it’s working?

After Jay Carney responded with a very long “stay the course” explanation of how we must remove any possibility of al Qaeda re-emerging and that we must make conditions appropriate for handing off security to the Afghans, there was this follow-up:

Q    So you just sort of recounted the case there of how the President redefined the mission and how it’s important to stick with it, to stay the course.  But I’m wondering what you do about the attitudes of the American people who, in the case — more than one case in this last week — they say the people that we are going to war with, in some cases, are killing us.  Why should we still support this war?  How do you make that case?  And do you worry that it’s going to erode — the American public support will continue to erode in an election year?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the incidents that you refer to are tragic and horrific and indefensible, there’s no question.  But it is important to remember that 95 to 97 percent of the missions the U.S. forces embark on in Afghanistan, they do so with their Afghan partners.  We’re talking about thousands and thousands of operations that proceed successfully with Afghan partners without anything like this happening.

These are isolated incidents — which does not, of course, mean they are not terrible — and are being investigated by both the Afghan government and ISAF.  But the overall importance of defeating al Qaeda remains and that is why we need to see — to continue the focus on that; to continue the process of, in the implementation of the President’s objectives, transferring security lead over to the Afghans so that American troops can come home.

It’s important to remember the President has already, through his strategy, laid out a process by which American troops will come home as we turn over security responsibility, security lead to Afghan forces.  And as we do that, we will be unrelenting in our pursuit of al Qaeda and unrelenting in our efforts to remove leaders of al Qaeda from the battlefield.

That’s just stunning. Carney insists that “These are isolated incidents” and yet, if we look at the numbers from this year, they are horrific. From AP:

Of 52 U.S. and NATO troops killed this year in Afghanistan, nine were apparently killed by Afghan forces or impersonators. Continue reading

If the Drug Czar Does Not Supervise the Money It Doles Out, Who Does?

At the Daily Press Briefing today, Jay Carney was asked whether the White House approves of the NYPD spying on New York and New Jersey’s Muslim communities.

He responded by claiming that the Office of National Drug Control Policy–the Drug Czar!–has no authority over the money.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is a policy office that has no authority–no authority to and does not conduct, direct, manage, or supervise any law enforcement operations. The funding is provided to the H-I-D-T-A, HIDTA program, of New York and New Jersey, which then provides it to law enforcement agencies to assist in the procurement of resources like computers and other items.

[snip]

This is not an Administration program or a White House program. This is a program of the NY Police Department.

Now, there’s reason to believe the response was bullshit. As the Drug Czar org chart above shows–and Deputy Drug Czar Benjamin Tucker’s biography makes clear–HIDTA is solidly in the chain of command in the Drug Czar’s office.

In his position, Mr. Tucker oversees ONDCP’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program , Drug-Free Communities (DFC), National Youth-Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC).

With 40 years of experience in the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice, Mr. Tucker is a recognized expert in community policing.

Furthermore, the Director of HIDTA, Dr. Ellen Scrivner, has her office in the Executive Office of the President.

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske “coordinates all aspects of Federal drug control programs” and one of those programs is HIDTA, which apparently funds spying on Muslims. And the Drug Czar’s Policy Coordination Circular–which was updated on August 3, 2011–requires that the Drug Czar review any chances to “drug policy.”

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §1704(b), agencies are required, except under exigent circumstances, to notify ONCDP of any proposed change in policies relating to their activities under the National Drug Control Program prior to implementation of such change.

[snip]

The Director of ONCDP reviews such proposed changes and certifies in writing whetehr such change is consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy.

In other words, Obama’s Deputy Drug Czar oversees this program, its Director works in EOP, and any changes on anything pertaining to drug policy must be approved by the Drug Czar.

That kind of micro-management inside the White House is the whole point of having a Czar rather than a congressionally-supervised agency head.

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Jake Tapper Flummoxes Jay Carney On White House Press Policy Hypocrisy

We take broadside shots at the press fairly regularly, both directly and as a vehicle for explaining ills and issues surrounding the government and, at least in my case, law. And there have been plenty of said shots aimed at the White House press over the years (stenographers!) and, pretty much, well earned. But fair is fair, and when there is good work done, it should be pointed out every now and then too. Today is a day for that.

At today’s White House press briefing, Jake Tapper of ABC News bored straight into WH Press Secretary Jay Carney, and it was a thing of beauty. The briefing opened with Carney evincing praise for the two journalists who died last night covering the Syrian popular uprising and resultant government crackdown and oppression, Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik as well as the New York Times’ recently deceased, Anthony Shadid. There is little doubt but that Carney, and the White House, have genuine sadness over the deaths. But Carney, on behalf of the White House, was taking it further and using them as shaded vehicle for political posturing and Tapper flat out called him on it. The exchange transcript, from Jake and ABC News:

TAPPER: The White House keeps praising these journalists who are — who’ve been killed –

CARNEY: I don’t know about “keep” — I think -

TAPPER: You’ve done it, Vice President Biden did it in a statement. How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?
You’re — currently I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re — this is the sixth time you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. The administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States.

CARNEY: Well, I would hesitate to speak to any particular case, for obvious reasons, and I would refer you to the Department of Justice for more on that.
I think we absolutely honor and praise the bravery of reporters who are placing themselves in extremely dangerous situations in order to bring a story of oppression and brutality to the world. I think that is commendable, and it’s certainly worth noting by us. And as somebody who knew both Anthony and Marie, I particularly appreciate what they did to bring that story to the American people.
I — as for other cases, again, without addressing any specific case, I think that there are issues here that involve highly sensitive classified information, and I think that, you know, those are — divulging or to — divulging that kind Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV ...But I will rehab and restore them some day.
14mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV I currently listen to B&W wall monitors with Polk Audio Towers and a Klipsch Subwoofer. I miss my horn loaded bins.
14mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @walterwkatz Even though it was probably Hendrix, an Yank, that really made Marshall (along with Jimmy Page+Ritchie Blackmore) popular.
16mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @walterwkatz Maybe! The first real hard power and stacked amps that went popular were Marshalls, and Jim Marshall was a Brit.
17mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV I play lot of actual albums I have. But am sadly constrained by that which is really easy to find without looking hard.
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JimWhiteGNV @robertcaruso Imagine getting only about five info-filled tweets a day. Only upside is that they were read to you by Dan Rather.
39mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @trog69 @JimWhiteGNV Hey, that ain't bad blues.
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bmaz I miss Cathedral Canyon and Bridge Canyon (Rainbow Bridge) at Lake Powell on houseboat this time of year http://t.co/hfnSQfeHhN
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bmaz Damn, I love big tube amps and horn loaded concert monitor speakers. This shit is what makes America grand.
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bmaz .@JimWhiteGNV For the neighbors (cause i love them so) now spinning on the 'ole 33---> Santana Abraxas and Black Magic Woman
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz .@JimWhiteGNV Okay, Ima continue with Night Flight and Boogie With Stu. The neighbors, probably spinning some Kanye West crap, will love it!
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July 2014
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