AFP – BEIRUT: New claims have emerged that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime may have launched attacks with an industrial chemical earlier this month, despite an international agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal. The latest evidence, cited by the United States and France, comes as Syria plans to hold a June 3 presidential poll, which the United Nations and the Arab League condemned as a blow to efforts to end the three-year-old civil war.
“We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical, probably chlorine, in Syria this month, in the opposition-dominated village of Kafr Zita,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
“We are examining allegations that the government was responsible.”
NYT- A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.
Note- the original headline in the Times did not have “Targeted”. It was in the body of the post.
McClatchy – Employees of U.S. intelligence agencies have been barred from discussing any intelligence-related matter- even if it isn’t classified- with journalists without authorization, according to a new directive by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Under the order, only the director or deputy head of an intelligence agency, public affairs officials and those authorized by public affairs officials may have contact with journalists on intelligence-related matters.
The order doesn’t distinguish between classified and unclassified matters. It covers a range of intelligence-related information, including, it says, “intelligence sources, methods, activities and judgments.” It includes a sweeping definition of who’s a journalist, which it asserts is “any person . . . engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security.”
The order represents the latest move by the Obama administration to stifle leaks. It bolsters another administration initiative called the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal employees to report co-workers who show any of a broad variety of “high risk” behaviors that might indicate they could be sources of unauthorized releases of classified or unclassified material.
(originally published Dec 9, 2013)
Agonist Diaries are back!
One of the best features of the old Agonist was USER DIARIES. After considerable effort, we’ve restored that function to the new WordPress platform.
All Agonist registered users can now create their own Diary entries. Posts can be on any subject but are subject to respecting the copyright of others and a few other obvious rules. Continue reading Call for Diaries!
Reuters, By Yuka Obayashi, April 20
Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture – The manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant admits to embarrassment that repeated efforts have failed to bring under control the problem of radioactive water, eight months after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the world the matter had been resolved.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, has been fighting a daily battle against contaminated water since Fukushima was wrecked by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Abe’s government pledged half a billion dollars last year to tackle the issue, but progress has been limited.
“It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant last week. He was referring to the latest blunder at the plant: channeling contaminated water into the wrong building.
“the Onion” adds just one little detail
Report from London links CIA Covert Op with Turkey, Syria
Answer offered by Seymour Hersh Gets Little Public Attention
“Benghazi” is one of those kneejerk labels that rightwing folks slap on a story they don’t actually understand but have determined the “right” answer to anyway. It’s a hot button, not an argument, like the “IRS scandal”,. which the right is finally beginning to admit it got wrong because it ignored the law as written. “Fast and Furious” is another of some two dozen, mostly less-well-known rightwing thought substitutes that aren’t supported by persuasive evidence (meanwhile, the scripted herd of Obama-haters pretty much remains silent about real Obama administration scandals, like civilian murder by drone or massive global surveillance, the sorts of things that throw the left into denial).
The latest explanation of “Benghazi” comes from a non-partisan reporter, so that’s a start, and it provides a credible framework for most of the anomalies associated with Benghazi. Even better, official spokes-people universally either refused to comment on the story, or denied it flatly. So there’s hope.
The Guardian, By Jason Leopold, April 18
James Mitchell ‘highly skeptical’ of Senate report on CIA torture – ‘It was not illegal based on the law at the time’ – Mitchell said to have waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – Interview: ‘I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country’
The psychologist regarded as the architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program has broken a seven-year silence to defend the use of torture techniques against al-Qaida terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.
It seems I was wrong: Obama (and Putin) apparently do want a deal:
This is genuinely good news. The Nelson Reports’ reaction is after the jump for those inclined. One note: wouldn’t it be interesting if at some point in the near future people start talking of Finlandizing the Ukraine? While that’s not an optimal long term solution it sure as hell beats a civil war in the Ukraine.
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