“The very interesting question that has arisen as the U.S. has pioneered this technology is: What happens when the Russians, say, send an armed drone into Georgia to the south claiming that there's a Chechen terrorist that's hiding in Georgia? And they have no other way to kill him and so they're going to kill him with a drone missile? "It's going to be a very interesting moment internationally and for the United States, because the Obama administration — if that's who's in power — is going to have to say, 'We accept this because they're doing exactly what we do,' or they'll have to somehow make a distinction between what the Chinese or Russians are doing and what we've done in the past.”—New York Times national security correspondent Scott Shane tells Terry Gross what would it mean if countries not allied with the United States had their own drone programs.
“He has turned the corner from being merely a person who encouraged and incited terrorism to someone who has an operational role in plotting attacks.”—In May 2010, New York Times reporter Scott Shane came on Fresh Air to discuss the American-Yemeni Islamic cleric Imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Today it was reported that al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen. [More updates from NPR’s Two-Way blog]
ON Friday night, the nation’s capital was under a tornado watch. And that was the best thing that happened to the White House all week.
As the president was being slapped by Mitt Romney for being too weak on national security, he was being rapped by a Times editorial for being too aggressive on national security.
A Times article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane revealed that the liberal law professor who campaigned against torture and the Iraq war now personally makes the final decisions on the “kill list,” targets for drone strikes. “A unilateral campaign of death is untenable,” the editorial asserted.
On Thursday, Bill Clinton once more telegraphed that he considers Obama a lightweight who should not have bested his wife. Bluntly contradicting the Obama campaign theme that Romney is a heartless corporate raider, Clinton told CNN that the Republican’s record at Bain was “sterling.”
The FBI's Leak Investigation and the Big Chill in Intelligence Journalism
August 2, 2012
Scott Shane of the New York Timeshas an article in this morning’s paper about how the FBI’s ongoing investigation into who has been leaking classified information to journalists here in Washington has had a noticeably chilling effect on the willingness of current-serving and even retired U.S. government officials to talk about intelligence matters, even on deep background.
The simple fact of the matter is that because of the FBI investigations and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposed anti-leak legislation that just came out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a lot of people, even at the top ranks of the U.S. government and intelligence community, who previously had been willing to talk off-the-record about intelligence matters, now won’t return phone calls or e-mails. The Big Chill have descended on Washington, and it is murderous for those of us who cover intelligence issues.
I find myself conflicted on the whole issue. On one hand, for years I have felt that something clearly had to be done to stop the tidal wave of classified information leaking out of government. The problem was most apparent during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where the epidemic of leaks reached proportions where many of us despaired. TheWashington Timesin particular was renown during the Clinton administration for putting incredibly sensitive intelligence information on the front page. The Bush administration muzzled the Times, but the problem has continued.
But by the same token, I have to admit that I do not like at all where the anti-leak frenzy is headed. As I have said before in previous posts, I know something is wrong when many of the worst leakers on Capitol Hill are the ones leading the charge for new and tougher anti-leak legislation. What’s a poor boy to do?
“But a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier’s identity. ”—Scott Shane and Charlie Savage for NYT
This hour On Point: Wikileaks, state secrets, and the alleged abuse of Private Bradley Manning.
- Scott Shane, correspondent for the New York Times, covering the Bradley Manning case and Wikileaks.
- Glenn Greenwald, columnist for Salon.
- Jon Shelburne, Marine reservist and JAG lawyer. He is Acting Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic and professor at Roger Williams University School of Law.
“But the same qualities that worked well for him in his time as a risk-taking intelligence officer, trained to form a bond with potential recruits, may have been his undoing in his post-C.I.A. role as an intelligence expert sought out by reporters. “Your job as a case officer is to recruit spies to steal secrets — plain and simple,” Mr. Kiriakou said. “You have to convince people you are their best friend. That wasn’t hard for me. I’d say half the people I recruited I could be lifelong friends with, even though some were communists, criminals and terrorists. I love people. I love getting to know them. I love hearing their stories and telling them stories. “That’s all great if you’re a case officer,” he said. “It’s not so great, it turns out, if you’re a former case officer.”—John Kiriakou to Scott Shane / New York Times
The NY Times refers to Anwar al-Awlaki as a "terrorist"
Today, Scott Shane, Matt Mazzetti, and Charlie Savage, three of the best national security journalists around, co-authored an article in the New York Times that referred to Anwar al-Awlaki as “…a terrorist leader whose death lawyers in the Obama administration believed to be justifiable…”
This is noteworthy. As far as I can tell, it is the first time these journalists have labeled Awlaki as a “terrorist,” and their decision to do so gets to the heart of the controversy surrounding his killing.
Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen targeted for lethal action by the Obama administration. For years, al-Awlaki was seen as a potentially dangerous preacher with radical beliefs, but he was eventually judged by government authorities to also be tangibly involved in various terrorist plots. In other words, he had left the world of constitutionally protected speech and entered the world of illegal action. Such was the justification offered by the government when defending its decision to kill him.
However, al-Awlaki was never given a trial, and the evidence supposedly documenting his (in the language later used by government officials) “operational” ties to Al Qaeda was not made publicly available by the administration prior to his death (or afterward, to my knowledge, as will be discussed below).
As a result, critics of the killing accused the administration of having clearly violated al-Awlaki’s constitutional right to due process, as well as having established a precedent by which a president could accuse a citizen of terrorism, citing secret evidence in the process, and then targeting them with lethal force.
Furthermore, in the years after al-Awlaki’s death, these critics have continued to push the administration to release the evidence it has against al-Awlaki, in an attempt to shed light on the legality of the government’s conduct.
I was under the impression that such evidence has yet to be released - that proof of al-Awlaki’s operational ties to various terrorist plots remain in the realm of government accusation, rather than established fact. But today’s article by Shane, Mazzetti, and Savage - who, again, have consistently provided some of the best reporting and analysis on this story - seems to imply the opposite: that al-Awlaki’s tangible connections to terrorism have been clearly established.