The American Bear



Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces | The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As the United States turns increasingly to Special Operations forces to confront developing threats scattered around the world, the nation’s top Special Operations officer, a member of the Navy Seals who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, is seeking new authority to move his forces faster and outside of normal Pentagon deployment channels.

The officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy. The plan would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.

elite units…operate in dark corners of US foreign policy…need more autonomy…outside of normal deployment channels.

Most needed to do what, exactly?


David Cole: A Secret License to Kill | New York Review of Books

The legal parameters defining the use of military force against terrorists are unquestionably difficult to draw. On the one hand, no one disputes that it is permissible to kill an enemy soldier on the battlefield in an ongoing armed conflict. On the other hand, absent extreme circumstances, constitutional and international law bar a state from killing a human being in peacetime without a trial (and even then, many authorities hold that capital punishment violates international human rights law). Al-Qaeda has not limited its fight to the battlefield in Afghanistan, and most agree that, as long as sovereignty concerns are met, the use of military force can follow this enemy beyond the battlefield at least in some situations. Killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan—whose tribal areas are for all practical purposes part of the theater of war—was the justified targeting of the enemy’s leader. But are al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or al-Shabab the same “enemy,” or merely sympathetic adherents of a terrorist philosophy? They certainly did not attack us on September 11, nor are they harboring those who did. Can we summarily execute all terrorists who we fear might someday commit a terrorist act against us? Brennan’s speech offered no answers.

And that makes it especially disturbing that the contours of US policy and practice in this area remain largely secret. Presumably the administration has developed criteria for who can be killed and why, and a process for assessing who fits those criteria and when their targeting is justified. But if so, it hasn’t told us. Instead, it exercises the authority to kill, not only in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan, but in Yemen,Somalia, and presumably elsewhere, based on a secret policy. We learn more about its outlines from leaks to The New York Times than from the cryptic comments of US officials in speeches like Brennan’s. If we are engaging the enemy within the rule of law, as Brennan insisted we must, we should have the courage to make our policies transparent, so that the people, both in the United States and beyond, can judge for themselves. And if, by contrast, we continue to justify such practices in only the vaguest of terms, we should expect other countries to take them up—and almost certainly in ways we will not find to our liking.

Circling the Roundabout: Rumsfeld Loses Attempt to Have Torture Suit Filed Against Him By Two Contractors Dismissed...


Rumsfeld Loses Attempt to Have Torture Suit Filed Against Him By Two Contractors Dismissed | FireDogLake


A federal court has rejected former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s attempt to have a lawsuit dismissed that alleges he is responsible for authorizing the torture of two military contractors. The case, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld, et al is one of two cases out of more than a dozen that allege Rumsfeld allowed torture to take place against US citizens in Iraq.

The dismissal means Rumsfeld has now lost two appeals against torture suits filed against him. Last week, a federal court in Washington, DC, released an opinion that upheld the other lawsuit moving forward against Rumsfeld, John Doe v. Donald Rumsfeld, et al, a case that alleges the former defense secretary had a role in the torture and illegal detention of a US citizen that was working in Iraq as a translator.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is now the highest court to have allowed US citizens to push a lawsuit against Rumsfeld. The verdict upholds a previous decision issued in March 2010, which had allowed the case against Rumsfeld to move forward.