Congress Votes to Override Obama Veto on 9/11 Victims Bill [The New York Times] “Congress on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to override a veto by President Obama for the first time, passing into law a bill that would allow the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot. Democrats in large numbers joined with Republicans to deliver a remarkable rebuke to the president. The 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and the 348-to-77 vote in the House displayed the enduring power of the Sept. 11 families in Washington and the diminishing influence here of the Saudi government. The new law, enacted over the fierce objections of the White House, immediately alters the legal landscape. American courts could seize Saudi assets to pay for any judgment obtained by the Sept. 11 families, while Saudi officials have warned they might need to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in holdings in the United States to avoid such an outcome.” [more inside]
Tonight at 9 p.m. ET President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. (Barring unexpected developments.) He is expected to reflect on his legacy in office and also look towards the future with the same optimistic viewpoint which has always been a signature of his political identity. [more inside]
60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History. "Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here’s how it came to be, and what it’s since come to mean." [Via]
"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
'Homeland,' Obama’s Show. The award winning TV show does little to alleviate the myths and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims, writes Joseph Massad, a scholar at Columbia University. "The racist representation of Arabs is so exponential, even for American television [..] that one does not know where to begin." [more inside]
Our leaders -- of both parties -- have systematically infantilized Americans to believe that perfect security is attainable. This is one reason the White House reacts so defensively to any intimation that its conduct of the war on al-Qaeda is less than perfect. It’s one reason Republicans cynically argue that the administration is incompetent in its prosecution of the war, and in its mission to keep U.S. personnel alive. So long as both parties react so small-mindedly and opportunistically to the terrorist threat, we won’t be able to have a rational, adult conversation about the best ways to wage this war. - Jeffrey Goldberg, Benghazi Attack Brings Infantilizing Response
August was one of the deadliest months in Afghanistan, for both civilians and soldiers. The death toll was increased by so-called 'green-on-blue' attacks by members of the Afghan National Army and police forces on ISAF and US forces. [more inside]
Guardian/Greenwald: US drones are coming back after initial attacks to target first-responder rescuers.
The NYT reports on how a Secret 'Kill List' tests Obama's principles and will [more inside]
An ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou has been indicted under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists. [more inside]
"From the ground, drones are terrifying weapons that can be heard circling overhead for hours at a time."
"What's that buzzing sound?" Foreign Policy's third annual War Issue focuses on what it calls "Barack Obama's Secret Wars," including My Drone War, in which a Pakistani journalist for Newsday and the NYT describes what drone warfare looks and sounds like from the ground; The Obama Doctrine, which argues drone warfare is a failing strategy in both Yemen and Pakistan; The Evolution of Drone Warfare: A Photo History, 1917-2010, and more. The package also includes two takes on cyberwar - Cyberwar is still more hype than hazard and Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us - along with a lot of interesting links.
Hand On Your Gun is a music video dedicated to suit-wearing arms dealers and champagne-drinking depleted uranium droppers from British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey. A few of his other videos: Obama Nation, Terrorist?, Obama Nation part 2, Soundtrack To The Struggle
Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010 (PDF). "Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the present have killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent." [more inside]
The Obama administration has repeatedly threatened to conceal future information of terrorist threats from the British government, unless the British government disobeys the High Court ruling requiring them to release information about the US government's acknowledged torture program. This may be a breach of the Convention Against Torture. Glenn Greenwald has new evidence. Previously.
Bringing Justice to the War on Terrorism. 3 views on how the incoming administration should deal with the legal legacy of Bush Administration policies like torture, surveillance, and extraordinary rendition. Charles Fried makes the case against criminal prosecutions, Dahlia Lithwick makes the case for investigations followed by prosecutions, and Jack Balkin argues for truth commissions. [Via]