The Senate voted 55-45 to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director on May 17, despite the fact that her facilitation of torture should disqualify her from assuming the role.
In her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 9, Haspel insisted that the CIA’s interrogation program during the Bush administration was legal. Haspel, a 33-year CIA veteran, argued that it could not be determined whether torture was effective to gain intelligence. She refused to state categorically that torture is immoral. And she never condemned the torture program in which she participated.Read more
Under the guise of exercising supervisory power over the president’s ability to use military force, Congress is considering writing Donald Trump a blank check to indefinitely detain US citizens with no criminal charges. Alarmingly, this legislation could permit the president to lock up Americans who dissent against US military policy.
The bill that risks conveying this power to the president is the broad new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), S.J.Res.59, that is pending in Congress. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Democratic committee member Tim Kaine (Virginia) introduced the bipartisan bill on April 16, and it has four additional co-sponsors.Read more
The 300 asylum seekers who arrived at the US border on April 29 after a month-long, 2,000-mile journey have another grueling struggle ahead of them, according to the immigration attorneys who are donating their time to represent them.
More than three-quarters of asylum claims from Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans between 2012 and 2017 were denied, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, and this year’s caravan of asylum seekers are facing a climate made even more hostile by the xenophobic Trump administration.
Once the asylum applicants — who traveled in a caravan to the Tijuana-San Ysidro border from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — establish that they face a credible fear of persecution in their home countries, their ordeals are just beginning.
Colleen Flynn, an immigration attorney with the National Lawyers Guild’s Los Angeles chapter, told Truthout that because of retaliation by the Trump administration, even those who establish “credible fear” could face years of detention.Read more
After a video of the arrest of two African-American men sitting in Starbucks without buying anything went viral, Starbucks scheduled anti-racism training. But their inclusion of the Anti-Defamation League in the training provoked another outcry and Starbucks capitulated.
On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks. A manager called the police because the men, who had been in the coffee shop for just a few minutes, hadn’t bought anything.
Melissa DePino, a Starbucks customer who recorded the video of the arrest that went viral on social media, said, “These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive . . . I was sitting close to where they were. Very close. They were not doing anything. They weren’t.”
In an attempt to avert a public relations disaster after the racist incident became public, Starbucks announced it would close most of its 8,000 locations on May 29 for racial bias training.
But, adding insult to injury, Starbucks included the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), with its notorious history of racism, as a primary participant in the anti-racism training.
Community outrage at ADL’s central role in the training was swift and strong. Starbucks demoted ADL to a consulting role, and named representatives of three prominent African-American-led civil rights organizations to lead the training.Read more
This coming Monday, April 23, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to review a bill that would virtually give President Donald J. Trump a blank check to wage war anywhere in the world any time he pleases.
The Constitution places the power to declare war exclusively in the hands of the Congress. However, for the past 75 years, Congress has allowed that power to drift toward the executive branch.
The new bill, should it pass, would effectively make the transfer of the war power from Congress to the president complete. It is hard to imagine a worse time in American history for this to happen.Read more
Donald Trump says the United States is about to bomb Syria, and Russia has vowed to shoot down US aircraft with missile defenses in response. With John Bolton, the new national security adviser and infamous enemy of the United Nations by Trump’s side, diplomacy is not in the cards.
Although there has been no independent investigation, Trump is blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an alleged chemical attack on Saturday in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, that killed 49 people.
As he did before bombing Syria with Tomahawk missiles one year ago — also in retaliation for an alleged gas attack — Trump is rushing to judgment about who was responsible. And once again, the military force that he’s threatening to use now would violate both the War Powers Resolution and the UN Charter.Read more
On March 30, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers shot 773 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, killing 17 and wounding 1,400. Twenty remain in critical condition. The protesters were marching to demand the internationally mandated right of return of refugees to their cities and villages in what now constitutes Israel.
The Israeli leaders who ordered the massacre were in clear violation of international law. They should be prosecuted for war crimes.Read more
Nothing Donald Trump has done since his inauguration 14 months ago is more dangerous – to the United States, and indeed, to the world – than his selection of John Bolton for National Security Adviser. It is not surprising the president would feel most comfortable receiving advice from a fellow bully.
Trump bullies people on a nearly daily basis, directing his ire at immigrants, Muslims, women, LBGTQ people, the poor and the environment. He hurls Twitter attacks at those who disagree with him.Read more
Over the past week, nearly a year after he tried to have Robert Mueller fired, Donald Trump went on a tweeting rampage against the special counsel. Trump’s escalating Twitter attacks may be a harbinger of Mueller’s impending dismissal — or the president could be trying to preemptively discredit and delegitimize Mueller’s eventual findings against him.
Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017. The following month, Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused and threatened to resign. Trump backed down but has been champing at the bit to end Mueller’s investigation, apparently restrained by his lawyers’ promises that the probe is coming to an end. In addition, GOP heavyweights like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) warned that firing Mueller would spell “the beginning of the end of [Trump’s] presidency.”
But Mueller’s investigation shows no signs of abating. He continues to secure grand jury indictments, as well as plea bargains that make those pleading guilty into cooperating witnesses. And now he has subpoenaed financial records of the Trump Organization.Read more
On March 1, 2018, in his annual state of the nation speech to the Russian Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin declared that his country has developed an “invincible” intercontinental cruise missile resistant to US missile defense systems. Putin claimed the new weapon can operate at very high speeds and has unlimited range.
Although “some experts” have suggested Putin may be bluffing, Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology and national security policy at MIT, told Truthout, “I think he’s deadly serious.” Postol, who evaluated Moscow’s anti-ballistic missile defense while serving as adviser to the chief of naval operations in the early 1980s, said Putin’s speech “made very clear that every attempt to engage us in constructive discussion has been met with no response. He was responding to the US unwillingness to talk about missile defenses.”Read more