WASHINGTON – In a win for congressional oversight over the government’s vast killing program, the Obama administration has shown an additional but undisclosed number of Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the program to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, but has continued to withhold some of its legal opinions from the Intelligence Committees and has not provided any of the legal opinions to the rest of Congress or to the American public. The legal opinions focused on non-citizens continue to be hidden from the Intelligence Committees.
“This is an important first baby step towards restoring the checks and balances between Congress and the president, but it isn’t enough. Amazingly, the Obama administration continues to hide at least some of its legal opinions, even from the intelligence committees. The intelligence committees should have been given all of the legal opinions years ago, particularly when the Obama administration has claimed broad authority to kill people, including American citizens, far from any battlefield,” said Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders. “The legal opinions also shouldn’t stay hidden with the few dozen members of the intelligence committees, but should be available to all members of Congress and minimally redacted copies should be made public. It makes a mockery of the rule of law when the government hides the rules, or makes them up as they go along. It is time to come clean with Congress and the American people.”
Previously, only four memos were briefly shown to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, which prompted some Senate committee members to stall the confirmation of John Brennan—the architect of the targeted-killing program and President Obama’s choice to run the Central Intelligence Agency. In response, the government sent additional materials to the Intelligence Committees, but has not shown the committees all 11 legal opinions sought by several committee members, and also has not provided the legal opinions to other senators or made them public. This afternoon, the Senate Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to send John Brennan’s nomination to the full Senate.
More information on the ACLU’s work on targeted killing can be found here: www.aclu.org/national-security/targeted-killings
The US Senate is set to consider new economic sanctions against Iran that would include the blacklisting and blocking the assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
The new sanctions, among other economic features, would blacklist the IRIB and its president, block all the IRIB assets and prevent others from doing business with it.
The proposed sanction that would hit the IRIB is another attempt by the West to silence Iranian media. In a flagrant violation of the freedom of speech, two satellite providers Eutelsat SA and Intelsat SA stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels in October, citing pressure by the European Union.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) also took all Iranian channels off air in East Asia under pressure from the US.
The new sanctions to be considered by the US Senate could also target transactions for goods and services with Iran’s energy, oil, port, shipping and ship-building sectors. They would also target trade with Iran in graphite and precious metals.
The bans would also ban insurance or reinsurance providers from trading with Iran in energy, shipping and ship-building sectors, as well as with designated persons and entities.
Foreign banks that handle transactions for Iranian persons that have been designated by the United States could also be targeted by the proposed embargoes.
US lawmakers say the fresh move is part of measures aimed at pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear energy program.
The proposal could be put into vote by the Senate as early as Thursday. It would be included in the annual defense policy bill and must be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives before it could become law.
US President Barack Obama will finally sign the sanctions into law after they are approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Over the false allegation, Washington and the European Union have imposed illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran refutes the allegations and argues that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
- U.S. Senate Approves New Sanctions On Iran (rferl.org)
- Senate Approves Amendment That Would Add More Iran Sanctions – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)