FROM Scott Horton
The US election: Russian money laundering and organized crime Up until now, President Trump and his staff have been bitterly critical about the consensus of all US intelligence agencies: that Russia tried to influence last year's election, with the goal of helping Mr. Trump win. Today on the cable show Fox and Friends, the President not only conceded the point -- but blamed the Obama Administration for not taking action. Many Democrats agree. But questions remain: what Russia was up to? Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to find out; he's reportedly focused on Russian money laundering and organized crime, especially in London. We look at the team Mueller's assembled and what their specialties reveal about his investigation.
The Russians were coming. Did anyone listen? Yesterday's Senate testimony by former Obama Administration officials was as much a warning about elections to come as it was about last year's campaign. But the focus was on how former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the Trump White House that its National Security Advisor had been compromised. She thought action was needed, but General Michael Flynn was not fired for almost three weeks — after he'd attended high-security meetings. Democrats want an independent investigation, but President Trump still calls it "fake news." How real is Russia's threat to democracy?
Where Do Ousted Dictators Go? Now that he's out of office, where will Hosni Mubarak go next? If Libya's Moammar Gadhafi is ousted, what's next for him? Time was that an ousted dictator had plenty of options -- a quiet life, for example, in on of Europe's posh watering holes. Not any more, according to Scott Horton, professor at Columbia Law School and contributing editor to Foreign Policy magazine.
Guantanamo Detainee Ghailani on Trial in NYC Federal Court Ahmed Ghailani, an accused terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay, went on trial in civilian court today in New York City. The big question is whether Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the professed mastermind of September 11, will be next. Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper's magazine and professor at Columbia Law School.
Were the Hanging Deaths at Gitmo Suicide or Murder? In 2006, the Bush Administration announced that three prisoners—one from Yemen, two from Saudi Arabia—hanged themselves at Guantánamo Bay. Now, Harper's magazine is reporting that claim was false and that the Obama Administration is participating in an ongoing cover-up. Contributing editor Scott Horton reports that the alleged suicides were more likely deaths resulting from torture at a nearby camp run by the CIA. He bases his story on what he's been told by soldiers who were willing to let him use their names.
Obama Administration Eyes Gitmo North in Thomson, Illinois Yesterday, government officials toured the Thomson Correctional Facility , an unoccupied state prison 150 miles northwest of Chicago. It might be the next stop for prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay. Then again, it might not.
Closing Guantanamo: Easier Said than Done Closing Guantanamo Bay means finding another place for some 200 prisoners Donald Rumsfeld once called "the worst of the worst." But many were scooped up in sweeps or handed over for money. Judges picked by the Bush Administration say 30 should be released right away. Cases against many others are so weak that the Pentagon and Justice Department are competing for plea agreements in courts or military tribunals. In the meantime, the Obama Administration wants them housed on American soil. But where? Yesterday, government officials toured the Thomson Correctional Facility , an unoccupied state prison 150 miles northwest of Chicago. We hear about the possibilities and the politics.
Memos May Expose Government Lawyers, Others to Prosecution Some of the Bush Administration's most closely guarded secrets have now been revealed in legal memos released by the Obama Justice Department, despite opposition by the CIA. Brutal interrogation tactics are described in graphic detail along with efforts to square them with international and American law. President Obama condemned a "dark and painful chapter in our history," but said "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." Hofstra Law Professor Scott Horton is contributing editor to Harper's magazine, where he writes the " No Comment " blog.
Presidential Transition and Accountability The Senate Armed Services Committee report says "abusive" interrogation techniques were not the work of a few low-level "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. Top Administration officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Air Force General Richard Myers and Condoleezza Rice, signed off on water-boarding and other practices some call torture. All committee members from both parties agreed that was wrong. Vice President Cheney says he personally approved those practices , and calls them effective — and legal.
New Reports Raise Questions About Bush's Iraq Legacy With a month left in office, the Bush Administration is getting reviews and voicing its own assessments of the past eight years. An unpublished official history of the Iraq reconstruction says it was crippled before it began and bungled in execution. John McCain and other Republicans signed a unanimous Senate report that so-called "abusive" interrogation techniques in the war on terror were not the work of a few low-level "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, but that top Administration officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Air Force General Richard Myers and Condoleezza Rice, signed off on water-boarding and other practices some call torture. Now, Vice President Cheney says that's true . Should he and others be praised for protecting the country or investigated for possible crimes?
The Dark Side of America's War on Terror Lawyers, military figures and Bush Administration insiders believed that so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques really were torture. But Vice President Cheney insisted they were the only way to head off another September 11, despite warnings about prosecution for war crimes. A new book, The Dark Side , also reports that dissenters lost their jobs, even as "enhanced" interrogation produced false information that derailed the war on terror. Will there be a call to accountability?
The Next Attorney General and Waterboarding Michael Mukasey is now considered certain to be confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States after today's vote by the Judiciary Committee to send his name to the full Senate. The former judge has refused to say whether he thinks waterboarding is torture, but told New York Senator Chuck Schumer he would enforce a law against waterboarding if Congress passed one. That was good enough for Diane Feinstein of California, who joined fellow Democrat Schumer in providing the two deciding votes. Eight other Democrats voted no, insisting that waterboarding is torture and that Mukasey should declare it already illegal. Should a Medieval practice be classified as torture? Would that incriminate US officials all the way up to the White House? We talk to a Navy veteran who's been through it and taught it. Does it provide reliable information that could save innocent lives?
Was the Justice Department Using Prosecution as a Political Strategy? Two months ago, Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was sentenced to seven years for bribery and obstruction of justice . He was immediately shackled and denied release on bail pending appeal. He did not even get the usual 45 days to put his affairs in order. Democrats in Congress are investigating his prosecution and his conviction. Forty-four former state attorneys general—including Republicans—have asked Congress to investigate "irregularities" they say question the "basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice." Alabama is in an uproar over a case that could have national implications. Has the Bush Administration played politics with the power of prosecution to influence elections? Are the Democrats misusing their power to conduct investigations?
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?