Weekly Web Watch 11/9/09 – 11/15/09

By Ryan Caldwell

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, will face trial in a civilian court in New York.  Glenn Greenwald laments that only some detainees will be selected for prosecution.  James Joyner fails to see the upside of providing a civilian trial.

President Obama is reportedly unhappy with the Afghanistan strategies that his advisors presented to him and wants them to redo the options to include more information about withdrawal estimates.  Fred Kaplan has some analysis of the president’s concerns, including his aversion to a decades-long counterinsurgency strategy.  Kevin Drum reports that the military may not provide any “light footprint” plans.  Rich Lowry says that second-guessing the military is below the president’s pay grade.  Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Bob Gates is getting upset with the media’s ability to find out about these deliberations.  “Everybody out there ought to just shut up,” he said, referring to leakers.  Of course, possibly the biggest leak occurred this week when U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry sent two cables expressing doubt that Hamid Karzai is the right man for the job in Afghanistan.

White House Counsel Gregory Craig will step down early next year.  Craig, who was charged with closing Guantanamo Bay this year, had been under fire for his lack of progress with detainee issues and seeming lack of political awareness.

A U.S. citizen, Amir Meshal, has filed suit alleging that he was a victim of extraordinary rendition to Ethiopia.  Meshal is the first U.S. citizen to sue as a victim of extraordinary rendition.

An Iraqi court issued a fine against the Guardian for publishing an article critical of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  The article claimed that al-Maliki was, wait for it, becoming alarmingly authoritarian.

Blackwater now stands accused of paying out over $1 million in bribes to Iraqi officials in the aftermath of the Nisour Square shootings that left 17 people dead.

A federal court ruled that Valerie Plame cannot publish a book about her exploits as a CIA agent, even though the government has admitted that she worked for the agency.  Such an action, the Second Circuit found, would be injurious to national security.

A FOIA request made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has forced the government to divulge thousands of documents relating to the passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.  So many documents have been released, in fact, that Wired is asking for help in reviewing them.  So cruise on over if you want to volunteer or if you just want access to the source documents.  Early finds include that the Bush administration was afraid that successor administrations might not extend protection to private telecoms and that the bill was deliberately designed to allow “bulk collections.”

GM announced plans to pay off its U.S. government loans within the next two years.

U.S. attorneys issued a subpoena to an Indymedia website requesting visitor logs.  The subpoena also forbade the site from disclosing the existence of the subpoena.  The site successfully convinced the Justice Department to withdraw the request; the Justice Department is now saying that the attorneys involved did not follow the proper procedures and safeguards.

Those of you looking to see Dawn Johnsen at OLC anytime soon should be aware of just how easy it is to hold up a nomination.  This phenomenon also contributes to Obama’s slow pace in nominating judges, something further held up by the delay in confirmation of his nominee for the Office of Legal Policy.

Image: AP/FoxNews


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