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Showing posts from February 11, 2014

‘We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.’ - The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

By Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald

 - "The Intercept" - The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturi…

Taiwan's Political Gridlock Threatens Its Regional Position and Cooperation with China

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou speaks at a meeting of the Kuomintang party, Taipei, June 20, 2013. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)


Taiwan's Minister of Mainland Affairs, Wang Yu-chi, is due to visit China from Feb. 11 to 14 in what has already been hailed a major step forward in China-Taiwan relations. Wang and his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, are expected to discuss a number of trade and diplomatic issues, including a long-anticipated agreement to relax controls on cross-strait trade-in-goods and -- according to recent speculation -- a possible meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this year.

But Wang's visit comes amid prolonged political gridlock in Taipei and an internal crisis within Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party. These factors threaten to undermine the Ma administration's efforts to deepen cross-strait economic cooperation and could exac…

Libya Prepares to Restart the Constitutional Process Despite Risks

Libyan protesters hold placards as they demonstrate against the extended mandate of the General National Congress, the country's highest political authority, in Tripoli's Martyr Square on Feb. 7. MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images


Libya's beleaguered central government is again attempting to restart its constitutional drafting process. The efforts come as a paralyzing political competition in the country not only has brought most of the country's oil production offline but also threatens to further divide the country's tribal, political and geographic competitors. This situation is unsustainable for Tripoli's national ambitions. Regional leaders, concerned international observers and national-level interests in the capital and Libya's urban areas are pushing the transitional national government to codify its economic prerogatives and political, military and security powers within a more permanent legal framework, despite the risks of increased unrest. A…

Switzerland Reverses the Trend of European Integration

A man in Zurich passes a sign opposing the anti-immigration referendum on Feb. 6. (MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images)


The outcome of a recent referendum in Switzerland will make it more difficult for Bern to maintain the balance between European integration and independence. Though not a member of the European Union, Switzerland has participated in the process of European integration for decades through a number of bilateral agreements with Brussels. During the Feb. 9 referendum, the Swiss approved an initiative by the right-wing Swiss People's Party that calls for the introduction of annual immigration quotas.

The initiative will require the Swiss government to renegotiate its agreement with the European Union on the free movement of labor. Frustrated by the selective approach to European integration, Brussels will probably make things difficult for Switzerland. However, the union's position is likely to be undermined in the coming years as Euroskeptical forces and con…