CIA was a long way from Jason Bourne
The agency tried to assemble a team of anti-terrorist assassins. But officials could not solve logistical problems, including how to get close to targets while keeping U.S. involvement secret.
By Greg Miller
July 16, 2009
Reporting from Washington — In movies, the CIA has so many prolifically lethal assassins roaming the world that the main problem often seems to be reining them in.
But details that spilled out this week about a real CIA assassination program indicate that when the plotting is being done by spies instead of screenwriters, the obstacles are not so easy to surmount.
According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA spent seven years trying to assemble teams capable of killing the world’s most wanted terrorists but could never find a formula that worked.
The struggles came during a period in which the agency had been given unprecedented authority and resources, and a cause — responding to the Sept. 11 attacks — with broad public support.
High-Born Prussians Who Defied Their Origin
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN
Published: July 15, 2009
BERLIN – Monday is the anniversary of the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Hitler, and services will be held here, as they are every year, where the conspirators were executed. Among those remembered, Count Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg may not ring many bells these days outside Germany, or even inside it. Others came to be famously associated with the plot. But as the German historian Hans Mommsen wrote, “Schulenburg was the inner driving force of the conspiracy.”
Schulenburg’s sister, Countess Elisabeth von der Schulenburg – Tisa, as she was called – was an artist. They constituted an extraordinary pairing.
The Schulenburgs were a very old, very high Prussian clan, staunchly Nazi, and as such a reminder of the complexity of families, not least German ones, aristocratic or otherwise. Their story is a cautionary tale about judging history, or a people, any people, in black and white.
Note Docudharma Times will not appear tomorrow as I “must” attend an Enkai
Sotomayor Avoids Pointed Queries
Supreme Court Nominee Is Elusive About Abortion and Other Issues
By Amy Goldstein, Paul Kane and Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Before nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, President Obama did not ask her about abortion rights or any other “specific legal issue,” she testified yesterday as she sidestepped senators’ efforts to plumb her views on matters from campaign finance law to the workload of the court she is likely to join.
As she progressed through the third day of her confirmation hearings, with no sign of a major mishap so far that would derail her approval by a heavily Democratic Senate, Sotomayor relaxed — yet took no chances. She joked openly with members of the Judiciary Committee while increasingly avoiding their questions.
By midafternoon, even two Democrats on the panel sounded frustrated by her long, elusive replies.
Health Care Vote Illustrates Stubborn Partisan Divide
By ROBERT PEAR and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published: July 15, 2009
WASHINGTON – A party-line Senate committee vote on legislation to remake the nation’s health care system underscored the absence of political consensus on what would be the biggest changes in social policy in more than 40 years.
The bill, which aims to make health insurance available to all Americans, was approved, 13 to 10, by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The panel was the first Congressional committee to approve the health legislation.
“If you don’t have health insurance, this bill is for you,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, who presided over more than three weeks of grueling committee sessions. “It stops insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It guarantees that you’ll be able to find an insurance plan that works for you, including a public health insurance option if you want it.”
Award-winning human rights campaigner murdered in Chechnya
Natalia Estemirova found shot dead after being abducted outside her home
Luke Harding in Moscow
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 July 2009 20.20 BST
Russia’s human rights record tonight came under severe criticism after one of the country’s most famous human rights campaigners was abducted from her home in Chechnya and brutally murdered.
Natalia Estemirova was seized by four unknown men this morning as she left for work. Neighbours at her house in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, heard her shout: “I’m being kidnapped.”
Her body was found near Gazi-Yurt village, in neighbouring Ingushetia. She had been shot twice in the head and chest, police said, adding that her corpse had been dumped on the main road.
Oligarch pays for party that enraged Putin
A star-studded hotel opening has cost thousands of Moscow market traders their jobs. Shaun Walker explains why
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Farhad, a 37-year-old migrant labourer from Tajikistan, has little in common with Russia’s rich. Sporting an Adidas tracksuit, squatting with a beer on a bench outside the closed and shuttered Cherkizovsky market, he couldn’t be further away from the flashy cars, luxury villas and private jets of Russia’s oligarch class. But bizarrely, Farhad, along with about 100,000 traders who lost their jobs when the market in Moscow was closed down two weeks ago, may have been made unemployed as a result of the oligarchic party of parties: a tasteless show of wealth that apparently infuriated the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
Cherkizovsky was the biggest market in eastern Europe, a sprawling bazaar where crowds streamed to buy everything from electronics to clothes and carpets.
Chinese economic growth accelerates to raise hopes for global recovery
• Annual GDP in China reaches 7.9%
• ‘The recovery is not fully balanced’ warns government
Tania Branigan in Beijing and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 July 2009 08.29 BST
China’s economic growth accelerated in the second quarter of this year as a massive stimulus package kicked in, lifting hopes that it could drive the rest of the world towards recovery.
Annual gross domestic product growth in the world’s third largest economy rose from 6.1% in the first quarter of the year to 7.9% – well above predictions – the National Bureau of Statistics reported today.
The latest rise indicated that the country was on course to achieve its growth target of 8% for the year, said Jing Ulrich, JP Morgan’s chairwoman for China equities.
“The recovery is confirmed. The bottom was the fourth quarter last year,” Hao Daming, a senior economist at Galaxy Securities in Beijing, told Reuters.
The Big Question: Can India’s tigers be saved or are they now doomed to disappear?
By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Why are we asking this now?
This week officials at the Panna Nature Reserve in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the so-called tiger state, revealed that there were no longer any of the big cats in the entire park. After forest officials reported not sighting any of the animals for some time, a leading wildlife organisation carried out a survey. The state’s forest minister, Rajendra Shukla, confirmed that the reserve, which three years ago had up to 24 tigers, no longer had any whatsoever. Almost all are believed to have been killed by poachers.
Why is this so serious?
This is not the first time a prestigious reserve has reported that its tigers have disappeared. In 2005, it was revealed that all the tigers in the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan had also been killed by poachers.
Israeli navy in Suez Canal prepares for potential attack on Iran
From The Times
July 16, 2009
Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem
Two Israeli missile class warships have sailed through the Suez Canal ten days after a submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike, in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The deployment into the Red Sea, confirmed by Israeli officials, was a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice. It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defence shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean.
Israel has strengthened ties with Arab nations who also fear a nuclear-armed Iran. In particular, relations with Egypt have grown increasingly strong this year over the “shared mutual distrust of Iran”, according to one Israeli diplomat
Al-Jazeera banned from West Bank
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday banned Al-Jazeera television from operating in its territory and threatened legal action over allegations it broadcast against President Mahmoud Abbas.
Published: 12:17AM BST 16 Jul 2009
The Information Ministry said the Qatar-based Arabic news channel had spread falsehoods and incited viewers against the authorities that run the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The ministry said allegations carried on Al-Jazeera on Tuesday and attributed to a senior figure in Abbas’s Fatah party, Farouq al-Qadoumi, were untrue.
The channel quoted Qadoumi as saying Abbas conspired with Israel to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat in 2003. Arafat died in a Paris hospital in 2004 of an undisclosed ailment.
“Al-Jazeera television has been devoting significant segments of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian National Authority,” the ministry said in a statement
Global piracy levels at a record high as Somali raiders cash in
From The Times
July 16, 2009
Rob Crilly in Nairobi
The number of attacks by pirates in trouble spots around the world more than doubled in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year as a direct result of the surge in activity among Somalia’s pirate gangs.
According to a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the total number reached 240 by the end of last month, compared with 114 incidents in the first half of 2008. This means that 2009 is already a record year for piracy. The previous highest annual tally was 182 attacks, in 2004.
So far this year ships have been boarded in 78 cases and 31 vessels have been hijacked, with 561 crew taken hostage, 19 injured and 6 killed, the bureau said in its quarterly report.
Bongo son set for Gabon candidacy
The son of Gabon’s late President Omar Bongo has been chosen by the ruling party to stand in the presidential election expected in late August.
The BBC Thursday, 16 July 2009
The decision was announced on national TV by Gabonese Democratic Party’s deputy general secretary Angel Ondo.
Rights groups had argued that no member of the former government should stand again, and expressed particular concern over Mr Bongo’s son, Ali-Ben Bongo.
They accuse the ruling party of funding election campaigns with state money.
Election officials have recommended 30 August as the date for the next election.
The death of 73-year-old Omar Bongo, who ran Gabon for more than 40 years, was announced in June..
Fugitive politician is tied to gang targeting police
Congressman-elect Julio Cesar Godoy is suspected of helping protect La Familia, accused of killing 16 officers recently. That has brought pressure on his half-brother, Michoacan Gov. Leonel Godoy.
By Ken Ellingwood
July 16, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — Last week, Julio Cesar Godoy was a congressman-elect. This week, he is a fugitive.
Mexican authorities say Godoy, a half-brother of Michoacan state Gov. Leonel Godoy, helped provide protection for La Familia, the drug-trafficking gang that has waged war on federal police across the state in recent days, killing at least 16 officers.
Officials have an arrest warrant but apparently can’t find the younger Godoy, an attorney who was elected to Congress on July 5 as a candidate of the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.
Feeling political heat, Gov. Godoy on Wednesday called on his sibling to turn himself in and confront the accusations. Godoy said his half-brother lived in a modest house, drove a used Volkswagen and showed no signs of links to organized crime. The two last spoke weeks ago, the governor said.