The U.S. government is now prepared to officially announce that it killed four American citizens abroad, including Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, in three 2011 drone strikes. Ahead of a big speech by President Obama on national security, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. informed congressional leaders that it killed al-Awlaki in Yemen on purpose, but said the three others "were not specifically targeted by the United States." They include al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son; Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike as the elder al-Awlaki; and Jude Mohammed, a man from North Carolina who was indicted in 2009 and killed in Pakistan two years later. Mohammed's FBI wanted page is still active, although probably not for much longer.
"All the police officers and the FBI … and all the nurses and all the doctors were staring at me … I was looking [at] them like, is it because of the color of my skin or is it because of the name of my country?” —Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi national who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing and briefly became a potential suspect.
A man thought to be a British soldier was killed today in what the country's home secretary called a "sickening and barbaric attack" near a military barracks in the Woolwich district of South East London. "A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm," a police commander said, according to the New York Times. "Two men, who we believe from early reports to have been carrying weapons, were shot by police. They were taken to separate London hospitals; they are receiving treatment for their injuries."
But one of the suspects appears to have given a video interview first, his bloodied hands holding a cleaver. "We swear by almighty Allah," he exclaims, "we will never stop fighting you."
As the cicada invasion of New York — and, indeed, the entire eastern seaboard — continues, Daily Intelligencer caught up with one of the critters for an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Hey, welcome to New York
Thanks. Can we make this kind of quick? I only have three more weeks or so to live and, no offense, talking to reporters isn't high on my bucket list.
No offense taken. Even people who aren't facing imminent death don't really like talking to report—
Seriously, get on with the questions.
The debate over the proper pronunciation of GIF, always a hot topic in the world of Internet nerds, was front and center at last night's 17th Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani Wall Street. Taking home a lifetime achievement award was none other than the inventor of the GIF himself, Steve Wilhite, who, earlier in the day, reiterated to the Times that, despite all common sense, GIF should be pronounced with a soft G. Wilhite hammered home this decree once more in an acceptance speech last night.
The biggest piece of President Obama’s second-term agenda is his widely expected plan for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new carbon regulations for power plants, a move that could bring the United States in line with the greenhouse-gas-reduction goals it agreed to in Copenhagen and open the way for an international treaty to control climate change. If the administration unveils such a plan, conservatives will undoubtedly challenge its legality. The legal challenge won’t take place for two years, but the two sides are preparing for war already. The field of battle will be the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C.
IRS official Lois Lerner warned Congress yesterday that, if made to appear before the House Oversight Committee this morning, she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions. Lerner was forced to appear anyway, and after reading an opening statement, in which she insisted that she had done nothing wrong, she informed Chairman Darrell Issa that, as promised, she would plead the Fifth.
It was at this point (4:28 in the video below) that Issa suggested that, because Lerner had given an opening statement, she had "effectively waived" her Fifth Amendment rights. South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy could not agree more (5:09 in the video).
James Goodale knows a thing or two about whistleblowers. As a First Amendment lawyer, he represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case against the Nixon administration and recently wrote about his experience and its implications today in Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. But what was once an esoteric issue has suddenly inserted itself into the national conversation with the news that the Obama administration secretly seized phone records from the Associated Press and tracked the communication of at least one other reporter while in pursuit of national security leakers.
"The search warrant filed to investigate the Fox News reporter James Rosen proved as many had suspected: President Obama wants to make it a crime for a reporter to talk to a leaker," Goodale wrote today in the Times. "It is a further example of how President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." In an interview with Daily Intelligencer this morning, we asked Goodale to back up his bold claim and if most of America will ever really care.
The NIMBYism inspired by the installation of the city's empty bike-share racks has already led to lawsuits and a few small victories: 8 of 31 slots were reportedly removed from "a bike-share rack blocking the front of a West Village co-op — just hours after The Post called the Department of Transportation over complaints that an ambulance crew had trouble getting to a 92-year-old resident in distress." (DoT said the EMTs had "no trouble.") Elsewhere in the West Village, a station was moved across the street after neighbors complained "it looked like Times Square" because of the racks. "I still don't like the color of the bikes," one local griped, even after winning. "It doesn't fit the neighborhood, but we have to pick our battles." Noble causes only.
Joe Biden spoke last night in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Biden has long, deep ties to the Jewish community — Obama actually picked him in 2008 in part to reassure skittish Jewish Democrats. Biden indeed offered fulsome, heartfelt praise in his remarks, before wandering into highly uncomfortable terrain and delivering a speech that is likely to be quoted by anti-Semites for years and decades to come. (It’s already the subject of excited discussion among the white supremacist community.)
Biden’s remarks were not anti-Semitic. They were very, very philo-Semitic. The thrust of his largely unscripted monologue is that Jews have contributed enormously to the United States. That’s obviously a standard spiel for praising any ethnic group, but Biden took care to emphasize that Jews have not just contributed their share to the United States, but far more:
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