February 8, 2013
To catch you up on my travels, I have been (and still am) in Morocco on a teaching/training mission with Legacy International.
We spent Wednesday in Casablanca including a must-do lunch at Rick's Cafe (see the Mullfoto of me at the piano) then onto Oudja for the rest of the week.
Oujda is pronounced "OOZH-duh." It is located about 8 miles from the Algerian border on the eastern edge of Morocco.
Mullings Director of Standards & Practices Alert: We did not, in spite of my begging and pleading, go any closer than about two kilometers to the border and I was never in any danger of being taken into custody as a cute-as-a-button 66-year-old American by Algerian slavers.
While we've been tinkering around on the northwest corner of the African continent, official Washington is watching with great interest the confirmation hearing of John Brennan to be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, replacing David Petraeus who had to resign because of you-know-what.
That hearing is going on as I type this (at 9:35 PM West Africa Time which is about 4:35 in Our Nation's Capital) so don't email me with events that transpired later in the afternoon or into the evening when I was abed (safely out of range of the Algerian slavers).
The two issues that have occupied the Senate Intelligence Committee (the Senate only gets to vote on these nominations. Members of the House can only sit and watch in their offices) Brennan's participation in, and/or approval of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding when he was at the CIA in the George W. Bush era; and, what he thinks about a recently-made-public memo from the Department of Justice making the legal case for President Barack Obama to be able to send drones armed with Hellfire missiles down the chimneys of houses occupied by American citizens who also happen to be al-Qaida leaders plotting to do harm to this nation.
A Hellfire missile aimed at an American in Yemen (or anyone else anywhere else) is almost always likely to result in their immediate death.
The memo apparently makes the case that the Constitutional requirement for an accused person to receive "due process" under the terms of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, doesn't apply to Americans who are engaged in plotting terror against the U.S.
The Fifth Amendment reads, in part: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
The memo states that it is legal to conduct a "lethal operation outside the United States against a U.S. citizen who is a senior, operational leader of al-Qa'ida" if (among other elements) "an informed, high-level official has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States."
I'm pretty sure that if George W's Justice Department issued a memo justifying the legality of his sitting in the White House Situation Room playing solitaire with the lives of Americans accused of being a terrorist the Democrats generally, and the Congressional Black Caucus in particular, would be demanding that impeachment proceedings begin this very afternoon.
This is not to say there isn't a good deal of Congressional throat-clearing among Democrats on Capitol Hill over this stuff and, as I said the hearing were going on as I was typing this and anti-drone protesters (if I only had a dollar for every time I'd type that phrase) have disrupted the hearings five times leading committee chair Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) to order the hearing room cleared of all observers.
Life was so much easier for Mr. Obama just three months ago when all he had to do was accuse Mitt Romney of exporting jobs.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the full DoJ memo, to the NBC analysis, and to the Huffington Post coverage of the disturbances. Also, the once-in-a-lifetime Mullfoto of me at the piano in Rick's Cafe in Casablanca.