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September 20, 2010

Radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been designated a “global terrorist” by the Treasury Department. He has also been placed on the United States “kill list,” meaning the CIA has open-ended orders to kill or capture him. Al-Awlaki is widely considered to be Al-Qaeda’s top English-speaking representative, and to have helped orchestrate the Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt.  His most recent target was Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris.

When South Park satirized the outrage of Muslims around the world at the depiction of the Prophet Muhammed (a blasphemous offense in Islam), the creators –Trey Parker and Matt Stone– received numerous death threats. Islamic websites even publicized their home addresses, espousing to do so for the sole purpose of orchestrating protests (but of course exposing Parker and Stone to possible attacks).

In defense of Parker and Stone, cartoonist Norris called for a “Draw Muhammad Day,” as a means to re-emphasize the right to free expression in the United States. Now, she has been silenced by Al-Awlaki, whose fatwah has placed her in danger to the point that she will have to enter protective custody and change her identity.

Federal investigators have apprehended a “rogue” nuclear scientist – a naturalized US citizen from Argentina — who offered to sell nuclear secrets to Venezuela for the bargain-basement price of $793,000.

The case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani  — a key suspect in the 1998 embassy bombings – will soon become the first major test of President Obama’s initiative to transfer “enemy combatants” from Guantanamo Bay into the US legal system. Interestingly, the CIA’s interrogation of Ghailani led to the arrest of Hussein Abebe, the man who supplied explosives used in the attacks. Now, Abebe is testifying against Ghailani, and admits he supplied hundreds of pounds of explosives. Abebe also claims he thought the explosives were to be used for mining, and that he does not have the temperament to kill a chicken, let alone commit an act of terrorism.

Concerns about the protection of information freedom are abound over the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which appears to contain a provision that restricts public oversight.  Check out the pushback that Project on Government Openness has mounted to this increased secrecy.

And check out the newly released correspondence to and from Senator Barack Obama and the Department of Defense.  Some pretty interesting stuff in here.

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