Category Archives: Military Laws

The latest and up to date news regarding military legal and law news and events.

Civil rights activist group says the Air Force Academy favors Christianity over other religions

Using new billboard, ad campaign to spread message

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A civil rights activist group is taking aim at the Air Force Academy accusing it of favoring Christianity over other religions.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said the problem has been going on for years and the group has now launched a new campaign to try to get President Barack Obama’s attention.

The private group has put up a billboard on I-25, south near Garden of the Gods, and plans to have a banner flown by a plane that says “Why is Jesus the Commander in Chief at USAFA?”

It also launched a TV advertisement that says, “Welcome Mr. President to our Airforce Academy. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation asks the questions: why is Jesus Commander in Chief here?”

“At the Airforce Academy today it’s a freaking train wreck when it comes to the separation of church and state,” said Mikey Weinstein, Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Weinstein said cadets are often treated differently, if they’re not fundamentalist Christians.

“We’ve had cadets bullied and pressured, members of the staff pressured to attend the national pray events that occur there,” he said.

Weinstein said they hope President Obama will take notice of their campaign, and address the issue when he speaks at the Academy’s graduation on Thursday.

“This destroys unit cohesion, good order, morale and disciple,” he further explained.

Denver7 reached out to the Air Force Academy about the group’s concern, but was told the academy had no comment.

For Weinstein, he said they’re fighting for the rights of cadets of all faiths.

“We would like to see people who are violating the oath to the U.S. Constitution aggressively investigated and visibly punished at the Air Force Academy,” he said.

Sourced From     – http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/colorado-springs-area/civil-rights-activist-group-says-the-air-force-academy-favors-christianity-over-other-religons

Canada violating international law with Saudi arms sale: expert

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

A controversial rationale the Trudeau Liberals are using to justify approving exports of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia – that these machines could help Riyadh prosecute a war in neighbouring Yemen – is figuring prominently in a Federal Court challenge aimed at stopping the shipments.

Eric David, a renowned human rights legal scholar from Belgium who has acted in major international cases, is lending support to a March 21 lawsuit led by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp that seeks to block exports of the weaponized armoured vehicles from Canada.

In an affidavit being added to the lawsuit, Prof. David of the Free University in Brussels says he believes Canada is violating international law by shipping arms to a country already accused of massive human-rights violations in Yemen. A United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen found “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international humanitarian law.

Allowing the “sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia … would violate the obligation to respect and ensure the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Prof. David wrote in a 196-page filing.

“The sale of armoured vehicles … becomes an “internationally wrongful act.”

As The Globe and Mail first reported, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion last week quietly approved export permits covering more than 70 per cent of the $15-billion transaction with Saudi Arabia – a decision that represents the most vital step in determining whether a weapons shipment to a foreign country can proceed or whether it’s “illegal,” as Ottawa calls it.

The revelation that Mr. Dion greenlighted the bulk of this deal runs contrary to the Liberal claim that the Trudeau government’s hands were tied on the Saudi deal.

Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal.

The Liberal signature on the export permits means the Trudeau government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses.

In the memorandum justifying the export permits, the department of Global Affairs reasons that the light armoured vehicles will help Riyadh in its efforts at “countering instability in Yemen,” where the Saudis are fighting Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, as well as combatting Islamic State threats.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals,” the memo approved and signed by Mr. Dion said.

When it comes to Yemen, the Canadian government is choosing its words carefully, noting that so far the Saudis have not been found to be using Canadian-made combat vehicles previously sold to Riyadh to commit rights violations there.

Asked about the Saudis’ conduct in Yemen on Thursday, Mr. Dion said they’re not the only ones that need be held to account. “There are serious concerns that should be raised about all of the parties” fighting in Yemen, Mr. Dion told the Commons foreign affairs committee Thursday, widening the matter to include the conduct of Houthi rebels.

“As far as Yemen is concerned, our priority is to have a peaceful solution found.”

Separately, Thursday, Mr. Dion offered only mild support for an NDP proposal by MP Hélène Laverdière to create a Commons committee that would scrutinize arms exports. “I think it’s an interesting proposal. I am not sure it’s the priority right now – but the committee can certainly decide,” the minister told the foreign affairs committee.

Saudi Arabia is regularly ranked among the “worst of the worst” on human rights by Freedom House.

Sourced From – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-violating-international-law-with-saudi-arms-sale-expert/article29640135/

The Mafia Runs Guns for ISIS in Europe

The mobsters have the weapons, and they’re making a killing selling them off to Islamic radicals.

CASTEL VOLTURNO, Italy — By the time Aziz Ehsan, a 46-year-old Iraqi, was arrested near Naples on Tuesday, local anti-mafia police had already been trailing him for days to determine just why he was in the heartland of the Camorra crime syndicate’s territory. He was well known by both the French and Belgian secret services, which list him as a suspected ISIS contact. The Neapolitan cops were also aware of an international arrest warrant for him in Switzerland, where he was wanted in connection with a variety of offenses, including forgery, assault, and possession of illegal weapons.

He was apparently just the type of person Italian authorities thought might provide a valuable clue as they work to piece together the details of the complex relationshipbetween Jihadist fighters and Italy’s various mobs.

But when the attacks took place in Brussels, the authorities decided it was time to move in and get him. He was arrested as he slept in a car with Italian license plates registered to a deceased man on Tuesday and is awaiting extradition to Switzerland, France, or Belgium.

He claimed that he was in the area to scout out luxury hotels for rich Iraqi tourists, but the police didn’t buy it; he appeared to have been living in the car for days. They also pointed to an absence of notebooks, a laptop, or tablet—items you’d think to bring on a research trip. His no-frills, no contract “burner” cellphone, like the kind favored by Western jihadis, was another sign that Ehsan wasn’t in the region to see which five-star hotels offered the best glass of Limoncello.

“We executed a European arrest warrant near Naples and arrested an Iraqi citizen known to the Belgian and French secret service,” Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano declared after his arrest. “He was in contact with terrorists.”

Ehsan’s presence in Italy very likely posed no imminent threat to anyone in this country, but it may be extremely significant in Europe’s losing battle against ISIS-motivated terrorism. Authorities now want to know if Ehsan was here on business, especially if he was working with the Camorra to secure false documents or illegal arms—both big moneymakers for the Neapolitan clans.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism officials have been unraveling long-standing connections between Jihadi fighters and the Camorra in Naples. They have also uncovered ties to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra Mafia and the Calabrese ‘Ndrangheta gang, tracing weapons being trafficked in from the former Yugoslavia and several African nations which allegedly arrive easily in Neapolitan ports.

Italian anti-mafia police have made three major arrests in the last 12 months, during which they have confiscated major weapons arsenals that included Kalashnikov rifles, submachine guns, body armor, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that were ready to be sold to terrorist connections. They even found a price list for a wide variety of weapons available for prices ranging from €250 to €3,000 that was printed in Arabic, French, and Italian.

“Naples has been, for many years, a central logistics base for the Middle East. The Camorra is also active in the world of Jihadist terrorism that passes through Naples,” Franco Roberti, a prominent anti-mafia prosecutor, told The Daily Beast before the Brussels attacks. “Naples lends itself to this type of activity. In the past there have been contacts between Jihadi militants and the Camorra clans.”

He says that Italy’s mafia-fighting forces have “thwarted plots and synergies” between the terrorists and the mobsters. What’s not known, of course, is how many plots they’ve missed.

It is certainly a well-known fact that the Camorra runs a highly successful enterprise in the lawless Neapolitan hinterland running drugs, illegal arms and forged documents that make it especially easy for anyone entering Europe illegally to pass through even the tightest borders. It is just as well-known that the main client base has never been strictly Italian.

“We have evidence that groups of the Camorra are implicated in an exchange of weapons for drugs with terrorist groups,” Pierluigi Vigna, Italy’s national anti-mafia prosecutor, said before he passed away in 2012.

Vigna’s words were quoted in a variety of Wikileaks cables that imply that the United States government has been well aware of the terrorist-mafia connection for some time. “Criminal interaction between Italian organized crime and Islamic extremist groups provides potential terrorists with access to funding and logistical support from criminal organizations with established smuggling routes and an entrenched presence in the United States,” according to one cable on Italy penned by the FBI.

Investigators say logistics help in moving Jihadi fighters through Europe is one of the hardest rackets to crack. Last summer, Salah Abdeslam, who, until last week, was the most wanted man in Europe for his role in the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, traveled freely through Italy with the help of a network of what could be referred to as mafia-sponsored terrorism travel agents.

Authorities in Italy say he boarded a ferry in Bari headed for Greece last August, and that he used a pre-paid Italian debit card until the Paris attacks. Authorities say he used his real name tied to fake Italian documents in both instances.

The idea of Europe’s most wanted man running free is concerning enough. But what is at least as worrying is that the weapons being trafficked into Italy will end up being used in European capitals. Michele del Prete, an Italian counter-terrorism official who has been focusing on the links between organized crime and violent jihadists, warns that the two forces of evil have found a comfortable partnership. “It is established and proven that the lawless climate in Naples has often created favorable conditions for logistical support, exchange of weapons, and false documents,” he said. “There are specialized groups we have tracked in various municipalities and prefectures that we know are facilitating terrorism.”

Investigator Roberti takes it a step further. “Campania, especially the province of Caserta and Castel Volturno, is one of the main gateways into Europe for those who want to become a terrorist,” he said. “It has been demonstrated by numerous investigations. On this now, there are no doubts.”

Read Full Article – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/24/inside-the-mafia-isis-connection.html

Legal Briefs Flood in to Support Apple

By

Sourced From – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/technology/legal-briefs-flood-in-to-support-apple.html?_r=0

The arguments differed, but the main message was the same: We side with Apple.

Dozens of companies and individuals have now filed briefs in support of Apple’s position in its legal battle with the F.B.I. over privacy. The official support, at this point, did not come as a particular surprise. But the variety of legal arguments was interesting nonetheless.

As Nick Wingfield reported, Apple’s supporters challenged “every legal facet of the government’s case, like its free speech implications, the importance of encryption and concerns about government overreach.”

The government will not take these arguments lightly. Expect many of them to be addressed when Apple and the Justice Department file briefs, and when the federal court holds a hearing on the matter in California on March 22.

Apple’s clash with the FBI will be a tough legal fight

BY SERGIO HERNANDEZ & CHRISTINA WARREN

Apple may face an uphill climb in its latest fight with the feds over digital privacy.

The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, said in a statement on its website Wednesday that Apple opposes a federal court’s order to write special software so federal investigators can penetrate the passcode for an iPhone once used by Syed Farook.

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were the perpetrators of a shooting spree in San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2, which killed 14 people and injured 22 others. The shooters were later killed during a gunfight with police.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and lawyers from the Justice Department have said Farook’s phone, and iPhone 5C, may contain key evidence about his communications in the weeks before the attack, but they cannot access it without Farook’s passcode.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym issued the Apple order on Tuesday, after the local U.S. Attorney petitioned a federal court for Apple’s help.

FBI agents have been unable to access the phone’s contents because of security features built into the device’s software. Those include one that forces users to wait several minutes before entering different passcodes. Another erases a decryption key necessary to access the device’s data if a user enters a wrong passcode too frequently.

The judge’s order instructs Apple to write custom software, called a “Software Image File,” to bypass these security features so the FBI can quickly test an unlimited number of passcodes until it finds the right one. Once that as-yet-uncreated software is installed on the phone, security experts say it would take no more than a day to find the code.

News of the order triggered fierce debate last week as technologists wondered whether Apple can, as a matter of technical ability, comply with the demand, while privacy advocates said engineering such software could have dangerous security implications. Legal experts said it raises constitutional questions about how far the government can go when conscripting private, third parties to assist with law enforcement.

Cook’s statement, which indicated the company planned to fight the order in court, prompted the Justice Department to file a new motion on Friday, asking Pym to compel Apple to comply with her previous order.

Read Full Article – http://mashable.com/2016/02/21/apple-fbi-legal-issues/#Im3rLfAR_iq9