12-11-2019  3:29 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

San Francisco Aims to Rein in Tests of Tech Ideas on Streets

Entrepreneurs would not be allowed to test their products in San Francisco's public space unless the tech in question is declared a "net public good."

Portland-area Residents May Vote on Funding for Homeless

There may be a measure on the November 2020 ballot to fund likely hundreds of millions of dollars for increased social services

Black Food Professionals See Opportunities to “Scale Up” in School Cafeterias and on Store Shelves

Two Portland women are addressing disparities in the local food scene with Ethiopian and Haitian flavors, ingredients

Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone Climbing Historic Ladders

In 1995, Boone was the first African American woman hired by Portland Fire & Rescue; this year she became its first African American Chief

NEWS BRIEFS

EPA Approves Funding for Oregon and Washington to Improve Drinking Water, Wastewater Infrastructure

States estimate $190 million for wastewater, $35 million for drinking water projects in Oregon, and $120 million for...

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

North Carolina Court Decision Upholds Removal of Confederate Monument

Lawyers argued that the monument was installed at the end of Reconstruction to further the false “Lost Cause” narrative,...

Tacoma liquefied natural gas site gains permit approval

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Puget Sound Energy's liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Tacoma in Washington state has cleared a final construction hurdle.The News Tribune reports the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency on Tuesday announced that it had completed its review of the facility’s...

Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Buehler runs for Congress

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republican Knute Buehler, who unsuccessfully ran for Oregon governor in 2018, announced his candidacy Tuesday for a congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Greg Walden. In a video, Buehler criticized what he called Portland liberals and elites in Washington D.C. He said...

New Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz predicts success

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz was saying all the right things after being introduced as the new football coach at Missouri, laying out his vision for the once-proud program with unwavering confidence and bold proclamations.Then the former Appalachian State coach made a minor...

LSU's Burrow, Auburn's Brown named AP SEC players of year

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a unanimous selection as the offensive player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference football team.The top-ranked Tigers also have the SEC’s coach of the year in Ed Orgeron and the newcomer of the year in freshman cornerback Derek...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Congress finalizes bill restoring black college funding

After months of negotiation, Congress gave final approval Tuesday for a bill promising to restore more than 0 million a year to the nation's historically black colleges and universities, along with other institutions that teach large shares of minority students.The House voted 319-96 in favor of...

Trump to sign order targeting anti-Semitism at colleges

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting antisemitism on college campuses, the White House said.The order, which is likely to draw criticism from free speech advocates, will broaden the federal government's definition of antisemitism and...

In South Carolina, Steyer investing in black voters

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — In the waning weeks before South Carolina's presidential primary, Democrat Tom Steyer is renewing his focus on the black voters who play a pivotal role in the first-in-the-South state, rolling out a proposal to improve historically black colleges and institutions.The...

ENTERTAINMENT

NFL, NCAA football fuel Fox TV's win of the prime-time week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fueled by both college and pro football, Fox won a rare title as champ of the broadcast week among networks. Fox's Thursday night NFL airing of the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears was the week's top show of any kind with 18.23 million viewers, and its broadcast of the Big...

The Associated Press picks the top moments on TV from 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Many have noticed how fragmented our TV viewing is, with multiple competing streaming services and dozens of channels pulling us in different directions. But the year also saw some jaw-dropping moments that found huge audiences, whether it was a royal interview or a viral...

Adam Sandler on plunging into the Safdies' 'Uncut Gems'

TORONTO (AP) — Adam Sandler was waiting to be thrown into a midtown fountain on Sixth Avenue for a scene in Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems” when he noticed a familiar face on the sidewalk.The Safdies like to capture as much authentic New York energy as possible in...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP source: Yanks land ace Cole on record 4M, 9-year deal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The New York Yankees landed the biggest prize of the free agent market, adding Gerrit Cole...

California considers calling THC in pot a risk to moms-to-be

LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than three years after California voters broadly legalized marijuana, a state panel...

The people sing: 'Les Mis' soothes, breaks Hong Kong hearts

HONG KONG (AP) — For Hong Kong spectators mentally and physically drained from six months of pro-democracy...

Volcanoes an ever-present, if usually distant danger

The deadly eruption of a volcano in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty on Monday left six people confirmed dead...

Swiss Greens fail to enter government despite election gains

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland's Green party failed Wednesday in a bid to enter the country's government even...

The Hague court questions Kosovo's outgoing speaker

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's outgoing parliament speaker says he was questioned at a Netherlands-based...

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Cora Currier Propublica

Related Interactive: Stacking Up the Adminstration's Drone Claims

Drones have become the go-to weapon of the U.S.'s counter-terrorism strategy, with strikes in Yemen in particular increasing steadily. U.S. drones reportedly killed twenty-nine people in Yemen recently, including perhaps ten civilians.

Administration officials regularly celebrate the drone war's apparent successes— often avoiding details or staying anonymous, but claiming tacit credit for the U.S.  

In June, a day after Abu Yahya Al-Libi was killed in Pakistan, White House spokesman Jay Carney trumpeted the death of "Al Qaeda's Number-Two."  Unnamed officials confirmed the strike in at least ten media outlets. Similarly, the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by a CIA drone last September was confirmed in many news outlets by anonymous officials. President Obama called Awlaki's death "a tribute to our intelligence community."  

Just last week President Obama spoke about drone warfare on CNN, saying the decision to target individuals for killing rather than capture involves "an extensive process with a lot of checks."  

But when it comes to details of that process, the administration clams up.

The government refuses to formally acknowledge that the CIA even has a drone program, let alone discuss its thornier elements, like how many civilians have been killed, or how the CIA chooses targets.

Officials have given speeches on the legal rationale for targeted killing and the use of drones in broad terms. The administration has also acknowledged "military operations" outside the "hot" battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but again, details have remained under wraps.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times have both filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests for documents relating to the CIA's drones. The agency has responded by saying that it can "neither confirm nor deny the existence of records."

As part of a lawsuit challenging the CIA's response, the ACLU collected nearly two hundred on- and off-the-record statements to the media by current and former U.S. officials about the CIA's use of drones for targeted killing. In a graphic accompanying this story, we've laid out many of the statements, alongside the CIA's legal stances refusing to confirm or deny the program.  The statements cover most of Obama's first term in office. Taken together, they show the extent to which the government keeps disclosures about the CIA's drone war mostly on its own terms.  

In court briefs, Justice Department lawyers argue that widespread "unofficial" discussion notwithstanding, revealing the existence of any number of documents relating to the drone program or targeted killing would convey sensitive information about the nature and scope of such a program. They add that quotes from unnamed sources or former CIA officers don't constitute official acknowledgment. As for public remarks about drones by President Obama and other officials—the government argues that they never explicitly mention the CIA and could be referring to military operations.

A federal judge in D.C. already ruled in favor of the CIA in one suit last September, a decision the ACLU is appealing.  A hearing is scheduled for next week.

A White House spokesman declined to comment to ProPublica on the FOIA suit or on the CIA's drone program. The CIA did not respond to our requests for comment.

Some top administration officials have become well-practiced at coy references to the classified program.  

In October 2011, Defense Secretary—and former CIA director—Leon Panetta said, "I have a hell of a lot more weapons available to me in this job than I had at the CIA, although the Predators aren't bad." In the ACLU suit, the government argues that Panetta's comments were too vague to constitute an acknowledgement that the CIA actually had drones, or whether it used them for targeted killing, "as opposed to surveillance and intelligence-gathering."

A year earlier, Panetta said that Al Qaeda in Pakistan had been beaten back in part to due "the most aggressive operation the CIA has been involved in in our history." The government notes that he never said the word "drone."

Semantics aside, details on the most controversial aspects of the program have been revealed through a patchwork of these unofficial comments. For example, in May the New York Times reported that the CIA counts any military-aged male killed in a drone strike as a "militant," even if his identity isn't known. Many outlets had previously reported that the CIA conducted "signature strikes" in Pakistan, and now in Yemen, which target men believed to be militants whose identities aren't known. But neither the Times story nor subsequent reporting by ProPublica garnered much detail on how the CIA actually assesses casualties after a strike. As usual, neither the White House nor the CIA would comment on the record.

It has also been widely reported that mainly the CIA conducts strikes in Pakistan, because the U.S.'s tense diplomatic relationship with the country requires the patina of deniability provided by a covert program. When Obama referred to drone strikes in a public video chat this January, saying that that "obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA," the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, many assumed he had to be talking about the CIA.

The government insists the president's comments didn't count as disclosure of anything, saying he could have been talking not about CIA strikes but military (though, as a government brief in the ACLU suit points out, those haven't been acknowledged in Pakistan either). As the government argues, "It is precisely this sort of unbridled speculation that is insufficient to support a claim of official disclosure."

The same brief framed it another way: "Even if there is speculation about a fact, unless an agency officially confirms that fact, the public does not know whether it is so."

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