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The Danger of an MH-17 ‘Cold Case’

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Now more than six months after the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine, the refusal of the Obama administration to make public what intelligence evidence it has about who was responsible has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories to take root while reducing hopes for holding the guilty parties accountable.

Given the US government’s surveillance capabilities – from satellite and aerial photographs to telephonic and electronic intercepts to human sources – American intelligence surely has a good idea what happened on July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 people onboard.

I’m told that President Barack Obama has received briefings on what this evidence shows and what US intelligence analysts have concluded about the likely guilty parties — and that Obama may have shared some of those confidential findings with the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak when they met on Dec. 24 in Hawaii.
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Why Should Charlie Hebdo Deaths Mean More Than Those in E.Ukraine?

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The Western public justly condemns the murders at Charlie Hebdo, but continues to behave as if Kiev's terror victims in Donetsk are “subhuman.”

On January 7, masked terrorists massacred the staff of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in downtown Paris, killing ten. Two police officers (one of them a French Muslim, Ahmed Merabet) were also gunned down in the attack, while five more innocents lost their lives during a subsequent hostage standoff at a Parisian kosher store. Three male suspects were killed by the police, while their female accomplice is reported to have fled to ISIS-held parts of Syria. The attack was allegedly a reprisal for the magazine's cartoon covers, condemned as “blasphemous” for mocking Islam and its prophet, Mohammed.

Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, forces loyal to the NATO-backed government in Kiev renewed the terror-bombing of civilians in Donetsk, killing and maiming indiscriminately. While the slain French cartoonists were declared martyrs on the altar of free speech in a social media campaign under the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie), a similar Twitter campaign to raise awareness of civilian deaths in Donbass (#IamVanya) was soon hijacked by Russophobic propaganda.
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Fed Asset Seizures Rollback Less Than Advertised

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While headlines in Yahoo News and Raw Story blare, respectively, “U.S. attorney general bans asset seizure by local police” and “No more asset seizure: Eric Holder bans controversial ‘war on drugs’ tactic,” the truth is that United States Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday changed US Department of Justice policy in a manner that will result in at most a small rollback of asset seizures.

It is true that there appears to be a rollback in the police state for a change. The catch is that the rollback is nowhere near the monumental change that some people in the media are trumpeting. The many and broad exceptions in Holder’s order all but swallow the announced headline-garnering rollback. Depending on how the order is interpreted and implemented, it may provide almost no asset seizure relief.

Holder’s order terminated immediately on Friday a portion of the US government’s Equitable Sharing Program. The program has funneled billions of dollars to local police departments via seizures of people’s cash and property without any demonstration required of a relation between the person deprived of the assets, or the assets themselves, and criminal activity.
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The Open Society and its Worst Enemies

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Last week’s bloody events in Paris demonstrate yet again that a noninterventionist foreign policy, far from being a luxury, is an urgent necessity — literally a matter of life and death. A government that repeatedly wages wars of aggression — the most extreme form of extremism — endangers the society it ostensibly protects by gratuitously making enemies, some of whom will seek revenge against those who tolerate, finance, and symbolize that government and its policies. (On the specific connection between the Paris attacks and wars of aggression, see my “Understanding the Paris Violence.”)

Obviously, the police in more or less open societies — “but rather less than more” — cannot fully prevent the kind of violence that occurred at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher grocery Hyper Cacher. Some or all of the killers, who were known to authorities, reportedly spent time in Syria, Iraq, or Yemen with al-Qaeda or the Islamic State — organizations, let us recall, that were not in those places or did not exist before George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 and started bombing other Muslim societies in his “war on terror.” But travel abroad is not necessary to carry out horrendous attacks. The Internet provides all the information a would-be killer could want to pull off a mass atrocity. “Lone wolf” operations executed by “self-radicalized” individuals are by nature virtually undetectable, even with a battalion of spies and suborned informants or sophisticated eavesdropping regimes.
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