A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has reportedly accidentally killed two hostages who were being held captive by al-Qaeda. The White House says U.S. government contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan in January. On Thursday, President Barack Obama took "full responsibility" for the botched operation and described it as a painful loss he profoundly regretted. According to the White House, the operation also reportedly killed an American al-Qaeda leader, Ahmed Farouq. A separate strike apparently killed another American al-Qaeda member, Adam Gadahn. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the White House said it had no reason to believe the U.S. and Italian hostages were being detained in the al-Qaeda compound targeted during the operation. "In neither of the strikes … did the government actually know who it was killing," says Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Yesterday’s disclosures just provide more reasons to question what kinds of regulations the government has governing these strikes." The botched operation comes on the heels of a new report chronicling civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes in Yemen.
The Washington Post reports the Pentagon plans to increase its efforts to resettle dozens of detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo in the coming months before Congress can block future transfers and derail President Obama’s plan to shutter the U.S. military prison. As a first step, officials plan to send up to 10 prisoners overseas, possibly in June. In all, the Pentagon hopes that 57 inmates who are approved for transfer will be resettled by the end of 2015. We get reaction from Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, who says the new legislation would make it nearly impossible to close the facility.
Explosive video obtained by The New Yorker depicts extreme violence inside New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex. Surveillance camera footage shows former teenage prisoner, Kalief Browder, being abused on two separate occasions. In one clip from 2012, the teenager is seen inside Rikers’ Central Punitive Segregation Unit, better known as the Bing. As a guard escorts Browder to the showers, Browder appears to speak, and then the guard suddenly violently hurls him to the floor although he’s already handcuffed. In a separate video clip from 2010, Browder is attacked by almost a dozen other teenage inmates after he punches a gang member who spat in his face. The other inmates pile onto Browder and pummel him until guards finally intervene. In an exclusive interview, we are the first to speak about the video with New Yorker staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman, who told Browder’s story in The New Yorker last year, describing how he spent nearly three years at Rikers after arriving there as a 16-year-old high school sophomore following his refusal to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit — stealing a backpack. "Footage [from inside Rikers] like this never, ever comes out," Gonnerman says. "This is what goes on when nobody is looking."
This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On April 24, 1915, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated genocide against the Armenian people — an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Today, the Turkish government continues to deny this genocide, and since becoming president, President Obama has avoided using the term "genocide" to describe it. We’re joined by Peter Balakian, professor of humanities at Colgate University and author of "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response"; Anahid Katchian, whose father was a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide; and Simon Maghakyan, an activist with Armenians of Colorado. We also play a recording of Armenian broadcaster and writer David Barsamian’s mother recalling her experience during the Armenian genocide as a young girl. Araxi Barsamian survived, but her parents and brothers did not.
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