Afghan president calls for an end to airstrikes
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan issued an impassioned call for the end of international airstrikes in his country Tuesday, branding them as an “illegitimate use of force” and saying that the need to protect civilian life demanded a complete halt to those operations, even in cases when troops are under attack.
Hours later, the allied commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, reiterated significant changes to rules concerning the use of airstrikes announced earlier this week, issuing a statement in which he said he had given the order that “no aerial munitions be delivered against civilian dwellings.” But he added the caveat that the strikes would be permitted as an absolute last resort in self-defense “if no other options are available.”
The issue of airstrikes and civilian casualties is again figuring into tensions between the Americans and Afghans after an allied strike in Logar province this month killed 18 people, including nine children. A meeting of officials from both countries over the weekend led to the announcement of new restrictions on the use of allied airpower.
—Sangar Rahimi and Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times
Street View case brought Google employee denials
Google has long prided itself on not being a conventional company. But there is one characteristic it apparently shares with the most sclerotic bureaucracy: the willingness of its employees to say, “Not my job.”
The company on Tuesday released a trove of documents related to a federal investigation of its Street View mapping project. Although the project was intended to photograph the world’s streets, from 2007 to 2010 Google gathered unencrypted Internet data from wireless networks, including the content of private communications, as its specially equipped cars passed through neighborhoods.
Among the documents released Tuesday are sworn declarations by nine people — their names and titles redacted but most of whom appear to be Google engineers — who said they were not aware of the data collection either because it was not part of their job or they did not review the project documentation, even when it was provided to them.
Also Tuesday, Google confirmed that the Information Commissioner’s Office in Britain had reopened its investigation of the Street View project and had asked the company for additional information about the data it collected there.
—Edward Wyatt, The New York Times
Accusations against son taint Pakistan’s chief justice
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s chief justice has wielded his court as a whip against the country’s rich and powerful, calling senior government officials and military spymasters to account and asserting himself as a political power in his own right. But on Tuesday he found himself at the center of a new political firestorm when a well-connected property baron stood up in court and accused his family of corrupt dealings, detailing $3.7 million in kickbacks and cash payments.
The allegations marked a serious blow for the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who until now has been virtually venerated by many Pakistanis for his flamboyant court crusades against powerful figures.
In his testimony on Tuesday, the businessman, Malik Riaz Hussain, laid out a seemingly self-incriminating campaign of corruption, implying that he had bankrolled luxury vacations in London, gambling in Monte Carlo and substantial cash kickbacks to Chaudhry’s 32-year-old son and his wife over the past two years.
Hussain said that Chaudhry’s son, Arsalan Iftikhar, had extracted the payments in return for favorable treatment in a slew of court cases related to his property empire. “I was victimized and blackmailed by him,” he said.
Hussain did not directly accuse Chaudhry of wrongdoing, but alluded to secret meetings “in the dead of night” between the two men.
—Declan Walsh, The New York Times
Republican senators criticize Holder over response to leaks
WASHINGTON — Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday strongly criticized the recent decision by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint two U.S. attorneys to investigate recent disclosures of classified national security information, saying that the move was not enough and that he should appoint a special prosecutor.
At a committee hearing, the Republican senators — led by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — accused the administration of leaking the information and said Holder was trying to shield the Obama administration from the scrutiny of a prosecutor who would be completely independent of the Justice Department.
Graham said an excerpt recently published by The New York Times from the book “Confront and Conceal” by David E. Sanger, a Times correspondent, about U.S. cyberattacks against Iran had convinced him that “there are clearly people around the president who are leaking stories that involve highly classified information.”
“The concern we have is that you’ve got one program, Fast and Furious, that has been an embarrassment for the administration, and it’s been like pulling teeth to get information about Fast and Furious, who did what and when,” he said, referring to Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled gun trafficking case.
“But when you have programs on the national security front that seem to show the president as a strong leader, you read about it in the paper. So my concern, I think, is that a lot of us believe if there was ever a need for an outside special counsel, it is now. What do you say?”
—Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times