During a speech given on November 13 before the Atlantic Council think tank, CIA Director Michael Hayden offered his best-informed opinion that Osama bin Laden is isolated and most likely hiding amidst the mountainous terrain along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The New York Times revealed on November 10 the existence of yet another secret administration policy that had been hidden from the American people: "Since 2004 [the Bush administration] has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere." The Times story noted that the Bush administration had singled out 15-20 nations where such military operations could be conducted without congressional approval (and perhaps even congressional knowledge).
One of the first orders of business for a new president-elect is to consider which people to nominate for his cabinet. The position of secretary of state is generally regarded as the most critical of these, since it is one of four original cabinet positions, and the secretary of state is first among cabinet members in the line of presidential succession (following the vice president, speaker of the House, and president pro tempore of the Senate).
A report in the British newspaper, the Guardian, for November 1 examined the plight of 17 members of a dissident ethnic Chinese group who have been incarcerated at the U.S. detention facility inside Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba for almost seven years. The men are members of the Uyghur ethnic group — Turkic-speaking Muslims who are seeking political autonomy from China.
On October 17, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) hosted a "Symposium on International Law and Justice" featuring actress Angelina Jolie, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and co-chair, with her husband, actor Brad Pitt, of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. According to the CFR website, the symposium "was made possible through the generous support of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation."
Hosting the White House Summit on International Development on October 21, President George W. Bush called on Americans to continue funding foreign-aid programs, saying it would be "a serious mistake" to cut back due to the current economic crisis. He also boasted that his administration has dramatically increased foreign aid.
The defense lawyer for notorious Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout argued in a court in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 10 that his client would not receive a fair trial if extradited to the United States. Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death" for providing massive shipments of arms to some of the world's bloodiest dictators, warlords, revolutionary groups, and terrorists, was arrested in Thailand by Thai police on March 6 in an elaborate sting operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was welcomed to Philadelphia as the conquering hero on September 18 to receive America's Liberty Medal. Former President George H. W. Bush presented the medal to Gorbachev at a star-studded ceremony at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia, next to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
In the remote Caucasus, the Georgian crisis drags on, with Georgia's President Saakashvili, emboldened by Western support, continuing to goad the Russian bear.
The U.S. Constitution assigns the power to declare war to Congress. The North Atlantic Treaty issued by the United States and other founding members of NATO in 1949 states that an attack on any member of the military alliance must be viewed as an attack on all of the members. By becoming a party to NATO, our government subverted the congressional war power, for now an attack on any one of a group of nations would pull the United States into a war with or without a congressional declaration.