Passport

With doppelganger, Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram account gets even weirder

FP may have published its list of Ramzan Kadyrov's weirdest Instagrams a bit too soon. Instead of shutting down his account, as he threatened last week, the Chechen strongman appears to be doubling down on the photo-sharing site this week.

Take, for example, the Instagram aficionado's decision to introduce his followers to what appeared to be his doppelganger. According to the Moscow Times, the caption to the photo below reads, "Dear friends, I will reveal a secret to you, but please don't tell anybody. I have sent my double to work instead of me today. Let's see how he manages!"

Around the same time, Kadyrov played guide to British actress Elizabeth Hurley, who is currently in Grozny filming a thriller with French actor (and Kadyrov kindred spirit) Gérard Depardieu. Below, the trio tours Grozny; Kadryov shows Hurley how to use an iPhone?; and the boys inspect a monster truck.

"I can't dictate to Mr Depardieu and Miss Hurley whom they should meet with, but I hope they are not taking money from a person who is accused of involvement in egregious human rights violations," Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch told the Telegraph. (The American actor Steven Seagal arrived in Grozny on Wednesday.)

 

And then Kadyrov's two worlds collided, as the Chechen leader introduced both Hurley and Kadyrov #2 to his kitten (this is, by the way, a different creature than his cat named Chanel.)

In a vaguely worded Instagram message, Kadyrov later suggested that the photos of his double had been a "joke" he played on detractors who spread "rumors" about him, though he didn't go into detail about how he had pulled it off -- or why posting photos with a lookalike or a Photoshopped version of himself would silence his critics.

Oh, and did we mention this one?

National Security

What we've learned from the Obama administration's past drone speeches

President Obama is giving a much-hyped counterterrorism address this afternoon at the National Defense University in which he'll announce new restrictions on drone strikes and targeted killings, and renew his push to shutter the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. But this isn't the Obama administration's first big speech on drone policy -- current and former officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, former counterterrorism czar and current CIA chief John Brennan, former State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, and former Pentaon general counsel Jeh Johnson, have all delivered carefully crafted statements on the subject in recent years. Here's what we've learned so far.

The basics. Starting with the first major speech in March 2010 by Harold Koh, the Obama administration has sketched out a legal framework for drone strikes and other targeted killing operations -- though the fact that many of these strikes are conducted by remotely piloted vehicles wasn't acknowledged until a speech by John Brennan in May 2012. That justification rests on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda, which, in the administration's interpretation, allows for the use of force against al Qaeda-affiliated targets that pose an imminent threat to the United States in countries that have either given permission to the United States or are unwilling or unable to take action against the targets on their own. This rubric has been refined a bit -- but not much -- in subsequent speeches by Brennan and Eric Holder.

Yes, U.S. citizens can be targeted. There's legal precedent for the government using lethal force against American citizens abroad who have taken up arms against the United States, but the Obama administration did not lay out the rationale for such a scenario until a speech by Holder in March 2012. "The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war," Holder said in an address at Northwestern University, "even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen." Holder has since expanded on this in writing to indicate that the government does not have the authority to conduct targeted killings domestically. Additionally, in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee released on Wednesday, Holder revealed that targeted killings have killed four U.S. citizens since 2009, but that only one of them was the intended target of a strike.

Former officials would like to see more transparency -- to a point. Jeh Johnson has expressed concern about how limited public information about the drone program is affecting its reputation. "In the absence of an official picture of what our government is doing, and by what authority, many in the public fill the void by envisioning the worst," he said in a speech in March 2013. That sentiment was seconded by Koh; in a speech earlier this month, he told an audience at Oxford University that the administration "has not been sufficiently transparent to the media, to the Congress and to our allies." But Johnson wouldn't go so far as to endorse a court for approving targets, which he said could not provide the transparency and credibility its advocates suggest.

For every vague explanation that has been given in these drone speeches, though, there are more questions. Here are a few things we still don't know:

Who is the government really targeting? As Micah Zenko pointed out last month, internal government assessments obtained by McClatchy demonstrate that, in addition to members of al Qaeda, U.S. airstrikes have targeted hundreds of "Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists" from "the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as 'foreign fighters' and 'other militants.'" That goes far beyond the limited scope that the Obama administration has outlined in a Justice Department white paper: that the United States can lawfully target a "senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force" who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States." In his speech earlier this month, Koh stuck with what Zenko has called "the fundamental myth of the Obama administration's targeted killing program" -- that those targeted are clearly "cobelligerents" of al Qaeda. The administration has yet to discuss publicly the use of "signature strikes," in which groups are targeted based on a set of observed behaviors that are similar to those of terrorist cells.

Just how imminent is 'imminent'? What determines when capture isn't 'feasible'? That Justice Department white paper has a lot of fuzzy language in it. Targeted killings are authorized by "an informed, high-level official of the US government" when there is an "imminent threat of violent attack" and capture is deemed "unfeasible." But really, who qualifies to make that call? Does simply being a member of al Qaeda make someone an imminent threat, or does there have to be a specific plot associated with the individual or cell? Capture was feasible for Osama bin Laden in a safehouse just outside a military base in the heart of Pakistan, but not for men riding in an SUV bumping along a rural Yemeni road -- who makes that determination, and how? Rosa Brooks has written more about how the white paper said a lot by not saying very much at all.

Where and when does the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force not apply? In his February 2012 speech, Johnson called the AUMF "the bedrock of the military's domestic legal authority" for drone strikes and the broader war on terror -- but the AUMF was written to target individuals responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It's been a bit of a stretch for the administration to claim that this authorizes them to target organizations only tangentially affiliated with al Qaeda -- some of which didn't even exist in 2001, and some analysts and politicians have argued that it's time to revise the AUMF. Or, as Brooks has asserted, it might make more sense to scrap it altogether and start over with a new law that doesn't try to shoehorn new authorizations into an old law with more legalese.

But if past speeches are any indication, don't expect too many answers today.

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