by Cora Currier ProPublica, Jan. 11, 2013, 1:14 p.m.
You might have heard about the “kill list.” You’ve certainly heard about drones. But the details of the U.S. campaign against militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s national security approach – remain shrouded in secrecy. Here’s our guide to what we know—and what we don’t know.
Where is the drone war? Who carries it out?
Drones have been the Obama administration’s tool of choice for taking out militants outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones aren’t the exclusive weapon – traditional airstrikes and other attacks have also been reported. But by one estimate, 95 percent of targeted killings since 9/11 have been conducted by drones. Among the benefits of drones: they don’t put American troops in harm’s way.
by Theodoric Meyer ProPublica, Dec. 28, 2012, 12:34 p.m.
President Obama will meet with congressional leaders today in another attempt to avert the fiscal cliff — the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress can strike a deal. The cuts and tax hikes, which total more than $500 billion, are so large and so sudden that many economists fear they would plunge the country back into recession.
As Washington tries to hash out a deal, we’ve taken a step back to break down the numbers behind our deficit — how it grew so big, why it is actually shrinking and whether a deal can bring it under control.
How much are we in debt?
by Olga Pierce, Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer ProPublica, Dec. 21, 2012, 2:36 p.m.
In the November election, a million more Americans voted for Democrats seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives than Republicans. But that popular vote advantage did not result in control of the chamber. Instead, despite getting fewer votes, Republicans have maintained a commanding control of the House. Such a disparity has happened only three times in the last century.
(Here’s a chart comparing 2010 and 2012.)
Analysts and others have identified redistricting as a key to the disparity. Republicans had a years-long strategy of winning state houses in order to control each state’s once-a-decade redistricting process. (Confused about redistricting? Check out our song.)
Republican strategist Karl Rove laid out the approach in a Wall Street Journal column in early 2010 headlined “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.”
The DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, is a proposal that has actually been in the works for some time.
The implementation of the DREAM Act is also a somewhat controversial topic, and there are differing opinions about whether it’s best for the United States or not.
The History of the DREAM Act
The DREAM Act actually relatively new in American history; different versions of the proposal have been around since it was introduced in the Senate in 2001 by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch.
The DREAM Act has gone through various revisions, including the 2001, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 versions.
Most of the changes between versions are in regards to how long someone must wait to obtain citizenship under the DREAM Act, along with minor changes in who is eligible to obtain permanent residence under the DREAM Act.
by Cora Currier ProPublica, Dec. 7, 2012, 9:41 a.m.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a yearly military spending bill.
Last year, the bill affirmed the U.S.’s authority to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely and without charges. The provision had generated plenty of controversy, particularly about whether U.S. citizens could be detained indefinitely. This year, the Senate bill says that citizens can’t be detained in the U.S. – but concerns remain about the scope of detention powers.
We’ve taken a step back, run through the controversy, and laid out what’s new.
What does the law currently say about military detention?
Section 1021 of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act affirms the military’s ability under the law of war to detain people “without trial until the end of hostilities.”