WASHINGTON

AG expected to give speech addressing targeted killings

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to outline the legal framework for the use of lethal force in targeted killings of Americans overseas in a major speech at Northwestern University law school, an Obama administration official said Sunday night.

Holder’s speech today comes five months after the killing of U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in a drone attack.

The official said the attorney general plans to say that lethal force is legal under a Sept. 18, 2001, joint congressional resolution. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, authorizes the use of all necessary force in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.

The official said Holder also will address how the Obama administration reformed military commissions and how both the Obama and the George W. Bush administrations have successfully used civilian courts to convict and sentence terrorists. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the speech haven’t been released.

At least three recently filed lawsuits have sought to force the Obama administration to publicly release its legal justification for the drone strike that killed al-Awlaki. The justification is contained in a secret Justice Department memo.

OAK BROOK TERRACE, Ill.

Chicago police chief vows no NYPD-style surveillance

For the first time in public, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy promised his department will never conduct blanket surveillance of Muslims like the New York Police Department did in Newark, N.J., when he was chief there.

McCarthy addressed hundreds of Muslims on Saturday at the annual banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, a civil rights organization. He said police would follow leads in criminal cases, but the department “does not and will not conduct blanket surveillance and profiling of any community in the city of Chicago.”

McCarthy, who was also a top officer in the NYPD at one point, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have tried to reassure Chicago-area Muslims since The Associated Press revealed the NYPD’s spying in Newark.

The AP reported last month that in 2007, the NYPD’s Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing mosques and eavesdropping on Muslim businesses.

Earlier, the AP reported that the department was conducting similar surveillance in New York, building databases showing where Muslims live, shop and pray.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the operations, saying police only follow up on allegations.

But civil rights advocates and other critics say the NYPD’s 60-page report on the Newark operations showed Muslims were targeted solely because of their religion.  

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo

At least 206 people are killed in munitions depot explosion

Homes and buildings collapsed in the Congolese capital after an arms depot exploded Sunday, killing at least 206 people and entombing countless others in crushed structures including inside two churches that buckled while parishioners were celebrating Mass, officials and witnesses said.

The shock waves shattered windows in a three-mile radius surrounding the barracks storing the munitions, including across the river that separates Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, from Kinshasa, the capital of the larger Central African nation of Congo.

Government spokesman Bienvenu Okyemi blamed a short-circuit for the fire that set off the successive blasts.

Some 1,500 people were injured, Okyemi said on national radio.