AP News in Brief at 8:58 p.m. EDT

Monday, June 23, 2014

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In Baghdad, Kerry hands Iraqi leaders dire warning on nation’s future, demands quick action

BAGHDAD (AP) - Warning of the “existential threat” posed by Sunni militants, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the U.S. is prepared to take military action even if Baghdad delays political reforms, noting that the risks of letting the insurgency run rampant threaten dangers beyond Iraq’s borders.

But he stressed military action would not be in support of the present Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Kerry, on a few hours’ visit to Baghdad, urged Iraq’s leaders to quickly set aside divisions as the only means of stopping the vicious Sunni insurgency and said Iraq’s future depended on choices Iraq’s leaders make in the next days and weeks.

“The future of Iraq depends primarily on the ability of Iraq’s leaders to come together and take a stand united against ISIL,” Kerry told a news conference, using the acronym for the al-Qaida-breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, that has captured huge swathes of Iraqi territory in the north and west.

“Not next week, not next month, but now,” he said. “It is essential that Iraq’s leaders form a genuinely inclusive government as rapidly as possible.”

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US memo outlining legal basis for drone killings is released; document is heavily redacted

NEW YORK (AP) - The secret U.S. government memo outlining the justification for the use of drones to kill American terror suspects abroad was released by court order Monday, yielding the most detailed, inside look yet at the legal underpinnings of the Obama administration’s program of “targeted killings.”

The 41-page memo - whose contents had previously been summarized and released piecemeal - was heavily redacted for national security reasons, with several entire pages and other passages whited out.

But it argues among other things that a targeted killing of a U.S. citizen is permissible under a 2001 law passed by Congress soon after 9/11. That law empowered the president to use force against organizations that planned and committed the attacks.

“The release of the memo will allow the public to better assess the lawfulness of the government’s targeted killing policy and the implications of that policy,” said Jameel Jaffer, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued for release of the memo. “Despite the release of this memo, the public still knows scandalously little about who the government is killing and why.”

He said the memo contains the first formal acknowledgment by the government that the CIA is involved in the program.

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Egypt court sentences 3 Al-Jazeera journalists to 7 years each on terrorism-related charges

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