Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Obama’s new contraception rules try to fool Catholics

By , Published: February 4

The Obama administration’s latest revision of its contraceptive policy was welcomed by some religious people as a breakthrough, even a “miracle.” Upon reflection, it seems less like the parting of the Red Sea than a parlor trick.
At issue is whether Obamacare’s broad mandate of insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and drugs that can induce abortion should apply to institutions with moral objections. For more than a year, the administration has struggled to clarify a set of regulations, while provoking 44 legal challenges.
To the administration’s credit, it has now abandoned one particularly provocative definition of religious institutions that excluded organizations that employ and serve non-members. In fact, many religious institutions serve non-members precisely because their faith requires generosity to outsiders.
But the outlines of the mandate remain essentially the same, offering different levels of religious liberty to churches and ministries. An exemption from the mandate still doesn’t reach much beyond the doors of a house of worship — covering only churches, associations of churches and religious orders.
The accommodation for religious charities, colleges and hospitals is effectively unchanged from the last version. While these institutions aren’t required to pay directly for contraceptive coverage, they are forced to provide insurance that includes such coverage. It is a shell game useful only for those who want to deceive themselves. “The religious institutions are required by the government to give their workers an insurer,” says Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “and that insurer is required by the government to give those workers abortive and contraceptive coverage, but somehow these religious employers are supposed to imagine that they’re not giving their workers access to abortive and contraceptive coverage.”
The administration has still made no attempt to deal with the hard cases. Is it right to impose the mandate on a for-profit religious publisher? On a non-religious pro-life organization or a Catholic television station? On a family-owned business with a highly religious owner?
Religious liberty protections are broader for religious institutions than they are for businesses, consistent with the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religious rights are held by individuals, not only by nonprofit religious institutions. This law requires government to use the “least restrictive means” to pursue compelling interests at odds with religious belief. Balancing these considerations can be difficult, particularly in a business setting, but the administration isn’t even attempting it.
It is a valid public health goal to promote the broad availability of contraception. But is a nearly universal mandate, imposed under threat of heavy fines, really the least restrictive method to achieve this objective? The administration has chosen to promote contraceptive access in the most heavy-handed way possible, then define the tightest exemptions it can get away with.
Now it is establishing a pattern of announcing revisions that include few substantive concessions. This strategy is clearly motivated by the courts, which have pressed for clarification on implementation of the mandate. Recent changes seem narrowly tailored to better withstand judicial scrutiny — without shifting the policy itself. Cosmetic concessions also have the benefit of dividing opposition to the mandate, providing cover for those in search of fig leaves.
But President Obama’s policy does not strike me as cynical. Disturbing, but not cynical. The administration has never shown a particularly high regard for institutional religious liberty. Obama’s Justice Department, in last year’s Hosanna-Tabor case, argued that there should be no “ministerial exception” at all — a contention the Supreme Court labeled “amazing.” In this case, the administration views access to contraception as an individual right to be guaranteed by the government, and institutional religious rights as an obstacle and inconvenience. But the First Amendment, it is worth remembering, was designed as an obstacle and inconvenience to the government.
All this is evidence of a deeper debate. Liberalism, back to John Locke, has understood religion to be a fundamentally private matter. It has a difficult time understanding the existence of loyalties outside the law, and often views them as dangerous (unless the demands of faith are harmless and picturesque, like the Amish). But this is not the way many religious people understand religion. They view it as the grounding for a vision of justice, and the source of standards for a community of believers.
It has been part of the American miracle to balance individual rights with institutional religious freedom — a difficult task for which the Obama administration shows little appetite. So now it falls to the courts.

Read more on this issue:
E.J. Dionne: A Catholic victory on birth control
Michael Gerson: Obama playing his allies for fools
E.J. Dionne: A breach of faith with contraceptive ruling

The price of moral grandstanding

By , Published: February 1

Politics becomes amusing when liberalism becomes theatrical with high-minded gestures. Chicago’s government, which is not normally known for elevated thinking, is feeling so morally upright and financially flush that it proposes to rise above the banal business of maximizing the value of its employees’ and retirees’ pension fund assets. Although seven funds have cumulative unfunded liabilities of $25 billion, Chicago will sacrifice the growth of those assets to the striking of a political pose so pure it is untainted by practicality.

Emulating New York and California, two deep-blue states with mammoth unfunded pension liabilities, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) has hectored a $5 billion pension fund into divesting its holdings in companies that manufacture firearms. Now he is urging two large banks to deny financing to such companies “that profit from gun violence.” TD Bank provides a $60 million credit line to Smith & Wesson, and Bank of America provides a $25 million line to Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Chicago’s current and retired public employees might wish the city had invested more in both companies. Barack Obama, for whom Emanuel was chief of staff, has become a potent gun salesman because of suspicions that he wants to make gun ownership more difficult. Since he was inaugurated four years ago, there have been 65 million requests for background checks of gun purchasers. Four years ago, the price of Smith & Wesson stock was $2.45. Last week it was $8.76, up 258 percent. Four years ago, the price of Sturm Ruger stock was $6.46. Last week it was $51.09, up 691 percent. The Wall Street Journal reports that even before “a $1.2 billion balloon payment for pensions comes due” in 2015, “Chicago’s pension funds, which are projected to run dry by the end of the decade, are scraping the bottoms of their barrels.”

Nevertheless, liberals are feeling good about themselves — the usual point of liberalism — because New York state’s public pension fund and California’s fund for teachers have, the New York Times says, “frozen or divested” gun holdings, and Calpers, the fund for other California public employees, may join this gesture jamboree this month. All this is being compared to the use of divestment to pressure South Africa to dismantle apartheid in the 1980s. Well.

Apartheid was a wicked practice. Guns are legal products in America, legally sold under federal, state and local regulations. Most of the guns sold to Americans are made by Americans. Americans have a right — a constitutional right — to own guns, and 47 percent of U.S. households exercise that portion of the Bill of Rights by possessing at least one firearm.

For Emanuel to say that gun makers “profit from gun violence” is as sensible as saying automobile manufacturers “profit from highway carnage” — which, by the way, kills more Americans than guns do. Emanuel, who is more intelligent than he sounds (just as many think Wagner’s music is better than it sounds), must know that not one fewer gun will be made, sold or misused because Chicago is wagging its finger at banks.

Moral grandstanding, however, offers steady work, and the Chronicle of Higher Education reports a new front in “the battle against climate change”: “Student groups at almost 200 colleges and universities are calling on boards of trustees to divest their colleges’ holdings in large fossil-fuel companies.” Of course, not one share of those companies’ stock will go unsold because academia is so righteous. Others will profit handsomely from such holdings and from being complicit in supplying what the world needs. Fossil fuels, the basis of modern life, supply 82 percent of U.S. energy, and it is projected that they will supply 78 percent of the global increase in energy demand between 2009 and 2035, by which time the number of cars and trucks on the planet will have doubled to 1.7 billion.

Institutions of higher education will, presumably, warn donors that their endowments will be wielded in support of the political agenda du jour, which might include divesting from any company having anything to do with corn, source of the sweetener in many of the sodas that make some people fat and New York’s mayor cranky. Or anything to do with red meat, sugar, salt, trans fats, chickens not lovingly raised . . . .

Liberal ethicists may decide that the only virtuous investments are in electric cars. The Obama administration says that 1 million will be sold by 2015. Maybe 70,000 have been so far. Just imagine how pension funds will prosper by betting on the next 930,000.

More on this topic:
Charles Lane: Europe’s role in U.S. gun culture
George F. Will: A conservative revival
George F. Will: Our decadent democracy
George F. Will: Colleges have free speech on the run

UPDATED:Chilling legal memo(White Paper) from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens

The president's partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize

Barack Obama
Barack Obama Photograph: Reuters

The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with US citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen.

Since then, senior Obama officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and John Brennan, Obama's top terrorism adviser and his current nominee to lead the CIA, have explicitly argued that the president is and should be vested with this power. Meanwhile, a Washington Post article from October reported that the administration is formally institutionalizing this president's power to decide who dies under the Orwellian title "disposition matrix".

When the New York Times back in April, 2010 first confirmed the existence of Obama's hit list, it made clear just what an extremist power this is, noting: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing." The NYT quoted a Bush intelligence official as saying "he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president". When the existence of Obama's hit list was first reported several months earlier by the Washington Post's Dana Priest, she wrote that the "list includes three Americans".

What has made these actions all the more radical is the absolute secrecy with which Obama has draped all of this. Not only is the entire process carried out solely within the Executive branch - with no checks or oversight of any kind - but there is zero transparency and zero accountability. The president's underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president - at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as "Terror Tuesday" - then chooses from "baseball cards" and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.

In fact, The Most Transparent Administration Ever™ has been so fixated on secrecy that they have refused even to disclose the legal memoranda prepared by Obama lawyers setting forth their legal rationale for why the president has this power. During the Bush years, when Bush refused to disclose the memoranda from his Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that legally authorized torture, rendition, warrantless eavesdropping and the like, leading Democratic lawyers such as Dawn Johnsen (Obama's first choice to lead the OLC) vehemently denounced this practice as a grave threat, warning that "the Bush Administration's excessive reliance on 'secret law' threatens the effective functioning of American democracy" and "the withholding from Congress and the public of legal interpretations by the [OLC] upsets the system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government."

But when it comes to Obama's assassination power, this is exactly what his administration has done. It has repeatedly refused to disclose the principal legal memoranda prepared by Obama OLC lawyers that justified his kill list.

 It is, right now, vigorously resisting lawsuits from the New York Times and the ACLU to obtain that OLC memorandum. In sum, Obama not only claims he has the power to order US citizens killed with no transparency, but that even the documents explaining the legal rationale for this power are to be concealed. He's maintaining secret law on the most extremist power he can assert.

Last night, NBC News' Michael Isikoff released a 16-page "white paper" prepared by the Obama DOJ that purports to justify Obama's power to target even Americans for assassination without due process (the memo is embedded in full below). This is not the primary OLC memo justifying Obama's kill list - that is still concealed - but it appears to track the reasoning of that memo as anonymously described to the New York Times in October 2011.

This new memo is entitled: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa'ida or An Associated Force". It claims its conclusion is "reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation by the United States against a US citizen". Yet it is every bit as chilling as the Bush OLC torture memos in how its clinical, legalistic tone completely sanitizes the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.

I've written many times at length about why the Obama assassination program is such an extreme and radical threat - see here for one of the most comprehensive discussions, with documentation of how completely all of this violates Obama and Holder's statements before obtaining power - and won't repeat those arguments here. Instead, there are numerous points that should be emphasized about the fundamentally misleading nature of this new memo:

1. Equating government accusations with guilt

The core distortion of the War on Terror under both Bush and Obama is the Orwellian practice of equating government accusations of terrorism with proof of guilt. One constantly hears US government defenders referring to "terrorists" when what they actually mean is: those accused by the government of terrorism. This entire memo is grounded in this deceit.

Time and again, it emphasizes that the authorized assassinations are carried out "against a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or its associated forces who poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States." Undoubtedly fearing that this document would one day be public, Obama lawyers made certain to incorporate this deceit into the title itself: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida or An Associated Force."

This ensures that huge numbers of citizens - those who spend little time thinking about such things and/or authoritarians who assume all government claims are true - will instinctively justify what is being done here on the ground that we must kill the Terrorists or joining al-Qaida means you should be killed. That's the "reasoning" process that has driven the War on Terror since it commenced: if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such - with indefinite imprisonment or death.

But of course, when this memo refers to "a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida", what it actually means is this: someone whom the President - in total secrecy and with no due process - has accused of being that. Indeed, the memo itself makes this clear, as it baldly states that presidential assassinations are justified when "an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US".

This is the crucial point: the memo isn't justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US.

It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with no due process, of being that. The distinction between (a) government accusations and (b) proof of guilt is central to every free society, by definition, yet this memo - and those who defend Obama's assassination power - willfully ignore it.

Those who justify all of this by arguing that Obama can and should kill al-Qaida leaders who are trying to kill Americans are engaged in supreme question-begging. Without any due process, transparency or oversight, there is no way to know who is a "senior al-Qaida leader" and who is posing an "imminent threat" to Americans. All that can be known is who Obama, in total secrecy, accuses of this.

(Indeed, membership in al-Qaida is not even required to be assassinated, as one can be a member of a group deemed to be an "associated force" of al-Qaida, whatever that might mean: a formulation so broad and ill-defined that, as Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller argues, it means the memo "authorizes the use of lethal force against individuals whose targeting is, without more, prohibited by international law".)

The definition of an extreme authoritarian is one who is willing blindly to assume that government accusations are true without any evidence presented or opportunity to contest those accusations. This memo - and the entire theory justifying Obama's kill list - centrally relies on this authoritarian conflation of government accusations and valid proof of guilt.

They are not the same and never have been. Political leaders who decree guilt in secret and with no oversight inevitably succumb to error and/or abuse of power. Such unchecked accusatory decrees are inherently untrustworthy (indeed, Yemen experts have vehemently contested the claim that Awlaki himself was a senior al-Qaida leader posing an imminent threat to the US). That's why due process is guaranteed in the Constitution and why judicial review of government accusations has been a staple of western justice since the Magna Carta: because leaders can't be trusted to decree guilt and punish citizens without evidence and an adversarial process. That is the age-old basic right on which this memo, and the Obama presidency, is waging war.

2. Creating a ceiling, not a floor

The most vital fact to note about this memorandum is that it is not purporting to impose requirements on the president's power to assassinate US citizens. When it concludes that the president has the authority to assassinate "a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida" who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US" where capture is "infeasible", it is not concluding that assassinations are permissible only in those circumstances.

To the contrary, the memo expressly makes clear that presidential assassinations may be permitted even when none of those circumstances prevail: "This paper does not attempt to determine the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful." Instead, as the last line of the memo states: "it concludes only that the stated conditions would be sufficient to make lawful a lethal operation" - not that such conditions are necessary to find these assassinations legal. The memo explicitly leaves open the possibility that presidential assassinations of US citizens may be permissible even when the target is not a senior al-Qaida leader posing an imminent threat and/or when capture is feasible.

Critically, the rationale of the memo - that the US is engaged in a global war against al-Qaida and "associated forces" - can be easily used to justify presidential assassinations of US citizens in circumstances far beyond the ones described in this memo. If you believe the president has the power to execute US citizens based on the accusation that the citizen has joined al-Qaida, what possible limiting principle can you cite as to why that shouldn't apply to a low-level al-Qaida member, including ones found in places where capture may be feasible (including US soil)? The purported limitations on this power set forth in this memo, aside from being incredibly vague, can be easily discarded once the central theory of presidential power is embraced.

3. Relies on the core Bush/Cheney theory of a global battlefield

The primary theory embraced by the Bush administration to justify its War on Terror policies was that the "battlefield" is no longer confined to identifiable geographical areas, but instead, the entire globe is now one big, unlimited "battlefield". That theory is both radical and dangerous because a president's powers are basically omnipotent on a "battlefield". There, state power is shielded from law, from courts, from constitutional guarantees, from all forms of accountability: anyone on a battlefield can be killed or imprisoned without charges. Thus, to posit the world as a battlefield is, by definition, to create an imperial, omnipotent presidency. That is the radical theory that unleashed all the rest of the controversial and lawless Bush/Cheney policies.

This "world-is-a-battlefield" theory was once highly controversial among Democrats. John Kerry famously denounced it when running for president, arguing instead that the effort against terrorism is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world".

But this global-war theory is exactly what lies at heart of the Obama approach to Terrorism generally and this memo specifically. It is impossible to defend Obama's assassination powers without embracing it (which is why key Obama officials have consistently done so). That's because these assassinations are taking place in countries far from any war zone, such as Yemen and Somalia. You can't defend the application of "war powers" in these countries without embracing the once-very-controversial Bush/Cheney view that the whole is now a "battlefield" and the president's war powers thus exist without geographic limits.

This new memo makes clear that this Bush/Cheney worldview is at the heart of the Obama presidency. The president, it claims, "retains authority to use force against al-Qaida and associated forces outside the area of active hostilities". In other words: there are, subject to the entirely optional "feasibility of capture" element, no geographic limits to the president's authority to kill anyone he wants. This power applies not only to war zones, but everywhere in the world that he claims a member of al-Qaida is found.

This memo embraces and institutionalizes the core Bush/Cheney theory that justified the entire panoply of policies Democrats back then pretended to find so objectionable.

4. Expanding the concept of "imminence" beyond recognition

The memo claims that the president's assassination power applies to a senior al-Qaida member who "poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States". That is designed to convince citizens to accept this power by leading them to believe it's similar to common and familiar domestic uses of lethal force on US soil: if, for instance, an armed criminal is in the process of robbing a bank or is about to shoot hostages, then the "imminence" of the threat he poses justifies the use of lethal force against him by the police.

But this rhetorical tactic is totally misleading. The memo is authorizing assassinations against citizens in circumstances far beyond this understanding of "imminence". Indeed, the memo expressly states that it is inventing "a broader concept of imminence" than is typically used in domestic law. Specifically, the president's assassination power "does not require that the US have clear evidence that a specific attack . . . will take place in the immediate future". The US routinely assassinates its targets not when they are engaged in or plotting attacks but when they are at home, with family members, riding in a car, at work, at funerals, rescuing other drone victims, etc.

Many of the early objections to this new memo have focused on this warped and incredibly broad definition of "imminence". The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer told Isikoff that the memo "redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning". Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller called Jaffer's objection "an understatement", noting that the memo's understanding of "imminence" is "wildly overbroad" under international law.

Crucially, Heller points out what I noted above: once you accept the memo's reasoning - that the US is engaged in a global war, that the world is a battlefield, and the president has the power to assassinate any member of al-Qaida or associated forces - then there is no way coherent way to limit this power to places where capture is infeasible or to persons posing an "imminent" threat. The legal framework adopted by the memo means the president can kill anyone he claims is a member of al-Qaida regardless of where they are found or what they are doing.

The only reason to add these limitations of "imminence" and "feasibility of capture" is, as Heller said, purely political: to make the theories more politically palatable. But the definitions for these terms are so vague and broad that they provide no real limits on the president's assassination power.

As the ACLU's Jaffer says: "This is a chilling document" because "it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen" and the purported limits "are elastic and vaguely defined, and it's easy to see how they could be manipulated."

5. Converting Obama underlings into objective courts

This memo is not a judicial opinion. It was not written by anyone independent of the president. To the contrary, it was written by life-long partisan lackeys: lawyers whose careerist interests depend upon staying in the good graces of Obama and the Democrats, almost certainly Marty Lederman and David Barron. Treating this document as though it confers any authority on Obama is like treating the statements of one's lawyer as a judicial finding or jury verdict.

Indeed, recall the primary excuse used to shield Bush officials from prosecution for their crimes of torture and illegal eavesdropping: namely, they got Bush-appointed lawyers in the DOJ to say that their conduct was legal, and therefore, it should be treated as such. This tactic - getting partisan lawyers and underlings of the president to say that the president's conduct is legal - was appropriately treated with scorn when invoked by Bush officials to justify their radical programs. As Digby wrote about Bush officials who pointed to the OLC memos it got its lawyers to issue about torture and eavesdropping, such a practice amounts to:
"validating the idea that obscure Justice Department officials can be granted the authority to essentially immunize officials at all levels of the government, from the president down to the lowest field officer, by issuing a secret memo. This is a very important new development in western jurisprudence and one that surely requires more study and consideration. If Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had known about this, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble."
Life-long Democratic Party lawyers are not going to oppose the terrorism policies of the president who appointed them. A president can always find underlings and political appointees to endorse whatever he wants to do.

That's all this memo is: the by-product of obsequious lawyers telling their Party's leader that he is (of course) free to do exactly that which he wants to do, in exactly the same way that Bush got John Yoo to tell him that torture was not torture, and that even it if were, it was legal.

That's why courts, not the president's partisan lawyers, should be making these determinations. But when the ACLU tried to obtain a judicial determination as to whether Obama is actually authorized to assassinate US citizens, the Obama DOJ went to extreme lengths to block the court from ruling on that question. They didn't want independent judges to determine the law. They wanted their own lawyers to do so.

That's all this memo is: Obama-loyal appointees telling their leader that he has the authority to do what he wants. But in the warped world of US politics, this - secret memos from partisan lackeys - has replaced judicial review as the means to determine the legality of the president's conduct.

6. Making a mockery of "due process"

The core freedom most under attack by the War on Terror is the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. It provides that "no person shall be . . . deprived of life . . . without due process of law". Like putting people in cages for life on island prisons with no trial, claiming that the president has the right to assassinate US citizens far from any battlefield without any charges or trial is the supreme evisceration of this right.

The memo pays lip service to the right it is destroying:
"Under the traditional due process balancing analysis . . . . we recognize that there is no private interest more weighty than a person's interest in his life." 
But it nonetheless argues that a "balancing test" is necessary to determine the extent of the process that is due before the president can deprive someone of their life, and further argues that, as the New York Times put it when this theory was first unveiled: "while the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch."

Stephen Colbert perfectly mocked this theory when Eric Holder first unveiled it to defend the president's assassination program. At the time, Holder actually said: "due process and judicial process are not one and the same." Colbert interpreted that claim as follows:
"Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper scissors, who cares? Due process just means that there is a process that you do. The current process is apparently, first the president meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them."
It is fitting indeed that the memo expressly embraces two core Bush/Cheney theories to justify this view of what "due process" requires. First, it cites the Bush DOJ's core view, as enunciated by John Yoo, that courts have no role to play in what the president does in the War on Terror because judicial review constitutes "judicial encroachment" on the "judgments by the President and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force". And then it cites the Bush DOJ's mostly successful arguments in the 2004 Hamdi case that the president has the authority even to imprison US citizens without trial provided that he accuses them of being a terrorist.
The reason this is so fitting is because, as I've detailed many times, it was these same early Bush/Cheney theories that made me want to begin writing about politics, all driven by my perception that the US government was becoming extremist and dangerous. During the early Bush years, the very idea that the US government asserted the power to imprison US citizens without charges and due process (or to eavesdrop on them) was so radical that, at the time, I could hardly believe they were being asserted out in the open.
Yet here we are almost a full decade later. And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed - and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it's truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.

Justice Dept. document justifies killing Americans overseas if they pose ‘imminent threat’

By , Published: February 5

The United States can lawfully kill a U.S. citizen overseas if it determines the target is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an associated group and poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Justice Department document published late Monday by NBC News.

The document defines “imminent threat” expansively, saying it does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack since such actions are being “continually” planned by al-Qaeda. “In this context,” it says, “imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity” as well as possible collateral damage to civilians.

It says that such determinations can be made by an “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government.”

NBC said the document was provided by the Obama administration last summer to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees as a summary of a classified memo on targeted killings of U.S. citizens prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The memo was written months prior to a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric accused of helping al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate plan attacks against the United States. Three other Americans, including Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, have also been killed in U.S. strikes in Yemen.

The Obama administration, in decisions upheld in federal court rulings, has repeatedly denied demands by lawmakers, civil rights groups and the media to release the memo and other information on targeted killings — or even to acknowledge their existence. Senators are expected to closely question John O. Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, on drone strikes, the memo and the Awlaki killing during Brennan’s confirmation hearing Thursday on his nomination to become Obama’s new CIA director.

Justice officials could not be reached for comment on the document, which NBC posted on its Web site. The 16-page document is titled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaeda or An Associated Force.”

In announcing Awlaki’s death, Obama described him as the leader of “external affairs” of Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday night called the document a “profoundly disturbing” summary of “a stunning overreach of executive authority — the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield and without any judicial involvement before or after the fact.”

The ACLU sought the original Justice Department memo as part of a case dismissed last month by a federal judge in New York. Last Friday, the ACLU filed a notice of appeal in that case.

“Needless to say, the white paper is not a substitute for the legal memo. But it’s a pretty remarkable document,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said.

Immigration: Getting it right

Immigration reform is coming. Let’s get it right. What counts as getting it wrong? The 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act, signed by Ronald Reagan. It granted amnesty to the then 3 million illegal immigrants and promised border enforcement.
Amnesty came. Enforcement never did. Reagan was swindled.

Americans are a generous people. They don’t want 11 million souls living in fear among them. They would willingly, indeed overwhelmingly, support amnesty — as long as it is the last. They don’t want another Simpson-Mazzoli, another bait-and-switch that lets in another 11 million illegal immigrants — and brings us back where we began.

There is an obvious solution: enforcement first. Hence the attraction of the bipartisan Senate deal reached by the Gang of Eight, led by Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republicans John McCain and Marco Rubio. It is said to feature border enforcement first, then legalization.

Not quite.

It is true that only after some commission deems the border under control do illegal immigrants become eligible for green cards and, ultimately, citizenship. But this is misleading because on the day the president signs the reform — long before enforcement even begins — the 11 million are immediately subject to instant legalization.

It is cleverly called “probationary” legal status. But the adjective is meaningless. It grants the right to live and work here openly. Once granted, it will never be revoked.


Imagine that the border-control commission reports at some point that the border is not yet secure. Do you think for a moment that the 11 million will have their “probationary” legalization revoked? These are people who, in good faith, would have come out of the shadows, registered with the feds and disclosed their domicile and place of work. Do you think the authorities will have them fired, arrested and deported?

Inconceivable. “Probationary” in this context means, in reality, “forever.” (Unless, of course, you commit some crime.) It means they can stay and work here freely for the rest of their lives.

True, they must await the “enforcement trigger” before they can apply for a green card. But they already have the functional equivalent of a green card. They got that on Day One. That matters more than anything to those living here illegally: the right to continue living here without fear. Forever. That’s the very essence of amnesty.

And all this happens before the first scintilla of extra enforcement takes place. Which brings us to the second problem. What does this extra enforcement consist of?

When I heard McCain talk about (among other measures) new high-tech border control with advanced radar and drones, my heart sank. We’ve been here. In 2006, Congress threw a ton of money at a high-tech fence. Five years, $1 billion and a pathetic 53 (out of 2,000) miles later, Janet Napolitano canceled the program as a complete failure.

That was predictable. And some of us predicting it were pleading for something infinitely cheaper and simpler: a prosaic, low-tech fence. Of the kind built near San Diego (triple-layered) that resulted in an astounding 92 percent drop in apprehensions. Like the Israeli fence built along the West Bank that has reduced terrorist infiltration to practically zero.

There’s a reason people have been building fences for, oh, 5,000 years. They work.

The current Senate proposal must be improved, either in the Senate or by the House. It’s not complicated. Build the damn fence. And give “probationary legal status” to the 11 million — not on the day the bill is signed but on the day the fence is completed. Have the president drive in the golden fence post at Promontory Point II and sign the amnesty right there. Great photo op.

With the sequencing — and thus the incentives — so properly aligned, I assure you the fence will go up with amazing alacrity. As it should. The point is not to punish anyone or to make things harder but to ensure we don’t have to do this again — agonizing over the next 11 million cruelly living here in the shadows.

I know many Republicans are coming over to immigration reform because of the 2012 election results. Fine. I’ve been advocating this for seven years (“First a wall — then amnesty,” April 7, 2006). Welcome aboard.

But remember: Enforcement followed by legalization is not just the political thing to do. It is the right thing to do — an act both of national generosity and national interest. It has long been the best answer to the immigration conundrum. It remains so.

Brennan nomination exposes criticism on targeted killings and secret Saudi base

Tue Feb 05 2013
A Justice Department document describes the criteria for killing American citizens believed to be plotting terror attacks from abroad. The Post’s Karen DeYoung helps explain what the “white paper” does and doesn’t says.

By and , Published: February 5

President Obama’s plan to install his counterterrorism adviser as director of the CIA has opened the administration to new scrutiny over the targeted-killing policies it has fought to keep hidden from the public, as well as the existence of a previously secret drone base in Saudi Arabia.

The administration’s refusal to provide details about one of the most controversial aspects of its drone campaign — strikes on U.S. citizens abroad — has emerged as a potential source of opposition to CIA nominee John O. Brennan, who faces a Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday.

The secrecy surrounding that policy was punctured Monday with the disclosure of a Justice Department “white paper” that spells out the administration’s case for killing Americans accused of being al-Qaeda operatives.

The timing of the leak appeared aimed at intensifying pressure on the White House to disclose more-detailed legal memos that the paper summarizes — and at putting Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, on the defensive for his appearance on Capitol Hill.

Administration officials on Tuesday sought to play down the significance of the disclosure, saying that they have already described the principles outlined in the document in a series of speeches.

“One of the things I want to make sure that everybody understands is that our primary concern is to keep the American people safe, but to do so in a way that’s consistent with our laws and consistent with our values,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in response to questions about the document.

Nevertheless, the leak and signals from senior lawmakers that they may seek to delay, if not derail, Brennan’s confirmation made it clear that Obama’s decision to nominate him has drawn the White House into a fight it had sought to avoid.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the intelligence committee, said Brennan’s level of influence and the timing of his nomination have given lawmakers leverage that they lacked in previous efforts to seek details from the White House.

Brennan “is the architect of [the administration’s] counterterrorism policy,” Wyden said. “If the Congress doesn’t get answers to these questions now, it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get them in the future.”

The Obama administration’s targeted-killing program has relied on a growing constellation of drone bases operated by the CIA and the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command. The only strike intentionally targeting a U.S. citizen, a 2011 attack that killed al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, was carried out in part by CIA drones flown from a secret base in Saudi Arabia.

The base was established two years ago to intensify the hunt against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the affiliate in Yemen is known. Brennan, who previously served as the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with Riyadh over locating an agency drone base inside the kingdom.

The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the specific location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.

The white paper, which was first reported by NBC News, concludes that the United States can lawfully kill one of its own citizens overseas if it determines that the person is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates and poses an imminent threat.

But the 16-page document allows for an elastic interpretation of those concepts and does not require that the target be involved in a specific plot, because al-Qaeda is “continually involved in planning terrorist attacks against the United States.”

The paper does not spell out who might qualify as an “informed, high-level official” able to determine whether an American overseas is a legitimate target. It avoids specifics on a range of issues, including the level of evidence required for an American to be considered a “senior, operational” figure in al-Qaeda.

The document’s emphasis on those two words, which appear together 16 times, helps to explain the careful phrasing the administration employed in the single case in which it intentionally killed an American citizen in a counterterrorism strike.

Within hours after Awlaki’s death in September 2011, White House officials described the U.S.-born cleric as “chief of external operations” for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, a designation they had not used publicly before the strike.

Officials said that Awlaki, previously portrayed mainly as a propagandist, was directly involved in a series of plots, including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009.

The white paper, which was distributed confidentially to certain lawmakers last summer, does not indicate when the underlying Justice Department memos on targeted killings of Americans were completed.

As a result, it is unclear whether the memos were in place before the first apparent attempt to kill Awlaki, a joint U.S.-Yemeni strike shortly before the foiled Detroit plot in 2009.

Three other Americans have been killed in U.S. airstrikes in Yemen since 2002, including Awlaki’s 16-year-old son. U.S. officials have said those Americans were casualties of attacks aimed at senior al-Qaeda operatives.

Civil liberties groups described the white paper as an example of the kind of unchecked executive power Obama campaigned against during his first presidential run.

“The parallels to the Bush administration torture memos are chilling,” said Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Warren accused Obama of hypocrisy for ordering George W. Bush administration memos to be released publicly while maintaining secrecy around his own. To deliver on his promises of transparency, Warren said, Obama “must release his own legal memos and not just a Cliffs Notes version.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney emphasized that the white paper is unclassified and indicated that the administration does not intend to release the classified legal memo on which it is based. Asked whether Obama would respond to demands from lawmakers that he release the original document, Carney said, “I just have nothing for you on alleged memos regarding potentially classified matters.”

The number of attacks on Americans is minuscule compared with the broader toll of the drone campaign, which has killed more than 3,000 militants and civilians in hundreds of strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The administration has frequently described its domestic and international legal rationales for drone strikes in general terms. The white paper expands those justifications with specific determinations to be made in the case of U.S. citizens.

The struggle between the administration and Congress is relatively narrow, limited mainly to the White House’s refusal to turn over a collection of classified memos rather than any broad-scale opposition to the use of drone strikes or even the killing of Americans.

Most members of Congress agree with administration assertions that the drone campaign has been essential to crippling al-Qaeda and its ability to mount large-scale attacks against the United States.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the intelligence committee that will consider Brennan’s nomination, released a statement Tuesday indicating that she believes the release of the white paper — which was apparently done without the consent of the administration — should quell calls for more transparency.

The administration’s legal position “is now public and the American people can review and judge the legality of these operations,” Feinstein said. She has indicated she will support Brennan’s nomination.

Brennan, 57, has presided over a major expansion of the drone campaign, although he is also credited with imposing more rigorous internal reviews on the selection of targets. He spent 25 years at the CIA and was considered a likely candidate for the top job in Obama’s first term. He withdrew amid mounting opposition from civil liberties groups that called attention to his role as a senior CIA executive when the agency began using interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that were subsequently denounced as akin to torture.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Senate approves debt limit extension, sends to Obama

The Senate approved a three-month suspension of the debt limit on Thursday, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama’s likely signature.
The upper chamber voted 64 to 34 to add its approval to a plan conceived by House Republicans, which would push the deadline at which the government runs out of authority to borrow money to finance its obligations until May 18. The government would have otherwise run out of money within a matter of weeks.
In exchange for the extension of borrowing authority, both the House and Senate must now draft and approve separate budget resolutions by mid-April. The legislation approved Thursday by the Senate and last week by the House would place lawmakers’ pay into escrow if they were to fail to pass a budget.
The Obama administration has indicated that while the president would have preferred a longer-term extension of the debt ceiling, it did not oppose the short-term extension. Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.
Attention will now turn to the normal budgeting process that typically dominates the first few months of the calendar year in Congress. Republicans’ gambit in offering this proposal was to highlight how Senate Democrats had failed to pass a formal budget resolution in the last four years. (Democrats argue they were working off of a de-facto budget stipulated by various spending cut agreements passed by Congress.)
Leaders of both chambers have suggested they’ll push ahead with ambitious, and markedly different, budgets.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, will lead the GOP’s efforts; he’s vowed to produce a budget that would balance the budget in the next 10 years without raising any new taxes.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have said they plan to seek additional revenues from taxes in the budget they will produce. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, D, the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, will lead that effort.

First Thoughts: Budget battle resumes

Budget battle resumes… On drones and executive power: Congress vs. the public… Obama’s Spring Break -- to Israel… President today to tap female CEO to replace Salazar as head of Interior Dept… GOP focuses more on changing tone than changing policies… But one exception: Eric Cantor now supports the DREAM Act… And the “Oh, crap” moments from the 2012 campaign.
The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd reports on President Barack Obama's budget plan.

*** Budget battle resumes:
Goodbye fiscal cliff and debt ceiling; hello to the effort to delay or suspend the sequester -- the automatic defense and other spending cuts set to take effect on March 1.  
Roll Call: “This time, the scale may be smaller but the game is the same — in the president’s eyes, either congressional Republicans agree to more new tax revenue or they will bear responsibility for the economic damage and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs from the sequester taking effect.” 
 In his brief remarks yesterday, President Obama tried to send two other messages besides the demand for more revenue to delay the sequester.
  • First, the White House wants to dispel the notion that it’s comfortable with the sequester, something that many Democrats (and some Republicans) thought was NOT clear. “Deep, indiscriminate cuts to things like education and training, energy and national security will cost us jobs, and it will slow down our recovery,” Obama said. 
  • Second, Obama signaled that once the sequester is delayed, he wants Congress to work its will resolving the outstanding budget issues. “Congress is already working towards a budget that would permanently replace the sequester. At the very least, we should give them the chance to come up with this budget instead of making indiscriminate cuts now that will cost us jobs and significantly slow down our recovery.” 
What does this mean?
The White House is prepared to see Congress work the old-fashioned way: The Senate passes a budget (with White House input), the House passes a budget (maybe all of this done before the August recess at the latest), and then the House and Senate actually negotiate a budget to send to the president for his signature. So no more Boehner-Obama talks, no more Biden-McConnell discussions.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
President Barack Obama calls on Congress to pass a small package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the larger, automatic "sequester" cuts from going into effect during an announcement in the White House briefing room, Feb. 5, 2013.

*** White House vs. House Republicans -- again:
For their part, House Republicans are opposing any more revenue to delay the sequester. “We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes,” Speaker John Boehner said yesterday. “The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.” But Republicans are divided here. Some, particularly those in the Senate (like John McCain) don’t want the sequester to take place, given its cuts in defense spending. But many House Republicans (like Paul Ryan) are becoming more and more comfortable with the sequester taking place -- as a way to cut spending. Meanwhile, Politico reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “warned Senate Republicans in a private meeting on Tuesday that spending cuts the GOP seeks are going to require a fight. ‘Nobody said cutting spending would be easy, we need to fight,’ McConnell told Republicans on Tuesday, according to a source with knowledge of the statement.”

*** On drones and executive power: Congress vs. the public:
The drone story remains in the news today, and there are two ways to look at this issue. One, the Obama White House has a political problem with Congress here, especially with John Brennan’s confirmation hearing to lead the CIA taking place tomorrow. A senator to keep an eye on here is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). But two, the White House doesn’t seem to have as much of a political problem with the public. As we wrote yesterday, the public -- like it did in the Bush years -- is content to go after the bad guys, regardless of concerns about a slippery slope. And here is a reason why this drone story might not extend beyond the Brennan hearings: The political opposition has been mostly quiet. As we’ve seen with other political controversies (say Benghazi or Fast and Furious), one party heavily leaning into a story extends its life, no matter the merits. But we’re not seeing that from the GOP, at least not yet. The scrutiny so far is coming from the left and the news media, and that’s it. We’re really surprised at the lack of outrage from Congress so far. Why aren’t more members of Congress upset that a second branch of government doesn’t have any oversight over this executive branch program?

*** Obama’s Spring Break -- to Israel:
As we reported yesterday, Obama this spring will make his first visit to Israel as president, and he also will travel to the West Bank and Jordan. (Obama made a stop to Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign.) The New York Times notes the potential politics behind Obama’s visit, given the rocky relations between the president and Israeli PM Netanyahu. “While Mr. Obama won a clear victory in November, Mr. Netanyahu emerged from elections last month in a weakened state. His party won enough seats for him to retain office, but he will be forced to recruit centrist lawmakers for a coalition that might temper his policies. He has until March 16 to present his new government.” The Israeli press is reporting that Obama’s visit will take place on March 20. By the way, No way the president would agree to go to Israel unless Netanyahu wasn’t promising SOME progress on the peace talks. And given Netanyahu’s new precarious domestic political situation, it seems inevitable that there would be a jump start in the peace talks.

*** Obama to tap female CEO to replace Salazar at Interior Department:
NBC News confirms this scoop from the Washington Post: “President Obama on Wednesday will nominate Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department, according to a White House official who asked not to be identified because the public announcement has not yet been made. The choice of Jewell — who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company — represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West.  But while she boasts less public policy experience than other candidates who had been under consideration, Jewell — who will have to be confirmed by the Senate — has earned national recognition for her management skills and support for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation.”

*** Let’s talk about tone, baby… Let’s talk about you and me:
After their defeats last November, do Republicans modify their policies? Or their tone? NBC’s Mike O’Brien writes that most Republicans -- so far -- have opted for Door No. 2, deciding “that a more articulate re-statement of the party's long-held principles will suffice in their effort to attract new voters to the GOP.” And that’s probably to best way to view House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s speech yesterday to the conservative American Enterprise Institute. With one exception (more on that below), Cantor’s address was mostly a repackaging of policies he and other Republicans have previously backed, albeit with a much softer and more inviting tone. Yet here is the challenge for Republicans as they focus more on tone than policies: Majorities of Americans rejected some of the party’s central principles, according to the exit polls from the November presidential election. For instance, 60% said income tax rates should either go up on all Americans or those with incomes above $250,000; 59% said abortion should be legal in all or most cases; and 65% favored giving illegal immigrants a path to legal status. It’s rare to find politicians in Washington who believe their political beliefs cost them an election or a policy defeat; they almost ALWAYS blame communications.

*** To DREAM the impossible DREAM:
The one clear policy shift that Cantor signaled in his speech, however, was on the topic of immigration. He appeared to back the primary thrust of the DREAM Act, despite voting against that legislation in 2010. “One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents,” Cantor said, per NBC’s Luke Russert. “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.” That shift by Cantor tells you that the politics of immigration have changed. Another example: At the House hearing yesterday on immigration reform, House Republicans said they favored a path to legal residency -- but not citizenship -- for illegal immigrants, the New York Times notes. That’s a significant policy difference, which will be debated in the weeks ahead. But it’s also a sign that this is 2005-2007, when even a discussion of legal residency produced cries of “amnesty.” By the way, Republican Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada hold a conference call at 10:00 am ET to announce the formation of the Future Majority Caucus -- an effort by the Republican State Leadership Committee to recruit and elect more female and minority Republican candidates to statewide office.

*** The “Oh, crap” moments of 2012:
Yesterday, at the University of Chicago, one of us moderated a panel with top officials from the Obama and Romney campaigns. We asked them what their “Oh, crap” -- cleaned up here for language -- moments of the campaign were. Eric Fehrnstrom of the Romney campaign answered Gingrich winning South Carolina; Beth Myers of the Romney camp said it was Romney’s three-state loss to Santorum (on Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri); Romney strategist Stuart Stevens said it was the close primary race in Michigan; Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said it was their worry that Romney might wrap up the nomination after the New Hampshire primary. And speaking of “Oh, crap” moments, NBC’s Luke Russert explored what happened to that empty chair Clint Eastwood spoke to at the GOP convention in Tampa. As it turns out, the chair now sits in RNC Chair Reince Preibus’ office.

Masked men burst into vacation home, rape six Spanish tourists in Acapulco, Mexican officials say

Bernandino Hernandez / AP
Police patrol on the beach near a home in Acapulco, Mexico, where masked and armed men broke in and raped six tourists.

A gang of masked men entered a vacation home near the resort city of Acapulco and raped six Spanish tourists, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.

The assailants, brandishing guns, first tied up the men with phone cords and the straps of bathing suits and then raped the women, The Associated Press reported.

A police report, obtained by Prensa Latina, a Cuba-based Latin American news service, said that 15 subjects with ski masks sexually abused the Spanish women, and also stole the belongings of a Mexican national and six Spanish men.

The assault took place Monday in the town of San Andres, Barra Vieja, in the Diamante area of Acapulco.

Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton and the state prosecutor for Guerroro said Mexican federal police were involved in the hunt for those responsible, CNN reported.

"It's a very delicate situation," Walton said at a news conference on Tuesday in which he condemned the attacks. "We are going to have the full weight of the law against those responsible."

Walton admitted the attacks would likely tarnish Acapulco’s image. The Pacific Coast resort city and its beaches are a popular destination for tourists, including American college students on spring break.

Though the number of rapes in the area is unclear, in one weekend in March 2010, at least 13 people were killed in and around Acapulco in apparent drug-gang violence, including four victims found beheaded. And, according to Reuters, some 70,000 people nationwide have been killed in drug-related violence since 2006.

Though millions of people travel to Mexico each year without incident, the U.S. State Department has issued a warning to travelers visiting the country. It says travelers to Mexico should be aware that “crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and occur anywhere." Travelers to the Acapulco area are urged to exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.

Travel Warning
Bureau of Consular Affairs


November 20, 2012

The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Mexico.  General information on the overall security situation is provided immediately below.  For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below.
This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated February 8, 2012 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.

General Conditions:

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.
Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.  The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.  As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere.  U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery. 
According to the statistics last published by the Mexican government in late 2011, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, with 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 alone.  While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed. 
The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered under all circumstances in Mexico was 113 in 2011 and 32 in the first six months of 2012.
Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region.  Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs.  During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.  TCOs use stolen cars and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity.  The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable.  We recommend that you defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.  
The number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern. Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized.  In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents.  We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention. 
Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents.  Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically harmed.  Carjackers have shot at vehicles that fail to stop at checkpoints.  Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles off the road at high speeds.  There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs.  However, victims driving a variety of vehicles, from late model SUVs to old sedans have also been targeted.  While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll ("cuotas") highways and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads.  To reduce risk, if absolutely necessary to travel by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible.  The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs.  U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel or law enforcement personnel.  TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them.  You should cooperate at all checkpoints.
Effective July 15, 2010, the U.S. Mission in Mexico imposed restrictions on U.S. government employees' travel. U.S. government employees and their families are not permitted to drive for personal reasons from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America.  Personal travel by vehicle is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales but is restricted to daylight hours and the Highway 15 toll road (cuota). 
U.S. government (USG) personnel (U.S. citizens working at the Embassy and nine consulates) and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas described as “defer non-essential travel” and when travel for official purposes is essential it is conducted with extensive security precautions.  USG personnel and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory is to exercise caution.  While the general public is not forbidden from visiting places described as “defer non-essential travel,” USG personnel will not be able to respond quickly to an emergency situation in those areas due to security precautions that must be taken to travel to those areas.
For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico's roadways, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

State-by-State Assessment:

Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico divided into northern and southern regions.  The accompanying map will help in identifying individual locations.  Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, crime and violence can occur anywhere.  For general information about travel conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.   
Northern Mexico
Baja California (north): Tijuana and Mexicali are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Baja California -see map to identify their exact locations: You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night.  For the one-year period ending July 2012, the number of murders in Mexicali increased by 43%, from 127 to 181, over the preceding year.  The number of murders in the city of Tijuana was 351 for the same period.  In the majority of these cases, the killings appeared to be related to narcotics trafficking.  Targeted TCO assassinations continue to take place in Baja California.  Turf battles between criminal groups resulted in assassinations in areas of Tijuana frequented by U.S. citizens.  Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.  Twenty-five U.S. citizens were the victims of homicide in the state in the 12-month period ending July 2012. 
Baja California (South): Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of SouthernBaja California -see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.
Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua -see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Chihuahua.  The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, is of special concern.  The Mexican government reports that 1,933 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez in 2011, down from 3,100 in 2010.  Although there has been a further decline in homicides in 2012, Ciudad Juarez still has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico.  Chihuahua City has seen an increase in violent crime in previous years.  From the United States, other areas in the state of Chihuahua are often reached through the Columbus, NM, and the Fabens and Fort Hancock, TX, ports-of-entry which also experience high levels of violence.  In these areas, U.S. citizens have been victims of narcotics-related violence.  There have been incidents of narcotics-related violence in the vicinity of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua. 
Coahuila: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Coahuila.  The State of Coahuila continues to experience high rates of violent crimes and narcotics-related murders.  TCOs continue to compete for territory and coveted border crossings to the United States.  In September 2012, more than 100 prisoners escaped from a prison in Piedras Negras.  The majority of these prisoners are known or suspected to be connected with TCO activity and believed involved in a series of violent incidents since the escape.  The cities of Torreón and Saltillo have seen an increase of violent crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and armed carjacking.  USG personnel may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments. 
Durango: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Durango.  Between 2010 and 2011, the number of homicides in the State of Durango increased by 122%.  Several areas in the state continue to experience high rates of violence and remained volatile and unpredictable.  USG personnel may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments. 
Nuevo Leon: Monterrey is a major city/travel destination in Nuevo Leon -see map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Nuevo Leon, except the metropolitan area of Monterrey where you should exercise caution.  The level of violence and insecurity in Monterrey remained high.  Sporadic gun battles and attacks on casinos and adult entertainment establishments continue, as do placements of “narco banners” on bridges.  TCOs have kidnapped and in some cases murdered American citizens, even when ransom demands are met.  TCOs continue to attack local government facilities, prisons and police stations, and engaged in public shootouts with the military and between themselves.  TCOs have used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices against military and law enforcement units as well as incendiary devices against several types of businesses.  Pedestrians and innocent bystanders have been killed in these incidents. Local police and private patrols have limited capacity to deter criminal elements or respond effectively to security incidents.  As a result of a Department of State assessment of the overall security situation, the Consulate General in Monterrey is a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of USG personnel permitted.  USG personnel serving at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and may not travel outside the San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries between midnight and 6 a.m. 
San Luis Potosi: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of San Luis Potosi, except the city of San Luis Potosi where you should exercise caution.  The entire stretch of highway 57D in San Luis Potosi and portions of the state east of highway 57D towards Tamaulipas are particularly dangerous.  A U.S. government employee was killed and another wounded when they were attacked in their U.S. government vehicle on Highway 57 near Santa Maria del Rio in 2011.  Cartel violence and highway lawlessness are a continuing security concern.  USG personnel may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments.  USG personnel may not travel outside the City of San Luis Potosi after dark and must abide by a curfew of midnight to 6 a.m.
Sinaloa: Mazatlan is a major city/travel destination in Sinaloa -see map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the city of Mazatlan where you should exercise caution particularly late at night and in the early morning.  One of Mexico's most powerful TCOs is based in the state of Sinaloa.  With the exception of Ciudad Juarez, since 2006 more homicides have occurred in the state's capital city of Culiacan than in any other city in Mexico.  Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided.  We recommend that any other travel in Mazatlan be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport.
Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora -see attached map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel between the city of Nogales and the cities of Sonoyta and Caborca (which area also includes the smaller cities of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar), defer non-essential travel to the eastern edge of the State of Sonora which borders the State of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), defer non-essential travel within the state south of the city of Ciudad Obregon with the exception of travel to Alamos (traveling only during daylight hours and using only the Highway 15 toll road, aka cuota, and Sonora State Road 162).   You should exercise caution when visiting the coastal town of Puerto Peñasco.  There is no recommendation against travel to San Carlos.  Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades, and can be extremely dangerous for travelers.  The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including the towns of Saric, Tubutama and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity.  U.S. citizens in Puerto Peñasco are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to bolster their personal security following a July 2012 mid-day gun battle between TCO members and increases in reported robberies and assaults against U.S. citizens.   Additionally U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco are urged to use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, in order to limit driving through Mexico.  Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.

Tamaulipas: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico are major cities/travel destinations in Tamaulipas -see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas.  All USG employees are prohibited from personal travel on Tamaulipas highways outside of Matamoros, Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo due to the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking.  USG employees may not frequent casinos and adult entertainment establishments within these cities; and in Matamoros are subject to a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew.  Nuevo Laredo has seen an increase in the number of grenade attacks within the past year, particularly against night clubs within city limits.  In June 2012, a small car bomb exploded in front of the Nuevo Laredo city hall.  Both Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria have experienced grenade attacks in the past year.  All travelers should be aware of the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking on state highways throughout Tamaulipas, particularly on highways and roads outside of urban areas along the northern border.  Traveling outside of cities after dark is particularly dangerous.  In August 2012 an American family was forced off the road, resulting in one death and several injuries, in an apparent robbery attempt soon after crossing the bridge from Texas into Nuevo Laredo.  While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, many of the crimes reported to the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros have taken place along the Matamoros-Tampico highway, particularly around San Fernando and the area north of Tampico.
Zacatecas:You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Zacatecas except the city of Zacatecas where you should exercise caution.  The regions of the state bordering Durango and Coahuila as well as the cities of Fresnillo and Fresnillo-Sombrete and surrounding area are particularly dangerous.  The northwestern portion of the state of Zacatecas has become notably dangerous and insecure.  Robberies and carjackings are occurring with increased frequency and both local authorities and residents have reported a surge in observed TCO activity.  This area is remote, and local authorities are unable to regularly patrol it or quickly respond to incidents that occur there.  Gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur in the area of the state bordering the state of Jalisco.  There have also been reports of roadblocks and false checkpoints on highways between the states of Zacatecas and Jalisco.  The  city of Fresnillo, the area extending northwest from Fresnillo along Highway 45 (Fresnillo-Sombrete) between Highways 44 and 49, and highway 49 northwards from Fresnillo through Durango and in to Chihuahua are considered dangerous.  Extreme caution should be taken when traveling in the remainder of the state.  USG personnel may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments.  USG personnel may not travel outside the City of Zacatecas after dark and must abide by a curfew of midnight to 6 a.m. within a secured venue.
Southern Mexico
Aguascalientes: You should defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas.  The security situation along the Zacatecas border continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur.  Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons. 
Campeche: No advisory is in effect.
Chiapas: San Cristobal de las Casas is a major city/travel destination in Chiapas -see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.
Colima: Manzanillo is a major city/travel destination in Colima -see map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state of Colima that border the state of Michoacán.  There is no recommendation against travel to Manzanillo.  You should also exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in the remaining portions of the state.  The security situation along the Michoacán border continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur.  Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons. 
Estado de Mexico: Toluca is a major city/travel destination in Estado de Mexico -see map to identify its exact location: You should exercise caution in the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco Solidaridad, Chalco, and Ixtapaluca, which are eastern portions of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area, located just to the east of the Federal District of Mexico and Benito Juarez airport.  These areas have seen high rates of crime and insecurity.  In September 2012, the Government of Mexico sent military and federal police forces into the Municipality of Nezahualcoyotl in an effort to combat organized crime.
Guanajuato: San Miguel de Allende and Leon are major cities/travel destinations in Guanajuato -see map to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.
Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo and Taxco are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrero -see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state (the area west and south of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca), except for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa.  In those cities, you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.  You should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on highway 95D (cuota/toll road) between Mexico City and Acapulco and highway 200 between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.  In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas.  In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence.  Flying into the coastal cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel.  You should also exercise caution in the northern region of Guerrero (the area north of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca).  The state of Guerrero has seen an increase in violence among rival criminal organizations.  Acapulco's murder rates increased dramatically since 2009; in response, in 2011 the Government of Mexico sent additional military and federal police to the state to assist State security forces in implementing ongoing operation “Guerrero Seguro” (Secure Guerrero) that focuses on combating organized crime and returning security to the environs of popular tourist areas. 
Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect.
Jalisco: Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco -see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas.  You should also exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in the remaining portions of this state.  There is no recommendation against travel to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.  There is also no recommendation against travel on principal highways in Jalisco between Guadalajara including the portions that cross in to the southern portions of the state of Nayarit. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur.  Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons. 
Mexico City (also known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect.  See also discussion in the section on Estado de Mexico for areas within the greater Mexico City metropolitan area.
Michoacán: Morelia is a major city/travel destination in Michoacán -see attached map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacán except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas where you should exercise caution.  Flying into Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas, or driving to Lázaro Cardenas via highway 200 from Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, are the recommended methods of travel.  Attacks on Mexican government officials, law enforcement and military personnel, and other incidents of TCO-related violence, have occurred throughout Michoacán.
Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelos -see attached map to identify its exact location: You should exercise caution in the state of Morelos due to the unpredictable nature of TCO violence.  On August 24, two USG employees were injured after being fired upon by Federal Police officers on an isolated road north of Tres Marias, Morelos.  Numerous incidents of narcotics-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca, a popular destination for U.S. students.
Nayarit: You should defer non-essential travel to all areas of the state of Nayarit north of the city of Tepic as well as to the cities of Tepic and Xalisco.  The security situation north of Tepic and in these cities is unstable and travelers could encounter roadblocks or shootouts between rival criminals.  There is no recommendation against travel either to Riviera Nayarit in the southern portion of the state or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta.
Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca -see map to identify their exact locations: No warning is in effect.
Puebla: No advisory is in effect.
Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.
Quintana Roo: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum are major cities/travel destinations in Quintana Roo -see attached map to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.
Tabasco: Villahermosa is a major city/travel destination in Tabasco -see attached map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.
Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.
Veracruz: You should exercise caution when traveling in the state of Veracruz.  Over the last year, the state of Veracruz has seen an increase in violence among rival criminal organizations.  In response, in 2011 the Government of Mexico sent additional military and federal police to the state to assist State security forces in implementing ongoing operation “Veracruz Seguro” (Secure Veracruz) that focuses on combating organized crime. 
Yucatan: Merida and Chichen Itza are major cities/travel destinations in Yucatan -see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.

Further Information

We encourage you to review the U.S. Embassy's Mexico Security Update.  The update contains information about recent security incidents in Mexico that could affect the safety of the traveling public.  For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Mexico.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate (see list below).  The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock.  The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000.  U.S. citizens may also contact the Embassy by e-mail.

Consulates (with consular districts):

  • Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua): Paseo de la Victoria 3650, tel. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000.
  • Guadalajara (Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguas Calientes, and Colima): Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100.
  • Hermosillo (Sinaloa and the southern part of the state of Sonora): Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500.
  • Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402.
  • Merida (Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo): Calle 60 no. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050, telephone (011)(52)(999) 942-5700 or 202-250-3711 (U.S. number).
  • Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila): Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.
  • Nogales (the northern part of Sonora): Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150.
  • Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.
  • Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Paseo de Las Culturas s/n Mesa de Otay, telephone (011) (52) (664) 977-2000.
All other Mexican states, the Federal District of Mexico City, and the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, are part of the Embassy's consular district.

Consular Agencies:

  • Acapulco: Hotel Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – Suite 14, telephone (011)(52)(744) 481-0100 or (011)(52)(744) 484-0300.
  • Cancún: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH Torre La Europea, Despacho 301 Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77500; telephone (011)(52)(998) 883-0272.
  • Cozumel: Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th Ave.) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, telephone (011)(52)(987) 872-4574 or, 202-459-4661 (a U.S. number).
  • Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (011)(52)(755) 553-2100.
  • Los Cabos: Las Tiendas de Palmilla Local B221, Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 27.5, San José del Cabo, BCS, Mexico 23406 Telephone: (624) 143-3566 Fax: (624) 143-6750.
  • Mazatlán: Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.
  • Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (011)(52)(951) 514-3054, (011) (52)(951) 516-2853.
  • Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., Tel. (011)(52)(878) 782-5586.
  • Playa del Carmen: "The Palapa," Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303 or 202-370-6708(a U.S. number).
  • Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (011)(52)(322) 222-0069.
  • San Luis Potosí: Edificio "Las Terrazas", Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone: (011)(52)(444) 811-7802/7803.
  • San Miguel de Allende: Centro Comercial La Luciernaga, Libramiento Manuel Zavala (Pepe KBZON), telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357.