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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Lots of coverage of John Brennan’s speech. Here are CNN, BBC, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times.

Meanwhile, President Obama took a surprise soujourn in Afghanistan, says the Times. The timing of the trip is a giant middle finger stuck up at those enraged by the bin Laden raid this time last year, but its purpose–the Times reports–is “to to sign a strategic partnership agreement. . . meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade.” The President will be making at statement at 7:30 PM EDT tonight from Bagram.

What better place for Al Qaeda to hide operational details of its planned terrorist plots than. . . porn? CNN tells us that German cryptologists found “more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group’s most audacious plots and a road map for future operations”–all in files with names such as “Kick Ass” and “Sexy Tanja.” For more on Al Qaeda and porn, see this great 2010 article by Dan Byman and Christine Fair. Money quote:

Pentagon officials and intelligence analysts concede privately that our foes also have a voracious appetite for pornography—hardly shocking behavior for young men, but hard to square with an image of piety. Many laptops seized from the Taliban and al-Qaeda are loaded with smut. U.S. intelligence analysts have devoted considerable time to poring over the terrorists’ favored Web sites, searching for hidden militant messages. “We have terabytes of this stuff,” said one Department of Defense al-Qaeda analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It isn’t possible that they are encrypting messages in all of this stuff. Some of these guys are just perverts.”

The enhanced interrogation debate remains alive and well–the focus has turned, yet again, to what role the information played in the capture of Osama bin Laden, reports the Times.  

Jose Rodriguez defends, yet again, the techniques used under his watch at the CIA in this op-ed in the Washington Post.

The domestic debate over the efficacy of enhanced interrogation has reignited, yet again, Europe’s hang-wringing over the issue. The Los Angeles Times tells us that Europe is “taking a hard look at nations that allowed U.S. interrogations.”

Will McCants discusses Al Qaeda’s nation-building in Foreign Policy.

The FBI has arrested five gentlemen accused of plotting to blow up a Cleveland bridge; three are self-proclaimed anarchists, according to the Washington Times.

And from Jeffrey Goldberg–and his mother-in-law–comes this hilarious story of, uh, “anomalies” at the hands of the TSA–today’s Moment of Zen.

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