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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, November 9, 2012 at 11:49 AM

While we were busy fretting about which candidate was going to win the U.S. presidential election, Iran fired at one of our drones in the Persian Gulf last week. Barbara Starr of CNN’s Security Clearance blog reports on the incident, which led to a formal warning from Washington, the exact text of which reads: “Tsk tsk.”

Lots of trial updates. Pvt. Bradley Manning might plead guilty to some of his charges, but will still have to stand trial for other charges. Charlie Savage of the New York Times tells us that

If the judge accepts the unilateral plea and the trial on the other charges goes forward, prosecutors would apparently not need to present evidence of whether Private Manning provided the documents to WikiLeaks. That would mean such a trial would focus more directly on whether the leaking caused significant harm, and whether the charges, including aiding the enemy, fit the underlying facts.

The Associated Press says that two victims and four relatives of victims will testify against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of the horrific killing spree that left 16 dead in Afghanistan this spring.

Jordy Yager of The Hill reports that Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, the man who attempted to assassinate President Obama by shooting at the White House, will stand trial in September of next year.

Speaking of really nasty mentally-ill people with guns, Jared Loughner, the Arizona shooter who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and six others, was sentenced to life without parole, according to Ashley Powers and Michael Muskal of the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, Kamran Yousaf of the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune reports that Pakistan and Afghanistan are holding talks next week about reviving negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. Good luck with that.

David S. Cloud of the Los Angeles Times discusses the deepening U.S.-Afghanistan divide as a result of the “green-on-blue” attacks.

David Cole argues in The Nation that “[i]f the government prevails in the case, Clapper v. Amnesty International, the nation’s newest and most sweeping surveillance law, may never be subject to adversarial constitutional review.” The Lawfare Podcast will do a major episode on Clapper in the next few days.

What’s with the spree of Navy SEALs’ leaking classified information? First Matt Bissonnette comes out with an unauthorized book about the Osama bin Laden raid. Now, Mike Mount of CNN’s Security Clearance blog reports that seven SEALs have been formally reprimanded for consulting with videogame company Electronic Arts on its newest game, “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”

Who will be occupy the top national security offices during the President’s second term? Top thinkers make their predictions in Foreign Policy.

Noah Shachtman of Wired reminds us where the real drone war is taking place: Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera reports that a drone strike killed three suspected Al Qaeda members in Yemen, including one who was wanted for the 2008 attack on the U.S. embassy in Sana’a.

The Economist covers the U.N.’s plan to wrest parts of Mali back from the jihadists.

And, if you’ve been looking forward to Skyfall, the latest James Bond movie out today in theaters, be sure to check out this piece from CNN’s Security Blog that sheds light on how realistic Bond really is—and how real spies deal with the stresses of working in the intelligence community: Today’s Moment of Zen. Highlight:

Bond Myth 2: Style is a spy’s best weapon

"Being suave does make a difference," said Robert Grenier, who spent much of his CIA career working undercover in overseas locations, including serving as the CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 11, 2001.

. . .

Bond Myth 6: Sophisticated drinks and theme songs make you cooler

OK, this one is tough to argue with. But while Bond is legendary for unwinding with a martini, shaken, not stirred, it’s a bit more gritty in the real world.

"Whiskey," says Martin. "When we were facing some tough times with al Qaeda, it was whiskey and listening to soundtracks from "Gladiator" and "Man on Fire."

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