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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, November 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM

For all you LOAC nerds out there, let me begin today’s roundup with you. Charlie Dunlap of Duke University School of Law just alerted me to a new ICTY Appeals Chamber decision freeing General Ante Gotovina, the “most senior Croatian military officer convicted of war crimes during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.”  The conviction didn’t stick, evidently: Reuters has the story about Gotovina’s acquittal by the appellate court, and the Appeals Chamber’s official release is here.

As Wells posted earlier, Iraqi authorities have released Ali Mussa Daqduq. Senator John McCain was not pleased about this, says Julian Pecquet of the Hill, and has asked the Obama administration to respond appropriately “with regards to our relationship with the Iraqi government”—whatever that may mean.

Tensions remain sky high between Israel and Palestine, as Israel posted a video on YouTube of the strike that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari. Noah Shachtman of Wired reports on the fallout. BBC News informs us that Egypt has made clear where its loyalties lie—not with Israel.

Gen. David Petraeus testified today on Capitol Hill about the CIA’s knowledge of and involvement in the Benghazi attacks—and said the Agency knew they were terrorist attacks, not spontaneous demonstrations over the anti-Muslim film—according to Seung Min Kim of Politico. The Times also has the story, as does the Associated Press, and Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank of CNN discuss Ansar al Sharia, the group alleged to be behind the attack.

We smelled this from a mile away: SecDef Panetta has launched a review of the ethical and moral standards among the military’s senior officers. Here’s the press release.

Thom Shanker of the New York Times also discusses the concerns about the ethical failures of those at the top.

In more bad news from the military (yes, apparently, it is possible), Brig. Gen. Veralinn “Dash” Jamieson, deputy commander of the joint task force responsible for oversight and detention operations in Afghanistan, has been “reassigned” and is under investigation. Kristin Davis of the Air Force Times has more (H/T Lawfare reader).

Josh Gerstein of Politico covers the difficulties the President will face in choosing Gen. Petraeus’ successor at the CIA.

Anne Gearan of the Post reports on Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford’s confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday to replace Gen. John Allen as the commanding general in Afghanistan. Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room argues that Gen. Dunford presented a completely different perspective than the Obama administration’s about ending the war in Afghanistan.

Check out this remarkable public opinion survey of over 6,300 Afghans conducted by the Asia Foundation. Here are the key findings.

Matthew L. Wald of the Times informs us that the National Academy of Sciences has released an online book entitled “Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System” about the extreme vulnerabilities of the electric grid. The description reads:

The electric power delivery system that carries electricity from large central generators to customers could be severely damaged by a small number of well-informed attackers. The system is inherently vulnerable because transmission lines may span hundreds of miles, and many key facilities are unguarded. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that the power grid, most of which was originally designed to meet the needs of individual vertically integrated utilities, is being used to move power between regions to support the needs of competitive markets for power generation. Primarily because of ambiguities introduced as a result of recent restricting the of the industry and cost pressures from consumers and regulators, investment to strengthen and upgrade the grid has lagged, with the result that many parts of the bulk high-voltage system are heavily stressed.

Electric systems are not designed to withstand or quickly recover from damage inflicted simultaneously on multiple components. Such an attack could be carried out by knowledgeable attackers with little risk of detection or interdiction. Further well-planned and coordinated attacks by terrorists could leave the electric power system in a large region of the country at least partially disabled for a very long time. Although there are many examples of terrorist and military attacks on power systems elsewhere in the world, at the time of this study international terrorists have shown limited interest in attacking the U.S. power grid. However, that should not be a basis for complacency. Because all parts of the economy, as well as human health and welfare, depend on electricity, the results could be devastating.

Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System focuses on measures that could make the power delivery system less vulnerable to attacks, restore power faster after an attack, and make critical services less vulnerable while the delivery of conventional electric power has been disrupted.

And, coming soon to a liquor store near you—beer from our favorite Frenemy. It’s today’s Moment of Zen. Highlight:

Murree Brewery’s chief executive, Isphanyar Bhandara, lives in constant fear that authorities will shut down alcohol production at any moment as Pakistan drifts towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam.

. . .

But company officials are hopeful, particularly for the US market. “Americans will drink anything. They are like fish,” Rehman said.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.

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