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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM

General Carter F. Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, spoke at George Washington University yesterday, and detailed how Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb is using Mali as a safe haven to recruit and train terrorists. General Ham described the collaboration between AQIM and Boko Haram, as well as the options for a diplomatic and military solution, reports Eric Schmitt of the New York Times.

General Joe Dunford was confirmed by the Senate last night to replace General John Allen as the top commander in Afghanistan, reports Jeremy Herb of The Hill.

From the Department of Droning: CNN reports that Iran claims to have captured a U.S. drone over its airspace—but the U.S. Navy claims that it has all its drones accounted for, according to the Associated Press. Here is David Axe of Wired’s Danger Room on the same story, and CNN’s Security Clearance blog has re-printed this piece on drones in light of the Iranian claims.

Susan Stellin of the Times informs us that cases challenging border searches, particularly of digital devices, are growing in number.

The Times’s Room for Debate blog hosts a discussion about the CIA after General Petraeus. Participants in the dialogue are: Tim Weiner, author of “Legacy of Ashes;” Bruce Riedel of Brookings; Vicki Divoll, former CIA legal adviser; Gordon Adams and Jennifer Sims, former intelligence officials; Melvin Goodman, former CIA analyst; and David Gordon, former head of the National Intelligence Council.

The AP tells us that the “U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled Monday that Col. Gregory Gross did not appear impartial while presiding over the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan,” the alleged Fort Hood shooter. Judge Gross had ordered Hassan to be forcibly shaved.

Be sure to check out the “Global Terrorism Index,” published yesterday by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which concludes that “[t]he global impact of terrorism increased significantly from 2002 to 2007, reaching its peak in 2007 and has since plateaued.” According to the Index, the five countries most affected by terrorism in 2011 were, in descending order: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Yemen. Here is the BBC on the Index’s findings.

According to Ahmed Al-Haj and Aya Batrawy of the AP, Amnesty International has released this report about the conflict in Yemen between President Saleh’s forces and Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Shari’a.  Amnesty concluded that both sides violated IHL and abused human rights—surprise, surprise!

A senior leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq was arrested Sunday, reports Mohammed Tawfeeq of CNN.  According to Iraqi state television, the suspect was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—however, senior Iraqi officials dispute this, and claim that a different but nevertheless high-ranking AQI member has been taken into custody.

CNN’s Jamie Crawford plays the “John Kerry or Susan Rice?” speculation game.

Eileen Guo of the Times’s At War blog shares a few humorous anecdotes from the war in Afghanistan.

Rick Maze of the Air Force Times reports that the Senate passed a re-tooled Stolen Valor Act yesterday, which, like the name suggests, “makes it a federal crime to make a false claim about having served in the military or having received a military decoration if the object of the lie is personal gain.”

Mukhtar al-Bakri, the last of the Lackawanna Six to be released, speaks to the Buffalo News about rebuilding his life, saying he “did [his] share of suffering.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross argues in the Atlantic that closing Guantanamo Bay, or, in light of last week’s GAO report, moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States, doesn’t actually address “any of the reasons noncriminal detention has been controversial.” Sound familiar? That’s because Ben is cited in the article.

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