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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Let’s begin with Pfc. Bradley Manning, alleged Wikileaker and allegedly subjected to unacceptably harsh treatment. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports that Manning’s attorney has argued that his client’s treatment at Quantico was so bad that all charges against him should be dropped or his sentence should be significantly reduced.

Speaking of trials, Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald tells us that Army Col. James L. Pohl has ruled in the 9/11 case that having a human operating a kill switch on the military commission audio, and sharing the feed with reporters and the public using a 40-second audio delay, is permissible.

And From a Small Town in Germany: Someone left a bag with a bomb in it near a track in Bonn, Germany. Officials arrested and questioned two suspected Islamic extremists, but cut them loose, says Paul Cruickshank of CNN’s Security Clearance blog.

In NDAA news, Jeremy Herb of the Hill has the latest on the calls from human rights and civil liberties groups for President Obama to veto the NDAA because of the restrictions it places on closing Guantanamo Bay. Meanwhile, the House and Senate are both in conference over the NDAA this week; a final version could emerge in a few days, says PoliticoPro.

And in news from Congress, the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on South Asia held a hearing today and urged Pakistan to take greater measures to counter IED attacks, says Julian Pecquet of the Hill.

Amnesty International has released a report entitled The Hands of Cruelty, describing the human rights abuses taking place in the FATA, and implicating both the Pakistani army and the Taliban. Here is BBC News on the report, whose findings—here’s a surprise—the Pakistani army rejects. No response yet from the Taliban.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to conduct a joint investigation into the assassination attempt on Afghanistan’s spy chief, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai says originated in Pakistan. Reuters has the story.

The Associated Press reports on the European Court of Human Rights decision which Wells posted this morning. The court ruled in favor of Khaled El-Masri, a German man who was picked up by the CIA in Macedonia, interrogated at an Afghan prison, and then dumped on a mountain in Albania:

The European court, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled that El-Masri’s account was "established beyond reasonable doubt" and that Macedonia "had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the U.S. authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition."

It said the government of Macedonia violated El-Masri’s rights repeatedly and ordered it to pay (EURO)60,000 ($78,500) in damages. Macedonia’s Justice Ministry said it would enforce the court ruling and pay El-Masri the damages.

More on Zero Dark Thirty: Scott Shane of the New York Times discusses the torture debate that has been rekindled because of the movie, as does David Ignatius of the Post. And Glenn Greenwald (He Who May Now Be Named on This Blog) reacts to the praise the film has been receiving. Money quote:

That this film would depict CIA interrogation programs as crucial in capturing America’s most hated public enemy, and uncritically herald CIA officials as dramatic heroes, is anything but surprising. A large Hollywood studio would never dare make a film about the episode which is America’s greatest source of collective self-esteem and jingoistic pride without clinging tightly to patriotic orthodoxies. The events that led to bullets being pumped into Osama bin Laden’s skull and his corpse being dumped into the ocean have taken on sacred status in American lore, and Big Hollywood will inevitably validate rather than challenge that mythology.

And Alice Beauheim sends along this Slate story for all inspired by the Lawfare Drone Smackdown and still in need of last-minute Christmas gifts: it’s today’s Moment of Drone Comparison-Shopping Zen.

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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