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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

And we’re back.

Craig Whitlock writes in the Washington Post about the Obama administration’s use of rendition—a matter about which Steve and Matt have already offered thoughts.

The Taliban in Pakistan continues its attacks on teachers and health workers, killing seven people yesterday (six women and one man). Salman Masood of the New York Times reports on the ongoing violence.

The Washington Post came out with its latest piece in its Zero Day series on cybersecurity threats. The topic? the health care sector.

Thom Shanker of the Times finds parallels between President Obama’s upcoming decisions on the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan and Mikhail Gorbachev’s struggles during the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from that same country.

In SecDef 2013 Watch, retiring Congressman Barney Frank has voiced his opposition to Chuck Hagel as SecDef. The Obama administration has still not come out with a formal announcement.

The U.S. will be selling Global Hawk drones to South Korea. Here’s the Post story on that announcement.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released this report entitled “Flashing Red” a few days ago on the Benghazi attacks. Here’s Meghashyam Mali’s story in The Hill. And Greg Miller and Julie Tate wrote this piece shortly after Christmas about the innocuous-sounding (but not necessarily innocuous-in-practice) CIA Global Response Staff.

Several AQAP militants were killed by drone strikes in Yemen in recent weeks, writes Bill Roggio over at the Long War Journal.

And Declan Walsh wrote this piece over at the Times on the Taliban’s reprisals against those who assist the U.S. and its allies in identifying and tracking militants. Here’s a snippet:

For several years now, militant enforcers have scoured the tribal belt in search of informers who help the C.I.A. find and kill the spy agency’s jihadist quarry. The militants’ technique — often more witch hunt than investigation — follows a well-established pattern. Accused tribesmen are abducted from homes and workplaces at gunpoint and tortured. A sham religious court hears their case, usually declaring them guilty. Then they are forced to speak into a video camera.

The taped confessions, which are later distributed on CD, vary in style and content. But their endings are the same: execution by hanging, beheading or firing squad.

In Sidinkay’s last moments, the camera shows him standing in a dusty field with three other prisoners, all blindfolded, illuminated by car headlights. A volley of shots rings out, and the three others are mowed down. But Sidinkay, apparently untouched, is left standing. For a tragic instant, the accused spy shuffles about, confused. Then fresh shots ring out and he, too, crumples to the ground.

These macabre recordings offer a glimpse into a little-seen side of the drone war in Waziristan, a paranoid shadow conflict between militants and a faceless American enemy in which ordinary Pakistanis have often become unwitting victims.

Here’s a Washington Post story from waaaaayyy back about those pesky amendments that were added (and then stripped) from the Intelligence Authorization Act. More on what is and isn’t in that bill shortly.

Over at DARPA, scientists are trying to cure a vulnerability in drones’ coding. Noah Shachtman of Wired reports.

We all know drones aren’t just for spying and targeted killings, but did you also know they might be useful in tracking and saving endangered species? Here’s Al Jazeera on efforts in Kenya to track northern white rhinos with drones.

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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