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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

We’re back after inauguration weekend. The President has been sworn in for a second time. The vice president ditto. Neither the chief justice nor the President messed up their lines this time. And if you were holding your breath for Obama to spill his soul on U.S. national security legal policy in his second term, oh well. Hope you all enjoyed the festivities as much as I did.

Let’s begin with the grim finale of the hostage crisis in Algeria. Thirty seven foreigners were killed—among them three Americans—and at least five hostages are still unaccounted for. Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the attack was carried out by militants from various countries, including Canada. Here are the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BBC.com, and the Washington Post on the carnage.

Mali’s next, naturally. The Times reports on the recent successes of the French mission in recapturing two towns from Islamist militants. Reuters describes the U.S. role in the French operation, as does Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog.

Meanwhile, Mark Landler of the Times discusses the different receptions Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will receive at their confirmation hearings. Mark your calendars: Senator Kerry’s is scheduled for this Thursday, and Senator Hagel’s for January 31.

Outgoing SecDef Leon Panetta told ABC News that drones are “going to be a continuing tool of national defense in the future,” reports Josh Gerstein of Politico.

Speaking of drones, the Post ran an important story over the weekend about the CIA’s counterterrorism “playbook.” Check out Bobby’s thoughts here.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said today that the U.S. military should oversee the CIA’s drone program. Carlo Munoz of the Hill has the story.

And speaking of drones a little more, the Associated Press reports that a drone strike in Yemen yesterday killed three suspected Al Qaeda militants.

This got a bit lost in the shuffle at the end of last week but it is oh-so-concerning: Pakistan plans to release all Afghan Taliban prisoners under pressure from Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

We don’t get to do royalty watching much on Lawfare, but Prince Harry has returned from Afghanistan, where he was deployed for the last four months. The ever-eloquent prince sparked the ire of the Taliban by comparing shooting militants to playing videogames; Robert Mackey of the Times has the whole story. He seems to have touched a nerve with the thin-skinned Taliban, whose spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, responded with the following:

This is a serious war, a historic war, resistance for us, for our people. . .and now this prince comes and compares this war with his games, PlayStation or whatever he calls it. . .[W]e don’t take his comments very seriously, as we have all seen and heard that many foreign soldiers, occupiers who come to Afghanistan, develop some kind of mental problems on their way out.

CNN’s Security Clearance blog also has this story on Prince Harry’s time in Helmand province.

Speaking of the Taliban, Carlo Munoz of the Hill tells us that militants launched an attack on the headquarters of the Kabul traffic police yesterday, which ended with three Afghan policemen and four Taliban attackers dead.

And while Alan stole my Moment of Zen for the day, it’s so excellent that I’ll redirect you all to it anyway.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, 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.