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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Monday, February 4, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Let’s begin with an update on Israel. After last week’s airstrike on Syria, which, according to this New York Times report, “appears to have damaged the country’s main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons,” Reuters tells us that Israeli forces have arrested twenty three members of Hamas. The Washington Times says that Iran has come to Syria’s defense; Iran insists that Israel will rue this “latest aggression.”

The Associated Press gives us the scoop on Abd al-Radhim al-Nashiri’s pretrial hearing, which began this morning at Guantanamo Bay. Ben is covering it live from Ft. Meade.

The BBC has an update on the French offensive in Mali.  Bases and supply routes were attacked over the weekend in an attempt to further decimate Islamist militants in the region. Take note of the BBC’s pocket-size list of the biggest bad guys.

Mali’s main Islamist militants

  • Ansar Dine - home-grown movement with a number of Tuareg fighters who returned from Libya after fighting alongside Muammar Gaddafi’s troops.
  • Islamic Movement for Azawad – an offshoot of Ansar Dine which says it rejects “terrorism” and wants dialogue
  • Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) - al-Qaeda’s North African wing, with roots in Algeria
  • Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) - an AQIM splinter group whose aim is to spread jihad to the whole of West Africa
  • Signed-in-Blood Battalion – an AQIM offshoot committed to a global jihad and responsible for Algerian gas facility siege

Senator Kerry is officially Secretary of State Kerry, says the Associated Press. He reported for duty at 2201 C St. NW this morning after being sworn in on Friday. CNN has more about what he’s been doing.

Ben and Steve both linked to Will Saletan’s Slate piece last week.  The article described a panel about enhanced interrogation techniques at the American Enterprise Institute, with CIA officials Gen. Michael Hayden, John Rizzo, and Jose Rodriguez.  Over at Emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler criticizes the assumptions underlying Saletan’s article.

From the Department of Stop-N-Go: Karen DeYoung of the Post informs us that American attempts to restart peace talks with the Taliban are lagging.  Presidents Obama and Karzai had announced that a negotiating office would open in Qatar in early January.

Lots going on in the cyber security arena: David Sanger and Thom Shanker of the Times report that a secret legal review has concluded that President Obama has the power to order a preemptive cyber strike if there is evidence of a looming cyber attack. Jack offers his thoughts on the story here.

As we all know, Chinese hackers infiltrated the New York Times. Susan Hennessey had more on that last week. The Wall Street Journal,Twitter, and the Washington Post all revealed they had been targeted by Chinese hackers by the end of last week, too. I bet Lawfare is next on China’s list.

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog discusses a report entitled “Muslim-American Terrorism: Declining Further” released by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.  The gist is that the number of American Muslims indicted in terrorist plots dropped significantly in 2012—and that only one plot actually led to any violence. Good to know Adam Gadahn isn’t that great at his job.

In case your week hasn’t been bizarre enough, Jason Koebler of U.S. News writes about a new bill in Oregon’s senate that seeks to establish “Airspace of Oregon”—which, apparently, could soon include the airspace in your shoes.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee argues in this Politico op-ed that the “United States urgently needs a comprehensive strategy to fight this new front [North Africa] in the war on terrorism.”

In a piece for CNN.com, Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation breaks down what we should and shouldn’t fear about Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups.  He doubts that the terrorists behind the Amenas attack pose an existential threat to our Way of Life, as some politicians have claimed.

Hold up Bergen’s views against those of Greg Miller and Joby Warrick of the Post.  The latter report that Al Qaeda affiliates have emerged stronger than ever in ungoverned areas, and that the new Al Qaeda poses serious challenges for the Obama administration.

Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year old activist shot by the Pakistani Taliban last year, released statements (in English, Urdu, and Pashto) from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England, where she is recovering from surgery.  Yousafzai describes her mission to help women and children obtain an education. The Times’s Lede blog has the story and videos.

And, from the Guardian, comes this fantastic piece about the next thing Iran is sending into space. The mental image associated with the story is pure joy: it’s today’s Moment of Zen (h/t Alan Rozenshtein).

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.

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