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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM

It’s just one breaking story after another these days for us national security law folk! Kind of reminds us why we even bother.

The White House will provide congressional intelligence committees with the OLC memo justifying the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011. As Wells posted last night, here is Politico, and here are the New York Times,Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, BBC.com, and CNN.com on the news.

The memo’s disclosure, of course, comes just ahead of John Brennan’s confirmation hearing this afternoon. David Cole lists thirteen questions for Brennan to answer in the New York Review of Books. Rober Baer also poses ten questions for the nominee in TIME. Mary Ellen O’Connell has an op-ed in the Times arguing that:

Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have a duty to interrogate Mr. Brennan on all of these issues — not just the attacks but the legal pretexts for them. They should also demand the full, public release of all the legal analyses behind targeted killings.

Michael Crowley predicts in TIME that Brennan’s hearing might be intense, but won’t be “high drama”—or even satisfying.  Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation also offers his thoughts on the hearing.

In an interesting and unexpected move, Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, is “giving his qualified backing to John Brennan” as CIA director. Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog has the story.

Emily Heil of the Post notes a few interesting gifts John Brennan had to disclose in a questionnaire to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of his nomination—including a few from representatives of the government of India.  We Indians are a generous people!

Charles Dunlap Jr. of Duke Law School argues in NewsObserver.com that the DOJ White Paper released on Monday provides a further peek at the Obama administration’s policy on targeting U.S. citizens—but “[w]hat is now needed is a formal, detailed and very comprehensive U.S. legal position.”

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic lists five takeaways from the White Paper.

Two editorials about the White Paper to take note of: This one in the Wall Street Journal arguing that “drone warfare is legal and necessary to protect America,” and this one in the Times about drone strikes, which argues that:

At a minimum, United States rules should specify that no one can be killed unless actively planning or participating in terror, or helping lead the Taliban in Pakistan or Al Qaeda. Killing should be authorized only when it can be demonstrated that capture is impossible. Standards for preventing the killing of innocents who might be nearby should be detailed and thorough.

Meanwhile, remember Hafiz Saeed, leader of LeT? Declan Walsh of the Times reports that he is still out and about, despite the $10 million bounty on his head.

Agence France Presse tells us that Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has rejected the outcome of talks between leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Britain that aim to reach a peace settlement in six months.

Matthew Rosenberg of the Times provides excerpts from an interview with Gen. John Allen about the endgame in Afghanistan.

CNN’s Security Clearance blog also reports on the Open Society Justice Initiative report on foreign governments’ involvement in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programs.

SecDef Panetta is also testifying today on the Hill (busy day for our lawmakers!) about the Benghazi attacks. Here is Jeremy Herb of the Hill with more.

In other SecDef news, twenty-five Republican senators have delayed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination until they receive more information about his finances, according to the Hill.

And, with the incessant news coverage of drones, it only seems appropriate that I follow suit. David McCormack at Daily Mail excerpts comments from Amazon.com customers unhappy with the U.S. targeted killing program: it’s today’s Moment of Zen (h/t Stephanie Dahle).

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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