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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Lots going on after the long weekend.

Let’s begin with the big, bad Chinese. The New York Times reports that, based on this report from computer security firm Mandiant,  “an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around” the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army. Here is BBC News on the story, as well as CNN Money. Paul’s thoughts are here.

The Times’s Editorial Board discusses the Open Society Justice Initiative’s report released last week on the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.  The Board argues that “pressure for the United States and its partners to acknowledge and make amends for gross violations of international legal and human rights standards is unlikely to subside.”

Josh Gerstein of Politico informs us that seven additional photos of Osama bin Laden’s body were found. Don’t get excited.  The first batch of photos were classified, and no one can see the new pictures, either.

Much going on in our favorite area of the world: Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Post reports that General John Allen this morning declined the White House’s offer to serve as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.  He cited his wife’s declining health.

The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan is the lowest it has been in six years, according to this United Nations report. Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times has the story.

Afghan forces have arrested Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, a prominent Pakistani Taliban commander, says BBC.com. Wish I had turned him in—there was a reward of “15 million rupees ($153,000; £98,000) on his head.”

The Times has the latest on the international pressure on the Afghan government to forge a deal with the Taliban.

And, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has forbidden Afghan forces from asking NATO to conduct airstrikes after one such airstrike killed civilians last week. The Times has more.

Unfortunately, bad news tends to outweigh the good in this region: Another explosion targeted at Shi’a Muslims killed upwards of 65 people and wounded nearly 200 in Quetta, says the Associated Press. Intense pressure on Pakistani authorities mounted over the weekend to stem religious violence, reports the Post.  On that point, Dawn tells us that Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has ordered a military operation in Quetta against those believed responsible for the Quetta attack.

Reuters reports that Bangladesh’s parliament passed legislation “allowing the state to appeal any verdict in war crimes trials it deems inadequate and out of step with public opinion.”

Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker about the view held by those on both sides of the aisle that drone strikes are a far worse human rights violation than enhanced interrogation techniques. Here are Jack and John on the subject.

Debate continues over the pros and cons of a drone court modeled after the FISA court. Jane Harman, president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and principal coauthor of the 2008 FISA amendments argues in this op-ed in CNN that these courts can work:

FISA-like procedures can help with critical determinations of how imminent a threat is, whether capture is feasible and if potential action is consistent with laws of war, the three criteria laid out in the recently leaked Department of Justice’s “white paper” on drone strikes.

The FISA court, renamed the CT Court, could also oversee drones and cyber. A FISA court application must show that specific individuals are connected to a foreign power – which is defined, in part, as a group engaged in international terrorism. Drone and cyber applications could (1) list the individual/cyber target against whom the lethal operation is directed and (2) submit a finding of probable cause that the individual/cyber target is connected to a foreign power, is in a senior operational capacity and poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.

Check out Carrie Cordero’s guest post on the subject here. And retired D.C. District Court Judge James Robertson argues in this op-ed in the Post that judicial oversight is “a very bad idea.”

Meanwhile, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing for more restrictive standards for drone strikes. The Hill reports that former SecState Madeleine Albright said that drones have been “very effective.”

Somini Sengupta details drone use by domestic law enforcement authorities in the Times.

As Jack posted, CIA-nominee John Brennan’s answers to post-hearing questions were released on Friday. Reuters notes that Brennan believes “to the extent that U.S. national security interests can be protected, the U.S. government should make public the overall numbers of civilian deaths resulting from U.S. strikes targeting al Qaeda.”

And, don’t worry, I didn’t forget to update you on Chuck Hagel’s nomination: David Rogers of Politico gives us some of the politicking from Hagel’s fellow Republicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

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.