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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Let’s begin with the flare-up that happened in Afghanistan over the weekend. President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. Special Operations Forces to immediately halt operations in Wardak province—and leave in two weeks—after local residents complained that troops “have unlawfully detained, tortured and killed innocent civilians.” The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have the story. NATO has denied the allegations, says the Associated Press.

The AP informs us that Pakistani authorities have arrested—at least for now—Malik Ishaq, founder of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a group that claimed responsibility for last week’s bombing in Quetta that killed hundreds of Shiites. The Times has more.

Mohsin Hamid writes about sectarian violence in Pakistan in this op-ed in the Times.

From the Land of the Confirmation Battles: Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post has the latest on John Brennan’s nomination, which Senator John McCain has threatened to place a hold on if Brennan doesn’t provide details about the Benghazi attacks and his knowledge of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. CNN’s Security Clearance blog reports that the White House has agreed to turn over information about Benghazi to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Chuck Hagel’s prospects aren’t any rosier, says Politico, because if he does get confirmed this week (the Senate is considering his nomination again tomorrow) he’ll have his work cut out for him with what I am now dubbing “Sequestrocalypse.” (Pronounce it if you can!)

About that one nomination that did go easily and speedily: Secretary of State John Kerry is heading on an international “listening tour” to Europe and the Middle East as trouble is brewing with the Syrian opposition. CNN’s Security Clearance blog has more.

Meanwhile, in case you missed this before the weekend, President Obama is sending 100 American troops to Niger to build its drone base there, says the Times. Again, see Jack’s End of War Timeline.

Tom Ricks writes in Foreign Policy about concerns that President Obama’s national security team is too insular.

Ben Brumfield of CNN reports that four California gentlemen of Somali origin, who raised $10,000 and wired it to the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab, have been convicted.

Speaking of African Islamist terror groups, Boko Haram has kidnapped seven French hostages—two men, one woman, and four children—in retaliation for the French military intervention in Mali, reports the AP.

And, of course, after Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture last night, Iran’s official news agency was quick to lash out, reports Jason Rezaian of the Post: “In a rare occasion in Oscar history, the First Lady announced the winner for Best Picture for the anti-Iran Film ‘Argo,’ which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros.”

The Iranian English-language outfit Press TV has some gems of its own, but this one was my favorite—and it’s Today’s Moment of Oscar Zen:

Argo wins Oscar in Hollywood’s Dirty Anti-Iran Game: Analysts

The granting of the Best Picture Oscar to the Iranophobic movie Argo has long been foreseeable as the Machiavellian maneuvering of Hollywood propaganda harbors a much more elaborate imperialistic scheme, political analysts say.

“I put my money on this film to win the Best Picture Oscar (even though there is nothing remotely “best” about it) especially if Obama can pull off winning the Presidential election,” wrote cultural critic Kim Nicolini in an article published in October 2012.

“Argo, above all else, is a piece of conservative liberal propaganda created by Hollywood to support the Obama administration’s conservative liberal politics as we move toward the Presidential election,” she said before Obama was re-elected for the second term.

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