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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, March 8, 2013 at 12:28 PM

I’m about as tired of talking about Rand Paul’s filibuster as you are hearing about it. So let’s begin with two other big news items to kick-start your weekend. First, John Brennan was confirmed by the Senate yesterday 63-34 to lead the CIA. Here are the New York Times and the Washington Post on the news. Ben continues his unpaid duties as fact-checker to the New York Times’s editorial page with respect to the latter’s editorial about Brennan (no, the page has not yet correct the dumb mistake). And Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal tells us what Brennan has in store: a battle with Congress over the 6,000 page report on the efficacy of the enhanced interrogation program.

The arrest of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, has created quite the stir. As Ben posted, Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have a problem with the Obama administration trying Abu Ghaith in the SDNY. Bobby linked to the indictment earlier and offers some thoughts on Abu Ghaith’s prosecution. Abu Ghaith was charged this morning with conspiracy to kill Americans; he pled not guilty. Here are the Times,the Post, CNN.com, the Miami Herald, and the Los Angeles Times on the news. New America Foundation’s Peter Bergen argues in this op-ed in CNN.com that trying Abu Ghaith in federal court “makes sense.”

Meanwhile, Senator Carl Levin will not run for re-election next year, leaving the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee to Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), says the Hill.

The trial of a Hezbollah operative by the name of Hossam Taleb Yaacoub has ended in Cyprus—where he was arrested last year—increasing pressure on the European Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group. The Times reports.

The Associated Press tells us that two French gentlemen were arrested for suspected involvement in a terrorist plot: “[t]hey had been identified as a threat based on ‘jihadist messages and consultations’ online, and the authorities said they moved in because they believed the men were ready to carry out terrorist acts.”

Speaking of France, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that troops were deep in the “sanctuary of AQIM” in this stage of the two-month old offensive against Islamist militants in Mali. Reuters reports.

This in-depth look at the rise of jihadist fundamentalism in Mali by Joshua Hammer of the New York Review of Books is very worth a read over the weekend.

The Obama administration has started a classified review of whom it can target as the geographic boundaries of the War on Terror keep expanding, CNN’s Barbara Starr reports. Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room cogitates on this development, arguing that “There are two ways to view that circumstance. One is to say the United States won the war on terrorism. The other is to expand the definition of the adversary to what an ex-official quoted by the Post called ‘associates of associates’ of al-Qaida.”

Romit Guha of the Wall Street Journal reports that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (no relation) refused to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf (also no relation, but that’s a little more obvious) during the latter’s visit to India this weekend, and said that relations between the two countries could not be normalized until Pakistan deals with its terrorism problem.

Shamila N. Chaudhary has a great piece in Foreign Policy on upcoming elections in Pakistan, and the Pakistani military’s role in previous elections.

North Korea’s acting up, as per usual. Here is the BBC with the latest from drama queen Kim Jung Un.

And, in case you missed this from America’s Finest News Source, the TSA is revamping its policies on who can board airplanes: It’s today’s Moment of Zen:

TSA To Allow Small Terrorists On Planes

ARLINGTON, VA—In a notable relaxation of its existing security protocols, the Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday that it will henceforth allow small terrorists on commercial aircraft. “After reviewing our longstanding policies, we have decided to ease our boarding requirements to allow any terrorist 5 feet tall or shorter to enter the airplane cabin,” TSA administrator John S. Pistole said in a prepared statement, specifying that any violent radical attempting to pass through security will be subject to an additional screening ensuring they weigh less than 135 pounds and are no broader than 18 inches at their widest point.

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