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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:29 PM

The number of hungry detainees at Guantanamo Bay has, unfortunately, grown to 39. Peter Finn and Julie Tate of the Washington Post have more about the situation and the detainees’ qualms that led to the food fight in the first place. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald reports that Yemenis protested outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa yesterday, calling for the return of their countrymen who are cleared for release but who cannot be repatriated because of continuing instability in Yemen.

Phil Hirschkorn of CBS News has the story of one Shaker Aamer, a Briton and one-time translator for the U.S. Army in Saudi Arabia, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay for eleven years after being turned over by Afghans in 2001.

The U.N. General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty, reports the New York Times; the treaty regulates the “enormous global trade in conventional weapons. . . and [links] sales to the human-rights records of the buyers.” One teeny tiny problem: there is no compulsory enforcement mechanism.

Thom Shanker of the Times reports on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s coming battles over budget cuts at the Pentagon.

The Post editorial board argues that the public has a critical and vested interest in seeing OLC memos about warrantless acquisition of phone records, and that the D.C. Circuit should understand that

the OLC’s opinions aren’t some intermediary step toward establishing the final legal interpretations for the executive branch. In general, they are the final legal interpretations for the executive branch. The FBI could choose to exercise the authority that the OLC said it had — or not — but Congress, the judiciary and the public at large all deserve to know what the executive branch thinks it can do, once it issues a conclusive opinion.

As it stands, the Justice Department can release the OLC conclusions, or it could not, which would mean there remains a storehouse of unreviewable government legal analysis determining what the government does on a daily basis. Only those sections that contain classified materials have good reason to remain secret. It’s now up to the courts to say so.

The Toronto Globe and Mail has more on the story that two Canadian citizens were part of the band of marauders that stormed the gas plant in Amemas, Algeria in January that led to the deaths of 38 hostages and 29 terrorists.

Moving on to our favorite region of the world: Ex-U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, warned that drones are “perhaps inadvertently becoming a strategy rather than a tactic” in his remarks about the region at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday. Julian Pecquet of The Hill has the story.

Speaking of Pakistan, here’s some scary news from last week that slipped through the cracks: the Times reports that the Pakistani Taliban is surfacing in Karachi, demonstrating “that the Taliban have been able to extend their reach across Pakistan, even here in the country’s most populous city . . . . No longer can they be written off as endemic only to the country’s frontier regions.” Greeaaaaat.

Since bad news from Pakistan comes in threes, here is the Associated Press on an attack at a power grid station in Peshawar in which seven people were killed and four hostages taken. No group has claimed responsibility yet, although methinks it might be the pesky Taliban again.

Here is The Hill on an interview Gen. Joseph Dunford, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, did with ABC News about the Taliban’s likely influence after 2014.

Sean Carberry of National Public Radio tells us about the latest rocky phase in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai just got back from a visit to Doha during which he held talks with the Qatari emir, prime minister, and foreign minister to explore the possibility of peace talks with the Taliban, says Reuters.

And, in an item worthy of an honorable mention, the Pakistani Express Tribune reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told a German newspaper that Mullah Omar can run in the Afghan elections next year if his heart desires. I can see the lawn signs and bumper stickers already.

Although I came across a lot of good stories out there for April Fools Day, this one about newspaper delivery by drone was one of the best: it’s today’s Moment of Zen. (h/t Ashley Deeks).

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