Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times has another feature adapted from his forthcoming book The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. This one, like the last, is also about U.S.-Pakistan relations, and how one CIA contractor named Raymond Davis changed America’s fraught relationship with the Frenemies by shooting his way out of a traffic altercation. Here’s a teaser from the piece: “In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.”
In 2006, as the war in Iraq was reaching a fever pitch, a Pentagon employee working on special operations teamed up with a Czech technology entrepreneur who had dabbled in the porn business and devised what they considered an ingenious plan. Knowing that video games played on mobile phones were popular throughout the Middle East, the team wanted to build games that contained positive messages about the United States. But the games weren’t just about propaganda. Every download would give the United States a window into the digital comings and goings of whomever was playing it it, a cyber foothold that could allow American spies to potentially track and collect information on thousands of people.
And while we’re on the subject of Mazzetti, Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room, interviewed the man himself about the themes of his book and “to find out where the deadly transactions that Washington pursues will send the drones and commandos next.”
So did NPR:
Meanwhile, in non-Mazzetti news, trouble is brewing for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who might not be tried until next year because sequestration has required furloughs of lawyers representing him. Benjamin Weiser of the Times has more on that, as does Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press.
Ben Fox of the AP discusses the force-feeding of the hungry detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
The Associated Press reports that intense fighting has taken place over the last four days in the Tirah Valley in the FATA. Thirty Pakistani soldiers and nearly 100 Taliban militants are thought to be dead.
Elise Labott writes in CNN.com about Anne Smedinghoff, the U.S. diplomat who was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend.
In better news from Afghanistan, two French civilians who were kidnapped in Afghanistan, have been freed, says Scott Sayare of the Times.
Julian Pecquet of the Hill reports that, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States might boost its support for the Syrian rebels. Kerry will meet with opposition representatives in London this week.
Speaking of Syrian rebels, a judge declined to release Eric G. Harroun, a former U.S. Army private who joined the designated terrorist group called the Al Nusra Front. Harroun had asked for home detention in Arizona pending trial. The Times has the details.
Reuters confirms our worst suspicions: According to a statement released by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch office—the Al Nusra Front has united with the group to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Amazing how quickly fictitious nations can grow.
What are the pros and cons of the U.S. military’s training foreign troops, you ask? The Times’s Room for Debate has all the perspectives you need the next time someone asks you that question. Contributions include thoughts from Lawrence Korb, John Norris, Boubacar N’Diaye, Kate Doyle, Oscar Naranjo, and Lora Lumpe.
Saeed al-Shihri, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula’s second-in-command is not dead, according to a Facebook post by a senior cleric and the head of the group’s media wing. This is the second time he’s been declared dead and has then resurfaced, says the AP.
Karen DeYoung of the Post gives us the latest on the U.S. drone program since President Obama made his promise to be transparent on national security issues during his State of the Union address.
And, the satirical news source The Duffel Blog tells us how the War on Terror ended while we weren’t paying attention:
“It’s a simple and straightforward approach that’ll solve the insurgency problem overnight,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “Frankly, it’s so profoundly obvious that we’re surprised the previous administration didn’t think of it.”
It’s not true, but it is Today’s Moment of Zen.
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