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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Details in the investigation of the Boston bombings keep trickling out: Greg Miller of the Washington Post reports that the bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev,  who was killed in a shootout with police last week, was on the CIA’s radar screen; the Agency asked that he be added to a watch list more than a year ago, a few months after the FBI closed its own investigation into Tamerlan.

DNI James Clapper was on the defensive about the intelligence community dropping the ball, as Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room discusses here.

The parents of the two Tsarnaev brothers have denied that their sons were responsible for the attacks. They even accused the U.S. of killing Tamerlan, says the New York Times.  BBC.com has more.

CNN reports on how Anwar al-Awlaki—and AQAP—may have contributed to the Tsarnaev brothers’ radicalization.

Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and Scott Korb, professor at NYU and the New School, argue in this Times op-ed that “the American Muslim community has actively and repeatedly, day in and day out, rejected such radicals on religious grounds.” In the Post, Fareed Zakaria insists that “rather than ostracize or embarrass Muslims in the wake of Boston, the smarter move would be even greater outreach—so that the next time someone began to act strangely, community leaders would pick up the phone and call their friends in the police.”

In other news, the White House says the intelligence community, with “varying degrees of confidence,” believes President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons. The Times has the breaking news story.

Charlie Savage of the Times has the latest from Guantanamo Bay, saying that despair over indefinite detention is driving the 93 detainees to continue their hunger strike.

The Times covers the ricin investigation: the latest suspect is one James Everett Dutschke, “a martial arts instructor, sometime politician and, as of this year, a man accused of child molesting.” The Post has more.

Israeli military forces shot down a pilotless drone today with air-to-air missiles. It is still unclear who the drone belongs to, although suspicions instantly fell on Hezbollah.  The latter claimed responsibility for flying a drone in October of last year, says the Times.

American University professor Jeff Bachman argues in this piece in the Hill that the Obama administration’s targeted killing policy “is a clear violation of the principle of distinction and could be a violation of the principle of proportionality depending on the actual number of civilians killed.” He goes further to suggest that President Obama may be a war criminal: “I will state it clearly here. Violations of the laws of war are war crimes. If you have personally authorized the acts that violate the laws of war, you are a war criminal.”

Secretary of State John Kerry held extensive talks with Pakistani and Afghan officials in Brussels yesterday, and was cautiously optimistic at the end. I am less so, but here are the Post, CNN’s Security Clearance blog, and the Times so that you might draw your own conclusions.

In Foreign Policy, Stephen Tankel discusses why the militant groups in Pakistan are cause for concern, and notes a few possible scenarios after the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan next year. I covered some of these themes in greater detail with Tankel, in this interview I did with him last year.

According to Josh Gerstein of Politico, attorney General Eric Holder and DNI Director James Clapper filed declarations invoking the state secrets privilege, in a lawsuit regarding the no-fly list.

The brouhaha continues over alleged Al Qaeda elements in Iran.  Did they play a role in the recently-foiled plot to bomb trains in Canada? In this op-ed in the Globe and Mail, Bruce Riedel of Brookings argues that the link is tenuous, though possible; and Myra MacDonald of Reuters also analyzes the relationship between the two.

And, I haven’t given you all a Moment of Zen in a while.  From America’s Finest News Source, here is the latest on Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

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