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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, May 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Yesterday was a day we mostly forgot about: the second anniversary of the Osama bin Laden raid. Although much of the commentary centered around remarks from Adm. William McRaven, head of Special Operations Command, there has been some discussion of the future of American military action and covert operations.  Michele Malvesti and Nancy Walbridge Collins argue in CNN that the glorification of these elite fighters and missions “produces unintended consequences” and should be reined in.

In other news, Boston bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev originally planned suicide attacks for July 4, according to the New York Times and the Boston Globe, but finished making their bombs earlier than expected and decided to act on April 15. The surviving brother, Dzhokhar, told authorities that the pair picked the finish line of the marathon after scouting other sites in Boston.

Tsarnaev also revealed that the brothers watched sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki. But in news from earlier this week, Michael Zennie of the Daily Mail reports that a Canadian boxer by the name of William Plotnikov, nicknamed “The Canadian,” met Tamerlan Tsarnaev online and may also have contributed to the latter’s radicalization when he traveled to Dagestan last year. Plotnikov was killed by Russian authorities last July, which prompted Tsarnaev to come back to the United States. The Telegraph also has the story.

Spencer Ackerman writes about the details that emerged after the criminal complaint against the two brothers was released earlier this week.

And Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a Marine originally from Boston who served in Afghanistan, reflects on the war coming home in a moving op-ed in the Post.

Meanwhile, Sahr MuhammedAlly of the Center for Civilians in Conflict argues in this op-ed in the Huffington Post that the United States should help civilians harmed by drone strikes, including those who “suffer non-lethal harm from drone strikes, like injuries, damage to their homes, psychological trauma, and displacement.”

Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University takes a step back from the arguments about the legality and morality of drone warfare in this Atlantic piece, and suggests that we should “deliberate whether or not to fight” at all.

Lots of Guantanamo Bay commentary before your weekend: Josh Gerstein of Politico tells us that former Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes thinks President Obama is singing a different tune on Guantanamo. Duh.

Eric Posner of the University of Chicago Law School says in Slate that President Obama can close Guantanamo Bay whenever he chooses if he declares and end to the war against Al Qaeda. Posner says that “the real issue here. . .is that Congress has given the president a convenient excuse for not doing something he doesn’t really want to do anyway.”

Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch lays out in Foreign Policy some of the steps the Obama administration can take to wind down the size of Guantanamo Bay—without Congress.

The New York Times’s Room for Debate discusses the ethics of force-feeding prisoners at the prison.

Interestingly, the Volokh Conspiracy notes that the New York Supreme Court held today in Bezio v. Dorsey that it is permissible to force-feed a prisoner on a hunger strike.

And Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, fires back at President Obama in this op-ed in USA Today, saying that the President doesn’t have a comprehensive detention policy, and that “until a better solution is offered,” the detainees must stay at the prison.

Dawinder S. Sidhu of the University of New Mexico School of Law has this important essay in the Columbia Law Review entitled “Lessons on Terrorism and ‘Mistaken Identity’ from Oak Creek, with a Coda on the Boston Marathon Bombings.”  Sidhu wrote this guest post for Lawfare last year about hate crimes and terrorism.  But this latest essay, in Sidhu’s words,

[S]uggests that the federal definitions of terrorism should be amended. . . and that ‘mistaken identity’—the notion that individuals may have been targeted because they were wrongfully perceived to be a member of another  group—is, as federal disability law demonstrates, an important and viable explanation for why an incident may have occurred.

CNN reports that three or four Yemeni members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took part in last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.  And, even more troubling, they may have been sent to Libya to execute the attack.

Such is Washington: CNN also tells us that the State Department’s Inspector General’s office is reviewing the work of an Accountability Review Board (ARB), which itself investigated the Benghazi attack.

And, here is your chuckle from The Onion about the President’s remarks on closing Guantanamo: It’s Today’s Moment of Zen.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief,  Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.

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