In one of the strangest stories I’ve come across in a long time—and there have been many—news reports say an FBI agent shot and killed an Orlando man with ties to deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Ibragim Todashev was not suspected of playing a role in the bombings, but, during questioning, confessed nevertheless to playing a role in a triple homicide in the Boston area. After his confession, Todashev allegedly attacked the agent with a knife and was shot dead. NBC News has the story, as does Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.
Just in time for President Obama’s big speech tomorrow, Scott Shane of the Times reports that the raw number of drone strikes has declined in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Also in time for President Obama’s big speech tomorrow (no, I was not offered any compensation for promoting his address) Ted Barrett of CNN tells us that authorities have identified—by name—five men who they believe were involved in the Benghazi attacks.
Scott Wilson and Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post discuss the role ex-CIA director David Petraeus played in developing the Benghazi talking points.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Kim Jong Un has appointed a new military chief: one Kim Kyok Sik. Expect nothing to change in the country’s posturing. The Associated Press has more.
Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald reports that Army Capt. Jason Wright, defense counsel for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. In it, Wright likens conditions at Guantanamo Bay to the failures that led to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. Secretary Hagel is a veteran of that war.
According to Donna Cassata of the AP, the Department of Defense is asking Congress for $450 million to maintain and upgrade America’s favorite prison—the one at Guantanamo, of course. And yet Jeremy Herb of the Hill tells us that President Obama is gearing up to push for the closure of the Guantanamo detention center. File under “mixed signals.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to tackle WMDs in the Middle East and North Africa, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today introduced The Next Generation Cooperative Threat Reduction Act. Its objectives include “expanded training, professional networking and engagement with civil society, as well as tighter export and border controls,” says Julian Pecquet of the Hill.
The Times’s Room for Debate blog focuses on whether the Obama administration’s recent leak investigations advance national security or trample on the First Amendment. Contributors include Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution, and John Deutch, a former Director of Central Intelligence.
The Times editorial board argues that the Obama administration has gone too far with its investigation of Fox News reporter James Rosen and is now “threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”
In a particularly gruesome story, Rod Nordland of the Times reports that an Afghan man missing since November has been found near a U.S. special forces base—footless.
And, I’ll conclude with this piece, on how the recently-released Star Trek Into Darkness is really about our targeted killing program. It’s Today’s Moment of Zen.
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