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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 5:03 PM

The Taliban’s second-in-command appears to have met the dangerous end of a Hellfire missile early this morning, reports Tim Craig of the Washington Post. Wali ur-Rehman and three other people were killed in North Waziristan—but the Taliban’s spokesman has denied it, so ur-Rehman may yet surface alive and well.

Management issues plague terrorist organizations too.  Moktar Belmoktar—the man responsible for engineering a vicious attack on a gas plant in Algeria, and bombings in Niger at a military base and a French mine—was not that different from that employee at your office.  You know, the one everybody knows to be hanging on by a thread. The Associated Press found a letter in an abandoned Timbuktu building, which was sent from an Al Qaeda Shura to Belmoktar.  In it, the leadership berated him for thirty alleged failures:

The list of slights is long: He would not take their phone calls. He refused to send administrative and financial reports. He ignored a meeting in Timbuktu, calling it “useless.” He even ordered his men to refuse to meet with al-Qaida emissaries. And he aired the organization’s dirty laundry in online jihadist forums, even while refusing to communicate with the chapter via the Internet, claiming it was insecure.

. . .

“Any observer of the armed actions (carried out) in the Sahara will clearly notice the failure of The Masked Brigade to carry out spectacular operations, despite the region’s vast possibilities — there are plenty of mujahedeen, funding is available, weapons are widespread and strategic targets are within reach,” the letter says. “Your brigade did not achieve a single spectacular operation targeting the crusader alliance.”

National Public Radio interviewed Rukmini Callimachi, the AP reporter who broke this story.

Ben Weiser of the New York Times reveals that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, will be allowed to retain Stanley L. Cohen as his private lawyer, despite the fact that Mr. Cohen faces criminal charges.

Army Judge Col. Tara Osborn has ordered a medical evaluation to determine wither Maj. Nidal Hasan is physically able to represent himself. CNN’s Larry Shaughnessy has more.

Stephen Castle of the Times reports that at least ninety Afghans are being detained at a British military facility in Afghanistan.  Officials assert that that the men will be handed over to Afghan authorities, and that delays were the fault of problems in transferring detainees to the Afghan legal system.

Over the weekend, Afghan security forces—without NATO assistance—rescued ten international aid workers during a Taliban assault, says the AP. John weighs in here.

Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel of NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice outline the ways in which President Obama’s speech last week fell short (hint: every which way).

CFR interviewed John Bellinger on many aspects of the president’s speech—the tone, drone policy, the AUMF, Guantanamo Bay, and the president’s comment about Attorney General Holder “sharing” the President’s concerns about leak investigations.

David Cole argues in the New York Review of Books that President Obama’s speech was a long-term and honest look at the sustainability of his counterterrorism policies.

Al Shabaab claims to have shot down a U.S. drone that had overflown Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. NPR’s Scott Neuman has the story.

The AP reports that French authorities have made an arrest in the stabbing of a French soldier over the weekend. The BBC tells us that the suspect has been identified only as Alexandre, a 21-year old convert to Islam.

Drones patrolling Germany’s subway stations to catch graffiti artists?  Germans are quite anxious about the prospect, says Melissa Eddy of the New York Times.

According to the Washington Times, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has issued a subpoena for all communications regarding the Benghazi talking points, as between particular State Department officials.  The list includes Victoria Nuland and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

The AP reports on a meeting between National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and General Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of the commission overseeing China’s armed forces, on greater military cooperation between the two countries.

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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