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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

The House is taking a crack at revising post-9/11 counterterrorism legislation. One proposal would mandate information sharing with Congress for kill/capture operations.  Another would require a review of all those considered “associated forces” of Al Qaeda, for purposes of the AUMF. Here’s Carlo Munoz of The Hill with the details.

Congressman Adam Smith opposes certain GTMO-related features of next year’s defense authorization bill. What thorny GTMO-related provisions remain? Among others, the prohibition on detainee transfers to the U.S. and restrictions on transferring detainees to other countries. The Hill’s Jeremy Herb has the details.

Republicans aim also to build into the next defense authorization bill a mandatory, post-Benghazi assessment of two special ops units–the Commander’s in Extremis Force and the Marine’s FAST teams. Julian Pecquet explains in The Hill.

Shane Harris has a fascinating piece on the rise of Admiral Timothy Dorsey.  He overcame a friendly-fire incident early in his career, and later rose to his current position. That’s over at Washingtonian Magazine.

Ben Weiser writes in the New York Times on the upcoming sentencing of Sabirhan Hasanoff.  He earlier pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorism.  Prosecutors plan to introduce statements made by another fellow, an Egyptian detainee, who apparently implicated Hasanoff during FBI questioning.  But defense lawyers—who oppose the statements’ introduction—insist that the Egyptian had been tortured by foreign officials before meeting with the FBI.

The Bradley Manning trial got started yesterday. Here are NPR and the Washington Post on the hearing. In his Post column, Eugene Robinson argues that the United States should not seek life imprisonment.

The State Department now offers rewards for information leading to the location of AQIM leaders and those of other African terrorist organizations.  Here are State Department’s press release, a New York Times story, and a Wall Street Journal report.

Meanwhile, the State Department released its Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 late last week. Here are State’s press release and an NPR story.

President Obama has signed an executive order that expands sanctions against Iran. Here are Rick Gladstone in the Times, and the White House’s press release and text of the order itself. And the Post’s Joby Warrick discusses how Russian and Iranian technology has strengthened the Assad regime.

Nick Cummings-Bruce reports in the Times that a U.N. Commission of Inquiry report blames both the Assad government and its opposition for human rights violations.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joel Schectman discusses a challenge for U.S. authorities: regulating online payment systems whose controls may not prevent the systems’ use in criminal activities.  (Think Bitcoin.)

FBI Director Watch 2013 is on. Over the weekend, the Times’s Ben Weiser had this piece describing formative episodes in the life of presumptive Director nominee James B. Comey.

At least 17 Afghans were killed in Taliban attacks yesterday, as were 2 American soldiers. Azam Ahmed has this story in the Times. And NPR’s Tom Bowman discusses Afghanistan’s capacity to take control as the U.S. withdraws forces.

Meanwhile, over at Brookings, the formidable trio of retired General John Allen, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, and Brookings senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon offer thoughts on reaching a successful outcome in Afghanistan.

The Economist delves into the obstacles facing Pakistan’s new government, as it deals with the Pakistani Taliban.

Jonah Blank’s Foreign Policy article offers the U.S. some pointers, for purposes of its own Taliban negotiations.

A U.S. missile defense system in Jordan will remain in the Hashemite Kingdom, says Ernesto Londono in the Washington Post.

The Arms Trade Treaty, recently agreed to by the United Nations, received a hearty welcome from SecState Kerry yesterday.  But Joe Lauria in the Journal says that that the Treaty may suffer a fate similar to that of the Law of the Sea Convention, which has languished in the Senate since before I was born.

Since we’re on the topic of the sea, the United States will seek the death penalty for three Somali pirates who allegedly kidnapped and killed four Americans.  The Post’s Peter Finn updates us an update on the case.  Jury selection is underway in Norfolk, VA.

A strain of coronavirus continues to spread through Europe.  It began in the Middle East and has killed at least 30 people.  The World Health Organization reports of confirmed cases in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, and the U.K. Here’s the NPR story.

A man suspected of sending the spring’s first round of ricin letters could face a life sentence.  The BBC reports on the goings-on in Mississippi.

At Foreign Policy, John Arquilla is quite skeptical of drone strikes against terrorist targets.  He says the United States should instead use special operations team missions and cyberattacks to counter the threat.  He writes:

The irony of the situation is that President Obama has identified the right goal — focusing on enemy networks — but he has chosen almost all the wrong means by which to seek their disruption. Drones are too slow-acting, strategically, and create their own “drag” in the form of outrage at collateral damage. Targeting enemy leaders is highly unlikely to defeat networks whose cells operate with high degrees of autonomy. And the effort to identify and ameliorate grievances is inherently quixotic and, in fact, undercut by the damage caused by some of our own policies (like the invasion of Iraq).

And the debate over Pakistan’s consent (or not) to U.S. drone strikes continues: its new president, Asif Ali Zardari says he is “not aware” of any U.S.-Pakistan agreement on drones, reports the Malaysia Sun.

Gizmodo highlights the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s letter to the the Aerospace States Association regarding drone regulation at the state-level.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a co-sponsor of the House cybersecurity bill CISPA, responded to a Baltimore Sun editorial that, in his words, “perpetrat[ed] several myths” about cyber attacks.

A man charged with war crimes in the Bosnian conflict has been extradited from upstate New York to Bosnia, according to the AP.

The Libyan government plans to appeal the ICC’s order calling for the delivery of Muammar Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam Qaddafi to the Hague. Here’s the Tripoli Post with the details.

Air travelers may rejoice at this news: the Transportation Security Administration has retrofitted its body scanners with more modest, less-shape-revealing technology.  Now the scanners will display only a simple body outline, and not a more detailed silhouette. Here’s NPR with the details of TSA’s implementation of this statutory requirement.

Last but not least: the Baltimore Sun received an, um, interesting letter to the editor yesterday. The author makes the case in favor of deploying armed drones against a prominent gang in the city:

A single hellfire missile could easily blow up their car the next time gang members step outside, and they’d never even see it coming so there’s no way to fight back.

Or don’t even wait for them to step outside. I’m pretty sure one of those missiles will level a house and kill everyone inside.

If we’re going to build these weapons, we ought to use them for something useful.

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 blog, 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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