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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee came to a tentative, bipartisan agreement on the use of force in Syria, as Wells has noted. Here’s an NPR piece about that and a Hill story too, as well as one about the schedule in Congress: the Senate will probably vote on the resolution first.

Here are some other pieces about yesterday’s events: The Hill on SecState Kerry’s remarks at the Senate hearing; NPR with four must-hear key exchanges during the hearing; The Hill also on Boehner’s call to action; the Wall Street Journal on support-building in Congress; NPR on the what-if-Congress-votes-no scenario; and the Journal on Obama’s assertion that he can still strike Syria without a First-Branch-O.K.

The New York Times has granted my wish that it create a single news feed for all things Syria-related.

Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have joined forces—at least temporarily—to support U.S. intervention in Syria. NPR writes about that. Will the partnership will last long enough to pass a federal budget and avoid another debt ceiling debacle?

Republican Congressmen Mike Pompeo and Tom Cotton have this Washington Post op-ed urging their fellow GOP-ers to support President Obama on Syria. They sum up their argument: “In such a case, our constitutional role is oversight and advocacy of effective military action. One can vote for a use-of-force resolution yet preserve the right — indeed, the duty — to critique how the president employs such force. After all, we have one commander in chief at a time, and the United States is weakened if our presidency is weakened. No matter the president’s party or his past failures, all Americans should want, and help, him to succeed when it comes to our national security.”

Despite its skepticism yesterday, the Wall Street Journal editorial team seems pleased that the GOP House leaders “set an example” for their party in supporting the President’s plans. The editorial concludes: “The political irony is that if Mr. Obama’s Syrian resolution passes next week, it will owe more to these GOP leaders, and to Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham, than it will to the President’s own arguments or his overall credibility as Commander in Chief.”

Brendan Sasso wrote up a piece at The Hill on the potential use of cyber attacks against the Syrian government.

David Sanger and Eric Schmitt explore the variation in allied intelligence sources detailing the use of chemical weapons in Syria—that’s in the Times.

The Secretary General of the United Nations isn’t budging from his stance that the use of force by the U.S. or others in Syria must be approved by the Security Council to gain his support. Another Times piece covers that, as write Yale Law profs Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro in a Times op-ed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that it seemed “completely ridiculous” for the Syrian government to have used chemical weapons. David Herszenhorn writes up his remarks at the Times.

Over at the Monkeycage blog, Omar Bashir evaluates the so-called “wrong hands” rationale.

The Washington Post editorial today concludes that the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is “vague and contradictory.”

So what non-Syria news is going on, you wonder? Lots, it seems.

The U.S.’s #2 in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said yesterday that the “zero option” in Afghanistan post-2014 is a no-go. Stars and Stripes reports on an interview with him.

Robert S. Mueller is officially the former Director of the FBI. The Washingtonian interviewed him on his departure and his 12 years leading the agency.

The Post’s Craig Whitlock and Barton Gellman delve into more of those leaked intelligence documents, this time on intelligence relating to Al Qaeda’s drone-seeking, not avoiding, behavior.

Courthouse News reports on an amicus filing by Church Committee members Walter Mondale and Gary Hart in support of the ACLU suit seeking an injunction against the NSA’s surveillance programs.

Mexico has summoned the U.S. Ambassador to speak to the news that the NSA has spied on President Nieto—NPR reports.

Bruce Schneier in The Atlantic writes on the need for an independent prosecutor to investigate the NSA surveillance programs.

More details emerge from the Benghazi attack review panel’s still-not-released-report—this time in the Times—the conclusion Eric Schmitt highlights in his Times story is that diplomatic security is not a high enough priority.

Nicholas Kulish writes in the Times that the Kenyan Parliament will debate the utility of membership in the International Criminal Court—this being in advance of the commencement of an ICC trial against the deputy president of the country; also, it seems the Kenyan president himself will also go on trial, later this fall.

Scott Packard, a former Marine who arrived at JTF-GTMO on August 29, 2001, recounts the back story of how Guantanamo became the home of the infamous detention facility over at The Atlantic. Here’s the gist:

One of the principal advantages to placing the detainees in Guantanamo Bay or a similar location was the legal status that non-U.S. soil provided. If the detainees weren’t in the U.S., then they wouldn’t have the same rights under American laws, the argument went. Some of these included the right to legal representation, rights of prisoners, and rights to the American legal system. One government official referred to the base as the “legal equivalent of outer space.” To the Bush administration, this was an immense advantage in the consideration of long-term detention. Guantanamo was central to the Bush Administration’s prevention of the judicial review of the legal status of prisoners, a position invalidated by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush.

Secrecy News writes about a writ for certiorari filed with the Supreme Court to review the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s decision to revoke an employee’s security clearance (the employee maintains it was punishment for his wife’s political views).

Some lighter fare:  On the topic of cyber attacks, the Duffel Blog says that the Syrian Electronic Army has gotten itself stranded on the U.S. Marine Corps online login page. And if you’re looking for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey’s real opinion on a U.S. intervention in Syria, rather than his canned remarks at yesterday’s Senate hearing, please read this Duffel Blog op-ed. (Warning: It’s a fake.)

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter, 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 the Roundup Team 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.