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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 11:55 AM

The federal government is shut down, but Lawfare is still open. Here’s the national security-related news in the shutdown story: SecDef Hagel is working hard with his lawyers to figure out how to limit the number of civilian DoD employees who get furloughed. Read the Washington Post, courtesy of Craig Whitlock. Here’s a video of President Obama’s address to DoD employees. Gerald Seib’s story today in the Wall Street Journal focuses on the implications of the government shutdown on the rest of the world. And there are lots of government websites that won’t be running, so beware. Meanwhile, the Times lets us know that the stock market opened relatively calmly (in case you were worried about that whole angle), and the Senate also passed, and Obama will sign, a bill to continue paying our military during the shutdown.

In other First-Branch-of-Government-News, another bit of legislative action extends visas for Iraqis who worked with the U.S. military during our engagement there. And technology companies want Congress to pick up the pace in NSA transparency legislation this week. I say: deal with the budget first.

Speaking of cybersecurity, the National Institute of Standards and Technology said (before the shutdown) that it was close to a draft of its Obama-executive-order-mandated private sector cybersecurity framework. Here’s Bloomberg BNA on that.

The European Parliament held a hearing on Monday focused on the EU and U.S. surveillance programs leaked by Edward Snowden. NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Kirk Wiebe testified, says Firedoglake.

The Senate has canceled a hearing on the Navy Yard shooting, says the Times, and won’t be rescheduling it until the shutdown is, well, shut down.

More bad news, this time about the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan: CENTCOM head General Lloyd Austin said in an interview that withdrawing from Afghanistan will be “even more difficult than Iraq.”

The foreign minister of Syria equates the conflict in his country to September 11. Here’s a Times story about his remarks. Also, the same paper reports that a chemical arms team has arrived in Damascus to begin working through a stockpile destruction plan with the government.

Two generals have been fired by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, for failing to deploy enough troops to guard Camp Bastion, a base in the south of Afghanistan. An attack by fifteen insurgents in September 2012 killed two Marines and destroyed six Harrier jets. Here are the Washington Post and the Times; this is the first time since Vietnam any Marine Corps general has been relieved of his duties for negligence.

Venezuela has expelled the U.S. embassy’s charge d’affairs and two other embassy officials (recall that President Hugo Chavez didn’t accept the ambassador presented to him in 2010, and the country expelled two military attaches earlier this year), reports the New York Times.

Today’s New York Times Room for Debate topic is: measuring the threat that Al Shabab poses to the United States.  Jeffrey Gettleman and Nicholas Kulish write also in the Times about the terrorist organization’s many sources of support, including extorting payments from charities, ransoms from pirates, kidnapping ransoms, and other sorts of shady activities, while Peter Bergen and David Sterman have this CNN piece detailing instances in which support for the group came from sources here in the U.S.

Meanwhile, a bit of good news for sanctions policy: it seems that sanctions are taking their toll on Iran’s economy, writes Thomas Erdbrink in the Times. On the topic of Iran, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington and showed a unified stance towards Iran.

Benjamin Weiser writes in the Times about the sentence handed down this week for a man who pleaded guilty to providing material support to Al Qaeda and conspiracy. Sabirhan Hasanoff will receive 18 years in prison for conducting surveillance on the New York Stock Exchange in connection with a planned terrorist attack there.

A drone strike in Pakistan killed four people in North Waziristan, says Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud in the Times.

Late last week, the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General released an interim report on the DOJ’s use of drones (h/t Massimo Calabresi of Time). The gist: the Department probably needs specific policies on using these systems, and there must be greater coordination among different entities when authorizing their use.

An interesting study highlighted by Secrecy News: how to repair the U.S. intelligence community (by shrinking it).

Here’s the Blog of Legal Times’ report on oral arguments in Bahlul v. United States; Jess Bravin of the Journal was there, too. Wells and I recapped the arguments. Steve Vladeck and Jen Daskal wrote over at Just Security, too.

If you’re in need of some comic relief after all of this mostly-negative news, the Duffel Blog has you covered: read how SecDef Hagel spent down the rest of his department’s budget—by hosting a “rager” at the Hard Rock Cafe.

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.

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