Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 11:56 AM

Let’s take a break from all things NSA today.

The verdict in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial will be announced at 1 p.m., reports Julie Tate of the Washington Post. I’ll post the news as soon as I have it.

As Raffaela noted yesterday, Jim Comey has been confirmed as FBI’s next director. Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times reports. Rand Paul was the only “no” vote.

Jailbreaks have been terrorists’ MO as of late: Reuters tells us that Taliban militants freed 250 prisoners---dozens of whom were senior Taliban commanders---during a raid on a jail in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in northwest Pakistan. Ismail Khan of the Times also has the story, as does the Associated Press.

Apropos, the Times editorial board argues that jailbreaks at Iraq's Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons last week were “synchronized and sophisticated,” and that “the core problem is Mr. Maliki, whose monopoly power and favoritism for his Shiite majority brethren over other groups have inflamed sectarian tensions.”

Three suspected militants have been killed by another drone strike in Yemen, says the AP.

Matthew Rosenberg of the Times interviewed Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who believes that American forces will need to stay in the country after 2014 in order to sustain the progress that has been made. Gen. Dunford does not want American forces to fight, but instead to help Afghans develop and run their armed forces.

Dinah Walker at the Council on Foreign Relations has this fascinating study of how the U.S. military budget has changed over time---and what forces have influenced it---using data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Check it out.

Stephen M. Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard, has an article in Foreign Policy about how Al Qaeda has returned.  (The piece is partly a response to Bruce Riedel’s op-ed I linked to yesterday on the same subject).  Walt argues:

What is needed is a much more fundamental rethinking of the entire anti-terrorism campaign. As I suggested last week, part of that rethink means asking whether the United States needs to do a lot more to discredit jihadi narratives, instead of persisting with policies that make the extremists' charges sound plausible to their audiences. A second part is to keep the jihadithreat in better perspective: They are a challenge, but not a mortal threat to Americans' way of life unless the country reacts to them in ways that cause more damage to its well-being and its values than they do. Sadly, a rational ranking of costs, benefits, and threats seems to be something that the U.S. foreign-policy establishment is largely incapable of these days.

From the Department of Yikes: Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg reports that alleged supporters of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban have received U.S. military contracts, according to John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times informs us that CIA employees with “unique and crucial skills” leave the Agency because of poor management, according to a previously classified 2005 report by the CIA’s inspector general.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s head of foreign affairs and security, met with ex-Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. The Times has more.

Why does Central Asia matter, you ask? Nathan Barrick, former US Army Foreign Area Officer for Russia-Eurasia, will tell you in this guest post on Registan.

And, you’ll never believe the book that is requested second-most by the high-value detainees in Camp 7 at Guantanamo Bay---it’s Today’s Moment of Zen.

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