Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Friday, March 22, 2013, 5:35 PM

Big news that things are probably going to stay the same on the drone front---at least according to Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane of the New York Times, who write that the transition of the targeted killing program from the CIA to the Department of Defense will not change anything in Pakistan, and in other countries, the move “may be most important symbolically rather than practically.”

By contrast, Fred Kaplan writes in Slate about why and how it matters that the military will control the drone program instead of the CIA. And for more contrast still, Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog counters with this piece about why little will actually change.

The Washington Post reports on the surveillance operations being conducted at the U.S. drone base in Niger and how the base cements a U.S. presence in West Africa.

Speaking of that region, Karen DeYoung of the Post tells us that the Malian group Ansar Dine---you know, the one that cuts people’s hands off---has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. Duh.

If you’re looking to make a quick buck (or a quick $10 million bucks), the State Department has placed a bounty on the heads of Omar Hammami and Jehad Serwan Mostafa says the Washington Times. Know anything?

Indian authorities claim they have stopped a terrorist attack planned by a Kashmiri rebel group, Hizb-ul Mujahedeen, on New Delhi during the popular Hindu festival of Holi. The Associated Press has the story.

Trouble continues at Guantanamo Bay: The official number of detainees participating in the hunger strike protesting their treatment has grown to twenty-six. The Associated Press has more on that. And in case you were planning a Gitmo trip this weekend, you may have to rethink your plans. The Navy has just cancelled all commercial flights to the base, outraging the lawyers for the detainees. The reason? “A review of flight operations at the base that found that the airline [that was running them] was violating two federal regulations,” says CNN’s Mike Mount. also reports that the mysterious smoke-detector-like device that cause a brouhaha earlier this month---because it was in the room where lawyers met with detainees at Guantanamo Bay---was only spying, not eavesdropping on conversations.

It’s really not Pakistan’s week, is it? Mere days after U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson issued a statement condemning U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan---you guessed it---a drone strike killed four suspected militants in North Waziristan, reports the Times. In addition, Julian Pecquet tells us that Congress has nixed funding for the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which funds counterinsurgency operations and training and was supposed to be live until 2014. Oh, well.

The Post reports on the horrific shooting at Quantico late yesterday in which a Marine killed himself and two fellow Marines.

Julia Preston of the Times informs us that DHS official Mark Borkowski faced harsh criticism from lawmakers on the Hill today about the lack of progress made by the agency in the last two years on “new, more accurate standards to assess security at the nation’s borders.”

Senators Carl Levin and John McCain have sent President Obama a letter calling for direct U.S. military intervention in Syria, says Kevin Baron of Foreign Policy. Here’s the letter for your reading pleasure.

And I rarely get to end on a positive note, so I relish the times when I can: Carlotta Gall of the Times reports that uprisings against the Taliban have spread to dozens of villages in Afghanistan since early February.

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