Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 2:27 PM

The NSA isn't the only organization interested in metadata. The CIA pays AT&T more than $10 million per year to access its vast database of phone records---which the phone company has voluntarily agreed to share. And when phone records are handed over that implicate Americans, the FBI may get involved too. Charlie Savage of the New York Times reports.

Speaking of big data requests from the government, Apple has released this report on the way it handles such requests, and it "provides statistics on requests related to customer accounts as well as those related to specific devices."

The powers that be are considering separating the leadership of the NSA and the Cyber Command for the first time in the short history of the "dual hatted" position, says Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post.

Germany's love affair with bad boy Edward Snowden continues. The German Parliament is looking into whether Snowden can testify at an inquiry about U.S. spying practices, and calls there to grant him asylum have intensified in recent days.

As Wells noted yesterday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved legislation (by a 13-2 vote) to reauthorize funding for the NSA, combat Snowden-style leaks, and make the NSA director and inspector general subject to Senate confirmation, among other things. The Hill has the story.

Document Dump: The Department of Defense will provide the lawyers of detainees at Guantanamo Bay with 27,000 pages of materials that were seized during a raid in April in the midst of the hunger strike. Josh Gerstein has more.

According to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Military Judge Col. James Pohl has ordered the Pentagon to turn over all the correspondence from the International Committee of the Red Cross about the treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Charlie Savage has more, and Wells wrote about this yesterday.

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession and Open Society Foundations created a task force to investigate "the involvement of health professionals in infliction of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody and how such deviation from professional standards and ethically proper conduct occurred." Their findings are now available here.

Rep. Devin Nunes is the latest to stir the old Benghazi pot. He wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner about the "'significant discrepancies' between the timeline of events at Benghazi offered last year by the Obama administration to Congress and the account of 'witnesses on the ground in Benghazi.'" CIA contractors will testify in front of the House intelligence committee in closed session next week. Eli Lake of the Daily Beast covers the story and has a copy of the letter.

Meanwhile, now that M23 has agreed to surrender in the Democratic Republic of Congo, United Nations peacekeepers are turning their attention to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a militia group whose members are thought to be partly responsible for the atrocious 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

RAND has published Radicalisation in the Digital Era: The Use of the Internet in 15 Cases of Terrorism and Extremism. Check it out.

The Yemen edition of Bagram prison might be in the works. The Los Angeles Times tells us that the Obama administration is discussing the possibility of opening a detention facility outside San'aa as part of its plan to eventually close Guantanamo Bay. More than half of the detainees cleared for release at the prison are from Yemen.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb has taken responsibility for killing two French journalists who were kidnapped in Mali over the weekend. Apparently, the abductor was "a lower-level jihadist trying to return to the good graces of the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb after being accused of stealing money." The Associated Press and the BBC have more details.

According to Bruce Riedel of Brookings, the drone strike that took out Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistani Taliban, last week, proves that drones remain an effective counter-terrorism tool in Pakistan---and that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who asked President Obama to halt the strikes in his recent visit to Washington, will not see his request granted anytime soon.

Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, has been freed from house arrest on bail, says the Wall Street Journal.

Pakistan has also been busy with target practice, reports the Times of India. The military demonstrated its ability to shoot down a drone during military exercises.

Mark Urban of the BBC reports that Saudi Arabia, which provides major financial assistance to Pakistan's defense sector, has agreements with the country to obtain some of its nuclear weapons. As we know, Saudi Arabia has been none too pleased with the United States and withdrew its name from consideration for service on the UN Security Council.

Nuclear talks with Iran resume today in Geneva, say the Times and the PostThe AP reports that Iran's plan to curb its nuclear arsenal has the backing of all six world powers, and Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee of the Journal has an interesting piece on the years of behind-the-scenes talks between the U.S. and Iran.

And, Marvel is introducing a brand new comic book superhero. Enter Kamala Khan, whose superpower is the ability to change shape---it’s Today’s Moment of Zen.

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