Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Thursday, December 6, 2012, 2:47 PM

Let’s begin with some big news. SecDef Leon Panetta has announced that President Obama intends to nominate Gen. Lloyd Austin as the next commander of CENTCOM to replace General James Mattis.

From the Department of Bad Behavior: James Hitselberger, a Arabic translator for the Navy, who was “charged with stealing classified documents from a Navy base in Bahrain and has been in custody since October is asking a federal court to release him pending trial.” Josh Gerstein of the Politico has the story.

Pamela Constable and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post inform us about the different priorities Afghans and Americans have for the country (and America’s role in it) post-2014.

Speaking of Afghanistan, David Alexander of Reuters reports on the challenges facing Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford---who was recently confirmed by the Senate to replace Gen. John Allen as the top commander in Afghanistan---in “winding down a war in a country where he has little experience using a strategy he did not devise.”

As I reported earlier this week, the Institute for Economics and Peace has released its 2011 Global Terrorism Index. Max Fisher of the Post highlights some of the report’s interesting findings.

From the Frenemy Press: Dawn reports that Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has demanded that Kabul hand over Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Fazlullah.

Leadership shake-ups are afoot---and not only in President Obama’s cabinet. Mehreen Zahra-Malik of Reuters reports that Pakistani military sources believe that the Pakistani Taliban is on the brink of a major leadership change “that could mean less violence against [Pakistan in the future] but more attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.” Greeeaaaaat.

Speaking of shake ups, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) will probably leave the Senate Armed Services Committee, says Jeremy Herb of the Hill. And Senator Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate altogether, says the New York Times.

Scott Shane of the Times discusses a report put forth by the Public Interest Declassification Board, a federal advisory panel that is recommending a massive overhaul of the government’s classification system. The report was sent to President Obama last month and will become public today.

Stevan Weine, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago has this op-ed on about engaging communities in America and coming up with community-based solutions to radicalism. Weine conducted a study of the Somali-American community in Minneapolis-St. Paul and argues:

What the new policies appear to call for, and what our research results indicate, is that building community resilience to violent extremism depends on sustaining and strengthening (or in some cases initiating) a spectrum of protective resources among youth, families, communities, and organizations.

This could include: identifying and changing family and community values and norms around violent extremism; supporting families and communities upholding values and norms, and; providing direct guidance to youth and families regarding threats and risks. One possible strategy suggested by community members is to provide training and logistical support for community elders to talk with parents and youth about strategies for preventing recruitment.

From the Department of Pouring Fuel on an Already Raging Fire: The Times reports that some U.S. arms from Qatar to Libyan rebels during the uprising against Col. Muammar Ghaddafi fell into the hands of jihadist groups. No evidence has arisen linking those arms to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

According to the Associated Press, there has been another drone strike in Pakistan, which killed three suspected militants in North Waziristan. I’ll have more on that anon.

Dana Feldman of Reuters reports that three California gentlemen who were arrested last week for plotting to travel to Afghanistan for terrorism training pleaded not guilty yesterday to conspiracy and material support charges.

Noah Shachtman of Wired tells us that Paulo Shakarian, a professor at West Point, has developed an algorithm to determine which people in a terrorist network really matter---and therefore, who to focus attention on. Which is pretty cool---if it works.

And, the Pakistani Taliban wants you to recruit you to write for its magazine, Ahyah-e-Khilifat (“Sign of the Caliphate”), and you can sign up right on Facebook: it’s Today’s Moment of Zen---which is all the more Zen because the Pakistani Taliban has trouble spelling.

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