Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Friday, May 10, 2013, 11:39 AM

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times reports on a terrorism case unsealed in Manhattan last night. One Ahmed Abassi from Tunisia has been “accused of seeking to develop a terrorist network in the United States and of proposing to poison the water or air to kill up to 100,000 people."  He has pleaded not guilty. Abassi came to the United States from Canada in March, and appeared on the FBI’s radar screen because he kept in regular touch with one of the gentlemen later arrested in last month’s plot to blow up passenger trains in Canada. The Wall Street Journal also has the story.

The Times informs us about Boston police commissioner Edward Davis’s testimony before Congress, during which he stated that the FBI did not tell Boston police that Russia sent the United States a warning about Tamerlan Tsarnaev; or that the FBI followed up after his return and then closed the case. Matt Viser of the Boston Globe has more on the ever-contentious issue of information sharing between law enforcement agencies. Matt also comments on this here.

Alan Cullison of the Wall Street Journal reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev got “a cool reception” from the Islamists he sought out in Dagestan.  Tsarnaev also was apparently unsuccessful in breaking into underground rebel organizations.  Ellen Barry of the Times also has a story about the Islamists Tsarnaev met abroad.  Some of them allegedly tried to talk him out of jihad; others influenced Tsarnaev's views on the United States before he returned.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, frustrated by security concerns surrounding the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, is attempting a Kickstarter-like endeavor to fund a court reporter to transcribe Manning’s trial. Tal Kopan of Politico has the story.

Meanwhile, Matthew Rosenberg of the Times reports that President Karzai has said that the United States can keep its bases after 2014. I’m still waiting on that magic number of troops that the United States will leave in Afghanistan…

The Times editorial board argues that President Obama should listen to the suggestions Harold Koh made in his Oxford Union speech about transparency and accountability in its targeted killing program. Have at it, Ben.

Speaking of drones, Uri Friedman of Foreign Policy tells us that the moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived: Iran has a drone. And not just any old drone, but one named “Epic.” So far, only PressTV and Fars News are reporting this, so it might turn out to be like the story of the Iranian scientist who claimed to have invented a time machine that predicts “five to eight years of the future life of any individual, with 98 percent accuracy.” We’ll just have to wait and see.

And Iran’s not the only country developing UAVs. David Axe of Wired’s Danger Room reports on just-released, extremely-blurry, over-enhanced pictures of China’s first armed drone.

Anna Mulrine of the Christian Science Monitor outlines the Pentagon’s top four concerns about China’s military.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin sent a letter to President Obama calling for him to appoint an envoy to help shrink the size of Guantanamo Bay. Josh Gerstein of Politico has the details.

Michael Doyle and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald have this handy "Guantanamo Bay for Dummies"-like list of questions and answers.

Pat Smith, mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith, said that yesterday’s hearing didn’t provide any answers, according to CNN.

As I noted last month, the Peshawar High Court was considering a case on the legality of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan (even if its leaders have consented to them). The court, led by Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, just ruled that the strikes are illegal, “against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country's autonomy and independence.” He also said that Pakistan should consider breaking diplomatic ties with the United States if the latter doesn’t cease strikes, according to Andrew Buncombe of the IndependentDaniel Mullen of Jurist and Jim White of Emptywheel also discuss the ruling in greater detail.

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