Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Friday, May 24, 2013, 1:41 PM

Coverage of President Obama’s speech yesterday is plentiful: Here are Peter Baker of the New York Times, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller of the Washington Post, and Mark Mazzetti of the Times with an analysis of the key points of the speech. Scott Wilson of the Post also provides a rundown of the speech, and cites Ben. The Associated Press reports on lifting the transfer ban on Yemeni detainees, and Colleen McCain Nelson, Adam Entous, and Julia E. Barnes of the Wall Street Journal have more.

Reactions to President Obama’s speech also abound: Brookings Institution scholar Michael O’Hanlon argues in CNN that the president did a great job explaining the rationale behind his targeted killing policy. Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic is skeptical of the change in counterterrorism policy that some are trumpeting. Lesley Clark and Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy believe that Obama's speech appeared to broaden the scope of targeting operations because the president made "no reference at all to senior operational leaders [of Al Qaeda and associated forces]."

The Times editorial board lays out what the President said---and should have said---about targeted killing, Guantanamo Bay, and civil liberties. The Post editorial board finds itself in agreement with much of President Obama’s speech, but says that he left the “nature of the war” question unanswered.

Of course, nothing President Obama does is complete without negative reaction from Congressional Republicans. Khalid Khattak and Janet Hook in the Wall Street Journal have the lowdown on criticism from the Hill.

Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), who sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced the Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013 today. Based on the press release, the bill “would ensure independent oversight of cases where the head of a U.S. intelligence agency has determined that a U.S. person is engaged in international terrorism against the U.S., and the government is considering the legality or the use of targeted lethal force against that individual.”

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) is also preparing a bill that, Spencer Ackerman of Wired reports, aims to “sunset” the AUMF.

What did our friends and frenemies abroad think of the much-anticipated speech, you ask? According to the AP, Pakistani officials are still miffed---to put it nicely---but Yemenis had more cause for optimism.

Meanwhile, Josh Gerstein of Politico tells us that U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer issued an order asking government lawyers to explain if, and how, a letter Attorney General Holder sent to Congress on the eve of President Obama’s speech would impact a lawsuit over Anwar al-Awlaki’s death.  In the letter, Holder had disclosed that four Americans had died in drone strikes abroad.  Only one of these attacks deliberately targeted a citizen---al-Awlaki.

Mark Mazzetti discusses the CIA’s shifting role in America’s drone program, saying that the pivot back to spying (and away from things like targeted killing) will be hard for the Agency.

Mirza Shazad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer, has an op-ed in the Times from a few days ago about the civilian casualties of drone strikes---and the Pakistani government’s role in the program.

It’s really not Britain’s week: CNN reports that two Pakistani passengers were arrested and removed from a UK-bound Pakistan International Airlines flight, after they threatened to blow up the aircraft. The incident comes right after a British soldier was killed in broad daylight by two radicalized British Muslim men.

Behold The Rendition Project: a collaborative research effort between the University of Kent, Kingston University, and Reprieve, a human rights organization. The interactive is truly amazing: users can track almost 11,000 of the CIA’s confirmed and suspected rendition flights of terrorist suspects, access government documents related to the once-secret program, read accounts of rendered detainees, and much more. Here is The Guardian on the project.

Karen DeYoung of the Post informs us that President Obama has picked Victoria Nuland, former State Department spokeswoman, to be assistant Secretary of State for Europe, and retired Gen. Douglas E. Lute as ambassador to NATO.

Two car bombs in Niger killed 26 people and injured 30. The attacks, says the AP, were carried out by Islamic militants in Mali.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief,  Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.