Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Monday, November 17, 2014, 8:01 AM

The Islamic State has executed another American hostage. This weekend, ISIS released a video documenting the beheading of humanitarian aid worker and former Army Ranger, Peter Kassig, also known by is Muslim name, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. The New York Times reports that President Obama was quick to condemn the “act of pure evil."

Some outlets have picked up on the fact that the video released this weekend by ISIS has a different ending than do previous videos involving the execution of American and British citizens. The Independent considers what this change could mean.

The Washington Post reveals that the Obama administration is considering escalating its covert CIA operation in Syria, which helps to train and arm Syrian fighters from moderate rebel factions. Currently, the CIA trains around 400 fighters a month.

President Obama is running into some hurdles as he navigates negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The Times tells us that negotiators on behalf of the Obama administration are heading to Vienna this week for a new round of negotiations with the Iranian delegation, but the expected chances of success are relatively low.

As President Obama wrapped up his trip to Asia, he promoted, according to the Times, a “more ambitious foreign policy” agenda. His trip focused on climate change and trade policy, and by many counts, he had a successful trip: he secured a climate-change agreement with China and made significant headway in the Chinese-American technology trade relationship.

While in Australia, President Obama addressed the ongoing situation in Ukraine. The Times explains that Obama condemned Russia’s arming of Ukrainian separatists, moving close to calling Russia’s actions an invasion.

Shane Harris has published a piece for Salon, taking a critical look at the NSA’s relationship with Google. The piece traces the history of the relationship between the internet conglomerate and the NSA, beginning with an aggressive hacking attempt by Chinese hackers back in late 2009.

Bloomberg tells us that a powerful tech lobby, representing the likes of Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google, is pushing the sitting Senate to pass legislation that would rein in the NSA’s surveillance programs. The bill in question is the USA FREEDOM Act (Senate Bill 2685), which would end the NSA’s bulk metadada collection program.

On Friday, we covered the news in the Wall Street Journal about a Department of Justice surveillance program that uses dragnet technology onboard airplanes. Time reports that since the revelation, privacy and civil rights groups have already been raising “serious constitutional questions” about the legality of the program, because innocent Americans’ data is being collaterally collected.

Former Lawfare intern Yishai Schwartz has published a piece over at the New Republic arguing that this Congress needs to vote on an AUMF now and not dither till the new members take their seats.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has shifted $10 billion to “correct deep problems of neglect and mismanagement within the nation's nuclear forces.” That story is over at the AP.

Apparently former CIA director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are not President Obama’s biggest fans. Yahoo! News reports that the two, at an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, agreed that President Obama’s tendency to “micromanage” the U.S. military has done more harm than good.

ICYMI: This Weekend, On Lawfare 

Daniel Byman and Jeremy Shapiro, in this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, argue that we should turn to new strategies to combat the “foreign fighter threat.”

Shane Harris is featured on Lawfare’s 100th podcast episode. He sits with Ben to discuss his new book, @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.

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