Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 2:32 PM

Your pre-Turkey Day news roundup begins with the NSA. Shane Harris at Foreign Policy gives us the scoop on Fran Fleisch, the woman behind the scenes who has kept the wheel greased as Gen. Keith Alexander and Chris Inglis have been putting out the many Snowden-fueled fires of late.

Speaking of which, Mr. Snowden provided Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim with quite the scandalous leak about the newest collection activity the NSA is engaged in. The Huffington Post article begins:

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

Josh Gerstein of Politico, meanwhile, tells us that the D.C. Circuit heard a case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The latter seeks disclosure of a Department of Justice OLC opinion which deals with circumstances under which the government can ignore a surveillance law.

The worst may not be here yet, some government officials believe---Edward Snowden may be withholding the biggest and baddest classified information on a highly-encrypted data cloud. Reuters has more.

Microsoft is taking greater measures to encrypt its Internet traffic amid suspicions that the NSA may have targeted its global communications links, just like it intercepted those of Google and Yahoo, reports the Washington Post.

The sentencing of Mohamed Osman Mohamud has been suspended indefinitely. The reason? Evidence against him was obtained through secret NSA surveillance. Carrie Johnson of National Public Radio reports.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Judge Lewis A. Kaplan declined to suppress statements made to the authorities by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law. She found that he was well aware of his rights and dismissed the defense's claims of harsh treatment.

Raffaela told us yesterday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is playing hardball with regards to a long-term security agreement. Today, the Los Angeles Times informs us that the United States is considering leaving him out of the pact altogether. The Times also has the latest on the negotiations.

The Washington Post's editorial board discusses the latest twist in U.S.-Afghan relations, claiming that although both President Karzai and President Obama believe the other is bluffing, "the stakes are much too high for a pointless game of political chicken."

The United States sent two B-52 bombers through China's air zone over the East China Sea. The Times has the story on the provocation, which China downplayed, according to the Los Angeles Times. Japan also flew through the airspace today.

The Post's editorial board argues that China's unilateral assertion of the new air zone is "not a path to tranquility."

Harvard's Belfer Center has a new website called "Iran Matters" which features---you guessed it---recent developments and analysis on the nuclear deal.

The Hill says that a Reuters-Ipsos poll released last night found "44 percent of respondents supports the [Iran] deal while 22 percent opposes it."

Big news from Pakistan, ladies and gentlemen: Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif will replace Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the all-powerful chief of Pakistan's army. Gen. Kayani is resigning this week.

And, Pakistani politician Imran Khan---who you'll recall, ran in the Pakistani election in May of this year---has accused the CIA's Islamabad station chief of “committing murder and waging war against Pakistan" in an effort to stop American drone strikes in the country. Declan Walsh of the Times covers that story.

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