Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Monday, January 12, 2015, 9:42 AM

More developments on the situation in France:

1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday, and were joined by another 3 million people around the globe, in response to the Charlie Hebdo killings. The Washington Post described the scene in Paris: French President François Hollande led the crowd, joined by German German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and a “host of European and African leaders." (CNN pointed out that American leaders were “notably absent” from the rally, even though Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris at the time.)

The Times explains how France’s usually impressive counterterrorism abilities failed to prevent the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices. CNN also covers the gaps in French intelligence that contributed to the attack.

A video of one of the gunmen that was shot dead by Paris police has surfaced, in which he is pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Details about Amedy Coulibaly are still emerging, and the Times covers the story.

The Financial Times reports that insecurity is growing among France’s Jewish population after the hostage crisis on Friday that transpired in a kosher grocery store on Friday. Responding to that insecurity, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to welcome any European Jews to Israel. The Post has the details

Through a FOIA request, the Times obtained a report about the FBI’s – not the NSA’s – surveillance program. The report was only partially declassified for the Times, but the Charlie Savage and his team were able to decipher the following:

In 2008, according to the report, the F.B.I. assumed the power to review email accounts the N.S.A. wanted to collect through the “Prism” system, which collects emails of foreigners from providers like Yahoo and Google. The bureau’s top lawyer, Valerie E. Caproni, who is now a Federal District Court judge, developed procedures to make sure no such accounts belonged to Americans.

Then, in October 2009, the F.B.I. started retaining copies of unprocessed communications gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes. And in April 2012, the bureau began nominating new email accounts and phone numbers belonging to foreigners for collection, including through the N.S.A.’s “upstream” system, which collects communications transiting network switches.

The Times reports that FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department have recommended that Attorney General Eric Holder pursue felony charges against former CIA director David Petraeus. When serving as CIA director, Petraeus allegedly divulged classified information to journalist and author Paula Broadwell, with whom he was also having an affair.

The AP tells us that President Obama is to spend much of the upcoming week focusing on cybersecurity issues. The Times focuses on today’s agenda, which includes calling for federal regulations that would compel American companies to be more transparent about data breaches that involve sensitive information, like credit card data.

From Guantanamo to targeting killings, President Obama’s national security policy has been one disappointment after the other. At least that’s the argument that Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, makes in his piece for The New York Review of Books. 

The Department of Defense has dismissed the conviction of former Guantanamo detainee Noor Uthman Muhammed. It has been over a year since Muhammed was sent back to his homeland of Sudan. In 2011, Muhammed had pled guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization. The AP covered the news.

The Times reports that North Korea has attempted to strike a deal with the United States: the dictatorship would halt its nuclear tests in exchange for the United States suspending routine military exercises with South Korea.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Oriana Skylar Mastro pens this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, continuing our focus on the growth of China. Mastro emphasis is on the rise of China as a global military power, but argues that its strength will never quite compare to that of the United States.

Bryan Cunningham’s piece on Friday arguing that a law enforcement approach to counterterrorism is destined to fail, using France’s recent tragedy as an example, gave way to a flurry of reactions. Wells was the first to jump in, offering a punch-for-punch examination of Cunningham’s analysis, ultimately concluding that, in combating terrorism, recent presidents have coupled traditional law enforcement  with some military policies. Jack entered the conversation a little later, calling into question the “ law enforcement v. war distinction” in the first instance. Bryan responded on Sunday, defending the distinction, but conceding that “no solution will ever be 100 percent one or the other.”

Our most recent podcast features a conversation between Ben and Jack discussing the recent comments of FBI Director James Comey in regards to the it-was-definitely-or-maybe-probably North Korea Sony hack.

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