Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Friday, March 20, 2015, 10:44 AM

The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have stalled. The Times tells us that the parties---Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany ---haven’t made much headway when it comes to the number of operational centrifuges Iran would be able to retain.  One unnamed European diplomat is quoted as saying that the parties “aren’t close to an agreement.” The Wall Street Journal adds that there has been disagreement about when international sanctions against Iran would be lifted.

Vice has obtained a copy of a mostly un-redacted version of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate that eventually led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The newly released version of the report (previously released in 2004, but with major redactions) highlights the disparities between the intelligence community’s assessment of the Iraqi threat with what the Bush administration told the public. Vice explains:

According to the newly declassified NIE, the intelligence community concluded that Iraq "probably has renovated a [vaccine] production plant" to manufacture biological weapons "but we are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed." The NIE also said Hussein did not have "sufficient material" to manufacture any nuclear weapons. But in an October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, then-President George W. Bush simply said Iraq, "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons" and "the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program."

General David H. Petraeus, former head of the CIA, spoke to the Washington Post, about the current state of Iraq and how the rise of the Islamic State. Among other things, Petraeus posits that had the U.S. pushed for a stronger alternative to Maliki to head up a revitalized Iraq, things may have been different.

The United States has, for the first time, shot down a drone operated by the Islamic State. RT reports on the story, noting that details are very slim.

A new CNN poll reveals that Americans are becoming increasingly worried about the Islamic State: 80% of respondents said that they thought the Islamic State poses a “serious threat” to the United States, a marked increase from September 2014, when 63% of respondents said the same.

The United States allegedly threatened to withhold crucial intelligence from Germany if the country offered help to Edward Snowden when he was seeking asylum. The threat not only applied to offering Snowden asylum in Germany, but also to helping him arrange travel plans and coordinating with other countries that might have taken him in. The Verge has the details.

Amazon has made a little bit of progress in its drone delivery program. Forbes explains that Thursday the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed the company to begin testing its delivery service. But that permission comes with a string of restrictions and regulations; it may be a while before the program gets off the ground.

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has proposed legislation that would reintroduce the draft and impose “war tax” on Americans. The Hill reports that Rangel’s draft would apply to women, and during times of declared war, as well as when an AUMF is effect.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Yishai Schwartz took a deeper look at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s apparent flip-flopping on the issue of an independent Palestinian state.

Ben, meanwhile, addressed the wider implications of the recent Israeli election.

Jack highlighted a new book on the Islamic state, ISIS: The State of Terror. Buy it here!

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