Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Friday, December 20, 2013, 1:38 PM

More from Pandora’s Snowden’s Box: newly leaked documents by the Guardian and Der Spiegel give a much wider picture of the scope of the American and British surveillance practices. The documents contain lists of surveillance “targets” – from individuals to organizations. The NSA and GCHQ were allegedly targeting large international organizations, including certain bodies of the United Nations, like UNICEF and UNDP. The documents reveal that in 2009, the email traffic of the Israeli prime minister (then Ehud Olmert)  was monitored, as well as the inboxes of several other Israeli, German and other European politicians.

The New York Times considers the implications of potential next steps that President Obama could take in regards to surveillance and intelligence overhaul.  The Times’ Peter Baker argues that the response to the surveillance report that was left on his desk Wednesday afternoon could define Obama's legacy. An opinion piece in the Washington Post urges the president to take all the recommendations in the report seriously. The Hill takes a look at the most sweeping and “major” recommendations provided by the report.

Meanwhile, the Post reports that the legal and policy defense of NSA’s intelligence gathering programs, put forth by some officials, is slipping.

President Obama made a statement to the AP about sexual assault in the military. The new military budget does make strides in fighting the current sexual assault crisis; President Obama has given the military one year to make additional---and sweeping---progress on this troubling issue.  He said: “"If I do not see the kind of progress I expect [by December 1, 2014], then we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks and protect our brave service members who stand guard for us every day at home and around the world”. The Hill has more on the story.

Apropos of military bills, the National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate.

After months of back-and-forth between the U.S. and Afghanistan on a potential security deal between the two countries, U.S. officials have told the LA Times that President Obama may be willing to extend the deadline on the deal.

President Obama has sent American troops into South Sudan. The country stands on the brink of civil war. The U.S. has sent troops to protect the U.S. embassy and Americans that are currently in the country.

NPR has coverage of the arrival of  Samantha Power---the American ambassador to the UN---to an increasingly violent Central African Republic.

France is set to use unarmed drones to gather intelligence on the growing insurgence of al Qaeda in Mali. The drones have been bought from the United States.

Al Jazeera has a funny, but also scary, piece on a man who “builds weapons to challenge the TSA”.

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