Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 1:11 PM

Unless you've been hiding under a rock or are in an undisclosed location, you've likely heard about former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's soon-to-be-published memoir, Duty. Don't miss Dr. Gates's lengthy piece, excerpted from the book, in the Wall Street Journal. The highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perch) are making headlines, and the New York Times and Washington Post both received advanced copies: here are Greg Jaffe's review in the Washington Post, Thom Shanker's Times piece, and Bob Woodward's take. The White House responded to the book's criticisms of several top administration officials, too; those are catching headlines.

Good news from Syria: the first batch of chemical weapons has left the country, according to the U.N.  The New York Times's Rick Gladstone reports.

The U.N., meanwhile, has suspended its counting of the death toll, which has reached 100,000, in Syria. Here's the AP on that.

To Iraq: NPR's Larry Kaplow explains how Iraq has been subsumed by Al Qaeda; a pair at the Times explore what appears to be an increase in support for Al Qaeda over the central government. Gordon Lubow writes in Foreign Policy about the the U.S. decision not to provide air support to the Iraqis.

And the Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno, made the case for the U.S. to "wait and see" whether it is in the U.S.'s interest to respond to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (from 2010 to 2012) James Jeffrey says we've already reached that point.

A Taliban "shadow" deputy governor in Afghanistan was added to the U.S. list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists on Tuesday. Bill Roggio explains the reasoning at the Long War Journal.

Media are reporting that U.S. officials believe that a former Guantanamo detainee, Abu Sufian bin Qumu, was involved with the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack. Here's Adam Goldman in the Post.

A U.S. military helicopter crashed on the eastern coast of England on Tuesday; all four aboard were killed. Here's a brief note about the crash at the Times.

Looking for hard data on the impact of the Snowden leaks on U.S. industry? National Journal's Erik Brattberg offers some.  Brazilian officials cited the scandal as one factor playing into its decision to award its fighter jet contract to Saab rather than Boeing.

That same country, meanwhile, is debating whether to give asylum to Edward Snowden---listen to today's NPR Morning Edition for more.

NSA, writes Ellen Nakashima of the Post, is looking into alternatives to its current telephone metadata storage system---that is, keeping the data itself.  But the question of who will act first to change the status quo---Congress, the Executive, or the Courts---is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration and key lawmakers will gather on Thursday at the White House to discuss surveillance, reports National Journal. And in the Golden state, lawmakers have proposed a bill that would prohibit state agencies and universities from supporting NSA surveillance. Here's The Hill's Julian Hattem.

If you're worried about the safety of those attending and competing in the Olympics, then some of your fears may be dispelled by the news that Russia has imposed a "combat alert" on the city of Sochi.  It also has instituted a wave of new restrictions, and called for more security personnel than the 2012 Olympics did. Paul Sonne explains in the Journal.

Wired discusses Northrup Grumman's new drone, Titan.  It has the wingspan of a Boeing 757,  is undergoing testing and will provide the Navy with "some serious surveillance power."

And also apropos of the Navy: I'm sure it wishes it could take back this strategy memo on FOIA-request-dodging.  The Navy accidentally sent the latter to a reporter, whose FOIA request it is, apparently, trying to dodge.

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