Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 12:46 PM

In spite of the weather, the Senate had enough senators present on Monday evening to confirm Janet Yellen as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Colleen LaRose, a.k.a. "Jihad Jane," was sentenced to ten years in prison for providing material support to terrorism. The disparity in the potential maximum sentence (life) and her ultimate sentence seemed to derive from her "extensive" cooperation with law enforcement. Read Ashby Jones's Wall Street Journal piece.

Glenn Greenwald eases fears that the news media may have run out of Edward Snowden-fed leaks related to Israel---that story is over at Reuters.

On the topic of Snowden, Kelsey Atherton of Popular Science flags a 1996 article in Cryptologic Quarterly (yes, that's really a journal) highlighting the threat posed by rogue system administrators. And Secrecy News pulls from the archives a 1994 CIA memorandum addressed to the DCI proposing in-house GAO oversight of NSA activities.

Bruce Schneier, meanwhile, makes a case at the Atlantic for the position that NSA poses a threat to, rather than helps to protect, national security.

The back-and-forth interpreting DNI Clapper's misleading statement last March before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence goes on: Steven Aftergood has a slightly different take on that situation over at Secrecy News:

If DNI Clapper “lied,” it was to them, not to the Senate Intelligence Committee, that he did so. But the Committee permitted that deception to occur, and to persist, and so it must take its share of responsibility for that.  Yet unlike the DNI (who apologized, several months after the fact, saying he misunderstood the question), the Committee has not acknowledged any failure on its part.

When Senator Wyden posed his question in open session, he was evidently attempting to corner the DNI and to compel him to involuntarily reveal classified information about the NSA bulk collection program. At the time, it seemed to be a clever rhetorical maneuver. Even if the DNI refused to respond or requested to answer the question in closed session, that would have indicated that something pertinent was being concealed.

However, by answering falsely, the DNI turned the tables on Senator Wyden and the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Whether by design or not (almost certainly not), the DNI’s response challenged the Committee to make its own choice either to disclose classified information about the NSA program — in order to rebut and correct the DNI’s answer — or else to acquiesce in the dissemination of false information to the public.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates. On Monday, Vioe President Joe Biden spoke with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and voiced his support for the country; the two Iraqi leaders, one Shiite, the other Sunni, have traded punches in the past. And the White House defended its decision not to reengage in Iraq after rebels took control of Fallujah, responding to criticisms by Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham of U.S. inaction.

Meanwhile, the White House continues to emphasize the urgency of reaching an agreement with the Afghan government on a post-2014 U.S. military presence in that country. Here's Kristina Wong at The Hill.

Today's New York Times features an op-ed by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, co-authors of the 2003 book The Age of Sacred Terror. They say the Egyptian government's decision to brand the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization will exacerbate, not improve, the tensions there.

Paul flagged former CIA-er John Rizzo's book Company Man yesterday. Today, Rizzo appeared on NPR's Morning Edition to talk shop about the book, and Walter Pincus takes a look at the book in his column today.

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