Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 12:52 PM

Yesterday was a slow news day. Today is definitely not.

A drone strike in North Waziristan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 suspected militants, reports Reuters and the AP. Conor Friedersdorf has a lot to say about drones, secrecy, and choosing our next president.

Unlike Friedersdorf, the public doesn't seem to have a problem with Obama's drone policy. The results of the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll indicate that Americans broadly support his national security policies despite--or maybe because of--his not fulfilling some of his campaign pledges. The Post article by Scott Wilson and Jon Cohen is here, the ABC News story by Greg Holyk is here, and the almost-full (some questions are being withheld for "future release") poll results are here. Some snippets:

  • 70 percent of Americans approve of Obama's decision to keep Guantanamo open, including 53 percent of liberal Democrats and 67 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats;
  • 83 percent of Americans approve of Obama's drone policy, including 77 percent of liberal Democrats.

Dina Temple-Raston talks about the British case of radical cleric Abu Qatada on NPR's Morning Edition, and the similarity between his situation and that of the Guantanamo detainees. Abu Qatada has been detained for six years because of the threat to national security he posed if released. An immigration judge ruled on Monday that he should be released on bail. Alan Travis of the Guardian reports on the backlash from that decision.

Speaking of Guantanamo, former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor Morris Davis gripes at Salon over the lack of transparency in the military commission system at Guantanamo Bay. He sounds rather different from the current chief prosecutor, whose remarks he dissects at length. He says:

I honestly believed we were committed to full, fair and open trials when I became chief prosecutor in 2005, but I lost confidence in that commitment over time as political appointees tried to manipulate the process and make it more like a theatrical production than a judicial proceeding.  After more than a decade of futility and failure, the question is no longer whether the U.S. could proceed with “reformed again and again and again military commissions,” but whether it should.


Rather than developing these few cases to conform to the rules of regular federal court, the U.S. has tried to develop an irregular military court to accommodate the cases.  The end result – at least until the next reform attempt – is a process where an accused can spend a decade or more waiting for his day in court; nearly all of the information is classified and the accused only gets to see what the prosecution decides is appropriate; the government demands that it gets to see the information shared between the accused and his attorney; and even if the accused wins, he is likely to still spend the rest of his life in prison.

This is the kind of “heads we win, tails you lose” process the U.S. condemns when it is used in other countries.  If President Obama thinks this is going to restore America’s reputation as a nation committed to the rule of law he is mistaken.  Pinning the word “reformed” to the title does not make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear of justice.

From the Department of Not-So-Happy Anniversary, Sweetie: We've had the 10th anniversary of 9/11, then the 10th anniversary of the AUMF, and recently, the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo. Now we've hit yet another milestone: Andrew Rosenthal at the Times' Loyal Opposition blog is reminded by Andrew Cohen over at The Atlantic that it is the 10th anniversary of John Yoo's memo entitled "Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees."

Eman El-Shanawi at Al Arabiya tells us that Algerian Abdul Aziz Naji, who was detained at Guantanamo for eight years and returned to Algeria has been arrested and sentenced to three years for "past membership in an extremist group overseas." His attorneys are not pleased with the "baseless accusations" getting thrown around.

There's been a bit of coverage of the FAA bill that recently passed both houses of Congress: Rebecca Boyle at Australian Popular Science, Kashmir Hill at Forbes and Keith Wagstaff at TIME write about the drone provisions.

Guatham Nagesh over at The Hill's Hillicon Valley blog notes the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's reporting H.R. 3834, which would overhaul policies that guide federal funding for R&D in network and information technology.

James Hedler from Rensselaer wrote this op-ed in the Politico regarding proposed rules for universities and companies undertaking research for the DOD. The rules would require DOD research that is currently considered unclassified to be treated as "secret." Hedler argues that implementing that rule would reduce the impetus for private actors to undertake DOD research, stifling the flow of research and hurting partnerships between companies and universities currently pursuing joint projects.

Greg Miller at the Post reports on the ramping up of CIA presence in Iraq after the U.S. drawdown in December, and the Agency's plan to do the same in Afghanistan as the military reduces its presence.

Remember all those hearings by Rep. Pete King on the so-called radical Muslim threat within U.S. borders? According to a study due to be released by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security,  there's not much evidence to back it up. Scott Shane at the Times covers the results.

Bradley Manning Watch: Three Icelandic MPs, who are also members of the Movement of the Icelandic Parliament, have nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Ron Capps at Time has got the scoop from the group's blog.

Reuters' Joseph Menn and Frank Jack Daniel reported that a hacker has released the source code for one of Symantec's anti-virus software programs after failing to extract a $50,000 bribe from the company.

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