Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh, Yishai Schwartz
Thursday, January 16, 2014, 4:54 PM

We're going to skip all of the preview stories about the President's NSA speech tomorrow. You'll find out what he's going to say when he says it.

We begin with military news. The Air Force leadership has announced that 34 nuclear missile launch officers cheated on monthly launch proficiency tests and have had their clearances revoked. The discoveries were made as part of an investigation into illegal drug possession by the officers. We are, supposedly, still safe, and we haven't noticed any unexplained nuclear detonations that suggest otherwise. This is a "failure of integrity" of individual airmen, "not a failure of the nuclear mission," says Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff. The New York Times has the story, as does Foreign Policy

Speaking of military investigations, the U.S. military also announced that it has begun an investigation following the appearance of photos showing marines burning the corpses of Iraqi militants. The photos date back to 2004.

Proof of Life: CNN reports that the military has obtained a video of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured in June 2009 and believed to be held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Pakistan. The video contained a reference to December 14, 2013.

The Times says that the Department of Justice is expanding its rules against racial profiling to include prohibition on considering religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation in its investigations. It is unclear whether the new regulations will apply to national security investigations.

In the Times, Peter Baker analyzes the President’s evolution from civil liberties advocate to surveillance and defense hawk.

Senator John McCain objects to language in the budget bill that would block President Obama’s attempt to shift control of the U.S. drone program from CIA to DOD.

Randy Brossart, a North Dakotan cattle rancher, has been sentenced to three years in prison in the first reported case in which domestic law enforcement used a drone in the course of carrying out the arrest. US News has the details.

Speaking of drones, the Washington Post tells us that Customs and Border Protection has loaned its surveillance drones to other agencies on 700 occasions from 2010 to 2012, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The L.A. Times reports that a Colorado town has scheduled a vote on a measure authorizing the sale of “drone hunting” licenses.

As Wells noted earlier this week, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has penned a manifesto. Al Jazeera has this interview with his lawyer discussing it, among other things.

In news from abroad, coordinated car bombings and shootings killed at least 64 in Baghdad as a 12-month wave in violence continues to surge.

Although it's a little late to ask for holiday gifts, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sent President Obama a weapons wish-list to win back control of Iraq's Anbar province.

The Brookings Institution's Michael Doran and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot criticize President Obama’s “turn to Iran” in an op-ed in the Times and urge greater support for the non-Al Qaeda Sunni Syrian opposition.

CNN briefs us on the many challenges ahead of the Syria talks in Geneva next week.

The trial of four suspects in the murder of former Lebanese President Rafik Hariri opens today at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at the Hague. As the suspects are still on the run, they are being tried in absentia. CNN has more.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced an official inquiry after at least two Afghan villagers were killed by a coalition airstrike after a gunfight between Special Operations forces and Taliban insurgents on Wednesday morning.

And, President Obama is contemplating "immediate and decisive military action" in America's favorite target rich environment---it's our next big war and Today's Moment of Zen.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.