Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 11:29 AM

Another year has passed, so lets start with a selection of 9/11-anniversary coverage:

Delays in completing the National September 11 Memorial & Museum have flowed from what the AP is calling a "funding squabble"---which has now been resolved. A new MOU between the foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was announced yesterday.

Here's an AP story on efforts by Americans to move on following 9/11. And Jane Harman and Bob Kagan were on Talk of the Nation on NPR yesterday discussing how 9/11 changed Americans' view of the world.

Morris Davis has this piece in the Guardian urging Americans to think long and hard about whether we are better off than we were 11 years ago, and reminding us about what life was like on September 10, 2001.

Matthew Waxman was interviewed over at CFR’s web site on civil liberties after 9/11, the presidential election, and the AUMF.

Dana Milbank complains that Washington is business as usual today, despite the anniversary.

Kurt Eichenwald in the New York Times reports on the lengths that the intelligence community went to to warn the Bush administration about UBL before 9/11.

John Yoo has this op-ed in the Washington Times arguing that things would have been far worse on 9/11 and its aftermath if President Obama had been in office.

And the presidential candidates are both marking the day with low-key memorial-type events. The Hill tells us what's on the agenda for President Obama (a moment of silence at the White House and a ceremony at the Pentagon memorial) and GOP nominee Mitt Romney (a speech at the National Guard Association convention) as they mark the day.

A former Guantanamo detainee and AQAP’s #2, Said Ali al-Shihri, was reportedly killed in an airstrike on Monday in Yemen. Craig Whitlock details the news from the Yemeni government. This story in the Washington Post discusses the efforts by tribal leaders in southern Yemen to combat AQAP where it remains quite strong.

The Jerusalem Post notes that Al Qaeda has confirmed the death of another senior leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, that was reported by the U.S. government back in June.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for an attack on a NATO helicopter inside Bagram that killed three Afghan service members. Here's the New York Times on that.

The New York Times' editorial today, on the heels of an Iraqi court's death sentence to Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi for killing two Iraqis, is on the continued violence and tension in Iraq. It suggests that Prime Minister Maliki could ease tensions by "trying to make political peace with the Sunnis" in his country.

Shortly after the sentencing of al-Hashimi, President Obama announced his decision to nominate Robert Stephen Beecrof, the current deputy chief of mission, as the next Ambassador to Iraq. The previous nominee decided to withdraw his name upon the posting of "racy" emails he exchanged with a reporter whom he later married. Peter Baker of the Times reports.

A House subcommittee that oversees the TSA released a report yesterday on that agency's efforts to fulfill its mission. There is also a hearing on that same topic today. Jessica Meyers of Politico reports on the details of that report, about which Congressman Mike Rogers remarked: "Since TSA’s creation after the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the agency has gone down a troubling path of overspending, limiting private-sector engagement and failing to sufficiently protect passenger privacy."

Marc Thiessen wrote yesterday that President Obama has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefs since entering office. Thiessen is not calmed by the NSC spokesman's response that there's no substantive difference between reading the President's Daily Brief or talking it through with briefers. The spokesman said in an email to Thiessen: “I actually don’t agree at all. The president gets the information he needs from the intelligence community each day.”

David Kravetz of Wired provides all the details of a speech given by Bush's former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden last week at the University of Michigan. The key tidbit from the speech? "Despite the frequent drama at the political level, America and Americans have found a comfortable center line in what it is they want their government to do and what it is they accept their government doing. It is that practical consensus that has fostered such powerful continuity between two vastly different presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, when it comes, when it comes to this conflict." Here's the video:

Byron Tau of Politico reports on comments by SecDef Panetta in an interview on CBS. Said Panetta: "How the hell can we run sensitive operations here that go after enemies if people are allowed to do that?" The AP also has a story on Panetta's remarks, as does The Hill.

And a report (complete with a podcast interviewing the GAO's Director of Natural Resources & Environment on the report's findings) from the GAO details the threat posed by the failure of hospitals to secure radiological materials. Scary stuff, says Anne Gearan of the Washington Post. In brief:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) requirements do not consistently ensure the security of high-risk radiological sources at the 26 selected hospitals and medical facilities GAO visited. One reason for this is that the requirements are broadly written and do not prescribe specific measures that hospitals and medical facilities must take to secure medical equipment containing sealed sources, such as the use of cameras or alarms. Rather, the requirements provide a general framework for what constitutes adequate security practices, which is implemented in various ways at different hospitals. Some of the medical equipment in the facilities visited was more vulnerable to potential tampering or theft than that of other facilities because some hospitals developed better security controls than others.

Today's query in Politico's The Arena is whether Mitt Romney is "cornered" on national security. Meanwhile, Andrew Rosenthal of the Times reports on some interesting polling coming out of Ohio, where apparently 6% of Ohioans and 15% of Ohio Republicans think that Romney "deserves more credit" for the killing of UBL than President Obama.

Following up on yesterday's news of the partial transfer of Bagram Prison to Afghan authority, Rod Nordland provides a run-down of yesterdays festivities and the tensions left over.

Islamists in northern Mali are keeping up their efforts to enforce sharia law there, killing 16 Mauritanian-Muslim preachers over the weekend and amputating the hands and feet of four men who were suspected of robbery yesterday. Adam Nossiter of the New York Times details the events unfolding there.

Jennifer Martinez and Brendan Sasso report on the Hill's reaction to the Obama administration's plan to issue an executive order to move forward on cybersecurity policy without Congress.

After the decision to designate the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization, Christine Fair argues in Foreign Policy that the U.S. should sever its ties with Pakistan as well. Writes Fair:

There can be no doubt that Pakistan's unrelenting support for the Afghan Taliban and allied militant organizations, of which the Haqqani network is just one of many, has made any kind of victory -- however defined -- elusive if not unobtainable for the United States and its allies. The crux of the matter: The United States and Pakistan have fundamentally divergent strategic interests in Afghanistan. America's allies, such as India, are Pakistan's enemies, while Pakistan's allies, such as the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, are America's enemies. Unfortunately, Pakistan's ongoing support for these groups has become an altogether easy hook on which the Americans and their allies have hung their failures in Afghanistan.

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