Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Monday, December 17, 2012, 3:46 PM

No, no no---I didn't quit my job. I was knee-deep in other stuff. So a big round of applause goes to Ritika for taking over the roundup while I've been otherwise engaged. Her reward is a month free from roundup duties, which means that means you're all stuck with just me for a while.

The New York Times editorial today focuses on plans for American withdrawal from Afghanistan; the Times is disappointed that the Obama administration has decided to wait before finalizing its timeline.

To the surprise of no one, it's expected that long-time Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will be named as President Obama's nominee for Secretary of State. Here's David Sanger in the New York Times, and Anne Gearan and Karen DeYoung write in the Washington Post about the news, as well as rumors that former Senator Chuck Hagel is going to be tapped for SecDef.

Hill staffers say that the new NDAA should be on the President's desk this week. I'm not sure I'd say it's worth applauding the Senate's success in passing a defense bill---which Congress has done every year for the last 51 years---but given Congress’s track record on finding common ground on appropriation bills and other critical legislation in recent history, perhaps we should give senators a pat on the back.

Meanwhile, Tony Romm at Politico writes on the unknown future of the FISA Amendments Act, and some senators' efforts to slow the bill's passage down (see earlier comment about legislative productivity).

Ten Afghan girls were killed in eastern Afghanistan today when a roadside bomb exploded, and a car bomb exploded in Kabul, killing at least two people.  Here's Graham Bowley and Habib Zahori of the New York Times on the tragedies there, and Jeremy Herb in The Hill as well.

A car bomb in Pakistan killed 17 people in that country's tribal region, writes Declan Walsh and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud in the New York Times.

And attacks in the "Disputed Territories" in Iraq ended up killing at least 26 people there, reports Reuters.

Paul already noted this New York Times story on the WCIT conference in Dubai, but here it is again.

Up in the sky, it seems that the North Korean satellite launched last week is most likely dead and out of control, at least according to astronomers who have been tracking it. Here's William J. Broad of the Times on that sad news.

Don't worry---I wasn't going to ignore the release of Zero Dark Thirty. Rumors circulating around the coffee maker here at Brookings say that a contingent of Lawfare-ers will be heading to watch it together this week and writing reviews. In the meantime, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker writes about the torture scenes in the movie, about which she says:

...I think that this time, by ignoring the full weight of the dark history of torture, [director Kathryn Bigelow’s] work falls disturbingly short. To begin with, . . . “Zero Dark Thirty” does not capture the complexity of the debate about America’s brutal detention program. It doesn’t include a single scene in which torture is questioned, even though the Bush years were racked by internal strife over just that issue---again, not just among human-rights and civil-liberties lawyers, but inside the F.B.I., the military, the Justice Department, and the C.I.A. itself, which eventually abandoned waterboarding because it feared, correctly, that the act constituted a war crime. None of this ethical drama seems to interest Bigelow.

Speaking of torture, a poll conducted by the Huffington Post and YouGov found that only 25% of Americans said that torture of suspected terrorists who may know details about future terrorist attacks against the U.S. is never justified. Here's the story, and here is the poll.

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