Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 12:07 PM

As Bobby noted last night, the NDAA conference report has been filed, and yes, the Feinstein amendment was dropped. Here's Politico's Josh Gerstein and Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz of The Hill. If you'd like to read the 1600 page conference report for yourself (as I am sure every member of Congress did last night), knock your socks off. Looks like those interested in detention provisions should start at section 1021 (page 699 of the pdf). The Washington Times tells us that the House will vote on the bill on Thursday, and interprets the bill as a 'dare' to President Obama to veto it because of those provisions.

While bipartisan cooperation might seem like it should be the top story of the day, it's not. Last night, the State Department's Accountability Review Board for Benghazi released its report, along with a letter to Congress from Secretary of State Clinton. Lots of coverage of the report, including from the Washington Post, Politico, and NPR.

Prominent members of the GOP are skeptical of the idea of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s being the next SecDef. Manu Raju of Politico writes on the criticisms and Jennifer Rubin of the Post wonders why Michele Flournoy isn't the frontrunner while Dana Milbank rounds up conservative media criticisms of a Hagel nomination.

The Pentagon's Inspector General is look into allegations that Michael Vickers, the undersecretary defense for intelligence, provided classified information to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty. Here's the AP on that story, and Carlo Munoz of The Hill covers the comments by Congressman Pete King after the DOD announced the investigation by the IG.

Daniel Klaidman writes a lengthy piece in Newsweek that is part reaction to Zero Dark Thirty and part response to the question of whether President Obama will end the war on terror.

It is being reported that Iraq's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani is in a coma after suffering a stroke yesterday. This New York Times article reminds readers of Talabani's influence on negotiations between the three main ethnic groups in Iraq despite the largely ceremonial nature of his official duties as president.

More sad news about the polio vaccine work that had just barely begun in Pakistan: the U.N. has suspended all of its field activities on the project after two more public health workers were killed near Peshawar. Declan Walsh of the Times writes. Shyema Sajjad expresses her frustration with the U.N.'s decision at

Check out John Bellinger III's op-ed in the New York Times on treaty ratification (failure) in recent years, which he linked to earlier.

U.S. officials are reporting that Syria has prepared several dozen chemical bombs. Here's NPR and David Ignatius in the Post.

Another day, another Senate floor debate quashed by the minority. Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to bring up the FISA Amendments Act with a limited number of amendments, but Senator Saxby Chambliss objected. Here's The Hill's take on that encounter yesterday.

According to NATO, there have been zero ship seizures by Somali pirates in six months (not that NATO’s bragging or anything).

Ernesto Londono of the Washington Post writes on the report that came out last week on "insider attacks".

Jessica Myers of Politico goes into the weeds on the Coast Guard authorization bill, which would, in her words:

...ensure that organizations that inspect ships for the United States don’t also do so for terrorist-backed countries. Intended to pressure Iran, these few lines underscore the more complex issues of ship security, the Coast Guard’s responsibilities and the somewhat shadowy world of third-party agencies known as classification societies.

These organizations evaluate vessels and approve their safety plans, a requirement under international maritime treaties. Their certifications serve as the green light into major ports and are necessary for conducting international trade.

Congressman Ed Markey has introduced a drone privacy bill that would alter requirements for licensing by the FAA, require law enforcement to detail how agencies would limit data collection to that relevant to criminal investigations, and create a public website listing the approved licenses and other information related to drone use. Here's Jennifer Martinez in The Hill on the new bill.

Here's an interesting story in the Post about the influence of Frederick and Kimberly Kagan on David Petraeus when he led U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

NCIS continues to investigate the death of Adnan Latif at Guantanamo, which has been ruled a suicide. Investigators have also found that "acute pneumonia was a contributing factor in his death." Here's Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald.

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