Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Friday, January 18, 2013, 11:05 AM

The raid earlier this week on the Algerian natural gas facility is being tied to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian terrorist. His nicknames include “the Prince,” “the one-eyed,” and perhaps most frustratingly, “the Uncatchable.” Steven Erlanger and Adam Nossiter report in the New York Times. Efforts to resolve the situation and free the remaining hostages are ongoing. Here's another Times story.

So from nonstop commentary and criticism of President Obama's cabinet members to practically zilch since Chuck Hagel and Chuck Schumer mended fences earlier this week. That was easy, right? The fate of Hagel's nomination remains to be seen, but according to Anne Gearan at the Washington Post, John Kerry's nomination will "cruise" through the Senate.

In this week's print edition, The Economist argues that President Obama has to overcome his reluctance to engage with the international community and step it up.

Last week, CFIUS (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) sent along its annual report (the unclassified version, of course) to Congress. Overall, there was a 19 percent increase in the number of voluntary notices for review by the impenetrable committee. Here's analyses by Jeffrey Benzing at Main Justice, Mario Mancuso, Adam Brenner, and Melissa D'Arcy of Fried Frank at Lexology, and one from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Professor Ramzi Kassem of CUNY Law (also defense counsel for Guantanamo detainees) adds his voice to the “Zero Dark Thirty” mix. He concludes in his Miami Herald op-ed:

However, far from highlighting the sad truth that there has been no real accountability for these past and ongoing crimes, Zero Dark Thirty lionizes those who ordered and implemented torture and other offenses. It also validates the obscene debate over whether torture “works.” In this respect, the filmmakers are complicit in reinforcing the impunity shielding the culprits.

Some would call that propaganda, and many of the film’s admirers as well as its critics have fallen for it.

Ernesto Londono of the Post takes a very close look at the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction's latest quarterly report, entitled "Afghan Police vehicle maintenance contract: Actions needed to prevent millions of dollars from being wasted," which just was released yesterday. There appear to be some sketchy contracts and fuzzy numbers. Read it for yourself here, and catch up on other positive past quarterly reports here.

The United States decided to formally recognize Somalia's government on Thursday, the first time in two decades that the U.S. has recognized a Somali government. Here's Karen DeYoung in the Post.

Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years for providing support to the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba after being convicted in 2011 by a jury. Here's the AP story. Meanwhile, down in the Southern District of Florida, Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. has dismissed terrorism support and conspiracy charges against Izhar Khan, an imam in the Sunshine state, but not against his father, for allegedly arranging the receipt of $50,000 by the Pakistani Taliban between 2008 and 2010. Another AP story.

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