Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Monday, February 11, 2013, 12:01 PM

Now that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (just the senators, remember, not the staff) has gotten its hands on the OLC memos related to the targeted killing program, many others are jockeying for access to them as well, including the Senate Judiciary Committee (reports Josh Gerstein of Politico) and the House Judiciary Committee (so says Carlo Munoz of The Hill).

Peter Baker wrote over the weekend in the New York Times on the arguments in support of the assertion by some that President Obama has adopted the Bush administration’s defense and counterterrorism strategies.

Mark Jacobson of the German Marshall Fund had this op-ed over the weekend in the Washington Post laying out five myths about the targeted killing program. Deborah Pearlstein wrote in Slate about those details that were left out of the White Paper.

On to this FISC-for-drone-strikes proposal that came out of the Brennan hearing last week: Former SecDef Robert Gates went on the record in support of the creation of such a third-party on CNN over the weekend, while Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin thinks Congress has more important things to do in the national security area. Meanwhile, House Intel Committee Chair Mike Rogers said there’s already plenty of oversight over the program as it is.

David Carr of the New York Times discusses whether the media has done its job covering the targeted killing program. We haven’t been lacking for coverage here at Lawfare Blog, that’s for sure.

John Yoo and Robert Delahunty have this piece in Foreign Policy, posing a hypothetical involving a strike on members of Al Qaeda who include U.S. citizens and using the Obama administration’s argument in the White Paper to argue that the targeted killing program is a “half-hearted approach to terrorism.” They write:

But under President Barack Obama's half-hearted approach to terrorism, revealed in Tuesday's leaked Justice Department memo, military units on the ground or drones in the air would have to pause and seek guidance from multiple bureaucrats. Instead of having the traditional authority to kill the enemy and destroy their resources, American soldiers and agents have entered a legal netherworld of Obama's creation. The speed and decisiveness of U.S. counterterrorism operations will suffer, even as the administration withdraws from Iraq and now Afghanistan, and gives up the intelligence networks there.

The GOP isn’t giving up on its opposition to Chuck Hagel’s SecDef nomination just yet. Tim Mak of Politico tells us that Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are threatening to walk out of a committee vote (despite the Atlantic Council’s disclosure of foreign donors that the GOP demanded), putting pressure on Chairman Carl Levin, who could call a vote as early as Tuesday. Senator John McCain is leaning towards voting “no” on the nomination, according to The Hill. And Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has already made it official that he will be placing a hold on both Hagel and John Brennan’s nominations until he gets “an accounting” of the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, which John Bellinger III noted this morning. Here’s Ben Wolfgang of the Washington Times on that as well.

NPR’s Tom Gjelten discussed the implications of the DoD cyber staff increase on Morning Edition---a must-listen. And The Hill reports on the latest reactions from the internet freedom advocates on the reintroduction of CISPA, the cybersecurity bill that was passed in the House in the last Congress but mostly ignored by the Senate (hint: they’re not happy).

Over the weekend, Ellen Nakashima dug into the latest National Intelligence Estimate, which includes a detailed discussion of the cyber attacks hitting multiple industries and names China as the primary aggressor.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties released the results of its electronic device search and seizure policy at the border; the executive summary concluded that “imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.” Here’s Wired’s Threat Level post on the memo, and the memo itself.

Josh Gerstein reported late on Friday on the details coming out of the Department of Justice related to a sting operation to arrest a man who was plotting to blow up a Bank of America branch in Oakland, CA. The suspect is purportedly pro-Taliban, and in favor of a civil war here in the U.S. of A.

General John Allen’s term as the commander of ISAF and U.S. military forces in Afghanistan concluded over the weekend, as he formally handed off command to General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. Here’s Alissa Rubin of the Times on the transition, and Reuters as well.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a suicide bombing over the weekend in Bamako, Mali. The New York Times says that French/Malian troops have regained control over the city of Gao, and The Economist thinks that French military forces will have to stay there longer than their political leaders and citizens may want them to.

Terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar and his fellow insurgents, believed to be responsible for the Algerian gas plant siege are still at-large, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The FAA has released a list of those 81 entities who have thus far applied for drone permits as a result of a FOIA request, reports the Huffington Post.

Details are emerging about the President’s talking points in his State of the Union address, including a shout-out to reducing nuclear arsenals around the world. For the United States’ part, one third of its nuclear force would be eliminated. Here’s David Sanger’s story in the Times.

A story many may be talking about this week is in Esquire magazine, about the recently-retired Navy SEAL who shot and killed UBL (called “the Shooter” in the story). He decided to retire, but unfortunately since he didn't hit 20 years with the military, he and his family lost their health care, pension, and any sort of protection.

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