Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 11:43 AM

Developing Boston news: three additional suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the case, according to this tweet released by the Boston Police.   The reporting is scant thus far; we hope to have more later. UPDATE #1[12:47 p.m.]: here's some more coverage from the Boston Globe: 

Two Kazakh men and a third man have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, a law enforcement official familar with the case said this morning.

The two men, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, came to America from the Central Asian nation to study at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was also enrolled. The law enforcement official did not release the name of the third person arrested.

UPDATE #2 [1:38 p.m.]: here's a further update from the Washington Post: 

The three were identified as friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who has been charged with carrying out the bombings along with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The younger brother was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the same school attended by the students at various points in recent months, according to authorities.

Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing inquiry, said the three disposed of material, which ended up at a Boston area landfill, at the request of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev following the bombings. One official said the unspecified material may have been thrown into a dumpster on or near the campus and that the dumpster subsequently was emptied at the landfill.

UPDATE #3 [3:40 p.m.]: two criminal complaints against the trio were unsealed today.  The charges against two of the arrestees, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, are conspiracy to obstruct justice (18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1519) and false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001); the third,  Robel Phillipos, faces only a false statements count.  (h/t: Huffington Post)

The New York Times's Scott Shane and Ellen Barry analyze President Obama's praise, during a press conference yesterday, for law enforcement agencies' acts in the aftermath of the Boston bombing.

The Washington Post released a poll which queried Americans on the prosecution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Here are the key numbers:

  • 74% support the decision to try Tsarnaev in federal court, as opposed to the 19% who opposed it. (Among registered voters the proportion increases to 76% supporting.)
  • 70% support seeking the death penalty, while 27% oppose it.

Jon Cohen followed up with this Post story on the survey results. NPR's Mark Memmott says that attorneys for Dzhokhar and the government may be discussing a possible plea bargain, one that might take the death penalty off the table.

Politico's Josh Gerstein brings to our attention the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin, particularly a two-part series entitled "Search Warrant Execution: When Does Detention Rise to Custody?" The two items happen to have been published on April 9 and April 12, respectively---that is, the week prior to the Boston bombing.

Pam Benson has this piece over at's Security Clearance blog discussing the intelligence community's decision to hold an independent review of the government's investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the bombing. And Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is also calling for an investigation, although his preference is that it be a joint-congressional committee.  Justin Sink of The Hill has Graham's remarks.

NPR's Morning Edition covers the investigation into Tamerlan's trip to Russia.

The President's press conference yesterday, and his remarks about the GTMO hunger strike, got a lot of attention in the news. The Washington Post praised President Obama's renewed pledge to close the detention center and the Times editorial board criticized his failure to transfer more detainees out of the facility. David Frakt writes over at Jurist that the president should release detainees who have been cleared for release. And here's  Charlie Savage's Times story on Obama's comments.

Other national security law-related issues were mentioned in the president's press conference yesterday---President Obama said he was "not familiar" with the allegations that some State Department employees have been prevented from testifying about the attack in Benghazi. Julian Pequet writes about the latest goings-on in that regard over at The Hill.

During the President's press conference yesterday, he also announced that he is preparing to send additional weapons to Syria and seek a larger role for the U.S. in international efforts to force Bashar Al-Assad out of power. Karen DeYoung has this report in the Post, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey expressed caution about a U.S. role in Syria---Jeremy Herb writes in The Hill.

Courthouse News brings to our attention the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proposed rule to  improve the cybersecurity of our electric grid. Here's FERC's press release, and the text of the proposed rule.

NextGov reports on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's rewrite of its "Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations." The publication of these guidelines was mandated by the Federal Information Security Management Act and hasn't been updated since 2005, when it was first written. Here's the 457-page update---happy reading.

The White House has formally responded to a citizens' petition opposing CISPA, the cybersecurity bill that passed the House last week. The Hill's Jennifer Martinez points out that the White House will continue advocating for comprehensive legislation.

The Wired's Noah Schatchman has this lengthy profile of the new Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the CIA: Dawn Meyerriecks.

A new battle in the war against national security leaks: the Department of Justice protests the publication of a U.S. defense intelligence officer's memoir about service in Afghanistan.  The DOJ claims that the book, Operation Dark Heart, reveals classified information. Anthony Shaffer, the book's author, counters that the government has been too aggressive in its categorization of passages in the book. Here's the Blog of Legal Times's story on the lawsuit.

The Wall Street Journal's Outlook editorial today questions arguments by some that Al Qaeda is on the verge of defeat.

The U.S. military has deployed around 20 soldiers to Mali, although apparently not to fight.   Officials say the troops will provide  "liaison support" and work with their State Department counterparts at the American embassy. Here are The Hill's Carlo Munoz, and The Post's Craig Whitlock.

The Pakistani judiciary's punishment of former President Pervez Musharraf continues: he has now been banned for running for public office for life. Here's the AP story.

And after some hiccups, the Guatemala trial of former dictator and alleged genocidaire Efrain Rios Montt  has restarted.  But the country's highest court hasn't yet issued a decision on the legality of the trial, so more delays can be expected. Elisabeth Malkin writes in the Times.

Earlier this month, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions released his annual report. Here's the summary:

Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs) are weapon systems that, once activated, can  select and engage targets without further human intervention. They raise far-reaching  concerns about the protection of life during war and peace. This includes the question of the  extent to which they can be programmed to comply with the requirements of international  humanitarian law and the standards protecting life under international human rights law.  Beyond this, their deployment may be unacceptable because no adequate system of legal  accountability can be devised, and because robots should not have the power of life and  death over human beings. The Special Rapporteur recommends that States establish  national moratoria on aspects of LARs, and calls for the establishment of a high level panel  on LARs to articulate a policy for the international community on the issue.

The Daily Caller points to a "Domestic Drone Information Center" launched by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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