Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 4:03 PM

The Benghazi attacks get more polarizing by the minute: Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post reports that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has accused Republicans of leaking a falsified email to the media last week about the the talking points. Read about the saga from CNN’s Jake Tapper and Justin Sink of the Hill.

The Associated Press reports on Guantanamo Bay detainee Musa’ab Omar Al Madhwani's declaration in federal court last month---and on the state of limbo many of the other prisoners are in. A Yemeni national, Al Madhwani is currently participating in a hunger strike at the prison to protest his detention; he has been held at Guantanamo Bay for eleven years. The D.C. Circuit affirmed his detention in this decision in May 2011.

Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald tells us that twenty human rights organizations have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking him to stop the “inherently cruel, inhuman, and degrading” process of force-feeding detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Apparently it’s not inherently cruel, inhuman or degrading to let them die.

Speaking of Secretary Hagel’s woes, Stephanie Gaskell of Politico reports that Hagel announced yesterday that he will furlough 800,000 civilian employees for eleven days this summer because of sequestration. The furloughs are expected to save the Pentagon $1.8 billion this fiscal year.

House lawmakers, meanwhile, have also sent Secretary Hagel a letter, saying that the furloughs are “misguided” and his decision “flies in the face of implementing sequestration prudently.” The Hill has more.

In a bizarre comedy of errors, one Ryan C. Fogle, a low-level diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, was ousted from Russia after a theatrical arrest for allegedly attempting to recruit a Russian to spy for the CIA. Here is the New York Times with more.

Four Somali gentlemen from Minneapolis have been sentenced to time in prison---two for providing material support to terrorists, and two for conspiracy to provide such material support. The Associated Press has the story, as do Randy Furst of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Brandt Williams of Minnesota Public Radio.

After UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson chatted with Ben and me yesterday for a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, he gave a public talk at the New America Foundation. Here is the video:

According to the New York Times, cyberattacks are targeting American corporations, and---wait for it---the Chinese don’t seem to be behind them. Officials say the attacks are from somewhere in the Middle East, and are likely meant to sabotage companies. For all of you (like my mom) who are planning to fly and take a pressure cooker with you on the plane (she flew me one from Thailand last year), consider this a Public Service Announcement: Don’t do it. (That means you, Mom!) CNN’s Todd Sperry reports on a Saudi man who has been detained in Detroit with missing pages in his passport and a conflicting story about the pressure cooker in his luggage. (My mom’s passport was intact.) David Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, will leave his very relaxing job at the end of the month, reports Foreign Policy. Ahmed Rashid writes in the New York Review of Books about new Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resounding victory in the Pakistani elections over the weekend, and the country’s future relations with Washington. Bruce Riedel of Brookings does the same at the Daily Beast, as do Andrew Wilder and Colin Cookman at Foreign Policy. And, in this excellent story from The Onion, we learn who else is developing anxieties about the Obama administration’s spin on Benghazi: it’s Today’s Moment of Zen:
Sasha Obama Suspicious After Doing A Little Digging Around On Benghazi WASHINGTON—Saying that none of the facts quite add up, first daughter Sasha Obama, 11, reported being “highly suspicious” today after poking around the details of the 2012 Benghazi attack. “I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t make sense—first they blame the attack on a spontaneous demonstration, but now we find out the CIA talking points were secretly revised?” said the sixth-grader, sitting in the darkened White House library intensely scrolling through pages of articles about the controversy and classified Pentagon briefings. “Obviously, someone’s hiding something: the poor security; the al-Qaeda link; the leaked emails. All I’m asking for here is a simple explanation from the State Department and the White House, and I’m not getting one. I mean, who are they protecting here? And why?” Sasha went on to tell reporters she felt even more suspicious after former defense secretary Leon Panetta failed to respond to any of her 24 voicemails.
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