Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Monday, August 5, 2013, 12:54 PM

Most people already know that U.S. embassies around the world are closed through at least Saturday. And lots of media are covering it. Here are Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, NPR, Jay Solomon and Victoria McGrain of the Wall Street Journal, Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post. Meanwhile, we learned over the weekend that the terror alert stems from electronic communications intercepted this past week---Eric Schmitt has more at the Times, as do Dan Roberts and Robert Booth at the Guardian.

We’re not the only ones closing diplomatic posts this week: Canada is shuttering its embassy in Bangladesh, as the Journal’s Karen Johnson tells us.

Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss is more direct about the link between the terror threat and the NSA’s surveillance programs than others; he said on the Sunday talk shows that the communications of concern were caught by those very programs many of his colleagues are trying to shutter. Meanwhile, Chambliss and a few House colleagues contradicted reports that Congress is being “stonewalled” in its efforts to obtain information about the NSA surveillance programs.

It also seems the threat has united lawmakers from both parties to praise the administration for its decision to close diplomatic posts. NPR has the story, as does The Hill.

NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday program interviewed Daniel Ellsberg about the Snowden saga and Bradley Manning trial. Listen to it here.

Former FBI agent and current ACLU senior policy advisor Michael German penned this piece over at the American Constitution Society’s blog; he dubs Snowden a whistleblower.

We also learned over the weekend that other government agencies (the DEA, the Secret Service, the Pentagon, the DHS) are “clamoring” for access to the NSA metadata for their own investigations. That story was over in the Times, written by Eric Lichtblau and Michael Schmidt.

Meanwhile, Reuters’ John Shiffman discloses the existence of an intelligence collection program run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and contrasts it with what we know about the NSA surveillance programs.

And the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack had this op-ed in the Post over the weekend about the Manning verdict’s message.

David Sanger dives into a perplexing question at the Times: what exactly is “Top Secret”?

Adam Liptak had a lengthy piece also at the Times about the Obama administration’s aggressive tack against leakers.

For those wondering about the questions Jack posed last week, Stewart Baker writes over at the Volokh Conspiracy in response to one of them.

Alright, let’s change the subject: over at Jurist, Douglas Cox and Ramzi Kassem write about the lack of oversight over those who create the “kill list”: the National Security Council and National Security Staff.

The Times’ Anne Barnard reports on the Syrian government’s decision to ban foreign currencies in business transactions.

Also at the New York Times was this piece by Somini Sengupta about a low-tech surveillance system put together by a security researcher; it demonstrates the ease with which one can spy on others by tracking devices accessing public wifi networks. Think carefully next time you log on Starbucks’ wireless network.

Last week Jack noted the release of a host of OLC opinions. Related is the news that U.N. War Crimes Commission has released virtually all of its unrestricted records. Here’s the ICC’s press release, and here’s the database itself.

Kevin Sieff wrote this Washington Post piece dubbing Bagram prison in Afghanistan’s President Obama’s “Guantanamo.”

From The Voice of Russia comes news that negotiations between the U.S. and Russia over access to a Russian GTMO detainee (Ravil Mingazov) have deadlocked.

Carol Rosenberg, meanwhile, offers an account of GTMO during Ramadan at the Miami Herald.

Late on Friday a jury recommended that three Somali pirates convicted for the kidnapping and shooting of four Americans in 2011 receive a life sentence, rather than death sentences. Billy Kenber reports at the Post.

And finally, there's this piece yesterday in the Daily Mail, in which journalist David Rose details an interview he conducted with William Lietzau, currently the Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Detainee Affairs, about closing Guantanamo.

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