Let's begin with the alleged chemical weapons attack east of Damascus last week that prompted a slew of calls for an investigation from the international community---even from Syria's stalwart ally, Russia. The Syrian government, however, is now accusing the rebel forces of also using chemical weapons, making an investigation all the more pressing. CNN reports.
Karen De Young of the Washington Post tells us that President Obama was given a detailed review of U.S. policy options for Syria this weekend, which she breaks down for us. The Wall Street Journal says that the administration is, quietly but surely, toughening its stance against President Assad, and that the Pentagon has moved warships into place in the Mediterranean in the event that cruise missiles are fired at government targets. The New York Times also briefs us on the Obama administration’s internal deliberations.
President Obama, for his part, sat down with CNN's Chris Cuomo to discuss a range of issues, from the NSA to the crises in Syria and Egypt---and said a whole lot of nothing.
Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid of Foreign Policy reveal that the CIA had strong evidence of “and did nothing to stop” Saddam Hussein from attacking Iranian troops with chemical weapons in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war.
In South Asia news, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Pakistan to ask the government to “facilitate and help” peace negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban. The Associated Press and the Journal have the details on Karzai’s visit.
The Taliban, meanwhile, attacked an Afghan Army base, and deployed both a suicide bomber in a car full of explosives and an assault team, according to Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal.
President Karzai said on Sunday that he is “absolutely and totally impartial” and will not interfere in next year’s elections, reports Pamela Constable of the Post. We’re holding you to that, Karzai.
Declan Walsh of the Times compares the fate of Egypt’s military generals to the fates of military leaders in Pakistan and Turkey. Clue: It doesn’t look good.
And Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of Egypt’s interim government, spoke to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about the military’s transition efforts, announces Carlo Munoz of the Hill.
You must have heard enough about the NSA for a little while after the huge cache of documents that was released last week. Too bad, because Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian keeps you on your toes with another leaked Snowden document. This one reveals that the National Security Agency paid email providers millions of dollars to comply with the organization’s revised guidelines after the FISC ruled against certain NSA activities in October 2011. Charlie Savage of the Times also has the story.
If it’s not 50 Shades of Grey, detainees at Guantanamo Bay can’t read it: According to British human rights group Reprieve, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago is the latest book to be banned from the prison. Slate has more.
Ben Fox of the AP has reactions from some of the relatives of the victims of 9/11 after the fifth (this time around) motions hearing at Guantanamo Bay. Wells and Raffaela dutifully covered it all---make sure to get your fix and send them gifts for their hard work.
Outgoing FBI Director Bob Mueller said, in an interview with ABC News, that homegrown terrorism poses a large threat to America---particularly when U.S. citizens return from places like Syria. Carlo Munoz of the Hill also discusses his remarks.
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