Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 11:44 AM

At the top of our agenda today: reaction to Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks yesterday putting the world on notice the that the U.S. believes the Assad regime has deployed chemical weapons on its people. A video posted over at the New York Times seems to show U.N. chemical weapons inspectors interviewing those believed to have survived the attack, and the Washington Post’s Ernesto Londono suggests that if the allegations are true, it marks the end of a 25-year era free of chemical weapons attacks. Here’s the Times piece on the aftermath of the purported attack.

SecDef Chuck Hagel confirmed that U.S. forces are ready to attack on any order by the President, as reported by the AP, and the president is considering a limited military strike, says the Post’s Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan. Congressman Buck McKeon says that Obama cannot “fail to act decisively” on the matter; so reports Carlo Munoz of The Hill.

The latest New York Times’ Room for Debate feature is focused on whether a U.S. attack on Syria is justified. And the Wall Street Journal features this column by Bret Stephens that makes the case for a narrowly-targeted strike at Assad and his family.

Meanwhile, Steven Erlanger and Alan Cowell discuss our ally Great Britain’s response to the situation in Syria: PM David Cameron has recalled the Parliament early from its summer recess and deployed fighter aircraft to Cyprus.

On to NSA surveillance program news: the United Nations plans to have a sit-down with the United States about allegations that it, too, has been a victim of NSA surveillance.

Scott Shane of the Times, meanwhile, covers the ACLU’s filing for a preliminary injunction in the Southern District of New York over the NSA’s collection of telephony metadata. The NSA then filed a motion to dismiss the case, says Courthouse News.

If you’re seeking a comedic respite from the tenor of today’s stories, peruse the Twitter hashtag, #NSApickuplines, launched in response to the news that some NSA analysts surveilled their love interests. My personal favorites include:

  • “I'm the guy your mother warned you about in that phone call last year.”
  • “I know exactly where you have been all my life.”
  • “Girl, you must have fallen from heaven because there is no tracking data to indicate how you arrived at this location.”
  • “Is it hot in here or is it just my CPU?”
  • “Hey girl, I know everything about you, and I like you anyway.”

Military Judge James Pohl, who is overseeing the key military commission cases, has set the date for the trial in United States v. Al-Nashiri to begin. Mark your calendars---at least for now---for September 2, 2014.

The AP tells us that Germany has completed investigations into 50 individuals believed to have been guards at Auschwitz. Suspects still alive may be charged with crimes under the theory that camp guards can be considered accessories to murder.

Twelve civilians, six aid workers among them, were shot and killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Herat and Paktia provinces today.

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times tracks the latest in a case brought by federal prosecutors against a former Marine Corporal in connection with a 2008 shooting in Iraq that injured a Navy corpsman. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon has ordered a hearing to determine why he was not court-martialed for his actions.

Yesterday, federal regulators met with the Bitcoin Foundation, which represents Bitcoin traders, to discuss the virtual currency and help the government suss out its regulatory role over it and other virtual currencies. Here’s the Journal, the Post, and The Hill on all of that.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll and blog, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email the Roundup Team noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.