Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Thursday, August 29, 2013, 4:44 PM

Syria is on the front pages of every newspaper and at the forefront of everyone's minds, so we begin with the latest there.

President Obama was interviewed by PBS Newshour yesterday and said that although he had "not made a decision" about Syria, his administration nevertheless had "concluded" that chemical weapons had been used by Assad's regime. The Washington Post has more on his remarks, as does the Associated Press.

Noah Shachtman of Foreign Policy reveals that the U.S. intelligence community overheard phone conversations about the chemical weapons attack, although who is to blame in the Assad regime---and why the attack was carried out---remain unclear.

U.N. inspectors continue their inspecting of possible chemical weapons use for the third day, says the New York Times. The British government is moving slowly and expectantly waiting for the results of the inspection, which should be released this weekend. Here is their intelligence assessment of the situation, and the Wall Street Journal has the latest on the way forward for both the U.S. and the U.K.

The Syrian Parliament has written an open letter to the British government urging it to not bomb their country---and guilt tripping British politicians by referencing the blunders that led to the War that Shall Not be Named, according to the Times.

David Cole argues that President Obama should seek Congressional approval for U.S. military intervention in Syria: "That’s the red line the Framers drew, and the president should respect it." The Post editorial board takes the same view as Mr. Cole. The Times editorial board, meanwhile, criticizes the Obama administration for not clearly laying out the legal and strategic rationale for U.S. military intervention.

Rejoice! The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an Al Qeada affiliate operating in Syria, is on our side. It has pledged to take revenge on the Assad regime for the chemical weapons attack, reports the Long War Journal.

John did an interview with NPR's All Things Considered about the international law rules applicable to possible U.S. military intervention in Syria. Have a listen below:

Make sure also to check out Lawfare's coverage, compiled in this one handy post thanks to our Managing Editor.

In other news, as Raffaela noted this morning, Algeria is now home to two more ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees. The Washington Times and the Miami Herald have the story.

As Paul noted, Edward Snowden leaked the American intelligence community's budget summary for FY2013 to the Post---$52.6 billion, in case you were wondering. The file included some stark details about the successes and failures of many of the intelligence agencies. According to the Post, some noteworthy revelations are:

•Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.

•The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.”

•The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own. The budget documents show that the U.S. intelligence community worried long before Snowden’s leaks about “anomalous behavior” by personnel with access to highly classified material.

Most interestingly, the document also contained more details about the Osama bin Laden raid. The Post reveals that "satellites operated by the National Reconnaissance Office performed over 387 'collects' of high-resolution and infrared images of the Abbottabad compound in the month prior to the raid."

Speaking of said raid, a Pakistani judicial official overturned the 33-year sentence handed down to Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down bin Laden. He will be retried, the Times informs us.

Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan was unanimously sentenced to death by a military jury yesterday. He faces death by lethal injection, but his appeals process will likely be strung along for a few years. The Journal reports.

19-year old Robel Phillipos, an associate of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's, was indicted by a federal grand jury on on two counts of making false statements. The FBI's press release has everything you need to know.

The Hill tells us that DOJ is pressuring the Nigerian government to extradite one Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, a Nigerian gentleman who was indicted by a grand jury for providing material support and weapons violations to AQAP.

Indian authorities have arrested Yasin Bhatkal, one of the founding members of the Indian Mujahedeen. The Islamist terrorist group is believed to be responsible for bombings in major Indian cities. The Times of India and the BBC have the story. Here is a profile of him.

The Tunisian government blacklisted Ansar al Sharia as a terrorist organization, announces the Long War Journal.

And, after the declassification of a few FISA court opinions last week, Tim Murphy of Mother Jones wondered what would happen if one went to the FISA Court Judge for relationship advice---it's Today's Moment of Zen.

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.