To really switch things up, let's begin with non-Syria news today. North Korea appears to have restarted its plutonium reactor, reports the Washington Post.
We learn that Taliban militants attacked the U.S. consulate in Herat, Afghanistan today. An unknown number of Afghan police officers were among the casualties. The New York Times describes the difficulties facing Afghan authorities as they struggle to maintain security.
Declan Walsh tells us about Altaf Hussain, the "untouchable political machine" who has been the "linchpin" of Karachi, Pakistan, for almost three decades.
In case you thought the twelfth anniversary of 9/11 had passed Ayman al-Zawahiri by, think again. The leader of Al Qaeda had a few gems for his followers, including:
We should bleed America economically by provoking it to continue in its massive expenditure on its security, for the weak point of America is its economy, which has already begun to stagger due to the military and security expenditure. . . .And keeping America in tension and anticipation only costs a few disparate attacks here and there, meaning as we defeated it in the gang warfare in Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, so we should follow it with that war on its own land.
Norm Ornstein writes in the Atlantic about a slightly different concern in the wake of a terrorist attack: The United States has no plans in place to deal with an attack on any of the branches of government.
Michael Chertoff, ex- Secretary of DHS, has an op-ed in USA Today arguing in favor of the NSA's surveillance programs.
The panel established by President Obama to discuss changes to these surveillance programs met for the first time this week. Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian reports that no actual changes have been discussed yet.
The FBI will shut down its headquarters and and offices for 10 days over the next year to deal with costs, announces the Times.
Speaking of which, beware the three S's, says DNI James Clapper---Sequestration, Snowden, and Syria.
Now to the last of the three.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday, according to the Hill, that Syrian rebels "are and will be receiving assistance."
The Times has the latest on Syria talks currently taking place in Geneva. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, have agreed to discuss long-term peace in Syria in New York later this month.
As I noted in yesterday's roundup, President Bashar al-Assad agreed to have the country's chemical weapons stash placed under international control. Ironically, the regime has also made moves, reports the Associated Press, toward signing the Chemical Weapons Convention, a ban on using such weapons. The Wall Street Journal and the Post tell us that the Geneva talks started on shaky ground because of uncertainty about the motives of the Syrian regime.
The House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on Syria earlier this week; check out the archived video, and links to the witness statements.
Sebastian Junger, author and journalist, makes the case for intervention in Syria in "When the best chance for peace means war."
Still brooding about Putin's controversial New York Times op-ed? Max Fisher of the Post has annotated it.
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