Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Ritika Singh
Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 1:34 PM

Abu Anas al-Liby, whom U.S. special forces snatched from Libya and deposited aboard the U.S.S.San Antonio, pled not guilty to conspiracy charges in Manhattan's Federal District Court yesterday. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN have the details. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board mocked the Obama administration for abruptly moving al-Liby to federal court, saying it got "a case of the political jitters."

In more-of-the-same shutdown news, Politico reports that a failure to raise the debt ceiling could harm the Department of Defense in worse ways than the shutdown or sequester did. Read Ben's post on the matter.

One Dicarlo Bennett was arrested in connection with the dry ice bomb blasts at LAX over the weekend. The Los Angeles Times has more.

Wired's David Kravets discusses the Department of Justice's brief in the Supreme Court in response to EPIC's petition asking the Court to review the program. It argues, among other things, that only businesses that receive government orders (i.e. cell phone companies) can challenge the phone metadata program.

Kravets also informs us that a lot of people are concerned about the United States's "dominance" over the internet's infrastructure, and are coming up with ways to thwart said dominance.

The Guardian's editorial board writes that, unlike in the United States, the British government is not publicly discussing its surveillance programs---and "unregulated surveillance. . .poses a threat to the nation, along with the threat from our enemies."

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released its "Summary of the Reengagement of Detainees Formerly Held at Guantanamo Bay." As of July 15, 2013, 603 detainees have been transferred, 16.6% are confirmed of reengaging, and 12.3% are suspected of reengaging.

According to CNN's Security Clearance blog, two top nuclear missile commanders were fired for misbehavior. And in nuclear news from other countries, China has agreed to sell Pakistan two nuclear reactors for $9.1 billion, says the Journal.

The Post covers  the second day of talks with Iran in Geneva, saying Western officials are cautiously optimistic about progress. BBC reports on the EU's reaction to the talks. And Foreign Policy tells us that many Democratic lawmakers vociferously oppose lifting sanctions on Iran.

Afghanistan Watch: The Times reports that detailed interviews with top Afghan and American officials reveal that the Taliban didn't make as many gains as it said it would during this fighting season---but that Afghan security forces did not make significant gains either.

Carlo Munoz of the Hill talks about the Obama administration's mixed messages (surprise, surprise) on the endgame in Afghanistan.

And Radio Free Afghanistan reports that the bomb that killed the governor of Logan province was hidden in a Koran.

Meanwhile, the New America Foundation launched its updated Yemen drone strike database yesterday, which "tracks all reported U.S. air and drone strikes in Yemen, the locations of these strikes, and civilian, militant, and unknown casualty numbers, as well as the militant organizations targeted by the strikes and any leaders killed."

Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, has released a report in advance of the UN General Assembly meeting. The summary is as follows:

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur focuses on the use of lethal force through armed drones from the perspective of protection of the right to life.

Although drones are not illegal weapons, they can make it easier for States to  deploy deadly and targeted force on the territories of other States. As such, they risk undermining the protection of life in the immediate and longer terms. If the right to life is to be secured, it is imperative that the limitations posed by international law on the use of force are not weakened by broad justifications of drone strikes.

The Special Rapporteur examines the ways in which the constitutive regimes of international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law and the law on the inter-State use of force, regulate the use of armed drones. He reiterates that these legal regimes constitute an interconnected and holistic system and emphasizes the distinctive role of each in protecting the right to life. He cautions against wide and permissive interpretations of their rules and standards and underlines the centrality of transparency and accountability obligations.

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