Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Monday, November 11, 2013, 11:22 AM
President Obama will be at Arlington National Cemetery today for the Veteran's Day wreath-laying ceremony. In his weekend radio address, the President noted that the holiday demands more than a simple thank you to our armed forces. As William Bester and Darlene Curley of Politico remind us, we are doing a shameful job providing health care services to those who have served.
The United Nations and Iran have announced a cooperation agreement to resolve outstanding nuclear issues, reports Voice of America. Meanwhile this weekend's interstate negotiations in Geneva, aimed at putting the brakes on Iran's nuclear program, were something of a flop. There is some debate as to who is responsible. Yesterday, Colum Lynch and Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy pointed the finger at France. This morning, however, Spencer Ho in the Times of Israel cites American officials who insist that it was Iran, not France, that refused to put its seal on the interim deal. Or in Kerry's words, as quoted by the Times: “The French signed off on it, we signed off on it. There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it." More specifically, it appears that Iran is insisting on its "right" to enrich uranium, reports the Times.
Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to brief the Senate Banking Committee today on the talks, as the Senate decides whether to pursue tougher economic sanctions against Iran. Here is Burgess Everett of Politico on that. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among those criticizing the nuclear deal that Kerry is expected to defend before lawmakers, reports Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Kerry has already begun making the case that an Iranian agreement to temporarily freeze elements of its nuclear programs in exchange for a partial easing of Western sanctions would be a viable step toward negotiating a permanent end to Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions." Over at Foreign Policy, Akbar Ganji explains why the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is too divided to necessarily play its expected role in undermining U.S.-Iranian détente.
The son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of a militant group that has fought against U.S.-led foreign troops in Afghanistan, was shot dead in Islamabad, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. The BBC has more.
Yesterday Reuters reported that air strikes in southern Yemen killed five suspected al Qaeda fighters last week.
The New York Times reported yesterday that five journalists have been killed in Pakistan so far this year, and 44 killed in the past decade: "Part of the problem is that the attackers come from every side. It's not just insurgents and criminals who are targeting reporters, but also, most chillingly, operatives from Pakistan's civilian and military intelligence agencies. Human rights groups say the security services have a long record of violence and impunity, and that has continued unabated." On Sunday, Pakistani education officials announced they have banned Malala Yousafzai's memoir from its 40,000 affiliated schools for being insufficiently respectful toward Islam. Here is Al Jazeera America.
Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch has an op-ed over at Politico calling for the world to hold the Syrian government accountable for its use of incendiary weapons against civilians, including children. The Associated Press reports that the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group, has agreed to attend a proposed peace conference with President Bashar Assad's regime assuming certain conditions are met.

On Saturday the New York Times editorial board called for a smaller and smarter military budget, citing a report issued this fall by the Henry Stimson Center recommending management reforms, changes to force structure and reduced modernization costs.

On Friday night, Navy officials announced that Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, the Navy's top intelligence officer, and Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations, are under investigation in connection with a bribery scandal involving Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Craig Whitlock of the Post reports.
Omar Khadr, the "child soldier" and ex-Guantanamo detainee prosecuted for hurling a grenade at a U.S. soldier at the age of 15, filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Military Commissions Review on Friday. Khadr reached a plea deal, but his lawyers argue that he was abused in US. custody and that grenade-throwing is not a war crime. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald reports.
In an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published yesterday, Senator John McCain called for Keith Alexander to resign as NSA chief for letting the Snowden leaks to happen on his watch. The Guardian has the story. And on this week’s Political Scene podcast over at the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza and Steve Coll talk with host Dorothy Wickenden about whether NSA surveillance can be expected to change.
What kind of changes are in order? Kenneth Roth of the Guardian argues that U.S. spying laws are a mess, and that it's time to acknowledge "a global obligation to protect everyone's privacy."
Walter Pincus of the Post offers a shout-out to Amy Zegart for her Lawfare post last week on the national survey she ran to assess how much Americans know and what they think about intelligence agencies and surveillance activities.
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