Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Monday, October 14, 2013, 1:25 PM
Let's start with the domestic developments:
A dry-ice bomb exploded in a men's bathroom at Los Angeles International Airport last night. No injuries, but flights were delayed for almost two hours while the bomb squad responded, reports Dan Weikel of the LA Times.
On Friday, Ben Fox of the Associated Press questioned whether seriously ill Guantanamo detainees really belong at the camp.
The shutdown continues to create waves. On Sunday, hundreds of veteran and Tea Party groups protested the government shutdown's shuttering of war memorials on the National Mall and at the gates of the White House. Roberta Rampton of Reuters has the story. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined in excoriating certain lawmakers for "hurt[ing] the American people." Politico has videoPolitico also has a gallery using photos to highlight the effects of the shutdown as reported by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. That's everything from cuts to the Maritime Security Program, responsible for delivering than 95 percent of the country's war supplies to Afghanistan, to the projected delay of NASA's launch of a communications satellite.
The shutdown is upsetting the whole globe, plus our moms. Annie Lowrey and Nathaniel Popper of the Times report that leaders attending the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting in D.C. urged the U.S. on Sunday to raise its debt ceiling and end the shutdown to prevent "massive disruption the world over."
Stepping more firmly into foreign affairs:
Karl W. Eikenberry has a piece in Foreign Affairs on the limits of counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan. Eikenberry argues:

Blindly following COIN doctrine led the U.S. military to fixate on defeating the insurgency while giving short shrift to Afghan politics and hence the political logic of the overarching campaign. U.S. military commanders became obsessed with convincing Commander in Chief Karzai to use his rapidly expanding and staggeringly expensive security forces to defeat the Taliban.

Azam Ahmed of the Times writes that yesterday a man wearing an Afghan security force uniform shot and killed an American soldier in the Sharaa district of Paktika Province; no one has yet claimed responsibility for the killing; CNN describes it as the latest in a string of so-called green-on-blue, insider attacks.
Also at the Times, Matthew Rosenberg reports that Secretary of State John Kerry and President Hamid Karzai have reached ground-breaking consensus on elements of a still-developing deal to keep American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014---apparently despite the "irritants" that caused Karzai to question the U.S.'s good faith. Kerry and Karzai are still split on the issue of immunity for U.S. soldiers still in the country after the NATO withdrawal, says the BBC.
Another ray of diplomatic sunshine: in a speech delivered Sunday by satellite from London to a foreign policy conference hosted by this country's most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization, Kerry stated that the window for U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is "cracking open." Here is the Associated Press's Matthew Lee.
At least 16 bombs killed at least 25 people across Iraq on Sunday. It's not clear who is behind the attacks, but Reuters notes that Sunni Islamist and Al Qaeda insurgents have been regaining ground in the country.
After opening fire on four Red Cross vehicles early Sunday, gunmen abducted six ICRC workers and a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer in northwestern Syria as the team was returning to Damascus. No word yet on who is behind the attack. Ryan Lucas of the AP reports. According to this Washington Post story, rival Al Qaeda factions are showing signs of rising prominence and entrenchment in Syria.
The Nobel Committee's decision to award its Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC) is founded less on the reality than on the illusion of arms control, suggests the Wall Street Journal. ABC notes that the organization has a team currently on the ground in Syria to destroy the Assad regime's chemical weapons arsenal. Alan Cowell and Anne Barnard of the Times report that OPCW inspectors attempting to access certain sites may face some resistance from Syrian rebels.

The Egyptian government stated Sunday that an American detained in the Sinai Penninsula last month for violating curfew was found dead in his jail cell in an apparent suicide. The State Department has denied earlier reports that James Lunn was a retired U.S. Army officer; he was detained on August 27 after maps of "important installations" were purportedly found on his person. Hamza Hendawi of the AP has the story.

On to all things cyber and surveillance:
The Washington Post editorial board argued yesterday that companies need to bolster their cyberthreat defenses. But we may be short on human capital---Peter Apps and Brenda Goh of Reuters report that corporations and governments are facing a cyber warrior shortage, although U.S. Cyber Command is scheduled to quadruple in size by 2015.
John Naughton of the Guardian suggests that General Michael Hayden, who has headed both NSA and CIA, has been disingenuous in his description of the U.S. role in building Stuxnet and inserting back doors in computer hardware.
Jill Abramson, editor of the New York Times, has confirmed in an interview with the Guardian that the UK embassy approached her in an attempt to have her hand over what she had of Snowden's files.
On Saturday Ellen Nakashima and Carol D. Leonnig of the Post reported on the push to declassify the original, still-classified opinion in which then FISC chief judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly held that the bulk collection of Americans' data was legal. Judge Kollar-Kotelly herself is purportedly part of that push.
Somini Sengupta of the Times observes that cities like Oakland, California are putting millions into jacking up surveillance measures.
Nicole Perlroth of the Times covers Lookout, an application that backs up data on users' personal devices and notifies users of data breaches, and the efforts of other tech companies trying to ward off the security troubles that come with the bring your own device (BYOD) trend  at companies. Michael Mimoso of Threat Post reports that on Friday a pro-Palestine hacker group conducted a DNS hijacking attack on Metasploit and Rapid7 websites, leaving a "politically charged statement regarding Palestine liberation."
High-profile types beware: your ride is suspect. John Reed of FP reports that Chinese hackers are routinely hacking the limo service of cybersecurity company Mandiant's CEO.

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