Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Monday, October 7, 2013, 10:09 AM
Details are still emerging on the two terror raids conducted by American commandos this weekend, giving the media plenty to compare and contrast. Peter Baker and David Sanger of the New York Times characterize the Friday raid on Somalia as a failure, the Saturday raid on Libya a success. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker rejects the failure/success binary for the time being but suggests that in Libya "there was more of an impression of completion." Here's her citing Bobby's post on the legal issues raised by the raids:

[H]itting a house in the middle of Tripoli isn't so simple. It is better on many levels if this is treated as the recovery of a fugitive. As for Barawe, Robert Chesney, at Lawfare, pointed to a couple of possibilities, some less satisfying then others. If the Shabaab is, for example, being defined as a part of Al Qaeda or an associated force engaged in hostilities against the United States, in the sense of the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, that has implications not only for our policy toward the group but for the looseness with which we can expect those definitions to be applied to others going forward.

The raid on Barawe was conducted in cooperation with the Somali government, say Ghaith Shrennib and Abdi Sheikh of Reuters. The target was Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, alias Ikrima, apparently a top planner of overseas attacks for al-Shabab. The Times attributes the information to an American official, while NPR credits a "Kenyan intelligence official of Somali origin." Meanwhile, according to Benjamin Weiser and Eric Schmitt of the Times, the accused al-Qaeda operative seized in Libya, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai (better known as Abu Anas al-Libi), is being held on a Navy ship. The Libyan government is condemning Ruqai's rendition as "kidnapping," reports Ernesto Londoño of the Washington Post. Tony Gabriel and Esam Mohamed of the Associated Press have more on Ruqai, the raid and Libya's response.
The raids were unusual in that they aimed to capture, not kill, notes Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal. At Foreign Policy, Shane Harris writes that the Obama administration's decision to cuff Al-Liby instead of droning him "not only marks a rather dramatic departure from what has been standard Obama administration policy. It could open a new chapter in the struggle against Islamic terror." Robert Burns of the AP also explores the raid's implications for the "future shape of U.S. counterterrorism efforts." Atlantic's Hilary Matfess examines the significance of the raids for American military involvement in Africa, and Jabeen Bhatti and Sarah Lynch of USA Today offer a primer on regional instability.
Other international developments:
Pajhwok Afghan News writes that four U.S. soldiers were killed by suicide bombers in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, while Voice of America is citing reports that the U.S.-led NATO troops were, in fact, killed by a roadside bomb. The International Security Assistance Force is saying only that the soldiers were killed by enemy forces, writes the TimesAccording to Al Jazeera America, NATO is contesting claims that five Afghan civilians were killed by NATO airstrike the previous day.
On Sunday a series of deadly attacks killed at least 33 people in Iraq, including a dozen children murdered by a suicide bomber targeting their village elementary school. Here is the AP.
Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, leader of Pakistan's army, has announced that he is retiring at the end of November. Here is Iftikhar Khan of Dawn on the speculation surrounding Kayani's decision to call it.
Violence continues in Egypt. Deadly attacks on Sunday were followed by a string of attacks on Egyptian security forces on Monday, writes the BBC.
The AP reports that yesterday disarmament experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons began the nine-month process of destroying Syria's 1,000-ton chemical weapons arsenal. Secretary of State John Kerry may be "very pleased," but the Economist notes that the "Herculean" task ahead is unprecedented. Christian Science monitor agrees, with video. Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic debunks four myths about President Obama's Syria policy, starting with the notion that Syria is going to become "Al Qaedastan" if the Bashar al-Assad regime falls. And is Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) a "secret arm" of the Assad regime? James Traub of FP explains the fears behind the theory.
The New Republic's Mira Sethi recounts her interview with 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist and global heroine shot in the head by a Talib gunman on a bus last October. And here is another interview and detailed profile by Mishal Husain of the BBC.
Some domestic news:
On Friday, Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the release of Ibrahim Idris, a mentally ill Guantánamo Bay prisoner who will likely be returned to Sudan. The Miami Herald has the story.
NASA's landed in hot water. The Guardian reports that U.S. researchers are mass-boycotting a key conference to protest the agency's decision to reject applications from prospective Chinese conference participants on national security grounds. The ban and the resulting outcry come on the heels of a law passed in July to prohibit NASA funds from being used to collaborate with China in any way.
Over at the Daily Beast, Army vet Garrett Berntsen argues that the seemingly logical decision to shield active duty service members from fallout from the government shutdown amounts to treating the military as a "show-pony organization" and makes for "toxic" line-drawing between those in and not in uniform.
And at the nexus of technology and security:
The Guardian has a series of articles on the latest Snowden leaks, which detail NSA's attempts to target users on the online anonymity network Tor. The paper highlights extracts that reveal how NSA uses its so-called "EgotisticalGiraffe" technique to take advantage of vulnerable software, and Bruce Schneier explains some technical details.
The BBC reports that thirteen alleged members of the Anonymous movement have been indicted for carrying out cyberattacks on firms that refused to process payments for WikiLeaks.
Michael Mimoso of Threat Post reported last Friday on Adobe's decision to go public with details on its recent data breach--what security expert Alex Holden is calling "one of the worst in U.S. history."
Maybe we should replace the federal government with high-functioning humanoid cyborgs. These DARPA-funded robots won't go down without a fight, notes Matthew Wall of the BBC.
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