Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 2:23 PM

Cairo is in chaos. Two journalists are dead. Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei has resigned. Egypt declared a month-long state of emergency, triggering strong opposition from the White House. Expect wildly disparate estimates of the death toll as violent clashes continue between police and pro-Morsi protestors. See the BBC's live updates here.

The great surveillance debate rages on. In an LA Times op-ed, Andrew Liepman, an ex-CIA officer and former deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, criticizes the media for fixating on potential government surveillance abuse and offers personal insight into how the Snowden disclosures may damage U.S. intelligence efforts. He writes:

Yes, some things that are classified probably don't need to be. That may undermine public trust and dilute our ability to protect the data that really need protecting. But some things---especially U.S. sources and methods---must be kept secret. Snowden didn't offer fresh insight about a massive policy failure. Rather, he took upon himself the authority to decide what tradecraft the intelligence community needs to keep his fellow citizens safe.

Yesterday the New York Times Magazine published this detailed feature on documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, chronicling her central role in connecting Snowden to Glenn Greenwald and a worldwide audience. An Academy-Award nominated filmmaker whose subjects have included Guantánamo prisoner Salim Hamdan and ex-NSA official William Binney, Poitras claims to be no stranger to years of government surveillance and harassment.

Speaking of sustained surveillance: the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International hosted a panel at its annual conference yesterday on privacy and law enforcement drones. Check out the video on C-Span. For more on the latest in drones, see this Danger Room profile of AeroVironment's fancy solar-powered Puma AE, recently certified by the FAA for commercial flight.

Remember Bradley Manning? Julie Tate of the Washington Post reports that his defense attorney argued yesterday that the army ignored his client's deteriorating mental health during the months Manning was leaking documents to Wikileaks; a military psychologist testified to that effect this morning. The court-martial is in its sentencing phase; Manning is expected to make a statement later today.

Reuters reported yesterday that a military judge found no evidence of the government eavesdropping on meetings between Guantanamo detainee Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri and his lawyer, and no need to issue an order prohibiting future monitoring of attorney-client meetings. You may recall Wells covered that order in depth last week.

Let's shift gears for real. Happy Independence Day, Pakistan! Today, the country celebrates 67 years of independence from British rule with gun salutes, flag-hoisting ceremonies and this decorative rickshaw. Supporters of Jamaat ud Dawa protested by torching an Indian flag in Karachi; meanwhile the Pak Rangers offered sweets to Indian Border Security Force officials. The traditional cross-border sweets exchange may be lightening things along the Attari border, but cross-border shelling is heightening tensions on the Kashmir frontier along the Line of Control, with Indian servicemen opening fire today on gunmen allegedly attempting infiltration.

Late yesterday, Israel began releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to get the two countries back at the peace-talk table for the first time in five years. See the Guardian story hereAnne Gearan of the Washington Post says circumstances may weigh in favor of a deal. Over at Al Jazeera, Daniel Levy argues that Palestinians are getting the short end of the stick and offers five ways to tackle the power imbalance between the countries. Hours before talks were scheduled to begin, Israeli warplanes struck two sites in Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket fire, suggesting a rocky road ahead. The New York Times reports.

The Pakistani Express Tribune quotes analysts who say that al-Qaeda's operational center of gravity has shifted away from Pakistan. The story comes days after Pakistan unveiled a new counterterrorism policy proposal that structures comprehensive reform around a five-point plan for tackling extremism: "dismantle, contain, prevent, educate and re-integrate."

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has advice for President Obama on how to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin: remind him we've got Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Friedman explains,

rather than punch Putin in the face, which would elevate him with his followers, it would be much better to hit him where it would really hurt by publicly challenging the notion that he is making Russia strong.

Speaking of punching Putin in the face, this Wall Street Journal piece---"Rare Assault on Putin Hits Russian Evening News"---explains how a report condemning the Russian leader slipped onto the local broadcast in Chelyabinsk.

Also in the Wall Street Journalthis story on joint efforts between the U.S. and the Philippines to enhance American military presence in the country, apparently to deter China from pressing its claims to the South China Sea.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll and blog, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.