Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Friday, April 11, 2014, 8:23 AM
In the wake of 9/11, the FBI dramatically shifted its focus from a fighting domestic crime to preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

In the wake of 9/11, the FBI dramatically shifted its focus from a fighting domestic crime to preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The Washington Post digs deeper into the FBI’s counterterrorism policy, revealing a lesser known side of their efforts: aiding in secret operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Yishai explained yesterday, after Iran appointed a controversial pick for its new U.N. ambassador, the House scheduled a vote to prohibit Hamid Aboutalebi to enter the United States. In a rare show of unity, yesterday the House voted unanimously to oppose Iran’s nomination and to bar him entry to the States, reports the New York Times. The United States continues to help the rebels’ cause in Syria.  At the same time, Jordan has begun to take a more active, though perhaps hesitant, role in the conflict. The Times explains that the Jordanian government is most active in helping Syrian rebels to safely cross the border from Jordan back into Syria. Syrians are turning to Jordan for more and more assistance, as the former begin to feel to that the United States’ aid is insufficient. Adding more confusion and ire to the recent breakdown in Israel-Palestine peace talks, the Israeli government announced a new slew of sanctions against Palestine yesterday. Per the Los Angeles Times, leaders on both sides of the aisle deny that they have agreed to extend peace talks---but also say the idea of further discussions is not (yet) out of the question. Relatedly, Israel earlier canceled the planned release of Palestinian prisoners, a move that ultimately stalled the ongoing peace talks; Palestine then retaliated by applying for recognition through a number of U.N. treaties. Al Jazeera reveals that those applications have now been accepted by the U.N., and Palestine will now be recognized as a member of multiple U.N. agencies. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is reforming its military training by using “e-bullets” rather than traditional ammunition. The AP explains that the Hamas government---which Israel deems a terrorist organization---is struggling so much that it cannot afford to train with live ammunition. The alternate training techniques apparently allow participants to remain relatively quiet and under the radar, away from the attention of the Israeli government. The crisis in Ukraine is far from over, and the Ukrainian government is desperately trying to avoid further conflict in the eastern parts of the country. CNN reports that the Ukrainian government has, in response to the emergence of Russian troops along the Eastern border, urged all pro-Russian protesters to lay down their arms, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Remember when it was revealed that the U.S. was monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone? Well, that’s about all we and Chancellor Merkel will ever really know about the situation: she has been denied access to her NSA file. According to the Guardian, the U.S. has denied Merkel access to her file, and refused to answer “formal” questions about NSA surveillance in Germany. Merkel plans to visit President Obama in Washington in three weeks---her first visit to the States since the phone monitoring scandal was first reported. Apropos of Merkel’s visit, the official German parliamentary inquiry into the NSA’s activities in Germany has been delayed until after the Chancellor’s return from her trip to the U.S.  Deutsche Welle reports that the inquiry’s biggest question is whether to summon Edward Snowden to Germany for a hearing.  That seems less and less likely. As NSA reforms are being proposed and debated, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R–VA) is fighting to make sure that he and his committee are heavily involved in the process. Goodlatte stated that he will “absolutely” insist that any reforms are considered by his committee; he sees the House Judiciary Committee as the essential platform on which the reforms should be debated, not the House Intelligence Committee. That story is over at Politico. Wired poses a scary question: what if the NSA has been using the scary “Heartbleed Bug” to crack SSL encryption? Luckily, there is actually “no evidence” to suggest that this is the case. Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Clara Spera is a 3L at Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a national security research intern at the Brookings Institution. She graduated with an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in 2014, and with a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2012.

Subscribe to Lawfare