Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Monday, January 26, 2015, 9:47 AM
President Obama arrived in India over the weekend.

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President Obama arrived in India over the weekend. Al Jazeera explains that the president’s visit is a landmark and unprecedented one, as it is the first time a sitting president has visiting India twice. Reuters tells us that it didn’t take long for President Obama to make headway in in India: on Sunday, the president announced a renewed nuclear energy agreement, coupled with the strengthening of defense ties between India and the United States. France24 reports that ISIS announced on Sunday that the group executed one of two Japanese hostages, Haruna Yukawa. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denounced the execution as “outrageous and unforgivable.” Abe may have some power with regard to the fate of the second hostage, Kenji Goto, as ISIS has offered a prisoner swap: In exchange for Goto's release, the group demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman being held in Japan but facing the death penalty in Jordan for her role in a slew of bombings in 2005. The New York Times tells us more about the two Japanese men captured by ISIS, their quite different personalities and histories, and how they ended up in Syria. Meanwhile, confusion and miscommunication surrounds the U.S.’s own hostage situation. The Hill explains that Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes appeared to criticize White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough for using the first name of the American hostage being held by ISIS in Syria while appearing on an ABC show on Sunday. Rhodes said the move was not "constructive to securing [hostages'] release." The U.S. military is looking for ways to improve its drone capabilities, reports the Post. In the coming months, the Pentagon will host meetings to upgrade the drone program so that one pilot could control multiple drones at one time. The vision for the program is to have drones “hunt in packs, like wolves.” The Post highlights new Saudi King Salman’s plans to beef up Saudi military operations in response to the growing of threat of ISIS on his country’s borders. Enhanced border patrolling, along with censorship policies that forbid any religious leaders from even appearing to sympathize with ISIS extremists, are just part of King Salman’s plans to protect Saudi Arabia. As the United States still figures out how to approach the increasingly dire situation in Yemen – Shiite Houthi rebels essentially overthrew Yemen’s U.S.-backed government last week – President Obama completely denied reports that his administration was halting its counterterrorism efforts in the country. CNN explains that we should expect continued drone strikes in Yemen, despite the country’s internal governmental crisis. Boko Haram, as we highlighted last week, continues its reign of terror in Nigeria. The Times explains that the United States might inadvertently be contributing to the militant group’s power; or that the country at the very least is not doing much to hinder it: The constant miscommunications and disagreements between American military trainers in Nigeria and the Nigerian military have severely hampered the fight against Boko Haram. The tech community is abuzz after it’s been revealed that Verizon has run into some serious privacy and data security issues. The Times explains that, “supercookies” are embedded into Verizon Wireless, which are essentially a “persistent, hidden tracking mechanism into apps and browsers that third parties could easily exploit.” Unlike regular cookies, Verizon’s supercookies cannot be deleted. Ray Corrigan, a British academic, has penned an opinion piece, picked up by Slate, railing against surveillance programs as a legitimate counterterrorism effort. The piece comes in response to the U.K.’s renewed effort to pass mass surveillance laws through its Parliament. A few weeks ago, we highlighted the work of former CIA analyst Joe Weisberg, now the head writer for the TV-thriller, The Americans. Canada’s National Post tells us the path Weisberg has taken isn’t necessarily a lonely one: as spy shows become increasingly ubiquitous, Hollywood has taken to recruiting former CIA and FBI operatives. NBC’s State of Affairs is produced by a pair of former CIA employees, and apparently “dozens” of espionage-themed shows are in development.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on Friday in OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs. Ingrid explained what it means for the Court to decide key questions surrounding the scope of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's exception for "commercial activities." Michael Eppel penned this week’s Foreign Policy Essay. This week, the focus is on the viability and legitimacy of an independent Kurdish state. Mira continued her coverage of the disputes surrounding the South China Sea, highlighting the ongoing arbitration between the Philippines and China. Ben announced an exciting Lawfare development: we are thrilled to---officially---welcome Herb Lin to the roster! Finally, in this week’s podcast episode, we cover Tanvi Madan’s discussion about President Obama’s visit to India and the future of U.S.-India relations. Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter 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.

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