Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Friday, December 27, 2013, 2:19 PM
President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act and the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday. The Budget Act restores billions in discretionary funding to the Defense Department and includes plans to reduce the nation’s deficit by $85 billion.

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President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act and the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday. The Budget Act restores billions in discretionary funding to the Defense Department and includes plans to reduce the nation’s deficit by $85 billion. The Defense bill, which we’ve covered extensively on Lawfare, includes provisions on the future of Guantanamo Bay. After signing the bill, President Obama addressed his concerns about Guantanamo, expressing the need for the Executive Branch to have the ability to transfer detainees to American soil for prosecution: “The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests.” Al Jazeera has more, and here's Raffaela's post on the news. The London-based Henry Jackson Society has released a fascinating report detailing the “difficulties in bringing suspected terrorists to trial." The report is authored by Robin Simcox, who writes extensively on US and UK security policies, and who has guest posted for Lawfare. At least half a dozen people, including the former Lebanese ambassador to the United States, have died as a result of a bomb that was detonated in the center of Beirut. Mohamad B. Chatah was an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and its relationship to the Syrian government. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. And another bombing took place early this morning Kabul, Afghanistan.  A suicide bomber targeted an envoy of international troops in the Afghan capital. NATO is reporting that three service members were killed. NPR has a piece on the year ahead for Afghanistan. Though Afghanis seem optimistic about 2014, there are several stark realities from 2013 that cannot be denied---a substantial drop in business, a faltering economy, and women’s rights violations. What’s more, the decrease of international troops and aid to the country in 2014 will give more power to the Taliban, who have sworn to disrupt the upcoming presidential election. There may be trouble brewing in Iran: The head of Iran’s nuclear agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, has said that despite a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the international community, his country is “building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment.” The announcement was meant to placate Iranian hardliners, who vehemently oppose the nuclear deal signed in November. On Wednesday, Egypt’s government officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization after an attack on Tuesday for which the Brotherhood denied responsibility. The government was not slow in following its announcement with action---yesterday, the government arrested scores of Muslim Brotherhood supporters following a bomb blast in a Cairo suburb. The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Bahrain is growing increasingly worried about UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syria. The Centre has not been able to access the six sites amid the constant violence in the country---the sites are listed on the organization's “Emergency Red List,” denoting that they are at serious risk of being destroyed. The Post tells us just how difficult it is for Syrians to find refuge in the United States. Since the start of the Syrian civil war, only 90 Syrians have been able to come to America to set up permanent homes. The article also details where and how the rest of American aid to Syria is used. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has blamed Hamas for all attacks targeted at Israel coming from Gaza. The declaration comes after a spout of violence between Israel and Gaza---a sniper in Gaza killed an Israeli fixing the border fence on Tuesday. Hamas denied any responsibility for the murder, and the attack has since been attributed to another Palestinian cell, unrelated to Hamas. Meanwhile, the Palestinian government has reached out to the United States in an effort to stop Israel from continuing to develop settlements in contested areas. The Israeli government is slated to begin construction on new settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem next week---a move that would seriously hinder the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The AP is reporting that the governor of Okinawa, Japan, has approved the relocation of a U.S. military base to the southernmost island of Japan. Many residents of Okinawa are livid at their governor’s decision, which is expected to provide the United States with significant strategic and  regional advantage.
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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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