Today's Headlines and Commentary

Ritika Singh, Wells Bennett, Yishai Schwartz
Monday, February 3, 2014, 3:34 PM

Your daily dose of Snowdenia: according to Euractiv, European officials were upset over a recently-publicized, Snowden-sourced disclosure, regarding the United States' eavesdropping on negotiators at a 2009 United Nations climate change summit.

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Your daily dose of Snowdenia: according to Euractiv, European officials were upset over a recently-publicized, Snowden-sourced disclosure, regarding the United States' eavesdropping on negotiators at a 2009 United Nations climate change summit.

Speaking of Snowden, the LA Times reports that a host of NSA initiatives, such as NSA protection of banks and other critical civilian companies, have been shelved as the agency became politically “radioactive” in the aftermath of the Snowden releases.

The New York Times editorial board argues that the Department of Justice’s new rules permitting telephone and Internet companies to reveal more information about the number of National Security Letters or FISA orders they receive “will not appreciably improve the public’s understanding of the surveillance system or its ability to push back.”

Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reveals that the White House opted to propose restrictions on the NSA’s surveillance programs hours before President Obama’s speech on January 17.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel and her government must now fend off a criminal complaint from a leading hacking group that accuses her government were of “aiding and abetting” illegal invasions of German citizens’ privacy by American and British intelligence agencies.

In a behind-closed-doors session, Secretary of State John Kerry told some members of Congress that the Obama Administration's Syria policy isn't working.  Or at least that's what two Senators told The Daily Beast.

Apropos, and in contrast to Syria's stockpile, Libya's chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed.  Relatedly, Al-Qaeda has announced its divorce from an associated group operating in Syria.  Ben linked to the break-up note this morning.  The New York Times has more, as does the Washington Post.

Egyptian TV watchers viewed a film of two Al-Jazeera English journalists, both of whom have been detained and now face terrorism charges.  Al-Jazeera strongly denounced the video.  The Post reports.

Various Israeli politicians say they won't be pressured by the United States---in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry---into reaching a peace deal with Palestinians.  "It didn't seem to matter that Kerry himself wasn't threatening the Israelis[,]" notes William Booth in his Post piece.

Stuff continues to hit the fan in Ukraine.  According to the Times, the President, Viktor Yanukovych, might have to stomp out protests by violence, or surrender power in a way that "could leave him as president but empower his opponents to chart a pro-European course."

After a number of scandals have rocked the military in recent months, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined a new series of initiatives aimed at (among other things) shoring up ethics training. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dempsey explained that the military is “engaged in a deep and broad assessment” of what has gone wrong and what may need to be changed.

Sanctions momentum in U.S. Senate appears to be stalled.  The Hill reports that the current sanctions bill has been left languishing, as its backers have largely given up in their search for a 60th cosponsor. President Obama’s pledge to veto new sanctions, and Hillary Clinton’s announced opposition, seem to have stopped up Democratic support for the bill. Now, even some of its current backers have announced that they are content to wait.

Iran received the first part of its frozen oil funds---$550 million---over the weekend. CNN has the story.

Today, Business Insider releases a report analyzing the possibilities for a civilian drone market and considering which industries are most likely to begin building drones into their business strategies. Drone lovers shouldn’t start popping the champagne yet, however: The FAA recently stopped a Minnesota brewery from delivering its beer by drone.

From cricket star to politician to Taliban spokesman? Imran Khan, once a candidate for prime minister of Pakistan, has been selected by the Pakistani Taliban as one of five members of a group to enter peace talks with the government of Pakistan. Unfortunately, Mr. Khan will likely decline the generous offer. Last week at Fordham Law, John Rizzo spoke about his new book "Company Man." He also appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today to talk about his tenure as a lawyer at CIA---which. most notably, included the years following 9/11.
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Ritika Singh was a project coordinator at the Brookings Institution where she focused on national security law and policy. She graduated with majors in International Affairs and Government from Skidmore College in 2011, and wrote her thesis on Russia’s energy agenda in Europe and its strategic implications for America.
Wells C. Bennett was Managing Editor of Lawfare and a Fellow in National Security Law at the Brookings Institution. Before coming to Brookings, he was an Associate at Arnold & Porter LLP.
Yishai Schwartz is a third-year student at Yale Law School. Previously, he was an associate editor at Lawfare and a reporter-researcher for The New Republic. He holds a BA from Yale in philosophy and religious studies.

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