Today's Headlines and Commentary

Raffaela Wakeman
Monday, September 24, 2012, 11:44 AM
Over at NPR, Leila Fadel reported on All Things Considered that pro-government militiamen warned U.S. government officials in Bengazi that security was deteriorating, and that they should scale back their diplomatic mission. The interim government has ordered all militias to disband if they are not officially affiliated with the government.

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Over at NPR, Leila Fadel reported on All Things Considered that pro-government militiamen warned U.S. government officials in Bengazi that security was deteriorating, and that they should scale back their diplomatic mission. The interim government has ordered all militias to disband if they are not officially affiliated with the government. David Kirkpatrick at the New York Times reports. And Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and Michael Schmidt of the Times report on the impact of the Bengazi embassy attack on CIA intelligence gathering; officials describe the attack as a major setback for the agency. One American official has described it as getting "our eyes poked out." It seems that there is something to the story that a former Guantanamo detainee was involved with the attack, writes Carlo Munoz at The Hill, who said that members of Congress received a classified briefing on Sufian bin Qumu's potential role. He is considered a person of interest. Peter Baker profiles National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in this Times piece. The Economist writes on the reduction in joint operations between NATO and Afghan security forces, warning:
If General Allen does not relax his order soon, the NATO strategy of gradually handing over all security responsibility to Afghan forces and finally ending all combat operations by the end of 2014 could be badly undermined. Some Afghan army units are capable of standing up on their own, but the vast majority are not. Already, there are signs that Afghan commanders, who rely on the greater firepower of NATO’s forces and who lack the training to call in close air support, are becoming more reluctant to engage with the enemy. Equally, coalition forces operating without Afghans alongside to help with local people and to search houses will find it much harder to carry out patrols well. Early indications from journalists embedded with American units are that many operations are being cancelled or postponed.
Seriously, the U.S. is not going to be authorizing the U.N. to make Internet policy regarding human rights or free speech. Enough with the hyperbole. The Hill reports. A little while ago, Marc Thiessen wrote in his column that President Obama has been skipping his intelligence briefings, and Glenn Kessler over at the Washington Post's Fact-Checker gave the allegation (which has also been cited in ads by American Crossroads) three “Pinocchios,” concluding:
Clearly, different presidents have structured their daily briefing from the CIA to fit their unique personal styles. Many did not have an oral briefing, while three---two of whom are named Bush---preferred to deal directly with a CIA official. Obama appears to have opted for a melding of the two approaches, in which he receives oral briefings, but not as frequently as his predecessor. Ultimately, what matters is what a president does with the information he receives from the CIA. Republican critics may find fault with Obama’s handling of foreign policy. But this attack ad turns a question of process---how does the president handle his intelligence brief?---into a misguided attack because Obama has chosen to receive his information in a different manner than his predecessor. As it turns out, no president does it the exact same way. Under the standards of this ad, Republican icon Ronald Reagan skipped his intelligence briefings 99 percent of the time.
David Ignatius' column today recounts his recent interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ignatius says:
Ahmadinejad’s bland self-assurance is partly a matter of style, for no politician ever wants to display weakness before his adversaries. But in this third interview I’ve had with the Iranian president, I had the sense that he genuinely believes the world is going Iran’s way. He sees an America that is facing reversals across the Muslim world — in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and most recently, in dealing with the Arab uprisings. Close U.S. allies such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak are gone, and Ahmadinejad is still standing.
American University's Herman Schwartz has an op-ed in Politico on the death of Adnan Latif at Guantanamo. Senator Joe Lieberman is pointing his finger at Iran for being responsible for cyber attacks on U.S. banks. Brendan Sasso at The Hill notes the Senator's remarks on C-SPAN last week, as does Ellen Nakashima at the Post. Pankaj Mishra writes in the Times that the U.S. should withdraw from the Middle East, saying:
Although it’s politically unpalatable to mention it during an election campaign, the case for a strategic American retreat from the Middle East and Afghanistan has rarely been more compelling. It’s especially strong as growing energy independence reduces America’s burden for policing the region, and its supposed ally, Israel, shows alarming signs of turning into a loose cannon. All will not be lost if America scales back its politically volatile presence in the Muslim world. It could one day return, as it has with its former enemy, Vietnam, to a relationship of mutually assured dignity. (Although the recent military buildup in the Pacific---part of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”---hints at fresh overestimations of American power in that region.) Republicans calling for President Obama to “grow” a “big stick” seem to think they live in the world of Teddy Roosevelt. Liberal internationalists arguing for even deeper American engagement with the Middle East inhabit a similar time warp; and both have an exaggerated idea of America’s financial clout after the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. It is the world’s newly ascendant nations and awakened peoples that will increasingly shape events in the post-Western era. America’s retrenchment is inevitable. The only question is whether it will be as protracted and violent as Europe’s mid-20th century retreat from a newly assertive Asia and Africa.
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Raffaela Wakeman is a Senior Director at In-Q-Tel. She started her career at the Brookings Institution, where she spent five years conducting research on national security, election reform, and Congress. During this time she was also the Associate Editor of Lawfare. From there, Raffaela practiced law at the U.S. Department of Defense for four years, advising her clients on privacy and surveillance law, cybersecurity, and foreign liaison relationships. She departed DoD in 2019 to join the Majority Staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she oversaw the Intelligence Community’s science and technology portfolios, cybersecurity, and surveillance activities. She left HPSCI in May 2021 to join IQT. Raffaela received her BS and MS in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009 and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2015, where she was recognized for her commitment to public service with the Joyce Chiang Memorial Award. While at the Department of Defense, she was the inaugural recipient of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s General Counsel Award for exhibiting the highest standards of leadership, professional conduct, and integrity.

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