Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Jane Chong
Thursday, February 20, 2014, 2:17 PM
Every major media outlet is reporting a bloodbath in Kiev. Fighting broke out wit

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Every major media outlet is reporting a bloodbath in Kiev. Fighting broke out within hours of the so-called truce struck yesterday between the government and opposition protesters; at least 50 people were killed this morning in Independence Square, writes the Washington Post. The New York Times reports that violence is intensifying in the Ukrainian city as protesters and riot police officers take up arms and President Viktor F. Yanukovych contemplates deploying the military under a state of emergency.
US and EU officials have expressed readiness to impose targeted sanctions if Yanukovych continues using live ammunition against the protesters, according to Foreign Policy. The Bloomberg editorial board calls on the EU to pull Ukraine back from the brink of civil war; the Times editorial board blasts Yanukovych for lawlessness and failure to negotiate with the opposition.
Today marks the end of the first phase of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, reports the Associated Press; the second round is scheduled to start March 17. The countries have agreed on a timetable and framework for negotiating a final agreement about Iran's nuclear program. That's the word from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, by way of the Times.
Defense Secretary Hagel met yesterday with retired Air Force General Larry Welch and retired Navy Adm. John Harvey, Jr. to discuss Welch and Harvey's pending independent review of the DoD's nuclear enterprise. Here's the DVIDS video.
You'll recall that earlier this week the Washington Post reported that the government is seeking to resume talks within the Afghan Taliban and trade five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American prisoner of war believed to be held in Pakistan by the Haqqani group. Over at CNN, the New America Foundation's Peter Bergen asks whether the U.S. move constitutes an exception to its longstanding position that it won't negotiate with terrorists.
Speaking of detainee transfers, last week Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a new resolution "calling on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to cease the extra-judicial release of Afghan detainees, carry out its commitments pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding governing the transfer of Afghan detainees from the United States custody to Afghan control and to uphold the Afghan Rule of Law with respect to the referral and disposition of detainees." Here's the full text of S.Res. 355.
Pakistani fighter jets carried out strikes on Taliban hideouts in overnight raids that are believed to have killed at least 35 militants, reports the NY Times. The strikes come just days after the suspension of peacetalks between the Pakistani government and the Taliban, triggering speculation about the possibility of a coming full-fledged offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan.
Human Rights Watch released a report earlier today asserting that  the U.S. drone strike that killed a dozen people in Yemen last December actually took out a civilian marriage procession, contrary to U.S. officials' (unofficial) claims that only militants were killed. Here's the 28-page report; here's the Washington Post coverage.
As Wells noted this morning, Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Muhammed Haza al Darbi has just pleaded guilty to involvement in a 2002 al Qaeda attack on an oil tanker. See Charlie Savage's story in the Times. As part of the plea, al Darbi is believed to have agreed to testify against fellow detainee Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who stands accused of participating in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
About 80 South Koreans were briefly reunited today with North Korean family members for the first time in six decades, reports the AP. The reunification took place despite North Korea's threat to cancel in response to the start of annual military drills between Seoul and Washington on Monday.
"Can Privacy Be Saved?" That's the question posed by David Cole this week in the New York Review of Books in a lengthy opinion piece styled like a book review, on the reports issued by the president’s expert panel and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Comparing the reports against President Obam's January 17, 2014 speech on signals intelligence reform, Cole writes, "Together, they make a persuasive case that the president’s proposed reforms are radically insufficient."
For its part, Wired has set up a gallery to "highlight[] the redaction of important information about NSA snooping." Warning: it's exactly as informative (artsy?) as it sounds.
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Jane Chong is former deputy managing editor of Lawfare. She served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and is a graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University.

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