Today's Headlines and Commentary

Ritika Singh
Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 1:38 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled his visit to Israel last night after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority signed documents to join 15 international agencies---despite earlier having vowed that he would not do so.

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Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled his visit to Israel last night after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority signed documents to join 15 international agencies---despite earlier having vowed that he would not do so.

The pow wow over Jonathan Pollard continues: USA Today tells us that people on all sides of the debate are in an uproar. The Washington Post and New York Times editorial boards both agree that it’s a bad idea to release Pollard. The White House insists a decision has not yet been made on whether Pollard will be freed. For his part, Jonathan Pollard waived a parole hearing he requested back in December.

You’ll never guess who was against Pollard’s release in 1999. And Secretary of State John Kerry gave a press conference in Brussels yesterday about NATO and Ukraine, as well as the state of the Middle East peace talks.

Well, that’s kind of scary: NATO’s top military commander recently said that Russia could take a large section of Ukraine in only three to five days. The Wall Street Journal’s story also outlines some of NATO’s other responses to recent Russian actions, including a suspension of military cooperation with Russia, and the development of contingency plans for countering Russian moves. The Post and the Times have more updates from the meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

Congress has finally passed an aid package that provides economic assistance to Ukraine and slaps sanctions on Russian officials linked to the country’s annexation of Crimea. Politico and National Journal have more.

Amid the recent escalation in tensions between North and South Korea, CNN reports that two drones have been found in South Korea, which the government believes were sent from North Korea. Although analysts believe that the drones were being used for surveillance purposes, their appearance has raised concerns about the potential for North Korean terrorist attacks.

It’s not yet open-hunting season on drones: Bloomberg informs us that Deer Trail, Colorado, has just voted down a referendum measure that would have the township start issuing licenses to shoot unmanned aerial vehicles within one-square mile of town limits. According to the FAA, even with permits, shooters would be liable for civil and criminal damages.

The Journal examines the increased role being played by women in the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan. Even with growing concerns that a deal with the Taliban will limit women’s political involvement, wives of candidates have been addressing political rallies, and one significant presidential contender has a woman as his running mate. The Times also has a story on women in Afghan electoral politics.

In advance of Saturday’s presidential election, Afghan police have ordered the closure of restaurants and guesthouses frequented by foreigners to protect them from being targeted by militants.

In a Times op-ed, Pakistani journalist Huma Yusuf writes about heightening interprovincial tensions as Pakistanis in other provinces grow increasingly resentful of the political dominance and relative safety of the central Punjab province.

Ellen Nakashima of the Post reports that DNI James Clapper acknowledged, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, that the NSA has searched for Americans’ communications under Section 702. According to the Post, Clapper is the first senior intelligence official to publicly admit to what declassified documents earlier had revealed to be true.

Attorney General Eric Holder met with prosecutors in New York City who successfully won the conviction of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith last week. Holder spoke about the viability of using civilian courts to try terrorism cases, according to Benjamin Weiser of the Times.

Both Maine senators, the swing votes on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have said they will vote in favor of declassifying the 400-page executive summary of the committee’s investigation into the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. The vote is scheduled for today.

The MIT Technology Review has more about the study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Wisconsin, the Technical University of Eindhoven, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of California San Diego, which shows that a US encryption standard promoted by NSA can be easily broken using a single computer processor. The system, Dual_EC, was never widely used, and it is not clear that NSA was aware of its weakness.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an NGO operating in the country, has put the death toll at 150,000 people since Syria's civil war began in March 2011.

And, check out these two recent Congressional Research Service reports for your leisurely reading: Reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts: Introducing a Public Advocate will “explore all of these difficult constitutional issues prompted by the idea of making FISA court proceedings more adversarial.” And Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court “provides a brief summary of legal issues raised by the choice of forum for trying accused terrorists and a chart comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act, as amended, to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court.” Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter 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.

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.

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