This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.
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- Nelson Mandela is dead at 95. Here is his first televised interview from 1961.
- The Libyan assembly voted to make Islamic law the basis of legislation and state institutions.
- Egypt’s draft constitution, which must be approved by referendum this month or next, has been rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood.
- 30,000 Eritreans have been abducted and taken to Sinai for torture and ransom demands since 2007.
- Investigators uncovered a mass grave in Mali believed to be missing soldiers.
- The UN approves intervention in the Central African Republic.
- According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian rebels shot an Iraqi freelance journalist dead at checkpoint.
- Shi’ite fighters from Afghanistan appear to have joined the fight on the side of Assad.
- The US will destroy Syrian weapons at sea.
- The Guardian held a live Q&A with Kilian Kleinschmidt, the manager of the Zaatari refugee camp.
- Syrian jihadist fighters (primarily the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have kidnapped 50 Kurds, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
- French investigators find no proof of radiation poisoning in Arafat’s remains.
- Bedouin Arabs living in Israel are planning a day of rage in Negev to protest Israeli plans to resettle them.
- Lebanon puts Tripoli under military control.
- Hassane Laqees, a major Hezbollah figure, was assassinated in Beirut.
- 52 were killed in an assault on the Defense Ministry compound in Sana’a, Yemen.
- 12 mourners were killed at an Iraqi funeral Sunday. At least 20 were killed in violence across Iraq on Tuesday. Suicide attacks on Iraqi police intelligence headquarters and a shopping mall on Thursday.
- Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab has been denied early release.
- US propaganda campaigns in Afghanistan designed by contractors are failing, and costing the US a lot of money.
- Filmmaker Chris Terrell on his experiences being embedded with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan.
- The impasse over the Bilateral Security Agreement continues. It was the big topic at the annual NATO conference.
- The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko has raised objections to the military finding that there was no wrongdoing in the decision to keep building a headquarters in Afghanistan that was unneeded, unwanted and ultimately unused. Sopko has said he is opening a new probe.
- Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2013 has Afghanistan ranked 175th out of 177.
- The US military has halted supply shipments from Pakistan into Afghanistan as a result of protests against drone strikes.
- Imran Khan: Pakistan’s relationship with the US is one of “slavery not friendship.”
- Omar Waraich on Pakistan’s new top general Raheel Sharif for The New Yorker.
- A Pakistani working as a CIA operative speaks to Spiegel about his work.
- Maulana Fazlullah, newly elected leader of Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan has returned to Pakistan.
- A reader’s guide to protests in the Ukraine.
- Ukrainian protesters settle in for the long haul.
- Two terror suspects currently in Guantánamo are suing the Polish government in the European Court of Human Rights over their torture at a CIA black site.
- Snowden leaks show that the NSA gathers 5 billion records per day monitoring cell phone geolocation and use across the globe.
Photo: Sanabis, Bahrain. A teenaged protester holds a stone during anti-government demonstrations over the death of 15-year-old Ahmed Abdul Ameer who died of injuries sustained during protest clashes. Mohamed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty
Two Guantánamo Detainees Are Involuntarily Repatriated to Algeria -
"The Pentagon announced Thursday that it had repatriated two longtime Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detainees to Algeria, where, fearing persecution, neither man wanted to be sent."
The moves, combined with a plan to transfer a detainee to Sudan, are signs that the Obama administration has revived efforts to winnow the population, now at 162.
Berners-Lee calls for ‘ordinary people’ to protect web | Tech blog
NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show - The Washington Post -
"The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable."
Parliament Versus the Press - NYTimes.com -
"Questioning a journalist’s patriotism because he or she publishes articles the government doesn’t like (which with some governments is pretty much everything) is the stuff of dictatorships, not democracies."
After Snowden Revelations, a Changed World for Journalists -
Testimony to Parliament from the top editor of The Guardian illustrated the aggressive investigative and cyberspying tactics increasingly faced by news organizations.
"Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, said that effective countermeasures began with first contact with a source.
Noting that electronic devices “leave fingerprints everywhere you go,” he described what he viewed as effective precautions for news gatherers. “Leave all your high-tech gadgets at home; meet in a public location that’s kind of noisy, and wear a hat so you don’t get caught on camera,” he said.
“You have to walk there, because we have this network of license plate readers now,” he said, or buy a transit ticket with cash and dispose of it afterward. As for making first contact with a sensitive source, Mr. Weaver said, “you have to wait for them to contact you.” Trench coats are optional.”
Eugene Robinson: President Obama’s immoral drone war - The Washington Post -
"U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries may be militarily effective, but they are killing innocent civilians in a way that is obscene and immoral. I’m afraid that ignoring this ugly fact makes Americans complicit in murder."
It's outrageous to accuse the Guardian of aiding terrorism by publishing Snowden's revelations | Ben Emmerson | Comment is free | The Guardian -
"The claims made that the Guardian has threatened national security need to be subjected to penetrating scrutiny. I will be seeking a far more detailed explanation than the security chiefs gave the intelligence committee. If they wish to pursue an agenda of unqualified secrecy, then they are swimming against the international tide. They must justify some of the claims they have made in public, because, as matters stand, I have seen nothing in the Guardian articles that could be a risk to national security. In this instance the balance of public interest is clear."
Spying and the Constitution -
Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official, writes that the N.S.A.’s surveillance of Americans contradicts the Constitution.
IC Inspector General Reports on Activities - Secrecy News -
“The latest report from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community provides an updated (and largely redacted) snapshot of the IG’s investigative agenda.
During the nine-month period from July 2012 to March 2013, the IC IG internal hotline received 70 contacts or complaints from intelligence agency personnel, as well as 77 contacts from the general public.
Investigators conducted 75 investigations revealing some occasionally creative forms of misconduct. ”