11/30/12: OpinioJuris posted part of Department of Defense General Counsel Johnson's speech related to the conditions for the end of the conflict with al Qaeda. "I do believe that on the present course, there will come a tipping point – a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed."
11/30/12: The BBC reports Egypt's Islamist-dominated constituent assembly has approved a draft constitution, as the judiciary threatens to dissolve it amid a power struggle with President Morsi. The draft will now be sent to Morsi, who is expected to call a referendum. The Supreme Constitutional Court is due to rule on Sunday on whether the assembly should be dissolved. Senior judges have been in a stand-off with the president since he granted himself sweeping new powers.
11/30/12: The BBC reports the head of Asean has said China's plan to board ships in disputed areas of the South China Sea could escalate tensions. Secretary-General Pitsuwan said Beijing's plan was "a very serious turn of events". On Thursday China said that it granted its border patrol police the power to board and search ships in the area. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the region.
11/30/12: The New York Times reports as the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians' status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The move was widely seen as a punishment for the Palestinians' success in obtaining nonmember observer state status at the UN. The United States, one of only eight countries that stood with Israel in voting against the Palestinians’ upgrade, has for two decades vigorously opposed construction in E1.
11/30/12: The New York Times reports the success cited by Israel for its Iron Dome antimissile system in its confrontation with Hamas has re-energized American missile defense advocates and generated new interest in the global arms bazaar from nations like South Korea that face short-range rocket threats from hostile neighbors. But even ardent supporters of a missile shield to guard the US and other NATO members acknowledge the limitations of Iron Dome, which is a tactical system designed to shoot down unsophisticated rockets with a range of less than 50 miles. Iron Dome’s most salient feature, according to American experts now examining after-action reports from Gaza, may well be its software: The system rapidly discriminates between incoming rockets that are hurtling toward a populated area and others not worth expending a far costlier Iron Dome interceptor to knock down.
11/30/12: Wired's Threat Level reports in a case watched closely by banks and their commercial customers, a financial institution in Maine has agreed to reimburse a construction company $345,000 that was lost to hackers after a court ruled that the bank’s security practices were “commercially unreasonable.” The case raised important questions about how much security banks and other financial institutions should be reasonably required to provide commercial customers.
11/30/12: The New York Times reports activists in Syria reported on Friday that Internet connections were cut for a second successive day, fanning speculation among opponents of President al-Assad about the government’s intentions in coming days. But some supporters of the rebels seeking Assad’s overthrow in the country’s bloody civil war said they could bypass the blackout on Internet servers by using satellite communications.
11/29/12: The Washington Post reports a military judge on Thursday accepted the terms under which the young Army private charged in one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. history would plead guilty to lesser charges, a move that raises questions about whether the government will proceed with its most serious charges. Under the terms, Pfc. Bradly Manning would accept responsibility for providing classified materials to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The offenses he is willing to plead guilty to carry a maximum term of 16 years in prison.
11/29/12: The New York Times reports after failing to head off a vote in the UN on Thursday that would upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status, the United States and Israel are looking ahead to how they can contain the damage from the approval of a resolution that even some European allies have signaled they will support. The draft resolution calls on the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state. It is virtually certain to pass, despite the opposition of the United States and a handful of other nations.
11/29/12: The BBC reports the internet has been cut off and mobile phones have been disrupted in Syria, monitoring firms have said. Networking firm Renesys said the country's connection protocols were unreachable, "effectively removing the country from the internet". Local reports suggested that the internet had been down since early afternoon, and that telephone lines were only working intermittently. The Syrian government has previously cut off access during major operations.
11/29/12: The BBC reports detainees captured by UK forces in Afghanistan cannot currently be transferred to Afghan custody because of the risk of ill treatment, the defence secretary has said. Philip Hammond has imposed a temporary ban on handing over suspects to Afghan forces, a High Court judge was told. Lawyers want the court to say there is a risk that prisoners are in danger. The application has been brought on behalf of Serdar Mohammed, who claims he was tortured in an Afghan jail.
11/29/12: Reuters reports China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday it was considering a US invitation to attend military drills in the Pacific, in what would be a rare case of cooperation between the countries that share deep military suspicions. This year's Rimpac involved more than 22 nations, including Russia, Japan, and India, in waters off Hawaii, but China was not invited. The next one is scheduled for 2014.
11/29/12: The BBC reports the military commander of M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east has said his troops will begin to withdraw from recently captured towns. But Sultani Makenga said 100 fighters would remain at Goma's airport. His spokesman has told Reuters news agency that a handover ceremony will be held in the strategic city on Friday. At a crisis meeting over the weekend, regional leaders said the fighters must leave Goma before any negotiations could be held with them. Since the M23 rebels mutinied and deserted from the army in April, some 500,000 people have fled their homes in the ensuing unrest.
11/29/12: The New York Times reports leaders of the assembly drafting a new constitution said Wednesday that they would complete their work by the next morning, a move that appeared aimed at trying to sidestep a power struggle between Egypt’s president and the courts over control of the political transition. President Morsi set off a political crisis a week ago when he sought to declare his own decree above judicial scrutiny until the constitution was complete. Completion of the draft could moot the institutional conflict. But because the constitution would be approved over the objections of the political opposition, it seemed sure to inflame an escalating battle between Morsi and his critics.
11/29/12: The New York Times reports Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader, has replaced his defense minister with a hardline general as part of his effort to fill the army leadership with a new generation of officers loyal to him, South Korean officials said on Thursday. Kim Kyok-sik, a general who commanded North Korean units accused by South Korea of sinking one of its warships and shelling a South Korean border island in 2010, replaced Kim Jong-gak as minister of the People’s Armed Forces, said two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing government policy on intelligence matters. Fifty South Koreans were killed in the two 2010 episodes, although the North denies sinking the warship.
11/27/12: The Miami Herald reports four terror suspects charged with killing 76 people watching the World Cup soccer final in 2010 on TV in Uganda claimed they were physically abused during interrogations by United States FBI agents, an international rights organization said in a report released on Tuesday. The suspects said men who identified themselves as FBI agents beat them up during questioning between 2010 and 2011 in the East African country, the Open Society Justice Initiative said in its report.
11/27/12: The BBC reports over the past month, rebel forces in Syria have enjoyed tactical successes which analysts say demonstrate their growing ability to challenge the government's military dominance. The rebels have displayed military strength and organisation in capturing several major military bases, seizing weaponry, disrupting supply lines, and forcing the military to pull back. It is unclear how many government bases the rebels have overrun since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, mostly because they have rarely attempted to hold them because of the risk of retaliatory air strikes or ground assaults.
11/27/12: CNN reports authorities in Long Island are investigating how shredded confidential police documents ended up as confetti in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, according to Nassau County Police.
11/27/12: The New York Times reports the remains of Yasir Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, were exhumed on Tuesday as part of an inquiry into whether the he was poisoned and Palestinian officials here said that results could come within three months.The area around the tomb of Mr. Arafat had been closed off for two weeks as laborers carefully removed layers of stone and concrete. The exhumation took place far from the eyes of the public and the news media.
11/27/12: The New York Times reports North Korea has stepped up what could be preparations to launch a new rocket from its northwestern launch station in defiance of a United Nations ban, the satellite operator DigitalGlobe said Tuesday, citing recent satellite imagery of the facility. The increased activities at North Korea’s Sohae Space Launch Station came months after its Unha-3 rocket, launched from the same site in April, disintegrated shortly after takeoff and failed to put what North Korea claimed was a scientific satellite into orbit.
11/27/12: The BBC reports rebel forces have set out conditions for their withdrawal from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma, which they captured last week. Analysts say the demands, including the release of political prisoners, seem impossible for the government to meet. Earlier, Uganda's chief of defence forces said the M23 rebels' military commander had agreed to pull out, as ordered by regional leaders. Some 500,000 people have fled their homes during seven months of fighting.
11/27/12: The New York Times reports with public pressure mounting, President Morsi appeared to pull back Monday from his attempt to assert an authority beyond the reach of any court. His allies in the Muslim Brotherhood canceled plans for a large demonstration in his support, signaling a chance to calm an escalating battle that has paralyzed a divided nation. After Morsi met for hours with the judges of Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council, his spokesman read an “explanation” on television that appeared to backtrack from a presidential decree placing Mr. Morsi’s official edicts above judicial scrutiny — even while saying the president had not actually changed a word of the statement.
11/26/12: The Miami Herald reports German prosecutors have charged a 91-year-old former member of the Nazi Waffen SS with murder in the 1944 slaying of a Dutch resistance fighter. Siert Bruins, a Dutch-born German citizen, already served time in the 1980’s for the wartime murder of two Dutch Jews. Prosecutor Andreas said Monday that the suspect is now accused of killing resistance fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkima in September 1944. Bruins and an accomplice, who has since died, are accused of driving Dijkima to an isolated spot shortly after he had been apprehended and then shooting him four times, including twice in the back of the head. The case has now been turned over to a court in Hagen to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
11/26/12: Reuters reports a new Israeli air shield designed
to intercept rockets more powerful than those blocked by Iron Dome recently passed
its first field test last week after being rushed through development. Officers said Sunday that David’s Sling,
billed as Israel’s answer to the longer-range missiles of Lebanese Hezbollah
guerrillas and Syria, shot down a target rocket in a secret desert test
November 20. Worried about deteriorating
security on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, and the international
showdown over the disputed nuclear program of arch-foe Iran, Israel has been
accelerating work on its multi-tier missile shield, with extensive help from the
United States. David’s Sling uses
technology similar to that of the Iron Dome system, which Israel says had a 90 percent
success rate intercepting rockets from Gaza last week.
11/26/12: The New York Times features an op-ed by former Israeli diplomat Yossi Beilin arguing that the United States and Israel should support the Palestinian Authority's expected bid for recognition by the United Nations General Assembly, and ultimately their drive for statehood. Beilin points out that Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas' Fatah faction, which governs the West Bank, favors the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel - ostensibly Israel's goal - and that opposing him will only strengthen the extremist group Hamas, which rules Gaza and aims to destroy Israel. "It is paradoxical that Israel’s current government is so vehemently opposed to Mr. Abbas’s bid for recognition," Beilin says. "After all, it was 65 years ago this week that the Palestinians and their friends in the Arab world expressly rejected United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which recognized the need to establish a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the former British Mandate territory of Palestine. Now, the Palestinians are admitting their mistake and asking the same assembly to recognize a state of Palestine alongside Israel." Supporting that bid will serve the interests of both Israel and the United States.
11/26/12: Reuters reports a judge involved in the trial of
former Liberian President Charles Taylor says Taylor have walked free and not
been jailed for war crimes because there was not enough evidence to prove he
was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Malick Sow’s criticism of the trial is likely to be seized on by
Taylor’s defense lawyers as part of his appeal.
Taylor was the first head of state convicted by an international court
since the trials of Nazis after World War II.
He was sentenced in May to fifty years in prison for helping Sierra
Leonean rebels commit what the United Nations-backed court in The Hague called
some of the worst war crimes in history.
Sow was an alternate judge at the tribunal that tried Taylor and
dissented from the guilty verdict.
NPR reports the Department of Homeland Security is examining its policy on
deadly force along the US-Mexico border. In less than two years, US Border Patrol
agents have killed eighteen Mexican citizens there, including eight people who
were throwing rocks. Last month, Border
Patrol agents responded to a report of two drug smugglers jumping the fence
between the twin cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico. As the agents approached, a group of people on
the Mexican side began throwing rocks. The Border Patrol says the agents told the
people to stop. When they didn’t, one
agent opened fire and killed a teenager on Mexican soil who wasn’t one of the
smugglers. Since 2010, six of the eight rock-throwers
killed by Border Patrol agents were on the Mexican side of the border.
The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration accelerated work in
the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted
killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that in the event the President
lost his bid for reelection, his successor would inherit clear standards and
procedures. Despite Obama’s victory, the
Administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal
uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified. Though publicly the Executive Branch presents a
united front on the use of drones, behind the scenes there is longstanding
tension. The Defense Department and the
CIA continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice
Department and State Department officials, as well as White House
counterterrorism chief John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint.
The Miami Herald reports Syrian rebels have captured a helicopter base near the
capital city of Damascus. Rami
Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, said rebels seized control of the Marj al-Sultan base on the outskirts
of Damascus on Sunday morning; at least fifteen rebels and eight soldiers were
killed in the fighting that started a day earlier. Abdul-Rahman and Damascus-based activist
Maath al-Shami said rebels destroyed two helicopters with rocket propelled
grenades and captured a tank. They also
claim the base houses several radar installations.
Haaretz reports Lebanon’s Army on Saturday arrested five Syrian men found with
explosives and suspected of planning an attack on a Shi‘ite Muslim procession
Sunday. The war in neighboring Syria,
pitting majority Sunni Muslim rebels against President Bashar al-Assad’s inner
circle of Shi‘ite Alawaites has widened rifts in Lebanon, still politically
divided along sectarian lines deepened by its own 15-year civil war. Shi‘ite Hezbollah has sided with its old ally
Assad, and anger is growing among Sunnis and other groups sympathetic to the
Syrian opposition. The arrests, in the
southern town of Nabatieh, followed an army raid on a house where 450 grams of
explosives were discovered, the Lebanese Army said. The men were believed to have been planning to
attack a procession in the town to mark the Shi‘ite festival of Ashura.
The Hill reports government officials from around the world will arrive in
Dubai next month to revise a treaty that could have a major effect on the
future of the Internet. The 193 member
nations of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will meet in
Dubai to update the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty for the
first time since 1988. The treaty
governs how telephone calls and other communications traffic are exchanged
internationally. The negotiations will
take place over a two-week period December 3-14. Ambassador Terry Kramer will lead the
95-person US delegation during the conference. Kramer has made clear in a series of public
appearances that the US is committed to maintaining liberalized markets in the
telecom industry and upholding human rights and free speech principles during
the treaty negotiations.
Reuters reports Iran said Saturday that Turkey’s plans to deploy Patriot
defensive missiles near its border with Syria will add to the region’s
problems, as fears grow of the Syrian civil war spilling across frontiers. Turkey asked NATO for the Patriot system,
designed to intercept aircraft or missiles, last week after talks about how to
shore up security on its 500-mile border.
“The installation of such systems in the region has negative effects and
will intensify problems in the region,” Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani
said. Syria has called Turkey's request
for the Patriot missiles “provocative,” and Russia said the move could increase
risks in the conflict. Iran has
steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the 20-month
uprising against his rule.
Jazeera reports Egypt’s highest judicial authority has criticized President
Mohamed Morsi’s move to grant himself sweeping new powers that would protect
his decisions from being challenged. In
an emergency meeting on Saturday, the Supreme Judicial Council urged Morsi “to
distance this decree from everything that violates the judicial authority.” Morsi has also given himself sweeping powers
that allowed him to sack the unpopular prosecutor-general and opened the door
for a retrial for former President Hosni Mubarak and his aides. Former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid
Mahmoud said Saturday he is willing to go to court to dispute Morsi’s decision
and warned “against any attempt to disrupt the work of the judicial system.” The judges also called for a “suspension of
work all in courts and prosecution administrations” in protest against the
11/24/12: The BBC reports the body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is to be exhumed on Tuesday, Palestinian officials say. His body is to undergo tests to find out whether his death in Paris in 2004 was caused by poisoning. Arafat's medical records say he had a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. But France began a murder inquiry in August after Swiss experts hired by a documentary crew found radioactive polonium-210 on Arafat's personal effects.
11/24/12: The BBC reports Egypt's top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an "unprecedented attack" on the judiciary. The president passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers. It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution. Outside a Cairo court where judges are meeting, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters against the decree. They have been charging at the crowds with batons, reports the BBC's Jon Leyne from the scene.
11/24/12: The New York Times reports Congolese rebels beat back a government counteroffensive and slowly pushed toward another big city on Friday, while government forces sank deeper into disarray after an army chief was suspended over allegations that he had supplied ammunition to militias and elephant poachers. For the past week, a group of a few thousand well-disciplined rebel fighters, widely believed to be covertly supported by neighboring Rwanda, has captured a string of towns in eastern Congo, including Goma, a provincial capital, raising serious questions about the stability of this vast and often-troubled country.
11/23/12: The BBC reports a Palestinian man has been shot dead by Israeli soldiers close to the Gaza border, Palestinian officials say. It is the first reported killing since the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel came into force on Wednesday evening. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it fired warning shots at a group walking towards the border fence, then fired at their legs when they did not respond.
11/23/12: NPR reports Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was showered with international praise on Wednesday as he brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On Friday, he was the target of angry protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square as they denounced Morsi's decision to grant himself sweeping new powers a day earlier. The demonstrators clashed with Morsi's supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo and several other cities, vividly illustrating the unresolved political issues in Egypt nearly two years after the revolution that ousted the former president, Hosni Mubarak.
11/23/12: The New York Times reports the conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seemed like the latest episode in a periodic showdown. But there was a second, strategic agenda unfolding, according to American and Israeli officials: The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them.
11/23/12: The New York Times reports they have eavesdropped on the enemy for decades, tracking messages from Hitler’s high command and the Soviet KGB and on to the murky, modern world of satellites and cyberspace. But a lowly and yet mysterious carrier pigeon may have them baffled. Britain’s code-breakers acknowledged on Friday that an encrypted handwritten message from World War II, found on the leg of a long-dead carrier pigeon in a household chimney in southern England, has thwarted all their efforts to decode it since it was sent to them last month.
11/22/12: The New York Times reports Iran’s missiles and weapons technology are getting plenty of attention hundreds of miles away in Gaza, giving the country’s ruling clerics a rare bit of good news in what has otherwise been a long, dismal year. The Israeli attack on the Palestinian coastal strip, and the retaliation by Hamas with Iranian-supplied missiles that brought Israel’s major cities within range for the first time, turned the tables for the Islamic republic.
11/22/12: The BBC reports the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo. She is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity committed in the wake of disputed presidential elections in 2010. Her husband is already awaiting trial at the court in The Hague on four charges of crimes against humanity.
11/22/12: The New York Times reports Egypt's president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments granting himself far-reaching powers and ordering the retrial of leaders of Hosni Mubarak's regime for the killing of protesters in last year's uprising. Mohammed Morsi decreed immunity for the panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it. He granted the same protection to the upper chamber of parliament, which is largely toothless. Both bodies are dominated by Morsi's Islamist allies.
11/22/12: The New York Times reports nearly three months after a sport utility vehicle carrying two CIA employees was attacked south of here, divisions have emerged among the Mexican law enforcement agencies trying to determine the motive. In the past week, top officials at the federal prosecutor’s office and the federal police force have clashed over the case in an unusual public airing of differences by rival agencies, both of which have received American training to help fight the drug war.
11/22/12: The Wall Street Journal reports a federal court in Pittsburgh has ruled that the government can track you to your location, sans search warrant, using free anti-moocher software. The courts have ruled that Internet subscribers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP address, the number assigned to devices that connect to the Internet. Nor can they expect privacy protection for the information they give their Internet service providers.
11/22/12: The BBC reports Sudan has arrested former intelligence chief Salah Gosh and top army officers over a "plot" to destabilise the country, a minister has said. Witnesses described seeing tanks and troops in the centre of the capital, Khartoum, early on Thursday. Sudan has seen demonstrations in recent months over the high cost of living and demands for political reform.
11/22/12: The New York Times reports a cease-fire agreed to under intense Egyptian and American pressure between Israel and Hamas to halt eight days of bloody conflict seemed to be holding on Thursday, averting a full-scale Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip without resolving the underlying disputes. With Israeli forces still massed on the Gaza border, a tentative calm in the fighting descended after the agreement was announced on Wednesday night. Some of the tens of thousands of Israeli reservists called up during the conflagration appeared to be making preparations on Thursday to redeploy away from staging areas along the Gaza border where the Israeli military had mounted a buildup of armor and troops.
The Miami Herald reports Egyptian protesters firebombed one of the offices of
satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera on Wednesday and attacked a police chief who
tried to negotiate an end to three days of violent protests in central Cairo. The protesters hit the studio overlooking
Tahrir Square with Molotov cocktails, engulfing it in flames. Reporter Ahmed el-Dassouki said around 300
protesters approached the building before noon, shouting obscenities, and set
the place on fire, stormed the building, and looted the studio. “They accuse our network of being biased and
not objective,” he said. Many protesters
have accused the channel of supporting the country’s most powerful political
force, the Muslim Brotherhood. After the
attack, a crowd beat up Cairo Police Chief Osama el-Saghir, who had traveled to
Tahrir Square to diffuse the situation.
BBC News reports the UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for
sanctions against leaders of rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The resolution, adopted unanimously, came
hours after the so-called M23 rebels seized the strategic eastern city of Goma,
meeting with little resistance from the army or UN peacekeepers. The Security Council demanded an end to
foreign support for the rebels and expressed readiness to take appropriate
measures. After M23 fighters entered
Goma, the leaders of Congo and Rwanda, Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame, flew to
Kampala for talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, amid claims that
Rwanda was backing the rebels. Meetings
are expected to continue on Wednesday.