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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 10, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Source of NSA Leaks Identifies Himself

The source of the NSA leaks that exposed widespread civilian surveillance by the Obama administration came forward to identify himself as twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden (Guardian), who says he was a former undercover CIA employee. Snowden, a technology specialist who works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and has contracted for the NSA (WaPo), unmasked himself as a source after stories in the Washington Post and the Guardian detailed previously unknown, top-secret U.S. surveillance programs. Snowden is currently hiding out in Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States. His location could put strains on Sino-U.S. relations (FT) just after U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up a weekend meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a range of issues including cybersecurity.


"What's incontrovertible is that the Obama administration's six leak investigations — not to mention an array of powerful folks on Capitol Hill who routinely clamor for prosecution of national security-related disclosures — weren't sufficient to deter Edward Snowden from coming forth with his goods," writes Erik Wemple for The Washington Post.

"Given the scale of the intrusions involved, there are legitimate questions about the scope and permanence of the state's data-trawling 'dragnets' of American and foreign citizens. These do not simply involve the nature of the data extracted. They concern who has access to it, how long it is retained and the uses to which it is put," writes an editorial for the Financial Times.

"We are threatened by needles in a haystack — very few needles in a very large haystack. We're threatened not by a nation but by a network, and it is the nature of a terrorist network to be invisible until made visible, hence when there's an attack, we talk about who didn't connect the dots," said George Will on ABC's "This Week."



Obama, Xi End California Meeting

U.S. president Barack Obama ended his two-day meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, forging policy agreements on strategic issues (SCMP) of North Korea and climate change but remaining divided over cybersecurity and territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.

CFR's Adam Segal discusses Obama, Xi, and cyberspace in this new blog post.

SOUTH KOREA: South and North Korea agreed Monday to hold two-day high-level talks (Yonhap) in Seoul later this week, but did not outline a specific agenda or decide on delegation leaders.



Militants Attack Kabul Airport

Seven suspected Taliban militants who attacked the Kabul airport on Monday died after two detonated themselves with suicide bombs (al-Arabiya). The attack, apparently targeting NATO's airport headquarters, is the latest in a string of violence ahead of foreign troops' pullout at the end of next year.

PAKISTAN: Six people died when militants attacked three NATO containers (Dawn) in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, through which the bulk of supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan is shipped.

Aqil Shah takes a look at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's third term in this Foreign Affairs article.



U.S. to Consider Shipping Arms to Syrian Rebels

The Obama administration is discussing the approval of lethal aid (AP) for Syrian rebels as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces poise for an attack on the key city of Homs, according to an Associated Press report. Officials believe as many as five thousand Hezbollah fighters are helping the regime.

EGYPT: Organizers of an opposition campaign called Tamarod said they had collected thirteen million signatures in a petition (al-Ahram) against Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi. The group is planning mass protests on June 30, marking Morsi's first anniversary in power.

CFR's Steven Cook examines the role of Islam in Egyptian society in this op-ed.



Ghana Releases Chinese Miners

Ghana released 124 Chinese gold miners (SCMP), promising to free the remaining 45 by today after their detention for alleged illegal mining set off a diplomatic standoff between the two countries. Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama formed a task force last month to curb illegal mining.

MALI: Malian authorities have begun indirect talks (Deutschewelle) with armed ethnic Tuareg groups in a bid to resolve the conflict in the country and allow nationwide elections next month.



UK Anticipates Challenges at G8

UK prime minister David Cameron faces heavy obstacles to securing a major anti-corruption agreement at the G8 summit (Guardian) next week amid fierce opposition from both the Russian and Canadian governments, as well as many members of the U.S. Congress.

EUROPEAN UNION: The revelation of widespread U.S. surveillance of Internet data could potentially derail EU-U.S. trade negotiations (FT) expected to be launched next month.



Colombia's Santos in London

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos revealed on Friday, during two-day visit (MercoPress) to the UK, that Colombia has been cooperating with NATO for a "long time." Santos also met with Foreign Secretary William Hague on the situation in the Middle East involving Israel, Syria, and Hezbollah.



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