Return to   |   Subscribe to the Daily News Brief

Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 24, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: NSA Leaker Flees to Russia, Eludes Extradition to United States

Edward Snowden, the leaker of National Security Agency secrets, fled on Sunday to Moscow, a move that was permitted by Hong Kong despite U.S. attorney general Eric Holder's request that the former national security contractor be detained (WashPost). Beijing directed Honk Kong to allow Snowden's departure (NYT), which removes a source of tension in its relations with the United States even as it has benefited from the leaks, both from public sentiment and potential intelligence drained from Snowden's laptops. While his ultimate destination is as yet unclear, Snowden requested asylum from Ecuador (Reuters), which has given refuge to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy. WikiLeaks has emerged as an interlocutor (TIME) for Snowden.


"The cocky defiance by so-called "non-state actors" -- Snowden himself and the anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks, completes the picture of a world less willing than ever to bend to U.S. prescriptions of right and wrong," write Warren Strobel and Paul Eckert for Reuters.

"The Obama administration and politicians on Capitol Hill are likely to be infuriated if Snowden makes it to Ecuador, where he has requested asylum. But the former contractor who had worked at an NSA facility in Hawaii until he fled to Hong Kong skillfully placed his fate in the hands of WikiLeaks and countries that nurse animosities toward the United States. And Snowden's odyssey is likely to exacerbate the United States' strained relations with China and Russia," write Sari Horwitz, Jia Lynn Yang and Peter Finn in the Washington Post.

"We should be particularly wary of trusting the private sector to regulate surveillance. Markets can be effective at disciplining companies, but they operate best where there is competition, an expectation of repeat encounters, and a free flow of information. None of these factors exist in the realm of intelligence," writes Simon Chesterman in Project Syndicate.



Malaysia Calls for Regional Meeting Over Smog

Malaysian authorities have called for a meeting of Southeast Asian ministers because of smog created by Indonesian fires reached hazardous levels (Bloomberg).

JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party took control of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly (Japan Times) after a landslide victory on Sunday.



Taliban Attack Foreign Climbers, Avenging U.S. Drone Strike

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on foreign climbers (NYT), which killed eleven, including one American. Taking place in a remote area of the Himalayas, the attack demonstrates the Taliban's growing geographic scope.

PAKISTAN: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said former president Pervez Musharraf would be tried for treason (Dawn) for suspending the constitution and declaring a state of emergency. A conviction could result in the death penalty.



Rockets Disrupt Calm on Israel-Gaza Border

Six rockets fired from Gaza (Haaretz) landed in southern Israel on Sunday night, disturbing what has been a lengthy period of relative calm enforced by Hamas. Islamic Jihad, a rival group, is responsible for the rockets, which were retaliation in an internal conflict.

TURKEY: Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called a fifth mass rally of supporters, where he defended the police's tactics (Reuters) against protestors, which include the use of water cannon and teargas. EU foreign ministers will meet today to discuss opening the next chapter of negotiations in Turkey's accession to the EU; Germany is expected to veto (Hurriyet).

CFR's Steven Cook discusses Erdogan's political vulnerability in this article.



Attack in Northeastern Kenya Kills At Least Ten

The grenade attack took place at an internally displaced persons camp near the borders with Somalia and Ethiopia, where inter-clan violence has been ongoing (AFP). Police have attributed previous attacks to Somalia's al-Shabaab.

This CFR Backgrounder explains al-Shabaab's history and structure, as well as U.S. policy in Somalia.

SOUTH AFRICA: President Jacob Zuma announced on Sunday that Nelson Mandela is in critical condition (BBC), suggesting the iconic post-apartheid leader's condition further deteriorated over the weekend.



French Minister Critical of European Commission Chief

France's industry minister criticized European Commission President José Manuel Barroso (France24), calling him the "fuel" of the National Front after the far-right party, led by Marine Le Pen, narrowly lost a battle for a parliamentary seat.



Francis to Meet Argentine Indigenous Leaders

Pope Francis will meet with leaders of the Qom community (MercoPress), from northern Argentine, Monday, hearing complaints of police brutality and other human rights violations. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has rejected meeting the group, whose advocate is Nobel-laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

UNITED STATES: As sexual assault in the military has come to the forefront of Congressional debate and public discourse, a new Pentagon report estimates that a slim majority of victims are male (NYT). Women are more likely to be assaulted but make up a relatively small portion of the force.



Connect with CFR

cfr on facebook Facebook
cfr on twitter Twitter
cfr on youtube YouTube
cfr on youtube Mobile
cfr on youtube Join the conversation at»