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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 6, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: CIA Waterboarded Libyan Prisoner, HRW Says

A Libyan militant fighter held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan in 2003 was allegedly subjected to waterboarding by CIA interrogators (NYT), according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. The report, to be released today, is based on Libyan government documents from the era of Muammar al-Qaddafi, as well as interviews with fourteen detainees that were ultimately transferred to Qaddafi's prisons in 2004. At least five of those detainees--most of whom were members of the anti-Qaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group--were held in Afghanistan by the CIA, the report says. Mohammed Shoroeiya, who was detained in Pakistan in 2003 before being held by U.S. custody in Afghanistan, claimed his interrogators strapped him to a board and poured water on his head until he felt like he was suffocating. The CIA has previously said that only three prisoners were waterboarded.


"The May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and revelations regarding the trail of intelligence that led to his whereabouts also rekindled the Guantanamo debate over whether the use of so-called enhanced interrogation methods employed under the Bush administration but banned under Obama, has been vindicated," says this CFR Backgrounder on the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"There are a few common themes in the administration's detention and targeted killing policies. First is the idea that the United States remains at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and that the government can therefore wield very potent and coercive powers. Second is the principle that the U.S. government's actions are constrained by domestic and international law, but within those constraints the executive branch should exercise flexible pragmatism," says CFR's Matthew C. Waxman in this recent CFR Interview.



China Charges Former Police Chief From Bo Scandal

Chinese prosecutors charged Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing and deputy to senior Communist leader Bo Xilai, with defection, abuse of power, and corruption (NYT). Wang unleashed a scandal that toppled Bo when he fled to the U.S. Consulate in February and claimed that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had killed British businessman Neil Heywood.

EAST TIMOR: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the capital of Dili today (CNN), becoming the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the country since it attained independence from Indonesia ten years ago.



Afghan Military Cracks Down on Insider Killings

The Afghan military has dismissed or detained hundreds of soldiers (WSJ) for alleged ties to insurgents in an effort to limit "green on blue" killings of coalition troops, defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi announced yesterday.

PAKISTAN: Human Rights Watch today called on the Pakistani government to "urgently act" to protect minority Shiite Muslims (AFP) from increasing sectarian attacks that have left hundreds dead this year.



Egypt's Morsi Issues Warning to Syrian President

Speaking at an Arab League meeting in Cairo yesterday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and "end the bloodshed" (al-Jazeera) between the regime and opposition fighters that erupted nearly eighteen months ago.

This CFR Issue Guide provides expert analysis and background on the escalating conflict in Syria.



South African Union Rebuffs Mine Deal

South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union refused to sign a deal with platinum company Lonmin to end a four-week strike at the Marikana mine (Reuters) northwest of Johannesburg that resulted in the police shooting dead thirty-four striking miners last month.

On his blog Africa in Transition, CFR's John Campbell writes about the impact of the mining unrest on South Africa's ruling ANC.

SOMALIA: More than two hundred militant al-Shabaab fighters surrendered (DailyNation) in Afmadow town yesterday after four days of attacks by African Union forces on Shabaab bases near Kismayo.



Global Stocks Rise Ahead of ECB Meeting

Global stock markets jumped today ahead of a crucial European Central Bank meeting, at which President Mario Draghi is expected to announce a new bond buying program (AP) in order to alleviate the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

IRELAND: The International Monetary Fund yesterday approved a $1.16 billion loan tranche (WSJ) for the Irish government, part of a 2010 bailout package with the European Union to combat the debt crisis in Ireland.

The ongoing eurozone debt crisis continues to threaten the future of the single currency, even as European policymakers work to forge a closer political and fiscal union, explains this CFR Issue Guide.



Colombia Unveils Team for FARC Peace Talks

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday announced a six-person negotiating team, to be led by former vice president Humberto de la Calle (Reuters), that will hold formal peace talks with the leftist FARC rebel group in Norway next month.

PERU: Security forces killed a top leftist militant with the Shining Path rebel movement (BBC), known as Comrade Williams, President Ollanta Humala said yesterday.



Democrats Unanimously Nominate Obama for President

Democrats formally--and unanimously--voted to make President Barack Obama their party's 2012 presidential candidate Wednesday (TheHill) after former president Bill Clinton's nomination speech (WashPost).

After two failed voice votes, the Democratic Party's platform language was changed Wednesday night to include God and refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (Politico). President Obama is said to have ordered the change.

President Obama's national security and foreign policy successes have rebranded Democrats as foreign policy leaders, neutralized the Republican Party's traditional political advantage on national security, and improved the United States' standing in the world, writes the Progressive Policy Institute's Will Marshal at Foreign Policy.



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