National Security Brief: June 13, 2011

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told the LA Times that as much as $6.6 billion of Bush-era Iraq reconstruction cash remains unaccounted for. Bowen called the missing money “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said yesterday on Face the Nation that it’s time to consider international intervention in Syria to avoid the further “slaughter” of people there by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Pro-reform protesters in Iran who took to the streets on the second anniversary of the disputed June 2009 elections were attacked by security forces, with an opposition website claiming that hundreds were arrested.

The U.S. military is beginning to leave Saddam’s palaces ahead of the Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline. “It will leave behind probably some of the most elaborate, some would say tacky, office spaces ever used by American soldiers, sailors or Marines,” the AP reports.

The U.S. approved $200 million in military sales to Bahrain in 2010, preceding a harsh crackdown on protesters several months later.

Islamist extremists, some suspected of having links to al-Qaeda, are continuing to take over towns and expand their control over portions of southern Yemen near vital oil-shipping lanes.

The U.S. plans to export $46.1 billion in weapons this year, nearly doubling its 2010 figures.

Despite the widespread crackdown on communications and journalists, flows of refugees into Turkey have offered some insights into the situation in Syria as well as putting pressure on Ankara’s ongoing support of Bashar Assad’s government in Damascus.

Some insurgents in Afghanistan who’ve come over to the government side are still earning a living the same way they did with the Taliban: collecting an “Islamic tax” of ten percent from local residents.

The U.S. Navy turned back a Myanmar-bound North Korean ship they suspected was transporting missile technology by confronting the ship at sea and putting pressure on officials from Myanmar.