National Security Brief: November 8, 2011

— President Obama appealed to Congress to pass parts of his jobs bill that give support to veterans, saying that his administration was “determined to change” rising veteran unemployment.

— Over the summer, the Obama administration placed new rules on the covert drone strikes carried out in Pakistan that give the State Department more sway. While more “high-value” targets have been hit, the attacks still cast a wide net for suspected militants including rank-and-file fighters.

— Syrian government forces have launched a bloody campaign to retake Homs, the country’s third largest city as opposition activists declared the city a “humanitarian disaster area” and again called on the U.N. and the Arab League to protect civilians.

— The U.N. human rights office reports that at least 3,500 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s eight month violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

— Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned of a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and rejected concerns that Israel would be devastated by an Iranian counterattack.

— French President Nicolas Sarkozy told President Obama, “I cannot bear [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” in comments accidentally broadcast to reporters at the G20 summit in Cannes. Obama responded, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.”

— A months-long Congressional investigation has found that cheap Chinese counterfeit parts are being used in U.S. weapons systems. The probe “found at least 1,800 cases of counterfeit electronics in U.S. weapons, with the total number of suspect parts exceeding 1 million.”

— Dov Zakheim, a former top aide to Donald Rumsfeld, said it would be easier to preserve an inflated defense budget if the Super Committee does not strike a compromise that cuts spending because Congress and the administration would take steps to exempt the drastic cuts that would be triggered by failure, where as an inked deal by the committee “will be exceedingly difficult to undo.”