– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the National Journal that the Pentagon is preparing an array of military options for striking Iran and that such planning had been under way “for a long time.”
– Senior Pentagon officials, including Panetta, also said that the U.S. military is planning for the possibility of strikes in Syria and is reviewing military options using a mix of conventional and cyber weapons.
– Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of Syria’s main opposition group, rejected calls today from U.N. envoy Kofi Annan for dialogue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying such efforts were pointless and unrealistic while Assad’s security forces continued to commit massacres.
– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), President Obama and others should not consider military action against Syria without putting the question to Congress, said Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN),” telling the House on Thursday, “If we are to be dragged into a civil war in Syria for humanitarian reasons, I would respectfully remind Sen. McCain and the president that they do not have the power to unilaterally start a war.”
– Afghan soldiers and police say the recent burning of Qurans by U.S. personnel has seriously undermined their trust in their American counterparts. “We are tired of the Americans here,” said Mohammad Aziz, 20, a Kabul police officer. “We don’t want them to stay because they keep insulting our religion.”
– The U.S. and Afghanistan signed an agreement for the transfer of a U.S.-run detention center in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities on Friday, a step forward in the U.S.-Afghan “Strategic Partnership Agreement” which provides the framework for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after the 2014 scheduled withdrawal of the last foreign combat troops from Afghanistan.
– Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation that would repeal provisions of the defense bill that President Obama signed in December that would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention.
– Israelis ramped up criticism this week of linking Iran to Nazi Germany. “Israel is not a ghetto,” said Shaul Mofaz, a former military chief of staff and defense minister. Dan Halutz, another former military chief, said the Holocaust comparison was “out of place.” Opposition leader Tzipi Livni called it called the comparison “hysterical.”