National Security Brief: May 1, 2012

— Top national security Democrats in the Senate rejected the account of a former top CIA official that torture led to the eventual capture of Osama Bin Laden.

— John Brennan, President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death to explain the necessity of drone strikes, telling Fox News, “we conduct targeted strikes because they are necessary to mitigate an actual ongoing threat — to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and save American lives.”

— A new report from he Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction says that reconstruction efforts remain severely hampered even after nearly $100 billion in spending over the last 10 years, mainly that the Afghan government insists that locals replace private security firms to protect ongoing projects.

— The Department of Defense warns that the Afghan War faces “long-term acute challenges” from militants in neighboring Pakistan and “widespread corruption” in the Afghan government, according to a semi-annual report sent to Congress today.

— Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program do “not fill me with confidence” and reiterated that an Israeli attack remains an option.

— The U.S. deployed an unknown number of high-end F-22 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, a confederation of sheikhdoms closely aligned with Iran’s chief Persian Gulf rival Saudi Arabia.

— Suicide bombers attacked government security building in northern Syria and the central bank building in Damascus, raising fears of rising extremists in a de facto alliance with the opposition.

— On Friday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will warn troops at Fort Benning, GA, that lapses in judgement and unwisely publicized photos can inflict harm on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. “We live in a world where these kinds of isolated incidents can become a headline in 15 seconds,” Panetta said in an interview on Monday.