National Security Brief: December 15, 2011

— The Pentagon wants more North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to buy armed drones but some members of Congress are concerned over the proliferation of drone technology.

— The House of Representatives approved the $662 defense authorization bill despite concerns from members of Congress and the White House with language that bars the Defense Department from transferring certain detainees to the United States.

— The White House withdrew its threat to veto the defense authorization bill after lawmakers revised provisions related to the treatment of terrorism suspects.

— Syrian activists said military defectors killed government security forces in ambushes near Hama on Wednesday and in southern Syria on Thursday. Reuters described it as “some of the deadliest attacks on forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since the start of an uprising nine months ago.”


— Syrian army and intelligence defectors told Human Rights Watch that Syrian forces were explicitly ordered to shoot anti-government demonstrators and halt protests “by all means necessary.”

— State Department official Frederic Hof told Congress on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government “is the equivalent of dead man walking” and predicted “I do not see this regime surviving.”

— An Iranian official said some of the country’s uranium enrichment activities will be moved to “safer places,” a suggestion corroborated by warnings by a Reuters diplomatic source that Iran intended to begin enrichment at an underground facility.

— During the Iranian intelligence minister’s meetings in Saudi Arabia, Iran sought to smooth over rifts due to an Iranian plot, alleged by the U.S., to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, charges the Iranian government deny as “baseless.”