National Security Brief: December 2, 2011

— The Senate passed a $662 billion Defense bill yesterday which includes new sanctions on Iran’s central bank, and a measure to require military detention for certain terror suspects, including American citizens. President Obama’s veto threat because of the terror and Iran sanctions provisions now appears moot as the bill passed 97–3.

— The New York Times reports that the bill does not answer the question of “whether government officials have the power to arrest people inside the United States and hold them in military custody indefinitely and without a trial.” Senators “voted 99 to 1 to say the bill does not affect ‘existing law’ about people arrested inside the United States.”

— U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the conflict in Syria between the government and rebels had reached the level of a “civil war,” with at least 4,000 dead. Pillay told the Human Rights Council that the “international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.”

— A government run by Syria’s main opposition group would cut Damascus’s military ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas says Burhan Ghalioun, president of the Syrian National Council.


— On a visit to Iraq, Vice President Biden said Iran would not take over the country because the Iraqi people would not want to trade “external domination” by one foreign power for another.

— U.S. military forces in Iraq handed over control of their sometime headquarters, Camp Victory, to Iraqi forces.

— The Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest predicted vote-getter in Egypt’s parliamentary election, publicly distanced itself from the ultraconservative Justice Party and ruled out any “alleged alliance” to form “an Islamist government.”  — Pakistani officials gave the green-light to American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the worst friendly-fire incident of the U.S.’ war in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials.