National Security Brief: June 1, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the torture and murder of children by the Syrian regime, saying it demonstrates a “total collapse” of the government’s willingness to listen to its people.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on the U.N. to refer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the International Criminal Court.

Marc Grossman, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is reportedly looking to make contact with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar as part of a push to reopen talks with the Taliban before the planned drawdown of U.S. troops in July.

Amnesty International yesterday demanded that Egyptian authorities bring to justice those responsible for ordering or conducting forced “virginity tests” on female protesters.

The Egyptian military is receiving criticism for pressing the news media to censor its coverage of alleged human rights abuses. Human rights groups have expressed concern that such media censorship will make it more difficult for politicians to scrutinize the military and bring it under civilian control.

House Republicans unveiled a $650 billion defense spending package yesterday that would increase core Pentagon spending by $17 billion. The legislation would withhold 75 percent of the $1.1 billion in counter-terrorism aid to Pakistan unless DOD and State provide an explanation of how the money is being used.

Yesterday, Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. military’s Africa Command, said the U.S. has real concerns about weapons from Libya ending up in the hands of al Qaeda.

Iran’s parliament voted to take Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to court over charges that he violated the country’s constitution when he declared himself caretaker oil minister.