National Security Brief: October 3, 2011

— The U.S. Justice Department drafted a secret memo giving a legal justification under “due process in war” to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and extremist propagandist killed last week in Yemen.

— Last week’s killing of al-Awlaki was a serious blow to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but eliminating the threat there will require the killing of its leadership in Yemen, according to a newly released Army counter-terrorism report.

— Syrian dissidents meeting in Istanbul formed a council uniting most of the opposition groups working to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad.

— The Afghan government of Hamid Karzai said it intends to stop peace talks with the Taliban after a peace council official was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber: “From now on to us, the main party for peace in Afghanistan is Pakistan, not the Taliban or whatever other elements,” said a government security adviser.


— U.S. military commanders said that Pakistan is the source of explosives in the vast majority of insurgent bombs planted in Afghanistan this summer. Meanwhile, NATO said this weekend that it had captured a man they described as a high-ranking member of the Haqqani network.

— Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated and should work to restart negotiations with the Palestinians and restore relations with Egypt and Turkey, saying, “Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength.”

— The top U.S. commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham, said NATO’s involvement in Libya could begin to wrap up as soon as this coming week after allied leaders meet in Brussels.

— New Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the New York Times that he didn’t think the U.S. fighting force would be smaller, but that examining new capabilities was essential because of economic challenges.