World News Brief, Friday January 8

Questions asked on American methods for dealing with terror suspects; al-Qaeda could gain further entrenchment in Yemen; North Korea currency reform bad for small business; Japanese finance minister wants to weaken yen; report on Gitmo; and more

Top of the Agenda: Terrorism Indictment Sparks Questions


The indictment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of the Christmas Day airline plot, is raising questions (WashPost) on how terrorism suspects should be treated and the effectiveness of past intelligence reforms. Although U.S. President Barack Obama has not blamed any officials or departments for the averted attack, many analysts are pointing to flaws in the 2004 intelligence reorganization. The National Counterterrorism Center was created to force the sharing of information between the sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies following the September 11, 2001, attacks, but failure to connect the dots in the Christmas Day bombing leaves some officials skeptical of the agency's effectiveness. Later today, the White House will release a report on these failings; National Security Adviser James Jones says (USAToday) Americans will be "shocked" at the information that was "available [but] not acted on."

Abdulmutallab's six-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Michigan has also raised questions (NYT) about whether suspected terrorists should be tried in federal courts or treated as enemy combatants. The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Christopher Bond, said following the indictment, "We have learned the hard way that trying terrorists in federal court comes at a high price, from losing out on potentially lifesaving intelligence to compromising our sources and methods ... We must treat these terrorists as what they are--not common criminals, but enemy combatants in a war."


In the Hindu, M.K. Bhadrakumar says Muslim opinion on Barack Obama is wavering and depends on how he approaches issues such as heightened security measures, Yemen, CIA involvement in the Middle East, and Iran.

In a CFR interview, Steven Simon says "systemic failures" contributed to the Christmas Day airliner plot, but given the huge volume of intelligence analyzed daily, reforms won't come easily.

In a CFR interview, Carnegie Endowment's Christopher Boucek says that if left unchecked, the rise of Yemen's al-Qaeda affiliates could lead to al-Qaeda's further entrenchment in Yemen.


New York Times Magazine article looks at the Obama administration's war on terrorism.

In this media conference call, CFR fellows Edward Alden and Steven Simon discuss the Christmas day airline plot and the U.S. government's response to terror threats.

This CFR Backgrounder explains al-Qaeda's origins and reach.

PACIFIC RIM: North Korean Currency Reform


Severe currency reform in North Korea has deprived (WashPost) small businesses of savings, forbidden the use of foreign money, and is causing runaway inflation and food shortages.

Japan: Newly appointed Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan called (WSJ) for a weaker Japanese yen in his first news conference. His predecessor, Hirohisa Fujii, said a strong yen was in Japan's interests.


- Iran and Iraq Meet Amid Bombings
- Pentagon Report on Guantanamo

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on