World News Brief, Thursday February 7

Leaked memo makes case for drone strikes on US citizens; Japanese PM condemns China for locking radar on Japanese ship; South Korea pushes to deploy spy satellites to watch North Korea; Tunisian opposition leader shot dead; plagiarism scandal threatens Angela Merkel's re-election campaign; and more

Top of the Agenda: Memo Reveals Legal Case for Drone Strikes on Americans

A leaked Justice Department memo, concluding that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda, was released on Tuesday (NBC), providing new details about the legal rationale behind one of the Obama administration's most controversial polices. The White House has dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaeda suspects abroad, including American citizens. The report also revealed that for the past two years, the Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase (BBC) in Saudi Arabia for unmanned drones, established to scout for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.


"The revelation that U.S. drone strikes against militants in Yemen have been launched from a secret base inside Saudi Arabia will be an embarrassment for the government in Riyadh. King Abdullah has embarked upon a gradual process of reform in the face of a conservative religious elite who strongly object to the presence of foreign non-Muslim troops in the country," writes Bill Law for the BBC.

"The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable. Without reform from within, drones risk becoming an unregulated, unaccountable vehicle for states to deploy lethal force with impunity," writes Micah Zenko in this CFR Special Report.

"The example of clandestine and surreptitious British support for CIA's drone campaign, conducted away from public and legal scrutiny, raises troubling questions about the ability of governments to circumvent the law and elude popular accountability in the pursuit of foreign military adventurism," writes Murtaza Hussain for al-Jazeera.



Japan's Abe Slams China Radar

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned China on Wednesday over the locking of a radar on a Japanese destroyer (KyodoNews) in the East China Sea by a Chinese navy vessel near the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in late January.

CFR's Sheila Smith talks about China, Japan, and the rise of nationalism in this Expert Brief.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea's military is pushing to deploy spy satellites (Yonhap) to strengthen its surveillance of North Korea in light of its growing nuclear threats.


Tunisian opposition leader shot dead

Plagiarism scandal threatens Angela Merkel's re-election

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