CIA bomber was al Qaeda double agent; Japan's finance minister considers quitting; US and British embassies in Yemen re-open as troops capture militants; Karzai delays winter break to confirm Cabinet; Chinese get glimpse of YouTube; and more
Top of the Agenda: Suicide Bomber's CIA Ties
The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officers and one Jordanian intelligence official in Afghanistan last week was an al-Qaeda double agent (WashPost). Jordanian intelligence recruited Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda's senior circles in Afghanistan. The attack dealt (NYT) a damaging blow to the agency's efforts against militants in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, destroying an elite team and delaying hope of penetrating al-Qaeda's upper ranks. It also could damage relations between Jordanian and US intelligence agencies.
A US military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Major General Michael Flynn, sharply criticized the work of US intelligence agencies in the country. In a report issued Monday by the Center for a New American Security, Flynn said (BBC) intelligence agencies were still "unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they are trying to protect and persuade." He said US intelligence should focus less on al-Qaeda and the Taliban and look at the larger picture of how Afghanistan operates.
This CFR meeting with Richard Holbrooke, special representative to the region, looks at US-Afghanistan policy.
CFR's Max Boot says the United States should rethink its policy of turning detainees over to the Afghans, "whose prisons are not exactly run according to Amnesty International standards."
PACIFIC RIM: Japan's Finance Minister May Quit
Japan's prime minister Yukio Hatoyama asked ailing finance minister Hirohisa Fujii, who is considering resigning for health reasons, to stay on to deal with the country's economic woes. Fujii's health problems have added (Reuters) to the strains on the new Democratic Party-led government as it grapples with deflation, a flagging economy, and massive public debt. Hatoyama said (Bloomberg) Fujii has not decided whether he will remain.
China: The "Great Firewall" went down (UPI) for several hours Monday, allowing web users access to restricted sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.