News Roundup and Notes: November 10, 2015

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

EGYPT

Moscow yesterday acknowledged that a bomb may have caused the Metrojet crash over Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, the shift in tone following repeated assertions by British and American intelligence that terrorism was the likely cause of the incident. [Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Grove et al]

UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond said there is a “high probability” that an ISIS bomb brought down the Russian airliner, one of the “most explicit links yet” between the militant group and the crash, reports Benn Quinn. [The Guardian]

ISIS affiliate, Sinai Province has emerged as the prime suspect in the investigation into the downed Russian plane last month. No government has confirmed that the group was responsible, but US and UK officials say it is increasingly likely. [New York Times’ David D. Kirkpatrick]

Egypt’s media has reacted with anger, many outlets suggesting that Egypt is facing a Western conspiracy that threatens the tourist industry and may damage the economy, reports the AP.

Some US intelligence and military officials hope that the crash was caused by an ISIS bomb, as it would force President Putin to “finally take the gloves off” in the Syria conflict, report Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef. [The Daily Beast]

Dozens of tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip were destroyed by Egyptian forces last month, an army spokesman said. [Al Jazeera]

SURVEILLANCE, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The NSA will end bulk collection by the end of this month, according to a government memo seen by Reuters. The memo says that the agency “has successfully developed a technical architecture to support the new program” in time for implementation on Nov. 29.

The NSA has been ordered to immediately halt the collection of domestic telephone records, as the “loss of constitutional freedoms for even one day is significant harm,” according to the ruling by US District Court Judge Richard Leon. The order is limited to one plaintiff in the case. [The Intercept’s Jenna McLaughlin]

Members of the House Oversight Committee called on federal agencies to provide answers about the use of controversial “StringRay” technology. [The Hill’s David McCabe]

“The degree to which Obama understood that the security state was implicitly asking him to decide whether to keep or jettison the program is unclear.” Charlie Savage comments on President Obama’s approach to the surveillance state and explains how this “liberal-minded legal scholar” has ended up “entrenching many Bush-like counterterrorism policies.” [Politico Magazine]

New surveillance powers proposed by the UK government could have “very dire consequences,” according to Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, cautioning against giving spies backdoor access into citizen’s communications. [The Guardian’s Ben Quinn]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House yesterday, in an attempt to mend ties between the two leaders, strained by the Iran nuclear accord and the situation in the Middle East. [Reuters; New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis]

Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Senate leaders today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid. [The Hill’s Jordain Carney]

The New York Times editorial board suggests that it is “in the strategic interests of both countries to find a way to work together more constructively,” while recognizing that the “challenges are immense.”

“Netanyahu does not, and has essentially never, supported the creation of an actual Palestinian state,” observes Murtaza Hussain, commenting on discrepancies between the Israeli leader’s “words and deeds.” [The Intercept]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A police officer in Jordan shot and killed five people at a training center in Amman yesterday, including two American instructors. The gunman’s motive was not immediately clear and no group claimed responsibility. [Wall Street Journal’s Suha Ma’ayeh and Felicia Schwartz]  President Obama said that the US is taking the attack “very seriously.” [The Hill’s Jordan Fabian]

A key agenda item at Syria peace talks in Vienna this weekend will be who to include among the country’s opposition groups in future negotiations. This may include less than “moderate” groups, as it is important to talk with “people who have a vision for the future of Syria that is different from ours,” British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond said yesterday. [New York Times’ Somini Sengupta]

The fate of the full 6,700-page classified report on the CIA’s secret prison program and a letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein “remain in limbo,” the subject of battles in Congress and the courts, report Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo. [New York Times]

Afghan militants loyal to ISIS have beheaded seven ethnic Hazara citizens who were abducted from the southern Zabul province, officials said. [New York Times’ Mujib Mashal and Taimoor Shah]

The American military is working with allies in the Middle East to replenish stocks of ammunitions and precision guided munitions which are being consumed at a high rate in strikes against ISIS and in Yemen, US Air Force officials said today. [Wall Street Journal’s Robert Wall]

A US national held prisoner in Yemen may face the death penalty, according to his lawyers, despite the complications in conducting a trial during the country’s civil war. [New York Times’ Kareem Fahim]

Kansas lawmakers are calling on the Pentagon to allow state representatives to visit Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is one of the proposed transfer sites for prisoners and lawmakers believe they have the “right to completely understand what their communities will face.” [The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel]

The Senate Armed Services Committee held the first of a series of hearings last week on interservice rivalries that have long resulted in duplication of supplies, overlapping military capabilities and disagreement over defense dollars, reports Walter Pincus. [Washington Post] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security