Monthly Archives: November 2008

Transition Watch

Here’s an update (from Tuesday’s program) on how Obama’s national security team is shaping up and what that might mean for the foreign policy agenda:



Today I look at the question of how Obama will confront the torture question–and the legacy of the harsh interrogation tactics authorized by Bush Administration officials. Some human rights advocates are calling for a special prosecutor, others for a truth commission.  Lawyers lay out the pros and cons of a major investigation.  Here’s the story:




The International Center for Transitional Justice (  has been exploring this issue as part of its U.S. Accountability Project.

Congo Updates

Alarm bells keep ringing on North Kivu:

AP: UN investigating war crimes.

Reuters: Civilians flee to Uganda.

CNN: The number of girls being raped has increased sharply since fighting intensified in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a humanitarian group said Tuesday.

Reuters: Belgium could contribute to “bridging force” in the DRC.

The issue is that the U.N. has approved more peacekeeping troops but they’ll take months to deploy. Advocates are calling for a European force to bridge the gap.  Their point: Civilians need protection now.

U.N. approves more troops for the DRC

Here’s the BBC report

More on Hillary

Read Steve Clemons’ CNN piece.

Challenges for the next AG

Today I reported a radio story about the challenges for the next Attorney General, with contributions from Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First, Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, Benjamin Wittes of Brookings and Eugene Fidell of the National Institute of Military Justice.

How the world works

Check out this fascinating piece From Kurdistan to K-Street  by the intrepid Laura Rozen.

Here’s the open:

The routine of Washington foreign policymaking is straightforward and, well, a little boring. Presidents and secretaries of state issue pronouncements in speeches. Diplomats have discussions in ornate ceremonial rooms. That’s the official version, anyhow, and even if we’re well aware that reality departs from the C-Span, Foreign Affairs version of things, the rhythm, pomp, and ceremony shape our understanding of how countries relate to each other.

This is a story of the other world, the one whose real power players never show up in the CNN headline crawl. It’s the story of a man with a habit of popping up, Zelig-like, at the nexus of foreign policy and the kinds of businesses that thrive in times of war—security contracting, infrastructure development and postwar reconstruction, influence and intelligence brokering.

It’s also the story of how this entrepreneur and middleman, in the shadowy environment created by the 9/11 attacks and Washington’s advance on Iraq, seized the opportunity to propel himself from small-time businessman into global player. The trajectory of Shlomi Michaels is testament not only to one man’s driven intensity, but also to the opportunities the war on terror has presented to those with the information, connections, and ambition to seize them.

Full piece is here.

The Thomas Lubanga trial–the International Criminal Court’s much anticipated first case–looks to be back on for January 2009.  It’s the prosecution of a Congolese warlord for alleged crimes in Ituri.  It was nearly derailed earlier this year when the prosecution failed to disclose some documents to the defense.  Here’s the ICC press release.