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Morning Brief - 11/12/12

Senior Washington lawmakers are raising pointed questions as to why an FBI investigation that prompted the resignation of CIA director Gen. David Petraeus was performed for so long without the knowledge of Congress or the White House. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the development “could have had an effect on national security,” noting that “we should have been told.” Gen. Petraeus quit his post on Friday after news of an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was publicized.

The FBI investigation, of which Gen. Petraeus was reportedly not the original focus, began over the summer after a Florida social planner identified as Jill Kelley complained to the Bureau that she had been receiving harassing emails. The trail of communications ultimately led investigators to Ms. Broadwell and her extramarital relationship with Gen. Petraeus. The FBI says it did not notify anyone outside the Justice Department until last week because its investigation was incomplete and there were concerns about possible security breaches. ( NYT, WSJ)

CNN’s Security Clearance blog speculates as to “Who will replace Petraeus atop the CIA?” The possible nominees include: the now acting CIA director Michael Morell; the president’s counterterrorism chief, John Brennan; former congresswoman Jane Harman; and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers. ( CNN)

In the third and final session of a preliminary hearing, several young Afghan children testified via video conference to the brutal murder of their parents at the hands of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. A judge will now decide whether Bales will face a court-martial, where he could be sentenced to death if convicted. Bales is accused of massacring sixteen civilians, including nine children, in two villages near Kandahar in March of this year. The incident drew such ire from the public that the Pentagon temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan. ( AP)

The Syrian opposition movement has struck a hard-fought measure of unity amongst its disparate groups and is heading to Arab League headquarters in Cairo to press for diplomatic recognition. Prior to the announcement, Syria’s resistance groups had been plagued by dissension, a factor that frustrated western governments looking for a united cause to support. The unification deal will create a new supreme military council to manage the command of various rebel groups, a structure the United States was quick support. The news comes as Israel fired warning shots on Syria after a Syrian mortar round struck an Israeli post in the Golan Heights. ( AFP, BBC)

Mali: The West African bloc of nations known as ECOWAS has agreed to send some 3,000 troops into Mali in order to reclaim control over the country’s vast northern region, which has been overrun in recent months by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants. The plan still needs the approval of the UN Security Council, and could take months to implement thereafter. ( CBS)

Libya: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, is gathering evidence for possible new war crimes charges against both supporters and opponents of former Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi during the country’s revolution. ( AP)

Iraq: U.S. officials are concerned that the Iraqi government may release Ali Musa Daqduq, a Lebanese Hezbollah operative linked to the deaths of several American troops in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Beecroft has been instructed to meet with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in order to urge Daqduq’s continued detention. ( NYT)

When a CIA director has affairs: “[Allen] Dulles’s [serial adultery] was well known in Washington and elsewhere, but never publicly reported. By the journalistic codes of the 1950s, it was not newsworthy,” writes Kinzer for the New York Times.

The cult of David Petraeus
: “The biggest irony surrounding [David] Petraeus’ unexpected downfall is that he became a casualty of the very publicity machine he cultivated to portray him as superhuman. I have some insight into how that machine worked,” writes Wired’s Spencer Ackerman.

Counterterrorism legal policy for Obama’s second term
: “We will have four more years of a Democratic president presiding over military detention without trial, military commission trials (at least for the 9/11 conspirators, if not for more), broad warrantless surveillance, drone strikes around the globe, and covert war more generally,” writes Jack Goldsmith on the Lawfare blog.

New York Times: Tunisia’s New Islamists