Midmorning Reads

I would have posted this earlier, but had a dentist appointment scheduled six months ago that I forgot about until Monday — kind of like my own personal fiscal cliff, to draw a poor analogy that rightly deserves to be pilloried in the comments section.

Anyhow, here are some interesting reads, should you find yourself with a few spare moments today.

-A new thread in the Petraeus affair has emerged thanks to Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post. A husband and wife team of “hawkish military analysts” friendly with the now disgraced General, dropped everything and went to Afghanistan on their own dime while he was in charge there. The General granted them sweeping access to highly sensitive information and they “used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan.” The article, in my opinion, seems to highlight the real scandal of the Petraeus affair — access-for-PR.

-Amid all the uncertainty characterizing the situation in Syria, one thing is for sure: life there has become hellish. C.J. Chivers of the New York Times has profiled the struggle that is daily life in war weary Aleppo. Disease, supply shortages and disillusionment have become commonplace, according to his report.

-Statistics wunderkind Nate Silver has been named Out magazine’s person of the year. The profile makes for a delightful read for anyone who was on Team Nate throughout the campaign — cringing at how less scientific “analysts” blasted his refusal to buy into their self-serving horse race narrative. “I think he’s a terrible journalist,” Silver said of POLITICO’s Dylan Byers. He also talks about his personal life, his career as a number cruncher, and offers some thoughts on 2016.

-An independent commission concluded that the State Department’s security policy was inadequate, to say the least, in the run-up to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. NPR reported that the “Accountability Review Board cites several key mistakes. It said that security depended heavily on local Libyan militias and that the State Department ignored requests for additional security assistance in the period leading up to the attacks.”

-A chilling of U.S.-Russia relations has followed President Obama’s signing of the Magnitsky Act into law: The Russian government is moving towards banning Americans from adopting Russian children in retaliation for the law, which, as The Guardian described, “imposes a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russians implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died an excruciating death in jail while investigating corruption.”

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Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.