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FRINFORMSUM: 1/25/2011

January 25, 2011

On January 23, Al-Jazeera published the first of a four day slew of previously-unreleased documents pertaining to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from 1999-2010.  The so-called Palestine Papers, obtained from an undisclosed source, ostensibly illustrate Palestinian negotiators’ willingness to compromise on a series of oft-disputed issues including land concessions in East Jerusalem, Palestinian right of return, and the future status of Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).  Unsurprisingly, both sides have denied some of the content of the documents, with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claiming the “information is full of distortions and fraud” and that the materials have been taken “out of context and contain lies.”  While positively portraying the Palestinians as a legitimate and willing peace partner, the documents also give ammunition to Fatah’s domestic opposition, who view the concessions offered as unacceptable.

Following up on last week, the New York Times did a more substantial analysis of the recently released Iraqi documents regarding the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991.

France is set to declassify photos and video of its failed rescue mission from earlier this month in Niger.  During the mission, the two hostages – French civilians being held by members of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – were killed.  The documents are being released in response to claims by AQIM that one of the hostages was killed by French air forces during the mission.  French authorities claim both hostages were executed by AQIM.

The Project on Government Oversight summarized the mixed results and new initiatives of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.

The U.S. Senate and Department of Defense have both updated their guidance regarding employees accessing WikiLeak documents.  As the leaked documents remain classified, both forbid employees from directly accessing copies of the documents on government computers (or any personal computer that is used to remotely access their respective networks).  Due to the “prohibitive cost of standard sanitization procedures,” the DOD has altered their policy regarding individual computers that have already accessed the data, demanding that the Information Assurance Officer permanently delete the materials using Shift-Delete instead of completely “sanitizing” the computer.  However, the guidance does not exclude  employees from reading transcribed portions of cables published in major news publications.

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