Hot Docs: Britain's Take on Terrorism, Leaving Iraq

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Britain's Take on Terrorism: While some factors contributing to terrorism are likely to persist, other trends will probably constrain terrorist organizations in the United Kingdom. That's the view of a new British report, "Pursue Prevent Protect Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism," which lays out the country's strategy for countering terrorism. The report notes that despite the persistence of world conflicts that fuel terrorism, senior leaders of terrorist groups continue to be killed or captured in military or police operations, terrorist groups are short of money, and they have failed in their goals of overthrowing governments or changing policies. The report concludes, "We will continue to regard the protection of human rights as central to our counterterrorism work in this country and overseas. Our response to terrorism will be based upon the rule of law."

Leaving Iraq: A Government Accountability Office report looks at what it will take to remove 140,000 U.S. troops and billions of dollars of equipment from Iraq and concludes that it will be "massive and expensive." The report, "Iraq: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight," examines what the Department of Defense will be up against as it seeks to meet the goal of having all U.S. troops withdrawn by the end of 2011. "Although reducing troops would appear to lower costs, GAO has seen from previous operations in the Balkans and Kosovo that costs could rise in the near term," it warns. Those costs, which are difficult to estimate, include managing hazardous materials, transferring personal property, retraining troops, and buying new equipment. All of this will be on top of actually moving the troops and transporting about 170,000 pieces of equipment worth more than $16 billion. "According to U.S. Army officials, experience has shown that it takes one to two months to close the smallest platoon- or company-size installations—which contain between 16 and 200 combat soldiers or marines."

Treasury Outlines New Regulatory Scheme: The Treasury Department has released details of draft legislation that will be sent to Congress to give the government regulatory authority over financial institutions like AIG. The draft bill, to be sent to Congress this week, will cover financial institutions such as "bank and thrift holding companies and holding companies that control broker-dealers, insurance companies, and futures commission merchants." The outline offered a number of scenarios to fund the program, including assessments on the covered financial institutions. In remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary Timothy Geithner said that "one of the key lessons of the current crisis is that destabilizing dangers can come from financial institutions besides banks, but our current regulatory system provides few ways to deal with these risks." He says the legislation will "give the government the tools to limit the risk-taking at firms that could set off cascading damage."