Slatest PM: Snowden's Secret-Free Laptops and the Rest of the Day's Non-Shutdown News

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 11 2013 4:26 PM

Slatest PM: Snowden's Secret-Free Laptops and the Rest of the Day's Non-Shutdown News

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A woman watches a footage on her computer, showing the lawyer of fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden showing his client's one year's asylum permit at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on August 1, 2013

Photo by STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The Story of the Moment/Day/Week remains the ongoing government shutdown and the looming default. For the current state of play in the nation's capital, head on over to Slate's shutdown live-blog or check out the shutdown landing page. But for those of you who need a break from the constant D.C. updates, today's PM is again rounding up the day's biggest non-shutdown stories.

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Snowden's Secret-Free Laptops: Reuters: "The four laptop computers that former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden carried with him to Hong Kong and Moscow were a 'diversion' and contained no secrets, according to an ex-CIA official who met with Snowden in Russia this week. The classified documents that Snowden had downloaded from the U.S. National Security Agency were stored on smaller devices, such as hard drives and thumb drives, and they have not been turned over to the Russian or Chinese authorities, said Ray McGovern, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst. On Wednesday, Snowden held a six-hour meeting in Moscow with McGovern and three other former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials who have all become critics of government surveillance programs."

Dinner With Edward: Wall Street Journal: "Snowden told supporters at a secret dinner this week that he doesn't regret leaking details of classified U.S. surveillance programs, despite having to live his life on the run because he is satisfied his actions have had an impact, a person present at the dinner said. ... Mr. Snowden told four former U.S. government agents-turned-whistleblowers, who traveled to Moscow to give him an award, that he was settling into his new life in Russia and was happy to have avoided the fate experienced by others who have exposed government secrets. ... The dinner Wednesday evening marked Mr. Snowden's first public appearance since being granted temporary political asylum in Russia on Aug. 1, as he fled from prosecutors in the U.S. who have charged him under the Espionage Act. Mr. Snowden had been in hiding in Russia under heavy security for weeks and had only previously emerged in public in disguise, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said."

It's Friday, October 11, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

No. 2 Nuke Officer Fired: CBS/AP: "The Air Force said Friday it fired the two-star general in charge of its nuclear missiles in response to an investigation into alleged personal misbehavior. It was the second sacking this week of a senior commander of nuclear forces. Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for three wings of intercontinental ballistic missiles - a total of 450 missiles at three bases across the country, according to an Air Force spokesman, Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick. The decision was made by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. Kowalski is in charge of all Air Force nuclear weapons, including bombers. On Wednesday, the second-in-command at U.S. Strategic Command, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was relieved of command amid an investigation into alleged gambling issues. Strategic Command is responsible for all Air Force and Navy nuclear forces."

Nazi SS Officer Dies at 100: NBC News: "Erich Priebke, a former German Nazi SS officer convicted of one of Italy's worst wartime massacres, died on Friday in Rome at the age of 100, his lawyer said. Priebke had been living under house arrest in Rome after being sentenced to life imprisonment in 1998 for the killings of 335 civilians in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome in March 1944. In March 1944, Priebke was in charge of SS troops who executed the 335 in retaliation for the killings of 33 German soldiers by a partisan group."

Nobel Peace Prize: New York Times: "Urging the destruction of an 'entire category' of unconventional weapons, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2013 Peace Prize on Friday to a relatively modest and little-known United Nations-backed body that has drawn sudden attention with a mission to destroy Syria’s stocks of chemical arms under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States. ... The award to the body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, took some Nobel watchers by surprise partly because of the unprecedented nature of its current task: overseeing the destruction of a previously secret chemical weapons program quickly amid a raging civil war."

Speaking of Syria: Associated Press: "Jihadi-led rebel fighters in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and abducted more than 200 during an offensive against pro-regime villages, committing a war crime, an international human rights group said Friday. The Aug. 4 attacks on unarmed civilians in more than a dozen villages in the coastal province of Latakia were systematic and could even amount to a crime against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a 105-page report. ... The report quoted witnesses as saying rebels went house to house, killing entire families or killing the men and taking women and children hostage. The villagers belong to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam which forms the backbone of President Bashar Assad's regime — and which Sunni Muslim extremists consider heretics."

Another Immigrant Boat Accident: Wall Street Journal: "A ship carrying migrants has capsized off Malta, a Coast Guard official in La Valletta said. The Italian Navy is involved in rescue efforts, the Maltese official said, adding that details for now remain scarce. The Italian Navy wasn't available for immediate comment. The news cames just days after more than 300 African migrants drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, an island to the south of Sicily. Thousands of refugees and immigrants try to cross the Mediterranean each year, often using barely seaworthy vessels. The death toll from the shipwreck off Lampedusa rose to 318 Friday and is likely to increase further as divers widen the search in the coming days, the Italian coast guard said."

Missouri Gov. Halts Execution: Associated Press: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday halted what was to have been the first U.S. execution to use the popular anesthetic propofol, following threats from the European Union to limit the drug's export if it were used for that purpose. Nixon also ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a different way to perform lethal injections without propofol, the leading anesthetic used in America's hospitals and clinics. Nearly 90 percent of the nation's propofol is imported from Europe. ... Nixon, a Democrat and staunch supporter of the death penalty, did not specifically mention the EU threat in his brief statement. Nixon was Missouri's longtime attorney general before he was first elected governor in 2008. During his 16 years as attorney general, 59 men were executed."

See you back here Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.