Today's Headlines and Commentary

Jordan Brunner
Monday, January 30, 2017, 2:15 PM

The Chicago Tribune informs us that protests erupted outside the White House and in cities around the United States in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning entry of refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria as federal judges in four jurisdictions called a temporarily halt to the executive order in response to lawsuits filed on behalf of new arrivals detained in airports as a resul

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The Chicago Tribune informs us that protests erupted outside the White House and in cities around the United States in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning entry of refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria as federal judges in four jurisdictions called a temporarily halt to the executive order in response to lawsuits filed on behalf of new arrivals detained in airports as a result of the order. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick chronicles how hundreds of lawyers flooded into airports across America, filing habeas petitions and speaking to their detained clients. Trump has doubled down in the face of opposition, stating that the executive order does not constitute a “Muslim ban” and accusing the press of “falsely reporting” on the chaos.

The order was implemented with practically no input from the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, Defense Department, Department of Justice, or lawyers on the National Security Council. It remains unclear to what extent the Office of Legal Counsel reviewed the document before Trump signed it into law. DHS, which was forced to make a legal analysis of the order after it was signed, determined that the order did not apply to green card holders but was overruled by Trump aides Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, the former executive chair of white nationalist website Breitbart News. The New York Times and CNN have more. According to Reuters, green card holders are now being admitted to the United States.

The protests and injunctions come as many prominent officials, both foreign and domestic, have spoken out against the ban as both “un-American” and as a security threat. The Wall Street Journal writes that both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Theresa May voiced opposition to the ban. CNN reports that Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) issued a joint statement on Sunday calling the ban a “self-inflicted wound” that “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.” (Lawfare has collected more notable reactions here.) And jihadist groups have cheered the order according to the Post, predicting that it would persuade America muslims to side with extremists and that the ban was fulfilling the predictions of Anwar al-Awlaki, the extremist American cleric killed in a drone strike in 2011.

ABC News reports that numerous Foreign Service officers and other diplomats have drafted a dissent memo expressing opposition to the executive order. Lawfare has the draft of the dissent memo here.

The Washington Post reports that gunmen attacked a suburban mosque in Quebec City as worshippers were finishing their prayers Sunday night, an assault that government officials have labeled a terrorist attack. The attack killed 6 people and wounded 19, five of them critically. One of the suspects was arrested near the mosque, while the other turned himself in. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted to console fellow Canadians in the immediate aftermath of the attack, saying, “Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.”

In other news, the Journal informs us President Trump reorganized the National Security Council over the weekend, shunting aside the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff aside as optional members of the NSC in favor of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. The Director of the CIA is also absent from the membership list. The Times examines Bannon’s expanded role in the White House and notes that tensions have begun to emerge between Trump and national security advisor Michael Flynn.

CNN reports that the Trump spoke with five world leaders on Sunday, most notably Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump discussed joining forces to defeat ISIS, restoring trade ties, and the situation in Ukraine and the Korean Peninsula. Other issues, such as cyber-attacks and sanctions, were left out.

NPR informs us that Trump also spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And Politico notes that Trump had phone conversations with King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday as well. The New York Times tells us that Trump also told acting South Korean president Hwang Kyo-ahn by phone this morning that the U.S. alliance with South Korea is “ironclad,” after having cast doubt on commitments to the country during the campaign.

The Post reports that the Syrian government has warned that the safe zones for civilians that Trump has proposed would be an “unsafe act and will pose a violation of the Syrian sovereignty,” if attempted without the coordination of the Syrian government. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem made the announcement via SANA, Syria’s state news agency, and also called on all Syrian refugees to return to their homes, claiming that the government would meet all their needs. The Syrian government also announced the evacuation of rebels and their families from Barada Valley as per the ceasefire agreement.

The Times writes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the U.S. embassy in Israel “needs to be” in Jerusalem. The Israeli leader’s comments come as Trump has walked back his promise to place the U.S. embassy in the disputed capital of Israel, a move that would break with decades of diplomatic practice.

The Daily Star reports that Turkey has begun the trials of 269 alleged participants in last July’s coup. Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pinpointed as the mastermind of the coup, is being tried in absentia.

The Times informs us that one U.S. Navy Seal was killed and three others were wounded in a firefight with Al Qaeda militants in Yemen. The surprise dawn attack comprises the first counterterrorism operation of the Trump administration. A brother-in-law and niece of Anwar al-Awlaki are believed to have been killed in the attack, along with a number of women and children. The mission, which had been planned for weeks under the Obama administration, marks the first counterterrorism authorized by Donald Trump.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Amira Mikhail summarized President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending all refugee admissions into the United States.

Quinta Jurecic flagged the habeas petition of two Iraqi refugees challenging President Trump’s refugee ban as unconstitutional.

Adham Sahloul examined the negative impacts the refugee executive order will have on American security and refugees.

Quinta posted the Lawfare Podcast: About That Border Wall.

Benjamin Wittes dissected the malevolence and legal incompetence behind Trump’s refugee executive order.

Quinta flagged Trump’s executive orders on the National Security Council, the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS, and ethics commitments by executive branch officials.

Cody Poplin summarized Trump’s executive order on ethics commitments by executive branch officials.

Jordan Brunner summarized Trump’s second National Security Presidential Memorandum reorganizing the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.

John Bellinger provided his thoughts about the NSC memorandum.

Rick Houghton summarized Trump’s third National Security Presidential Memorandum laying out the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS.

Nora Ellingsen noted responses by high-profile officials to Trump’s executive orders on immigration, the NSC, ISIS, and ethics commitments.

Quinta chronicled the setbacks the Trump administration has had in four courts over its refugee executive order.

Eric Rosand and Alistair Millar provided a set of recommendations to help Trump use the private sector to stop violent extremism.

Paul Rosenzweig flagged his primer on refugee law posted on the site in November 2015.

Ben and Susan Hennessey explained that donations to Lawfare of up to $5,000 will be matched by a generous donor.

Paul explained that there is still uncertainty as to the effect that Trump’s executive order on Enhancing Public Safety may have on the Privacy Shield agreement.

Quinta posted litigation documents and resources related to Trump’s refugee executive order.

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Jordan A. Brunner is a graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and was a national security intern at the Brookings Institution. Prior to law school, he was a Research Fellow with the New America Foundation/ASU Center for the Future of War, where he researched cybersecurity, cyber war, and cyber conflict alongside Shane Harris, author of @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex. He graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Political Science.

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