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Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tara Hofbauer, Cody M. Poplin
Friday, August 15, 2014, 2:21 PM
Ukrainian artillery forces have shelled a Russian military convoy moving inside Ukraine this morning, reports Reuters.Yesterday, a series of Russian armored personnel carriers crossed over the border into Ukraine, providing, according to the Guardian, “incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed - that Russian troops are active insi

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Ukrainian artillery forces have shelled a Russian military convoy moving inside Ukraine this morning, reports Reuters.Yesterday, a series of Russian armored personnel carriers crossed over the border into Ukraine, providing, according to the Guardian, “incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed - that Russian troops are active inside its borders.” Reuters also shares that Russia has stationed over 40,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. Ironically, in a speech yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin “struck a conciliatory note and called for peace,” says the AP. Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced he will step down, allowing Haider al-Abadi to assume the role. The Wall Street Journal reports that “the surprise move deflates a potential [political] crisis.” According to Reuters, Sunni Iraqi leaders have announced their willingness to join a new, more inclusive government, given certain conditions. Reuters also informs us that the U.S. has pledged to help the governor of Iraq’s Anbar province rout Islamic State militants from the region. While Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi confirmed the agreement, Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf shared no details. Yesterday, President Obama claimed credit for halting a potential genocide on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar. The Associated Press reports that U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State targets will continue, though further humanitarian airdrops no longer appear likely. According to the AP, “a U.S. team who spent Wednesday on the mountaintop reported numbers far smaller and circumstances less dire than feared.” About 4,500 people remain on Mount Sinjar. The Washington Post and the Daily Beast examine how U.S. estimates regarding the situation atop Mount Sinjar changed so rapidly. Meanwhile, the Post shares news that the Islamic State is expanding its reach beyond Iraq and Syria. According to the Guardian, the U.S. is set to provide Lebanon with additional arms and supplies to help combat the threat posed by Islamist militants. The Daily Beast considers the intelligence challenges that the Islamic State poses for U.S. officials. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, former National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones (ret.) offers his advice for handling the situation in Iraq. In neighboring Syria, the rebel-held city of Mleiha was recaptured yesterday by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Reuters provides details. As a new five-day ceasefire holds between Israel and Hamas, the Wall Street Journal examines the divide between the demands of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators working on a long-term agreement in Cairo. Meanwhile, Israel responds to the beginnings of a U.N. war crimes investigation. The New York Times has details. More troubling news out of Afghanistan: Radio Free Europe is reporting that an Afghan regional security chief has ordered the execution of all detained militants. The order violates the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, but the commander said that it was his “own, personal” decision after several militants that were transferred for trial had eventually been set free and returned to combat. In Pakistan, opposition leader Imran Khan has claimed that the convoy of protesters he is leading from Lahore to Islamabad was fired upon by pro-government mobs. The government has insisted that no shots were fired and promised an investigation. Reuters has the story, as tens of thousands of protesters approach the Pakistani capital. Away from the capital, Pakistani security forces fought off two militant attacks against two separate military bases near Quetta in western Pakistan. Security forces claimed that 10 militants were killed while several security officials were injured. A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with a spokesman for the group saying “there will be more attacks in the coming days.” The Times has more. ABC News reports that al Qaeda has issued a more urgent plea calling on the family of American hostage Warren Weinstein to pressure Washington to negotiate a prisoner exchange for his release. Weinstein, a former USAID worker, is suspected to be held against his will by al Qaeda in Pakistan. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has called on Islamic militants to target the United States following the U.S. air campaign against ISIS in Iraq, according to Reuters.  The statement, released via Twitter, called on “every Muslim, especially anyone who can enter America, to champion his brothers by going to war against America with everything he can.” AQAP, which is based in Yemen and has been subject to an extensive U.S. drone campaign, also offered tactical advice to “brothers” in Iraq. The statement tells them to “be careful when dealing with telephones and internet networks, and to disperse in fields if there is a heavy concentration of planes.” The statement comes as Reuters also reports that three Yemeni soldiers and two al Qaeda militants were killed on Thursday, when security forces disrupted a car bomb attack. Separately, security officials claimed to have also unearthed a plot to assassinate Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh has already survived two previous assassination attempts. Reuters has the details. In an opinion in the Post, Charles Krauthammer considers a quote from Hillary Clinton’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg last week: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Krauthammer notes that “the only consistency [in President Obama’s foreign policy] is president’s inability (unwillingness?) to see the bigger picture.” Yet, James Fallows at the Atlantic presents two different ways of looking at the Clinton interview - neither of which he finds particularly appealing for the future of the country.  And in case you missed it, on Lawfare, Jack has weighed in with his own thoughts on the Foreign Policy Nirvana fallacy. Despite global focus on the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, President Obama’s “Asia pivot [is still] on track,”according to the Hill. Defense Department spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby announced, “We’re very committed to that region.” Work has begun on a new Marine Corps runway on Okinawa, reports Stars and Stripes.  The project is considered part of the U.S. Pacific realignment. On that subject, the Wall Street Journal has a review of the ongoing transition of U.S. personnel to a base outside of Darwin, Australia, where seven nations are currently staging one of Asia’s biggest air combat exercises. Boko Haram has abducted dozens of boys and men in Nigeria, Reuters tells us. Following a raid on a small fishing village, the terrorist group loaded the hostages onto trucks and drove off with them. 97 people remain missing. The Wall Street Journal reports that due to the Ebola outbreak, the State Department has begun pulling family members of embassy personnel out of Sierra Leone. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has ordered Guantanamo Bay authorities to answer questions about the force-feeding of detainee Mohammed Abu Wa’el Dhiab, McClatchy reports. Specifically, Judge Kessler has requested to know whether the insertion of the tube is painful, and if it is safe to leave the tube in for three days at a time.  The order also asks why Dhiab was not allowed to use a wheelchair for transport to and from enteral feedings. Yesterday, in a hearing on the 9/11 case, attorneys for five Guantanamo detainees sought details regarding the FBI’s questioning of defense team members. Army Col. Judge James Pohl did not rule on the matter. At the hearing, the accused wore Palestinian attire in support for the people of Gaza. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald has the story. The New Republic tells us that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried to send a letter to President Obama on the current crisis in Gaza, but the government refused to allow him to do so. Navy Captain Tom Gresback could not confirm whether detainees in Camp 7 have the right to send mail. According to TNR, Mohammed’s attorney noted the irony that his client cannot write to the president since “the president after all, under the Military Commissions Act, is the person who is required to sign off on the execution of any death warrant that is issued as a result of the culmination of these proceedings.” Meanwhile, the AP reports that Mr. Mohammed’s civilian defense attorney, David Nevin, has said that he may withdraw from the case unless the judge orders the government to provide details about FBI investigations of defense team members. You can follow the daily Guantanamo proceedings at the Lawfare Events Coverage page which is updated daily. shares that yesterday, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the highest ranking U.S. officer to die in combat since the Vietnam War, was buried in Arlington Cemetery. In September, the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) is set to amend its charter in order to deal with issues of cybersecurity. According to U.S. News and World Report, while cyberattacks will now be covered by Article 5, the alliance’s mutual defense agreement, there will be no set definition for when a cyberassault necessitates a collective response. International Business Times considers the challenges that cyber poses for NATO. To combat hackers, law enforcement personnel have begun treating them like organized crime gangs, employing techniques used against the Mafia. U.S. News and World Report shares more. The Arab Bank trial opened yesterday in the United States, wherein the plaintiffs allege that Arab Bank PLC transferred millions of dollars for Hamas, knowing that the group was likely to use the money to finance terrorism. The suit was filed under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990. The Wall Street Journal has details. Bloomberg informs us that on September 24, the Pentagon is expected to release new rules for government contractors on the disclosure of network breaches. A report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Inspector General (IG) held that the Bureau has made better use of national security letters since the IG’s last findings. However, further improvements are still necessary. The AP has the story. Amy Schafer of Task and Purpose offers ideas for bridging the U.S. civilian-military divide. We leave you with a note from the the Economist, which writes on the cold realism of America’s defense secretary. Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Tara Hofbauer previously was an intern with Lawfare. She is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, with a minor in Legal Studies and History.
Cody Poplin is a student at Yale Law School. Prior to law school, Cody worked at the Brookings Institution and served as an editor of Lawfare. He graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 with degrees in Political Science & Peace, War, and Defense.

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