Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tara Hofbauer
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 1:42 PM
Tonight, in an address to the nation at 9 PM EST, President Obama will outline his strategy to confront the Islamic State. The New York Times quotes senior administration officials, who say the President will approve airstrikes in Syria.

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Tonight, in an address to the nation at 9 PM EST, President Obama will outline his strategy to confront the Islamic State. The New York Times quotes senior administration officials, who say the President will approve airstrikes in Syria. “People briefed on the President’s plans described a long-term campaign far more complex than the targeted strikes the United States has used against Al Qaeda in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere.” When President Obama met yesterday with congressional leaders, he told them that, though he has the authority to expand U.S. operations against the Islamic State, “he would welcome action by the Congress that would aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the United States is united in defeating the threat from ISIL.” The Associated Press and National Journal detail the meeting. Foreign Policy reports that yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that the President needs congressional approval for increased action against the Islamic State. However, he “noted that convincing lawmakers should be an easy task given the recent surge of ‘hawkish’ sentiment in Congress.” Still, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appear in no rush to bring authorizing legislation to the floor. Here at Lawfare, Cody details four Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) against the Islamic State, which have been proposed by legislators thus far. McClatchy examines the role of regional allies in the U.S. plan for combating the Islamic State, in which Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and “silent partner” Iran are all likely to play a role. Stars and Stripes and the Times consider potential U.S.-Iranian cooperation. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. and the European Union are working with Middle East allies Turkey, Qatar, and Kuwait to cut off Islamic State financing. The U.S. plan will also rely on Iraq’s new government, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new Iraqi government faces a number of challenges in addressing the complaints of Iraq’s ethnic minorities. During an unannounced visit to Baghdad today, Secretary of State John Kerry noted, “A new, inclusive Iraqi government has to be the engine of our global strategy against ISIL.” The Washington Post and the Times have more details of his trip. Meanwhile, the U.S. military continues to conduct airstrikes on the Islamic State. The Post shares a running tally of the targets of U.S. air attacks. According to the AP, five strikes yesterday hit eight armed vehicles near the Haditha Dam. The AP reports that today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced plans to introduce a bill that would grant “greater autonomy” to the country’s eastern region, while rejecting separatist calls for federalization. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will deploy drones to monitor the “fragile” ceasefire between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants. According to Reuters, “OSCE chairman and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter... said [the ceasefire]... should be given time to produce a political dialogue before more sanctions are imposed on Russia over its involvement in the crisis.” Still, expanded sanctions are in development in the U.S. In a briefing yesterday, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf noted, “The United States is finalizing measures to both deepen and broaden our sanctions across Russia's financial, energy and defense sectors. We're in close coordination with the [European Union] on this.” The Hill shares details. Meanwhile, American military aid to the embattled Ukrainian government has been “modest.” According to the Times, “the White House, which has relied on economic sanctions and the threat of international isolation to deter Russia from escalating its involvement in Ukraine, has been reluctant to step up military assistance for fear that it will lead to an escalation in the fighting and provoke Moscow.” The Times informs us that Iran has been negotiating with Russia regarding “economic cooperation in energy, which could undercut the sanctions” and jeopardize continued P5+1 nuclear negotiations. The latter are scheduled to resume in New York next week. In an address yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to come together and form a unity government. The Post has details on Karzai’s statements and the ongoing electoral crisis in Afghanistan. USA Today considers how al Qaeda has changed in the thirteen years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In War on the Rocks, Conrad Crane, Chief of Historical Services for the Army Heritage and Education Center at the Army War College, and the lead author for the 2006 Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual, reflects upon the “Long War” that the U.S. has conducted since 9/11. Yesterday, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrapped up a three-day visit to China. McClatchy and Reuters detail the topics under discussion during Rice’s trip. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Japan are engaged in talks regarding the “possibility of Tokyo acquiring offensive weapons that would allow Japan to project power far beyond its borders.” Reuters has the story. The Army Times informs us that on Friday, the Army activated its new Cyber Protection Brigade, based at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) yesterday announced intentions to end contracts with USIS, a private security contractor, which was the victim of a state-sponsored cyberattack that compromised the files of 25,000 workers for the Department of Homeland Security. The AP and NPR share the story. In an op-ed in the Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson calls on members of Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation. The Guardian reports that the six hundred page summary to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)’s report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture may not be made public until after the midterm elections in November. On Monday, SSCI Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated, “We’re still discussing redactions, and it won’t be released until we’re satisfied that we can have a comprehensive and understandable report.” Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald considers the ways in which Guantanamo Bay does and does not function as “an extension of the United States.” According to CBS News, the House of Representatives yesterday passed a non-binding resolution, condemning President Obama for failing to inform Congress thirty days in advance of the release of five Guantanamo detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Meanwhile, Bergdahl remains in a “holding pattern,” as he await the results of the Army’s investigation into his disappearance. San Antonio Express-News has the story. 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. 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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.

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