Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tara Hofbauer
Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 1:39 PM
“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. He and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave testimony regarding the U.S. plan to counter the Islamic State.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. He and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave testimony regarding the U.S. plan to counter the Islamic State. Foreign Policy notes that Gen. Dempsey’s remarks conflict with President Obama’s declaration last week that “American forces [in Iraq] will not have a combat mission.” The Washington Post provides transcripts of Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey’s statements before the committee. Following the Hill testimony, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that the President “will not deploy ground troops in a combat role into Iraq or Syria.” However, David Ignatius of the Post explains how paramilitary operations led by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could enable the President to provide combat support to the Iraqi army, while maintaining his promise to the American people to keep boots off the ground. According to the Associated Press, the House of Representatives is expected to approve a spending bill today that will include an amendment authorizing funding to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels. Politico anticipates that on Thursday, the Senate will pass the House’s legislation. ABC News informs us that, in a letter sent to U.S. House leaders regarding the proposed funding of moderate rebels, Speaker of the Syrian Parliament Jihad al-Lahham warns, "There is nothing to prevent those groups from selling the U.S. weapons to ISIL as it is their proven common practice." The Islamic State yesterday released a new video, which largely resembles a Hollywood movie trailer. According to the New York Times, it is a response to President Obama’s intended plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group. At the Billington Cyber Security Summit yesterday, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers remarked, “Clearly, ISIL has been very aggressive in the use of media, in the use of technology, in the use of the Internet. It's something I'm watching." Reuters has the story. In Time, Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group explains why the U.S. State Department’s “Think Again Turn Away” Twitter campaign “is not only ineffective, but also provides jihadists with a stage to voice their arguments.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Iraqi Parliament yesterday rejected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Defense and Interior Minister nominees. Sectarian divisions have made filling the posts difficult. Likewise, the Times explains how the prevalence of Shia militias in Iraq complicates U.S. military assistance. Reuters reports that Syrian government air strikes have killed at least 48 people in the town of Talbiseh in the Homs province. Yesterday, Ben Bissell highlighted news of the ratification of a trade and political agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal explains why Kiev is actually in a weaker position than meets the eye. Thanks to pressure from Russia, the EU deal will not take effect for some time. Furthermore, the Ukrainian Parliament just approved a bill granting rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk “special status” for at least three years. Time highlights pro-Russian separatists’ hesitant response to the legislation. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is in North America, seeking U.S. aid. According to the Times, on Thursday, he will meet with President Obama and address a joint-session of Congress. Agence France-Presse reports that “Russia is to reinforce its troop deployments in annexed Crimea and southern Russia.” Afghanistan needs a bailout, according to Alhaj M. Aqa, director general of the treasury at the Afghan Finance Ministry. Apparently, unless the Afghan government receives $537 million from the U.S. and international donors this week, it “will have to begin deferring payment of bills for items ranging from fuel for government vehicles to official stationery,” reports the Post. Meanwhile, Defense One shares that, according to Afghanistan Reconstruction Inspector General John Sopko, “The prognosis for rebuilding Afghanistan... is bleak unless that nation and its American allies get a handle on sustainability, corruption and narcotics trafficking.” In an ambush late last night, Taliban militants killed six Afghan police officers. The AP has the story. Foreign Policy informs us that the United Nations has taken over the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, which has been embroiled in violent sectarian conflict for nearly two years. The U.S. has also decided to reopen its embassy in the country’s capital Bangui. In a statement Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted, "The people and leaders of the Central African Republic have made progress in ending the violence and putting their nation on a path toward peace and stability." Yesterday, Ben Bissell noted President Obama’s plan to help contain and manage the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. The Wall Street Journal explains that the President’s strategy poses a number of challenges for U.S. forces, as “the operation will require the military to fuse its experience in responding to natural disasters with its training in biowarfare to minimize the risks of Americans contracting the disease.” Reuters shares an exclusive interview with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, during which Park indicated her willingness to engage in high-level dialogue with her neighbors to the North during the upcoming U.N. General Assembly. The Hill reports that members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have begun holding discussions regarding the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The full House has already passed its draft of the NDAA, but the Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to receive a floor vote on its version. Staffers for the two committees are expected to work on the legislation during the election recess, so that members can pass a bill during Congress’ lame duck session. Roll Call examines the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Defense One examines statements made yesterday by NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers at the Billington Cyber Security Summit. There, he noted, “I fundamentally reject the premise of the question that says the NSA is no longer in a position where it has a relationship with foreign counterparts or with the corporate sector, or that foreign counterparts have walked away from the NSA. That’s not what I’ve observed in my five months as director.” Politico considers the Defense Department’s new rules for government contractors in the wake of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of classified information. Yesterday, in New York, the U.S. indicted Yemen-born Mufid A. Elfgeeh for “attempting to provide support to the terrorist group Islamic State.” USA Today 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. 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.

Subscribe to Lawfare