Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tara Hofbauer
Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 1:20 PM
Redoubled U.S.-led airstrikes have successfully pushed back Islamic State militants fighting for the northern Syrian town of Kobani. Reuters quotes the deputy foreign minister of the Kobani district, Idris Nassan, who said, "They are now outside the entrances of the city of Kobani.

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Redoubled U.S.-led airstrikes have successfully pushed back Islamic State militants fighting for the northern Syrian town of Kobani. Reuters quotes the deputy foreign minister of the Kobani district, Idris Nassan, who said, "They are now outside the entrances of the city of Kobani. The shelling and bombardment was very effective.” According to Iraqi officials, Anbar province, a region which serves as a buffer between the Islamic State and the capital of Baghdad, “is at a new risk of falling to the militant group.” The Wall Street Journal reports that more U.S.-led airstrikes are necessary to prevent cities and crucial infrastructure, such as dams, from being overtaken. At the Pentagon today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders will brief President Obama on U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State. Likely under discussion will be the success of American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Military Times quotes retired military officials’ predictions about today’s meeting. In an interview with CNN yesterday, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta reiterated his recent criticisms of President Obama’s strategy in the Middle East: "I take the position that when you're commander in chief that you oughta keep all options on the table ... to be able to have the flexibility to do what is necessary in order to defeat the enemy." Foreign Policy examines whether military officials should resign in protest if civilian leaders fail to implement their recommendations. In London yesterday, British police and MI5 apprehended four men with ties to the Islamic State. According to the Telegraph, these individuals were “in the ‘early stages’ of planning a ‘significant’ attack.” Stateside, the FBI has turned to social media to identify and combat foreign fighters. Yesterday, the Bureau took to Facebook and Twitter to ask for information regarding the identity of an Islamic State militant who has appeared in a number of propaganda videos and speaks English with a North American accent. The National Journal shares details. The Guardian reports that at a meeting of the UN Security Council yesterday, a special representative of the UN secretary general informed diplomats that the Syrian government has disclosed the existence of four additional chemical weapons facilities. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that Islamic State militants could gain access to Syria’s secret chemical weapons stockpiles. The Daily Beast informs us that the Free Syrian Army has overtaken what could be a Russian-Syrian “covert intelligence collection base” near the Golan Heights. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for more international monitors on his country’s border with Russia, accusing pro-Russian separatists of violating the terms of the ceasefire negotiated last month. The Wall Street Journal has details. According to Reuters, “breaches of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine have renewed Western diplomatic pressure on Moscow.” Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna announced yesterday that the European Union will toughen sanctions against Russia if it continues its current policy toward Ukraine. The Associated Press reports that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna next week to participate in P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran. With the late-November deadline looming, diplomats have seven weeks to make a deal. On Monday, U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko released a report accusing the UN Development Program of “exercising a ‘baffling’ lack of oversight of a fraud-tainted, multibillion-dollar program that funds the payroll of the Afghan police.” Foreign Policy has the story. Yesterday, Twitter filed suit against the U.S. government, “alleging that the Justice Department’s restrictions on what the company can say publicly about the government’s national security requests for user data violate the firm’s First Amendment rights.” Twitter would like to be able to announce publicly the number and types of information requests it receives. After failing to reach an out-of-court settlement, the company filed its complaint before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Washington Post has more. Air Force Col. Judge Vance Spath ruled yesterday against a defense motion to have doctors conduct an MRI scan of Guantanamo detainee Abd al Rahim al Nashiri’s brain in search of “organic brain damage.” The Miami Herald has the story. Yesterday, Abu Anas al-Libi, a Libyan man facing charges for his suspected involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to suppress self-incriminating statements he made to the FBI. According to the Wall Street Journal, al-Libi alleges that he was tortured and his statements coerced. 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.

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