Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Vanessa Sauter
Thursday, October 5, 2017, 3:48 PM

An ambush in Niger on Wednesday left three United States Army Special Forces dead and two wounded while training with Nigerian troops north of Niger’s capital Niamey, according to the New York Times. The attack occurred near the border of Mali in an area where affiliates of Al Qaeda have been known to conduct border raids. The Army Special Forces have been providing assistance, including training and security, to the Nigerien military. This event marks the first American casualties under hostile fire in the training mission.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated at a press conference on Wednesday that he has not considered leaving his post, the Washington Post reports. The statement followed an NBC News report earlier that day alleging Tillerson was considering resigning and had called President Trump a “moron.” During the press conference, Tillerson, who did not directly deny his comment about the president, complimented Trump as “smart,” and reiterated his commitment to the position and American security. Trump on Twitter called for NBC News to “issue an apology to America” for its “#FakeNews.”

Senate Select Intelligence Committee leaders Richard Burr and Mark Warner held a press conference yesterday to provide an update on the Russia probe, according to the Times. Amid conducting hundreds of interviews and reviewing tens of thousands of documents, the committee is continuing to investigate the possibility of collusion related to the 2016 election. Mark Warner emphasized the ongoing efforts of Russian actors and the necessity of protecting the electoral system. Richard Burr announced that the committee invited major social media platforms to an open hearing on November 1 to discuss the role of disinformation in the 2016 elections.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has taken over the FBI’s investigation into the Steele dossier, a report by a former British spy Christopher Steele containing widespread allegations against Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 election, Reuters reports. Neither the FBI nor Mueller’s spokesman commented. The dossier, available to several news organizations prior to the November election, has been treated with apprehension since its distribution due to the many unsubstantiated and suggestive claims within the document. Four U.S. intelligence agencies stated in January that they have taken the document’s allegations seriously.

The Pentagon shipped roughly $370,000 in rental MRI equipment to Guantanamo in order to comply with a court order to study the brain of Saudi captive Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the Miami Herald reports. Defense lawyers for the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are now allowed to apply for scans of the alleged terrorists’ brains during the four-month window that the MRI equipment will be at Guantanamo. The scans are categorized as forensic in a procedure that can help assess brain damage, a factor that may help avert the death penalty for the men accused.

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

Megan Reis examined how the U.S. response to an interdicted North Korean arms shipment works in concert with U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Michael Neiberg reviewed Robert Gerwarth’s book The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End.

Ashley Deeks discussed Common Article 3 and non-state armed groups for the multi-blog series on the Fifth Annual Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict.

Matthew Kahn posted the House Judiciary Committee’s discussion draft of a Section 702 reform bill.

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes reviewed the latest updates on Paul Manafort for their Lawfare@FP column.

Vanessa Sauter posted the video from Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner’s press conference on the Russia probe.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck released the National Security Law Podcast.

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