Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Vanessa Sauter
Thursday, October 12, 2017, 2:32 PM

Militants in Afghanistan released an American woman and her Canadian husband, who had been held hostage for five years, according to the New York Times. The hostage-takers captured Caitlan Coleman and Josh Boyle while the couple was hiking in a military stronghold near Kabul, Afghanistan. Coleman, who was pregnant at the time, gave birth to three children while in captivity. President Trump announced the family’s release on Thursday, acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts in taking custody of the hostages.

The Army stated on Thursday that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will enter a guilty plea  on October 16, the Washington Post reports. Bergdahl, who militants held in captivity for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after he abandoned his infantry platoon’s base in June 2009. The Obama administration released five Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay in 2014 to secure Bergdahl’s release.

President Donald Trump’s lawyers may ask Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the president in a gesture of cooperation with Mueller’s investigation, Politico reports. According to a senior White House official, the president’s lawyers hope that securing an interview would expedite the investigation and vindicate the president in the eyes of the public. Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd responded to Politico’s article by calling the report “Totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Wildfires continue devastating northern California’s wine country, with at least 24 people dead and 285 people missing, according to the Post. With nine fires still burning in Sonoma and Napa counties, these catastrophic wildfires mark the deadliest in California’s modern history. California’s wildfires are among the 22 disasters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now handling across the country.

President Trump will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen as Secretary of Homeland Security, Politico reports. Nielsen, John Kelly’s principal deputy chief of staff, previously worked for the in the Bush and Trump administrations. Kelly recommended Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and attorney, as other candidates, such as Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House homeland security committee, fell out of consideration.

European officials will release a unified response on Sunday to Trump’s expected Iran deal decertification decision, according to the Wall Street Journal. While the nature of the statement will largely depend on how Trump justified the decision, European officials will likely emphasize that U.S. concerns about Iran’s behavior and missile tests should be handled independent from the nuclear accord. French President Emmanuel Macron has indicated a different attitude towards U.S. concerns, suggesting France should be “more demanding” of Iran while still protecting the deal. 

 

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

Suzanne Maloney argued that Trump’s concern with the Iran deal misses the larger need for a U.S. strategy in handling Iran’s role in the region.

Nora Ellingsen provided an update on four recent international terrorism prosecutions.

Benjamin Wittes posted this week’s Rational Security podcast.

Bobby Chesney offered highlights from the White House’s memorandum on threat actor information.

Bob Bauer addressed impeachment standards and why a president’s words should be considered when assessing fitness for office.