Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Hayley Evans
Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 2:02 PM

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is resuming its ground operations against the remnants of ISIS in eastern Syria, the Washington Post reports. The Syrian Democratic Forces is a Kurdish-dominated military alliance that, with support from the U.S.-led coalition, has defeated the Islamic State in some parts of the country. While the SDF ousted ISIS from Raqqa in October, it failed to liberate the Deir al-Zour province earlier this year as thousands of SDF fighters left to fight Turkey in northern Syria. This news comes after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that he expected a “re-energized” effort against the remaining pockets of ISIS militants in eastern Syria.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has at least four dozen questions to ask President Trump concerning Russian election interference and possible obstruction of the inquiry, the New York Times reports. Early Monday evening the New York times published the questions, which the Times characterize as “an attempt to penetrate the president’s thinking, to get at the motivation behind some of his most combative Twitter posts and to examine his relationships with his family and his closest advisors.” The questions deal primarily with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former FBI director James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is not seeking war with Iran, Reuters reports. This news comes after Netanyahu presented documents and files during a Monday speech showing what he says are evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as propaganda. Trump and Netanyahu have long-criticized the 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program; Trump faces a May 12 deadline for a decision on whether to pull out of the agreement.

North and South Korea have begun removing the loudspeakers that used to broadcast competing propaganda across their shared border, Al Jazeera reports. South Korean defense ministry personnel began removing the loudspeakers installed in the front line of Paju on Tuesday, and told a South Korean news agency that its North Korean counterpart had also begun dismantling its own loudspeakers earlier that day. South Korea had been broadcasting criticism of North Korea’s communist system, news on South Korea, and K-pop music for years—at times with North Korea even threatening artillery strikes against the sound equipment. This news comes after President Trump’s suggestion on Monday that he might meet North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone, Panmunjom, instead of a third country for talks later this month or in early June.

The CIA has declassified more information about acting CIA director Gina Haspel’s career, Bloomberg reports. Haspel, who is President Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, spent most of her career undercover. She has faced scrutiny for her role in the CIA’s enhanced-interrogation program during the Bush administration. The statement released on Tuesday disclosed that Haspel served as chief of station for the Europe division from 2014 to 2017, after working as chief of staff in the directorate of operations from 2005 to 2008. Haspel was also deputy group chief of Russian operations from 1998 to 2000, and she has received Turkish and Russian language training.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Sophia Brill addressed whether the Supreme Court was given accurate information during last Wednesday’s oral argument of Trump v. Hawaii.

Michael J. Glennon responded to Jack Goldsmith’s comparison of the U.N. Charter to Article II war powers, explaining international law’s institutional deficit.

Jennifer Daskal and Peter Swire set forth recommendations for formulation and negotiation of executive agreements under Section 5 of the Cloud Act.

Daniel Byman explained why Russia is a state-sponsor of terrorism, but why designating it as such would be counterproductive.

Carrie Cordero commented on the House intelligence committee’s report on Russian election-interference.

Jack Goldsmith summarized the principles of ethical leadership James Comey presents in his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

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