Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 2:02 PM

A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to stop its blanket detention policy for asylum seekers, according to the Washington Post. The government will now have to release more than 1,000 individuals detained at five U.S. field offices or grant them immediate hearings. The order is part of a larger case that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of nine asylum seekers held within the United States. Federal judge James Boasberg said the government must determine on an individual basis whether an asylum seeker poses a flight risk or a threat to public safety and release any who does not. The Justice Department has not said whether it will appeal the injunction.

The White House may designate a branch of Iran’s military as a terrorist group, reports CNN. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a powerful arm of Iran’s military, and it has been connected to Tehran’s support of terrorism on a number of occasions, CNN says. The designation would permit the Trump administration to block IRGC members from traveling and to freeze the groups assets, among other penalties. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cautioned against the decision last October, saying it would include “particular risks and complexities” and therefore was “not appropriate,” but sources familiar with the matter say that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supports the designation. Pompeo recently told CNN that his goal is to “convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a normal country.”

After weeks of contentious negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached a deal to address migrants along the German border and salvage her coalition government, reports BBC. The negotiations centered on the question of what to do with migrants who attempt to enter Germany after they apply for asylum in other European Union countries. The details of Monday’s agreement remain vague, however; Merkel appears to have agreed to a series of transit centers along the German border that will house migrants before they are transferred back to the E.U. country where they first registered. For the agreement to work, it will require all of the nations involved to agree to the deal. Monday’s announcement is a far cry from Merkel’s ideal solution, in which European Union members would work together to share the burden of asylum seekers. Public-opinion polls suggest that a majority of Germans agree with her.

The FBI arrested a man who was planning an attack in Cleveland on July 4, according to the Post. Demetrius Pitts appeared in court on Monday on charges of attempting to provide material support of a foreign terrorist organization. Pitt discussed his plans on a number of occasions with an individual who he believed to be working for al-Qaeda, but who was actually an undercover FBI employee. Pitt said in a recording that he was “trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July.” European security services prevented another potential bombing at an annual, anti-Iran gathering in Paris, according to the Journal. Belgian, French, and German police arrested four individuals on June 30, and security forces are investigating whether the Iranian government may have been behind the attempted attack. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zafir tweeted on Monday “Iran unequivocally condemns all violence and terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy.”

The Trump administration will no longer penalize all nations who buy oil from Iran, but will consider sanction waivers on a “case-by-case” basis, reports the Wall Street Journal. The announcement came from a senior State Department official on Monday. The new policy reverses the Trump administration’s June 26 announcement that it would sanction all countries who purchased Iranian oil beginning on Nov. 4. Several nations expressed concern that they would be unable to meet the fall deadline. The U.S. will now consider waivers for countries in Europe and Asia, but primarily for France, Germany, and the U.K. According the State Department official, the U.S. is “working to minimize disruptions to the global market.”

Anti-corruption authorities arrested Malaysia’s ex-prime minister and are expected to charge him on Wednesday, according to BBC. In 2009, Najib Razak set up the 1MDB development fund in order to boost the economy in Kuala Lumpur and attract investment. He is now accused of stealing more than $700 million from the fund. Raznak has continually denied any wrongdoing; he was previously cleared of wrongdoing while in office. Prosecutors will charge him in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

President Trump wrote more than a dozen letters to NATO members warning them that U.S. NATO spending is “no longer sustainable,” reports the Times. The letters, which were sent in June, reiterate Trump’s frequent criticism that NATO allies do not contribute sufficient resources to the organization. The messages were personalized to each individual country, with Trump telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “Continued German underspending on defense undermines the security of the alliance.” One German official said the nation found the letter “really worrisome,” but it appears some allies are less concerned than others: Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters he was “not very impressed” with the message.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Liron Libman analyzed the data behind an Israeli residency case.

Salam Al-Marayati highlighted the security consquences of eroding cooperation between Muslims and U.S. law-enforcement in the current political environment.

Jack Goldsmith provided the most recent supplement to his treatise with Curtis Bradley, “Foreign Relations Law.”

David Kris interpreted the call-detail-record errors that the NSA announced on June 28..

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