Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Hannah Kris
Friday, August 10, 2018, 4:59 PM

Prosecutors in the Manafort trial are expected to rest their case today, according to the Associated Press. The trial enters its ninth day on Friday. So far, the prosecution has called over 20 witnesses, including Rick Gates—Manafort’s deputy in the Trump presidential campaign—and Heather Washkuhn—Manafort’s bookkeeper—and submitted over 500 pieces of evidence. Prosecutors have also contended with multiple scoldings from Judge T.S. Ellis, who has criticized the prosecution multiple times for such varied causes as presenting too much evidence about Manafort’s personal expenditures and making facial expressions that might influence the jury.

Eleven top-secret cables detail the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, at a Thailand black site that CIA director Gina Haspel oversaw, reports the New York Times. The cables, which were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive, were all from a period between October 2002, when Haspel arrived to oversee the site, and December 2002, when the site was shut down. Most of the information contained in the cables concerns the treatment of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national accused of orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. The cables describe how Nashiri was subjected to torture techniques, including sleep deprivation, wall-slamming, and waterboarding. They also offer some evidence that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques garnered no new intelligence from Nashiri. The CIA did not comment on the cables’ release.

South Korean customs officials accused three South Koreans of illegally importing coal and iron from North Korea, reports the Wall Street Journal. The individuals allegedly imported almost $6 million worth of coal and iron from North Korea via Russian ports using a shell company in Hong Kong. The accusations, if true, suggest that U.N. sanctions against North Korea have been seriously undermined. The sanctions have contributed to the largest drop in North Korea’s gross domestic product in two decades. South Korea’s customs agency recommended that the individuals and the companies they run be indicted on charges of smuggling, illicit importation and forgery.

Afghan and U.S. forces resisted a Taliban siege in the eastern city of Ghazni, according to the Journal. The siege, which comes ahead of a possible ceasefire later this month, lasted over six hours until Afghan security forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, beat back the Taliban forces. Sixteen people were killed in the assault, and 40 were hospitalized. Ghazni is a strategically important city as it lies on a highway that leads to Kabul, 80 miles to the northwest.

Myanmar rejected the Hague’s attempt to investigate the country’s use of military force against Rohingya Muslims, reports the AP. Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, released a statement claiming that because Myanmar is not a party to the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court, the body has no jurisdiction in Myanmar and that the court’s efforts are “meritless and should be dismissed.” Critics of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, including U.N. experts, believe the violence constitutes ethnic cleansing or possibly genocide. The government of Myanmar claims it is conducting counterinsurgency operations in response to attacks by Rohingya militants. Documentary evidence, survivor testimony, and eyewitness accounts have revealed that Myanmar’s army committed scores of atrocities, including beatings, murders and organized rapes of Rohingya citizens, as well as the burning of thousands of homes belonging to Rohingya.

The U.N.’s anti-torture committee criticized Russia for its repeated torture of prisoners after a video of Russian guards beating a prisoner named Yevgeny Makarov was released, according to Reuters. The video, published by the Novaya Gazeta, details a June 2017 incident in which guards used truncheons to repeatedly beat Makarov. The video was published one year after the incident, after which the Russian government arrested five officials and fired twelve others. The U.N. panel also criticized Russia for its high rate of prison deaths, its involuntary psychiatric institutionalizations of people in Crimea, and its torture of political opponents.

Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket and missile fire on Thursday for the first time since 2014, reports the Times. Hamas rockets targeted Beersheba while Israeli missiles targeted Gaza City. The attacks came just hours before a ceasefire went into effect at midnight on Thursday. Some analysts speculated that the attacks were attempts by both sides to improve their negotiating positions for a longer truce. Twenty-five people were injured during the attacks.

President Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, according to the Washington Post. There are now 20 percent tariffs on Turkish aluminum and 50 percent tariffs on Turkish steel. In the tweet announcing the tariffs, Trump referenced the weakening lira and bad relations with Turkey as motivations for his decision. Trump’s announcement came after U.S. officials met with a Turkish delegation on Wednesday to discuss American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been in Turkish custody since 2016. Brunson, however, was not mentioned in Trump’s announcement.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Steve Slick reviewed Loch Johnson’s book “Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States.”

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck hosted the National Security Law Podcast, in which they discussed the Guantanamo detention case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

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