Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tara Hofbauer
Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 1:00 PM

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first case of Ebola in the United States. A man who recently traveled on a commercial airplane from Liberia to Texas has been diagnosed with the deadly disease that is currently ravaging western Africa. The New York Times informs us that he is being treated at a hospital in Dallas.

According to Marine Corps Times, 1,400 U.S. troops will head to Liberia this month to help combat the spread of Ebola.

According to the British Ministry of Defense, the United Kingdom conducted its first airstrikes in Iraq yesterday. The Wall Street Journal informs us that the attacks were carried out in support of Kurdish forces in northwest Iraq. Preliminary reports show that the strikes were successful. Meanwhile, the U.S. continued its air campaign Monday and Tuesday, launching “eleven strikes in Syria and another eleven in Iraq.”

Australian planes will begin flying with the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Although the Australian Parliament has not yet voted to engage in the fight, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the country’s aircraft will be participating in an “initial support role.” Reuters reports the story.

In the current conduct of U.S. operations against the Islamic State, President Obama’s previously announced drone policy, which bans strikes unless there is a “near certainty” that civilians will not be harmed, does not apply. Yahoo News shares this statement from National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.

Yesterday, the White House announced that it will significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees approved for immigration to the United States. The Washington Post notes, however, that the State Department will not be establishing a separate Syrian refugee program.

The Associated Press tells the story of thirty-two Turkish truckers, held hostage by Islamic State militants this summer. After being captured on June 10, the captives were treated reasonably well and were ultimately released on July 4. “The episode paints a picture of a militant group unusually careful not to anger Turkey's government.”

In Hong Kong, crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators swelled today, marking the 65th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China. The Times reports that the Hong Kong government intends to wait the protests out. “Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, and his advisers have decided not to use force to disperse the demonstrations but also not to hold formal negotiations with protest leaders for now.”

Meanwhile, the Russian state media has been portraying the protests in Hong Kong as a U.S.-organized plot. The Wall Street Journal examines the news coverage there.

President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a joint statement yesterday, outlining their “Vision Statement for the Strategic Partnership” between the U.S. and India. The two countries hope to collaborate on issues, including “economic growth,” “energy and climate change,” “defense and homeland security,” “high technology, space, and health,” and other regional and global issues.

President Obama meets today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Reuters, the two are expected to discuss the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran. Israel would like some assurances that President Obama will remain true to earlier statements that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” At the top of the U.S. agenda, however, “is current relations between Israel and the Palestinians, including the situation in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, nuclear negotiations with Iran are expected to resume in two weeks. The Wall Street Journal informs us that a format for discussion has not yet been decided upon.

As Cody and Ben Bissell noted, the U.S. and Afghanistan signed a bilateral security agreement yesterday. Foreign Policy informs us, however, that Afghan, Indian, and Pakistani officials are already asking the U.S. to reconsider its troop withdrawal timetable, “pointing to the chaos and violence in Iraq and warning that Afghanistan could suffer a similar fate if all the Americans go home by 2016, as planned.”

Yesterday, the Treasury Department designated as terrorists individuals and networks associated with Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The AP has the story.

Obama administration lawyers are currently considering whether the Treasury Department must inform individuals or networks it designates as terrorists that it has done so in reliance on warrantless surveillance. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) mandates that “the government... disclose when it uses information from eavesdropping in any ‘proceeding’ against people,” but the legal interpretation of “proceeding,” as it applies to the Treasury Department’s actions, is up for debate. The Times has more.

In eastern Myanmar, after “the discovery of two improvised explosive devices” and a grenade attack on a bus, the U.S. embassy has issued a warning to its citizens traveling in the area. Reuters has more on the situation in the country.

During a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work stated that the U.S. will intervene militarily if the dispute between Japan and China over ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands escalates. He noted, “While the Senkakus are under Japanese control, Article 5 [of the 1951 U.S.-Japan Defense treaty] applies, and we would respond if there was an attempt to take the Senkakus.” Marine Corps Times has details.

The Wall Street Journal informs us that Ukrainian forces yesterday fought off rebel attacks on Donetsk airport.

Meanwhile, the U.S. “Ironhorse” armored cavalry unit is deploying to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland “on a mission designed to deliver an unmistakeable message of NATO resolve to Moscow.” Reuters has more.

Ukrainians are preparing themselves for what could be a brutally cold winter. In June, Russia stopped delivering gas to Ukraine after the country failed to pay its debts to Moscow. The AP describes steps that citizens are taking to ready their homes for freezing temperatures.

U.S. Federal District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan yesterday accepted the plea deal of terrorism defendant Adel Abdul Bary, who will serve a maximum of twenty-five years for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in eastern Africa. The Times has the story.

Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald reports that the Defense Department has selected retired Marine lawyer Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary to serve as “convening authority for military commissions” at Guantanamo Bay.

On Monday, Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza appealed to member countries to accept Guantanamo detainees. Reuters has the story.

Yesterday, in Atlanta, Georgia, “an armed private security guard rode in an elevator with President Obama” in violation of Secret Service security rules. This news comes just a day after Secret Service Director Julia Pierson attempted to defend her agency before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Times has details.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.