Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tara Hofbauer
Thursday, January 15, 2015, 1:44 PM

Yesterday, the U.S. released five Yemeni inmates from Guantanamo Bay. Oman, which shares a border with Yemen, has accepted four of the five detainees, while the fifth man has been resettled in Estonia. Following this transfer, 122 prisoners remain at GTMO. The New York Times remarks, “The release of the five men continues the brisk pace of releases set by the administration in 2014.” Wells shared the news here at Lawfare.

The CIA Accountability Review Board has concluded its probe into allegations that agency members had spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, who were investigating the CIA torture program. Its report maintains that CIA members did not improperly access the computers of the committee staffers. These findings conflict with an earlier assessment reached by the CIA Inspector General. Vice News reports the story. Wells flagged the information here.

According to the Daily Beast, despite U.S. airstrikes, the Islamic State has continued to gain substantial ground in Syria. The jihadist group has persevered in capturing rural territory without suffering any major setbacks due to American air assaults. Still, a Pentagon official asserts, “Yes, they have gained some ground. But we have stopped their momentum.”

In Iraq, Islamic State militants are still firing on the al Asad air base, where U.S. troops, charged with training Iraqi security forces, have been stationed. Defense News reports the story.

Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens have begun criticizing U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State - calling the U.S.-led campaign “too slow and too small.” Still, the Wall Street Journal points out that “the rising public frustrations with the campaign are fueled by political posturing over what the coalition should be doing.”

The Washington Post informs us that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has been working to recruit Islamic State followers in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the FBI arrested an Ohio man named Christopher Lee Cornell, who was planning to attack the U.S. Capitol Building with guns and pipe bombs. Politico reports that Cornell had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State via Twitter. In response to this news, here at Lawfare, Bobby considered the problem of homegrown terrorists.

As Sebastian and Cody mentioned yesterday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken credit for last week’s attack on the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. McClatchy notes, however, that the terrorist group has “provided no hard evidence for its claims.” Instead, it only asserts its responsibility. Indeed, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the U.S. government has yet to conclude that AQAP is culpable for the attack, which killed twelve.

The U.S. and Iran are looking to speed up international nuclear negotiations. According to the Associated Press, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met for five hours yesterday.

However, congressional action may pose problems for continued talks. Bloomberg View reports that Senate lawmakers have finalized a sanctions bill targeted against Iran.

In order to focus on the cyber threats of tomorrow, the Defense Informations Systems Agency (DISA) will actually shrink its cybersecurity division. Breaking Defense has more on how this plan will work.

Defense One considers the limits of the Obama administration’s cybersecurity proposals.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Obama have an article in the Times together, which asserts, “We won’t let the voice of freedom be muzzled.”

Yesterday, the House approved a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security. However, because the measure includes provisions that would defund President Obama’s recent immigration action, Defense News predicts that “it likely is DOA in the Senate.”

Roll Call shares highlights from an interview with the new House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), who intends to focus the committee on unconventional warfare.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Paul considered the legal questions surround what the U.S. should do with Dominic Ongwen, a leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, who had been transferred to our custody, but may already have been given over to African Union troops.

Ben shared some ideas on the erosion of the norms of armed conflict, following a conference he attended at Columbia Law School.

Wells shared news that the CIA Accountability Review Board has concluded that agency members did not spy on staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the investigation into the CIA torture program.

Bobby informed us of the FBI’s arrest of a homegrown jihadist.

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