Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

October 20, 2014

Video: John Oliver Shreds U.S. Over Afghan Translators on ‘Last Week Tonight’

On HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” Sunday, John Oliver ripped into the backlog of Afghan translators awaiting special U.S. visas. The deadly threats against those translators were the subject of what has become the defining trait of Oliver’s show: a 15-minute plus segment where he lays waste to one particular problem. Full story

Transgender Military Service, Ebola, China’s Navy in the Week Ahead

It’s another slow-ish week in Washington, D.C., with elections nearing, but one House committee is back in town for a hearing, and some other hot topics — including the subjects in the headline and cybersecurity — are on the agenda.

Full story

October 17, 2014

Weekly Recap: Elections, Interrogations, Revolts

The holiday made it a shorter week at Five By Five, so this weekly recap won’t hit as many highlights as usual — and will spend a little more time on what others were up to. Full story

Five By Five Friday Q&A: Mark Gunzinger, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

mgunzinger 105x147 Five By Five Friday Q&A: Mark Gunzinger, Center for Strategic and Budgetary AssessmentsMark Gunzinger is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. This week, he co-wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed with another CSBA senior fellow, John Stilton, entitled “The Unserious Air War Against ISIS.” The piece argues that the United States has been too “timorous” in its number of air strikes compared to other campaigns. He answered questions from Five By Five Friday about the piece, and about the campaign against ISIS in general. Full story

October 16, 2014

Shake-Ups Due on Congressional Defense Panels

shaheen 197 091614 445x296 Shake Ups Due on Congressional Defense Panels

Shaheen in September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just like autumn leaves, the congressional defense panels are in for change. Megan Scully has an item today for CQ.com’s subscribers on the CQ on Defense blog about how the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Democratic leadership is due for a shake-up of potentially monumental proportions. And they’re not the only faction. Full story

National Security (and James Foley) Making a Prominent Appearance in GOP Ads

Just a few months ago, the only time national security or foreign policy came up in political ads was in relation to things like the economy — a candidate hyping his role in keeping a military base open, say. Now, the subjects have become a prominent part of the GOP’s midterm ads in their own right. Full story

October 15, 2014

Twitter Reviews of ISIS War Name ‘Inherent Resolve’: Mainly Funny and/or Mean

After weeks of consideration, the name for the Pentagon’s operation against ISIS is now officially “Inherent Resolve,” a moniker that had initially been rejected within the Pentagon for being too “bleh.” Naming wars is a bit of an art, but it seems that most of Twitter — to be sure, often an outlet for snark — isn’t impressed. Consider these highlights from Twitter reviews, and you’re welcome to come up with your own war names in the comments section. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:59 p.m.
Terrorism, War

Chemical Weapons Might be Another Gift for Militants

The New York Times’ blockbuster story about how U.S. forces discovered chemical weapons in Iraq and suffered injuries due to chemical exposure — unbeknownst to the public — is almost sure to provoke congressional overseers of the armed forces and veterans’ affairs. But the story also contains some worrying information that has implications for future U.S. action against the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State or ISIL.

American troops found thousands of warheads after the 2003 invasion, and a large number remain in Iraq — in easy reach of ISIL, the Times reports. Many of the chemical incidents and discoveries took place around a chemical weapons plant known as the Muthanna State Establishment, which was operational in the 1980s.

“Since June, the compound has been held by the Islamic State, the world’s most radical and violent jihadist group,” the Times reported. “In a letter sent to the United Nations this summer, the Iraqi government said that about 2,500 corroded chemical rockets remained on the grounds, and that Iraqi officials had witnessed intruders looting equipment before militants shut down the surveillance cameras.”

The military contends those weapons are old and pose no threat, but the story notes that Iraqi chemical munitions have a habit of staying dangerous after their expiration dates.

The reporting could prove to be another black mark for the government of Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister until this year, that gave ISIL an advantage. The al-Maliki government was also in charge of maintaining the Iraqi armed forces that collapsed as ISIL advanced.

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October 14, 2014

Six Months After Boko Haram Kidnappings, Hope, Despair

457208332 445x295 Six Months After Boko Haram Kidnappings, Hope, Despair

Protesters with the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign shouts slogans during a demonstration in front of the Nigerian consulate in New York on Tuesday to mark the six month anniversary of the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants. (Jewel Samad /AFP/Getty Images)

There’s been a minor revival in the past couple days on the profile of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, given the six month anniversary of the abductions. There was a time when it was a daily or at least weekly subject of this reporter’s inbox, with news releases from those trying to rile the Obama administration into stronger action. Now, it’s been more than a month since any lawmaker sent a news release with the word “Boko Haram” in it.

Six months from the abductions, the Obama administration has mentioned the kidnappings more frequently than its critics — including Tuesday. Elsewhere, especially in Nigeria, the situation offers a mix of hope and despair. Full story

The Army, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan in the Week Ahead

levin002 033114 445x295 The Army, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan in the Week Ahead

Levin on March 31. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

All the hot spots get some attention this week in Washington, D.C., and there is a pair of big multi-day conferences — one of which is already underway. Full story

October 10, 2014

Weekly Recap: Syria Air Strikes, Operation Blue Spoon, Hawk Vs. Drone

This week, we recap the subjects in the headline, plus some Guantanamo, some politics, some cybersecurity, some Iran and more. Full story

Curious Timing on This ‘Close Guantanamo’ Story, No?

493344533 445x296 Curious Timing on This Close Guantanamo Story, No?

Protesters demand the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center on May 23 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

[Update at 3:18 p.m.: The White House has issued a denial of its reported plans.]

Writing of President Obama’s consideration of closing the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detainee facility “by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S..,” the Wall Street Journal on Friday added that “It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers…”

There’s no “likely” about it: It definitely would, and the mere idea already has. And it has thrown red meat to the GOP in an election season when it already had plenty. One wonders why this came out now. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:02 p.m.
Navy, Terrorism

Five By Five Friday Q&A: Dan Perez of America’s Impact

dan perez 240x224 Five By Five Friday Q&A: Dan Perez of Americas Impact

How foreign policy/national security is figuring into the midterm elections is something of a preoccupation around these parts. Dan Perez, executive director of America’s Impact, has his own interest in the matter — he’s part of an organization devoted to increasing the topic’s prominence in the 2014 races, and aiding Democrats on the subject.

This week, America’s Impact joined with several other similarly-minded groups as part of a “6 PAC” event to raise funds for a list of Democratic candidates, featuring Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards (@repdonnaedwards), who is heading up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program. Perez spoke with Five By Five about his group’s goals and how the 2014 elections have evolved with recent world events (and he just might’ve concluded with a less-than-subtle diss of John Bolton [@ambjohnbolton]). Full story

Why the Internet Will Never Be Completely Secure

Will we ever be 100 percent secure from data security threats? According to the panelists at a Thursday afternoon roundtable on cybersecurity, the answer is no. There are a couple reasons for this: design flaws and human error. Full story

October 9, 2014

#ThrowbackThursday: When Jimmy Carter Brought Down the Soviet Union

CN FILE 20 082008 445x304 #ThrowbackThursday: When Jimmy Carter Brought Down the Soviet Union

Gates at his confirmation hearing to become Defense Secretary. (CQ Roll Call)

The air is thick these days with apparent allies of President Obama slagging him on national security and foreign policy; his former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates kicked it off in his book “Duty” earlier this year, followed by another former Defense Secretary, Leon E. Panetta, in “Worthy Fights.” And now former Democratic president Jimmy Carter has gotten in on the act. The first and last man on that list have a connection that inspired this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:08 p.m.
Foreign Policy

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