Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

Posts in "Terrorism"

August 26, 2014

Should Congress Authorize Air Strikes in Syria?

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Kaine, at an April Senate Foreign Relations hearing. (Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call)

A pair of senior senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee want President Barack Obama to come to Congress for authorization of any air strikes in Syria targeting the group popularly known as ISIS, which has made big gains in Iraq. Others? Not so interested in Congress getting involved. Full story

August 21, 2014

How Obama Could Respond to James Foley’s Murder

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Royce, 2013 file photo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama sent a tough message after an American journalist was murdered by the extremist group, Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), but the actions that the administration will take in response to the murder, and the timeline for them, are still not fully known.

But what are his options? Many of them range from vague to unlikely.

Full story

August 15, 2014

Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment

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A police officer watches over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 13 in Ferguson. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With images of heavily armed police confronting protesters in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a national debate about police militarization, a campaign finance research organization has released a study showing how much defense industry money House members got before a June 19 vote that rejected Rep. Alan Grayson’s amendment to block military equipment transfers to local law enforcement. The organization, MapLight, found that those who voted against it got 73 percent more in defense industry donations than those who voted in favor.

But there are probably bigger reasons for the vote going the way it did. And the issue could come up again in Congress — Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., promised Friday to review the program before his committee’s fiscal 2015 defense policy bill comes to the floor; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has put forward new legislation; and others are calling for hearings. So it’s worth reviewing the motivations for those votes.

Full story

August 11, 2014

World War I, National Security Agency and Iran in the Week Ahead

It’s a week that’s heavy in the middle with defense and national security-related events. Full story

August 5, 2014

How Can the World Help Libya?

Syria and Iraq have spiraled out of control, and Libya feels like it could be next on the list, now that the United States and other countries have evacuated many of their diplomats and officials amid fighting between Islamists and those opposed to them. But the rest of the world doesn’t appear eager to intervene militarily in either Syria or Iraq, and any financial aid so far has been limited. So what could be done to help Libya, then? Full story

August 4, 2014

Defense Contracts, Gaza in the Week Ahead

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is underway, as discussed last week. Here is the full schedule of that, and a brief preview on the security angle. For some other events this week, read on.

Programming note: Even during the August congressional recess, we’ll still be posting here at Five By Five, just maybe less each day than usual. Don’t let that stop you from visiting frequently. Full story

July 31, 2014

Administration Security Message Pre-Africa Summit: Not Just Military

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Obama meets with members of Congress on foreign policy Thursday in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Clockwise from left: Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Rice, and lawmakers. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the past couple days, including again Thursday, Obama administration officials previewing next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit have been reinforcing the following message about a continent with a number of national security hotspots right now: The answer isn’t just the military. Full story

New Benghazi Report Reaches ‘Noncontroversial Conclusions,’ Congressman Says

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., said Thursday that a House Intelligence Committee investigative report on Benghazi that the panel voted to approve reaches “noncontroversial conclusions” and that it should be declassified swiftly. Schiff serves on the Intelligence panel as well as the new Republican-created select committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya. Full story

July 25, 2014

U.S. Nuclear Material Vulnerable to Theft, Panel Fears

The Senate Appropriations Committee is perturbed at a whole host of things contributing to large quantities of nuclear and radiological materials — including in the United States — being “still unsecure and vulnerable to theft.”

That’s the word from John M. Donnelly, writing for CQ.com subscribers. He details how the panel, in its fiscal 2015 Energy-Water bill committee report, restores nuclear non-proliferation funding and chides the administration for abandoning a 2025 goal of securing 2,900 buildings, such at medical facilities and universities, where there is “little or no security.”

Also from the committee report, by this author for the Energy Xtra blog, is another nuclear-related buildings issue: the fact that the National Nuclear Security Administration is sitting on 450 unused facilities, and has a maintenance backlog that has made some of the buildings still being used dangerous.

Banana Terrorism Case Thrown Out

A seven-year legal battle to hold Chiquita responsible for killings in Colombia stemming from payments to a U.S.-labeled terrorist group might have come to an end late Thursday when a court dismissed a suit against the banana and produce giant. Full story

July 21, 2014

Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts, 9/11 Commission, VA Secretary in the Week Ahead

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.

The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget. Full story

July 18, 2014

After MH17, Senator Revives Commercial Airliner Anti-Missile Defense Idea

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Kirk talks with reporters Jan. 14. after the Republican Senate luncheon in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., told the Washington Post Friday that, in the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster and with shoulder-fired missiles proliferating in places like Libya in Iraq, he would press the Federal Aviation Administration to install anti-missile defenses on commercial airliners.

It probably won’t be an easy sell. Right after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the idea had some real momentum. But it eventually suffered a long, slow death over cost, reliability and need. Full story

July 16, 2014

Senate Chops Request for New Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, White House Still Happy

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Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., whose Appropriations subcommittee scaled back the new counterterrorism partnership fund, arrives in the Capitol for a vote on June 24. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a high-profile move earlier this year, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $5 billion for a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that would be used to help other countries get better at fighting terrorist organizations. On Tuesday, a Senate panel agreed to give the administration less than half of what it sought. Yet the White House still welcomed this in an evening blog post. Full story

July 14, 2014

Constitutionality Debate Over Guantanamo Provision Sets Up House-Senate Fight

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A sign showing support for Bergdahl sits along Main Street in Hailey, Idaho, on June 2. He was released from captivity on May 31 in exchange for the freedom of five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union and a national security law professor say that when the GOP-controlled House added an amendment to the annual defense spending bill to prevent overseas prisoner transfers from the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — a response to the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — it endorsed language that was unconstitutional. The amendment was offered by a tea party-aligned lawmaker who has vowed to fight unconstitutional laws.

It’s not true that the Guantanamo provision is unconstitutional, though, answer a pair of GOP aides, as a Senate panel prepares to vote on its own take on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill Tuesday morning. Full story

Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

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Army soldiers stand guard at a square in Bogota during the runoff presidential election on June 15. Colombians went to the polls in an election that had become a referendum on peace talks with leftist guerrillas, and reelected president Juan Manuel Santos. (Diana Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images)

War is expensive, and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has a default disinclination against both foreign military intervention and government spending. So, on Monday, Cato hosted a panel that asked whether a better option in a time of declining defense budgets would be training more countries to deal with their own insurgencies.

The answer? It depends. Full story

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