Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 25, 2014

Posts in "Terrorism"

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

kirk008 011414 445x296 After MH17, Senator Revives Commercial Airliner Anti Missile Defense Idea

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

durbin 201 062414 445x291 Senate Chops Request for New Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, White House Still Happy

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

495393297 445x296 Constitutionality Debate Over Guantanamo Provision Sets Up House Senate Fight

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 panelĀ 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?

450656810 445x263 Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

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

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 3, 2014

ISIS Hitting a Wall in Iraq?

451597376 445x289 ISIS Hitting a Wall in Iraq?

Iraqi forces and mainly Shiite Muslim volunteers arrive in the predominantly-Sunni Muslim city of Samarra, 77 miles from Baghdad on July 2 to protect the Shiite Muslim Al-Askari shrine. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

On the propaganda and recruitment front, there are growing signs that the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL) has hit a wall. On the military front on the ground in Iraq, a top U.S. military leader said Thursday that Baghdad was holding up under the threat. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:32 p.m.
Terrorism, War

July 2, 2014

Watch Mike Mullen Describe Awkward Call to Pakistan, Post-Bin Laden Mission

Mike Mullen was in the White House Situation Room the night of the Osama bin Laden raid into Pakistan. As the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he got an awkward assignment: Call Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and tell him what happened.

One of the takeaways from the above video, from the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival this week: Full story

Poll: Obama, Worst President Since World War II, Worst at Foreign Policy

Updated 2:10 p.m. A new poll found that voters consider President Barack Obama the worst president since World War II — and his handling of foreign policy scored worse than any other issue on which he he was measured.

He also hit lows during his presidency for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism. Full story

July 1, 2014

Sway Moderate Sunni Tribes to Begin Iraq Victory, Paper Suggests

“There is no security without us,” Iraqi tribes are fond of saying, according to a paper released Tuesday by CNA Corp., a nonprofit research and analysis organization.

That’s a lesson the United States learned in turning back al-Qaida in Iraq and would be wise to heed again now that its successor, the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL), is gaining ground in the country, Patricio Asfura-Heim writes. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:06 p.m.
Marines, Terrorism, War

Iraqi Ambassador: ‘Desperately Need U.S. Assistance,’ but Without It, Taking Iran’s, Russia’s

450830202 3 445x296 Iraqi Ambassador: Desperately Need U.S. Assistance, but Without It, Taking Irans, Russias

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, greets Faily before taking part in a discussion on the unfolding violence in Iraq on June 18 at the American Enterprise Institute. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

Iraq’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the march of the Islamic State — the new name of the extremist group referred to as ISIS or ISIL — has forced the government to make choices it did not want to make. Full story

June 27, 2014

Should Ex-Spies, Diplomats Be Able to Go Straight to Work for Shady Foreign Governments?

wolf 030 010814 445x308 Should Ex Spies, Diplomats Be Able to Go Straight to Work for Shady Foreign Governments?

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., left, and Wolf leave the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two members of Congress — Republican Reps. Frank Wolf and Mike Rogers — have tried to make moves this year toward creating a “cooling off” period for former diplomats and intelligence officials before they can take jobs with shady foreign governments. But there’s some mystery in both efforts. Full story

June 25, 2014

Report: Diplomatic Facilities (Like in Benghazi) Suffer From Poor, Dated Standards

A subset of diplomatic facilities similar to the one that came under attack in Benghazi, Libya, suffers from absent, outdated or inconsistent security standards, a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday determines. Full story

Al-Qaida, ISIS Like Two Chicago Mob Families, House Chairman Says (Video)

 Al Qaida, ISIS Like Two Chicago Mob Families, House Chairman Says (Video)

(Photo courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

There is a popular sentiment about ISIL (also known as ISIS), the radical group tearing across Iraq, that it was the brutality of the group’s tactics that led to a divorce with al-Qaida. Not so, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers said Wednesday. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 10:08 a.m.
Intelligence, Terrorism, War

June 24, 2014

The Ever-Changing Iraq Map

Almost daily, control of Iraqi cities is changing as ISIL sweeps across the country. The hawkish think tank the Institute for the Study of War has been regularly updating the key battle zones and disputed territories on their website at The below map is from Monday afternoon.

2014 06 23 Control Zone Map 445x509 The Ever Changing Iraq Map

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