Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Terrorism"

October 30, 2014

ISIS Increasingly Learning to Become Like a Country

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Iraqi forces on an armored personnel carrier advance in the Jurf al-Sakhr area, north of the Shiite shrine city of Karbala on Oct. 30 after they retook the area ISIS jihadists. (Hidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images)

First came word that ISIS was sorting out how to run post offices and other services. Now there’s a report that they’ve figured out how to run an advanced intelligence apparatus. Full story

Begich vs. Sullivan Senate Debate Shows Rising Role of National Security in Midterms

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Alaska Sen. Mark Begich arrives for the Senate closed briefing in the Capitol on the White House strategy on ISIS on Sept. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the latest evidence that national security and foreign policy are figuring into the midterm elections in ways they weren’t even two months ago, consider the Wednesday evening Senate debate in Alaska: Full story

October 29, 2014

With ‘Bibi’ Comments, More Unhelpful Election Season Talk from Anonymous Administration Officials

Just a few weeks ago, some anonymous Obama administration sources floated the notion of bringing Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil by going around Congress. Last week, some more anonymous administration officials floated the notion that they might make a deal with Iran over its nuclear program and avoid dealing with Capitol Hill on sanctions relief.

Both stories gave Republicans campaign fodder as elections neared. Apparently addicted to supplying ammunition to the administration’s critics on the campaign trail, the latest hubbub served up by an anonymous administration official was to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.” The response has been predictable. Full story

October 27, 2014

Estimated Cost of ISIS War: $1 Billion and Rising

457890038 445x295 Estimated Cost of ISIS War: $1 Billion and Rising

Thick smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani as Turkish soldiers stand guard on the Turkish side of the border during fighting between Islamic State militants and Kurdish People’s Protection Unit forces, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa province Oct. 26. (Kutluhan Cucel/Getty Images)

A spending watchdog group, using a conservative estimate, figures that the cost of the operation against ISIS has ticked past $1 billion. And the estimate for daily costs just got revised by the Pentagon. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:58 a.m.
Terrorism, War

Navy Birthday, IAEA & John Kerry in the Week Ahead

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John Negroponte in a 2012 file photo. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Iraq, Iran, ISIS — all of those are the subject of events in Washington, D.C., this week, along with the subjects in the headline, Ukraine and much more. Full story

October 22, 2014

Americans Support ISIS Fight, Just Don’t Think It’s Doing Anything

A majority of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center back the U.S. campaign against ISIS. However, they don’t really think the campaign is working.

The new poll, released Wednesday, finds that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans approve of the campaign — 57 percent in all. Only a third, however, think it’s going well.

The poll also finds that there are real doubts about the goals of the United States and its allies, and that 73 percent of those Americans polled don’t think U.S. allies are doing enough.

The two parties are very split on whether they are worried about the level of U.S. involvement in going after ISIS — 57 percent of Democrats are worried about going overboard, and 63 percent of Republicans are worried that the United States won’t go far enough. In particular, Democrats oppose sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria (66 percent), while Republicans favor it (57 percent). Independents align more closely with Democrats on both counts.

 

By Tim Starks Posted at 12:48 p.m.
Terrorism, War

Coburn Wastebook: Iron Man Suit, FEMA Golf Courses, Navy Magazines

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Sen. Tom Coburn on Jan. 14. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (@tomcoburn) is out with his final edition of his annual Wastebook of government spending, and besides the massages for rabbits and money to watch grass grow, a variety of Defense Department projects and other national security-related programs get the Oklahoma Republican’s sardonic smack. 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

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

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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

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

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