The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The 9/11 trial judge has ruled that the government can retroactively seal public war court testimony, saying that some classified information slips through the national security screening process at the prison. The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, wrote in a 12-page ruling that “given the scope of classified information involved in this case, occasional unintentional disclosure of classified information during commission proceedings is inevitable. Spillage, however, does not equal declassification.” Miami Herald

More Gitmo:
On Wednesday, defense lawyers for some of the alleged 9/11 suspects asked the judge in the case for their clients’ full medical records from their time in CIA custody, noting that there were discrepancies between prosecution summaries of CIA medical care records and information contained in the Senate Torture Report. Defense attorneys are also requesting the medical records to demonstrate that the United States has lost the moral authority to potentially execute the five 9/11 suspects. Miami Herald

The FBI suspects Russian intelligence agencies are responsible for the recent hacking of the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. On Wednesday, WikiLeaks posted a fourth round of more than 1,100 emails from Podesta’s private email account. Wall Street Journal

New York Times: Donald Trump Finds Improbable Ally in WikiLeaks
The Hill: WikiLeaks releases fourth Podesta email dump

Arizona terrorism case: An Arizona woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism on Wednesday. Michelle Bastian was arrested after the state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI served two search warrants against her. No additional details of the case were released. ABC

Saddam Hussein: Saddam Hussein allegedly kept a torture chamber in the basement of the Iraqi mission to the United Nations in New York City, according to two unnamed Iraqi officials. The two officials described a dark “detention room” with reinforced doors in the basement of the Upper East Side property that they claim Iraqi intelligence agents used to torture prisoners. NY Mag, The Telegraph

The U.S. military launched retaliatory strikes against three coastal radar sites in Houthi rebel-held territory in Yemen on Thursday. The Pentagon claims the radar sites had been used by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to target the USS Mason earlier this week. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said “these limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” and that “the United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.” New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post

The Hill: Tensions rise in US proxy war with Iran

Syria: Russian-backed Syrian government bombing campaigns against rebel-held areas in Aleppo killed 145 people over Tuesday and Wednesday, according to rescue workers. The head of the Civil Defence reported that airstrikes had significantly intensified after a brief lull when the Syrian government said it would allow civilians to leave the targeted areas. Reuters

Washington Post: People are fleeing ISIS rule. Syrian rebels appear to be jailing some of them.

Nigeria: On Thursday, Boko Haram militants released 21 of the more than 270 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group two years ago in Chibok, Nigeria, according to a senior Nigerian government official. BBC, Reuters

Germany: A Syrian refugee who allegedly planned an imminent terrorist attack in Germany committed suicide on Wednesday. Jaber al-Bakr, 22, was detained on Monday after several of his fellow refugees turned him over to authorities. Al-Bakr reportedly hanged himself in his in his jail cell in Leipzig, Germany. New York Times, Reuters

Australia: On Thursday, Australian authorities charged two 16-year-old boys with planning an act of terrorism and with belonging to a terrorist organization. The two teenagers were arrested on Wednesday and were allegedly in possession of large hunting knives and a note pledging allegiance to ISIS. TIME, The Telegraph
The Russia-U.S. Partnership, Driven to a New Low: “In hindsight, it is clear that the Russian and American administrations have both contributed to the current bilateral freeze. Just calling Russia a declining regional power, or counting on that status to bring it to heel, is not a strategy,” writes Maxim Trudolyubov in The New York Times. “At this point, it would be a herculean task for any new president to re-establish trust….[Putin] would drive the American-Russian relationship so low that a new American president would have no room to drive it lower.”

How to beat Islamic State in Iraq: “There is a way to defeat Islamic State in Iraq. It’s to grant the country’s Sunni population its own separate state, free of control from Baghdad. The idea of a ‘Sunnistan’ isn’t new, but as American advisers and their Iraqi allies prepare for the crucial battle of Mosul, now is the time to revisit it,” writes Josh Cohen for Reuters. “Losing the country’s second-largest city would represent a major blow to IS’ position in Iraq. But recent Iraqi history has taught us that without a proper strategy for the ‘day after’ in Mosul, the group is likely to re-emerge in one form or another.”

It’s Time to Negotiate With Iran Over Syria: “Russian and Iranian objectives in Syria are not the same, and there’s no reason to think Iran’s interests are well represented by Russian negotiators. If the United States hopes to achieve any measure of peace in Syria, it can’t avoid directly negotiating with Iran — which is not to suggest that peace will be the immediate result,” writes Afshon Ostovar on Foreign Policy. “Iran could be part of the solution to the Syrian conflict and help end the suffering of millions of innocent civilians. It has earned a seat at the table. But it would also be foolish not to recognize that for now it remains unlikely to use that position to pursue a compromise.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The U.S. Strikes Back in Yemen

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