The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2016

The National Security Agency worked with the military, CIA, and other agencies on interrogations at Guantanamo Bay in the early years in the war on terror, according to newly published documents from leaked files provided by Edward Snowden. The NSA’s online internal newsletter, SIDtoday, which began in 2003, described NSA employees’ deployments to Guantanamo. The NSA liaison at Guantanamo would “coordinate” with interrogators and be “responsible for interfacing with the DoD, CIA, and FBI interrogators on a daily basis in order to assess and exploit information sourced from detainees.” The Intercept published the full archives of SIDtoday on Monday. The Intercept, New York Times, Salon

The Intercept: Snowden Archive -- the SIDtoday Files

The White House threatened to veto the $602 billion 2017 National Defense Authorization Act on Monday over concerns about the reallocation of $18 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds into the main defense budget. OCO funds have been used to fund day-to-day military operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration also objected to several other of the bill’s provision including measures that would make it more difficult to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and funding cuts for programs to train and equip local fighters in Iraq and Syria. Reuters, Wall Street Journal

Torture report: The CIA’s inspector general has reportedly “mistakenly” deleted its only copy of the so called Senate “Torture Report.” Justice Department lawyers had previously assured a federal judge in a Freedom of Information Act case that copies of the document were being preserved. Yahoo News, The Hill, Salon

Terror targets: Terrorists have repeatedly targeted transportation hubs in the United States, Canada and western Europe, according to a new review of attack data conducted by Bloomberg News. 57 such attacks occurred between 2006 and 2014, leading experts to believe future attacks will target transportation hubs. Experts reviewed data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. Bloomberg News

The United States and representatives from 25 other countries and international organizations said on Monday that they are considering arming and training Libya’s new unity government to fight the spread of terrorist groups, such as ISIS. The world powers seek to exempt the government from a UN arms embargo that was put in place to keep weapons away from Islamic extremists and rival militias fighting for control of the country. Washington Post, Associated Press

Afghanistan: Thousands of demonstrators from Afghanistan’s Hazara minority participated in a large protest in Kabul on Monday, in opposition to President Ashraf Ghani’s plan to reroute a proposed new electricity transmission line away from their communities. Although the protest was largely peaceful, some demonstrators threw rocks at blockades and acted violently toward reporters. New York Times, Reuters

China: Chinese authorities are increasingly scrutinizing products sold in China by American tech companies in an effort to determine if they pose potential security threats. Apple and other companies have reportedly been subjected to reviews, run by China’s Internet control agency, that examined encryption and data storage of tech products. New York Times

North Korea: The United States, South Korea, and Japan will coordinate to test their ability to detect and track North Korean missiles, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry official. This will mark the first time the three countries have shared information together to confront the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. New York Times

United Kingdom: Office for Standards in Education Chief Inspector Michael Wilshaw has warned that thousands of children that attend unregistered schools are at “risk of exposure to extremism and radicalisation.” Wilshaw’s team has identified at least 100 such unregistered schools across the country. The Telegraph
A Hundred Tiny Hezbollahs: “But as the fighting has progressed, it’s clear that Hezbollah’s importance goes beyond the front line. It is playing a crucial mentoring role among paramilitary pro-government forces across the length and breadth of the country,” writes James Harkin on Foreign Policy. “As Syrians retreat to sect, ethnicity, and tribe, Hezbollah’s services as specialists in irregular warfare are in massive demand.”

Partitioning Iraq: Make A Detailed Case, Or Cease And Desist: “Advocates of partition suggest that Iraq is a false construct of the century-old Sykes-Picot treaty, and that Iraqis are incapable of sustaining a heterogeneous state,” writes Ben Connable in War on the Rocks. “Putting aside the fact that the Sykes-Picot narrative is at best contested, it is time to put the partition trope to the test and then, hopefully, to rest. The mostly non-Iraqi voices who want to divide the country into thirds owe the Iraqi people and the rest of the world extensive, detailed clarification.”

Obama is bullish on war, no matter how you spin it: “Anytime the media writes about Obama and war, it’s apparently a rule that the author must mention that Obama supposedly fights his wars more reluctantly than his predecessors,” writes Trevor Timm in the Guardian. “But in many contexts, this is misleading. Obama hasn’t attempted to avoid war; he has merely redefined it. In some ways, he has fought them in a far more aggressively than any president before him, just with different tools.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Al-Qaeda’s Most Critical Battleground

Join the Center on National Security on Wednesday, June 1 for a discussion with Director Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. To RSVP click here

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