The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The defense team of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, has accused Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge in the case against the five 9/11 suspects at Guantanamo Bay, of conspiring with prosecutors to destroy evidence. A recently unsealed court document alleged that Pohl had “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders.” Pohl allegedly authorized prosecutors in the case to destroy evidence six months after he had agreed to a defense team request to preserve the same evidence. Guardian, Courthouse News Service, Reuters

On Tuesday, Pohl threatened to throw Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of the courtroom during a pretrial hearing after Mohammed accused Pohl of “not being neutral,” among other comments. Mohammed’s attorney, David Nevin, said that his client was frustrated with the court’s translation of the proceedings. Miami Herald

Washington Post: Republicans claim Guantanamo victory under Obama but eye the next president
Associated Press: Testimony From Families of 9/11 Victims Sought at Guantanamo
Human Rights First: 35-Year-Old “Karachi Six” Detainee Receives Review Board Hearing
Miami Herald: Guantánamo prosecutors want 10 sick, elderly relatives of 9/11 victims to testify while they still can

The FBI is seeking to exempt its growing database of fingerprints and facial photos from a federal law that allows Americans to sue the government for violations of the Privacy Act. The FBI claims it is seeking the exemptions to the so called “Next Generation Identification System” in order to prevent cases from being compromised by people learning that they are the subjects of investigations. Advocacy groups such as the Center on Privacy and Technology have expressed their concern over the proposed exemptions and have criticized the program’s accuracy and potential for racial profiling. Washington Post

The Hill: Uber, Lyft among those hitting FBI for fingerprint, photos database

Warrantless tracking: A federal appeals court ruled in a split decision on Tuesday that law enforcement authorities do not need a search warrant before obtaining “cell site” information about the location of a suspect’s mobile phone. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 12-3, rejecting claims by two men convicted in armed robberies cases near Baltimore that investigators needed warrants to access their cell tower location data. Washington Post, Politico

Travel alert: On Tuesday, the State Department issued a summer travel alert for Europe, citing an increased risk of terror attacks at the European soccer championships and the Tour de France bicycle race hosted in Paris. The alert warned of “the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation.” Wall Street Journal

Gitmo: The former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo from 2005 to 2007, agreed to a settlement with the Library of Congress worth $100,000 on Tuesday. Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis settled in a freedom of speech lawsuit that claimed Davis was improperly fired from his job at the Congressional Research Service for criticizing the military commission process for terrorism suspects at the prison. Miami Herald, The Intercept, Washington Post
San Bernardino: Federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to seize the life insurance policies of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook had taken out two insurance policies, worth a total of $275,000, in 2012 and 2013. Prosecutors said that under federal law, assets derived from terrorism are subject to forfeiture. New York Times

Police interrogation: Police interrogation techniques have undergone significant changes from physical coercion, torture, and stressful psychological techniques, according to an article in WIRED. High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, a joint effort of the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon established by the Obama administration, has funded around 60 studies in psychology and behavioral sciences about interrogation techniques. Research has shown success with non-accusatorial techniques and “rapport-building” with suspects and witnesses. WIRED

ISIS fighters halted the progress of an Iraqi military assault on Fallujah with a counterattack at the city’s southern gates on Tuesday. The United Nations warned that ISIS is using several hundred civilian families as human shields in the city center and is preventing them from fleeing the city. New York Times, Reuters

Syria: Airstrikes reportedly carried out by the Syrian government or Russia hit several hospitals in the cities of Idlib and Aleppo in the past two days killing more than 20 people. Rescue workers from the emergency assistance group the White Helmets pulled children and other victims from the rubble in the aftermath of the strikes. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

Afghanistan: Afghan Taliban gunmen killed 10 passengers and abducted 18 others on buses near the city of Kunduz on Tuesday. The Taliban claimed those kidnapped were members of the Afghan security forces and said that six of the hostages were killed after trying to escape. Wall Street Journal

North Korea: On Tuesday, a missile test conducted by North Korea likely failed as it was launched, according to U.S. and South Korean military officials. North Korea reportedly attempted to test an intermediate-range missile which could potentially reach U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific. Associated Press

NATO: Russia’s recent military offensives in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and its bombing campaign in Syria have raised questions about the credibility of NATO, according to a report in The New York Times. Russia has also recently discussed the utility of tactical nuclear weapons, adding to the rising threat of Russian aggression. However, many European countries still resist efforts to strengthen NATO or increase military spending. New York Times
Eric Holder’s Twisted Logic On Edward Snowden: “As far as I know, neither Snowden nor any of his supporters has ever claimed that what he did was without consequence,” writes John Cassidy in The New Yorker. “When will someone within the Obama Administration publicly acknowledge that whatever troubles Snowden caused the intelligence agencies were outweighed by the public service he provided in illuminating the extraordinary reach (and lack of oversight) of the surveillance state, that his whistle-blowing was justified, and that the charges against him should be dropped?”

Iraq may retake Falluja – but to defeat Isis it must win back hearts and minds: “The battle for Falluja will almost certainly bring the city back under the control of the government – but at what cost and towards what end? Falluja is a symbol of resistance against occupation for many sections of Iraqi society, particularly among the Sunni Arab population,” writes Ranj Alaaldin in the Guardian. “Defeating Isis requires basic services, institutions, good governance and the reconciliation of divided communities. That means winning the hearts and minds of Sunni Arabs and addressing their deep-rooted grievances...while also fighting Isis on the military front.”

How a Victory Over ISIS in Fallujah Could Actually Hurt Iraq: “Iraq could finally turn the corner against ISIS—but at a potentially high risk to the future of the divided country,” writes Jared Malsin in TIME. “As ISIS loses territory in both Iraq and Syria, analysts say the militants may be shifting tactics to increase the human costs of any military victory by the forces that oppose the terror group.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Next Big Battle for Syria

Politics and Prose will be hosting a book talk with Karen J. Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, on her new book Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State on Tomorrow, June 2 at 7:00pm.

Join the Center on National Security today 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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