FROM Jonathan Landay
Week in politics: Health care, intelligence investigation, Gorsuch The vote for the Republican healthcare plan was set for this afternoon, but wasn’t going to get the votes needed to pass it. So what’s the political fallout? The investigation into Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign took another twist today. Will Democrats filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch?
Islamic State Ruling Justifies the Sexual Slavery of Women We've heard about the capture and enslavement of women and girls by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, particularly with Yazidi women who have been able to escape and tell horrific stories of sexual violence they endured. Now a huge trove of documents captured by US Special Operations Forces is yielding insights into how the Islamic State applies its theology to regulate such sensitive issues as the abuse of women captives of war. Reuters New Agency has been sifting through these records, and today ran an exclusive on the ISIS fatwa or ruling on sex slavery. Jonathan Landay is the national security correspondent for Reuters . Photo: Voice of America
White House Tries to Preempt Leaks with Insider Threat Program Two years ago, after PFC. Bradley Manning's massive classified document dump, President Obama mandated what's called the Insider Threat Program . Millions of federal workers are required to report any suspicious activities on the part of their colleagues. They face criminal penalties if they don't. Lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors, including financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel are the kind of thing that might predict whether colleagues might do "harm to the United States." That's part of the rationale for the program, according to Jonathan Landay, senior national security correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers .
Marines Embellished Medal of Honor Story At a White House ceremony in September, former Marine corporal Dakota Meyer received America's highest award for valor, the first Medal of Honor for a living Marine since the Vietnam War. He deserved it, but never did all of what President Obama told the audience. The President said that Meyer drove into a savage ambush in Afghanistan against orders, killed insurgents at near point-blank range, leaped from his gun turret to rescue 24 Afghan soldiers and saved the lives of 13 comrades in arms. But Jonathan Landay, a reporter with McClatchy Newspapers , was embedded with Meyer's unit, and says records show it didn't happen that way.
Karzai Takes Control of Afghan Election Watchdog Last year, Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission discovered so much fraud in the presidential election that it required a run-off . That never happened, but Hamid Karzai promised to clean his house of corruption. But today, he seized control of the commission itself and removed three foreign experts who'd been appointed by the UN. What will this mean for continued western support of the Karzai government? Jonathan Landay is national security correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers.
The Afghan Election: Democracy in Wartime President Obama calls today's voting the most important event of the year in Afghanistan. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke says holding an election in a time of war is “extraordinary.” Three thousand cars, three helicopters and 3000 donkeys are bringing ballot boxes back to the capital city for counting that won't be final for two weeks.
The Afghan Election: Democracy in Wartime Ballots boxes are on their way to Kabul in cars, helicopters and on the backs of 3000 donkeys. The count won't be final until early next month. Voter turnout is called "uneven," with attacks near some polling places. Some fraud and corruption are guaranteed, and two people with indelible ink on their fingers reportedly were hanged. President Obama calls today's voting the most important event of the year in Afghanistan. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke says holding an election in a time of war is "extraordinary." Will the results be perceived as credible by the Afghan people? Will they lead to peace with the Taliban and better governance? Will they alter America's role in a dangerous region?
Violence Surrounds Afghanistan's Election With Afghans scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow for a presidential election, the Taliban says suicide bombers will create bloody havoc in Kabul, the capital city. The threat already has been made real. Jonathan Landay is senior national security correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers .
Dueling Speeches over National Security President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney lined out their differences today in speeches designed to frame the ongoing debate on national security. The President spoke at the National Archives, Cheney addressed the American Enterprise Institute
Obama and Cheney Address the Politics of National Security The President and the former Vice President could hardly disagree more on the right and wrong policies for keeping America safe. In dueling speeches today, they advanced their views and repudiated each other on issues including interrogations, Guantánamo Bay and the Constitution. Speaking at the National Archives, Obama said he'll protect the nation while preserving the rule of law. Cheney spoke at the American Enterprise Institute, where he said critics of tough anti-terrorist measures "distort the truth." We talk to reporters and others about today's quasi-debate. Will it change perceptions of the past? Will it help shape the future?
Obama Signs Order to Close Guantanamo, End Renditions Hillary Clinton made her first visit to Foggy Bottom today as Secretary of State, joined by the new President. Earlier at the Obama White House, the President signed a much-awaited executive order to close Guantanamo Bay.
Bush Defends Past Stance on Nuclear Threat from Iran In October President Bush talked about Iran's nuclear program in terms of "World War III" . But the latest National Intelligence Estimate says Iran stopped trying to build a bomb four years ago. Today, the President reiterated that Iran remains a threat to the world, one whose nuclear program, if restarted, could have "the ability to enrich uranium, the knowledge of which could be passed on to a hidden program." He called the latest NIE not an argument for change, but for more international pressure to make sure the program is not resumed and to "convince the Iranians that there is a better way forward." Will this reduce the possibility of military action? Will the US still have credibility with crucial allies? We hear from Europe and Israel.
Bush Defends Past Stance on Nuclear Threat from Iran In October President Bush talked about Iran's nuclear program in terms of " World War III ." But the latest National Intelligence Estimate says Iran stopped trying to build a bomb four years ago. Today, the President reiterated that Iran remains a threat to the world, one whose nuclear program, if restarted, could have "the ability to enrich uranium, the knowledge of which could be passed on to a hidden program." He called the latest NIE not an argument for change, but for more international pressure to make sure the program is not resumed and to "convince the Iranians that there is a better way forward." Will this reduce the possibility of military action? Will the US still have credibility with crucial allies? We hear from Europe and Israel.
Diplomatic Efforts to Defuse Turkish, Kurdish Rebels Conflict The State Department says there's "a diplomatic full-court press" underway to prevent Turkey from launching a full-scale military assault against the PKK, the Kurdish rebels inside northern Iraq. It’s a tough call for all the players involved—Iraq's central government, the regional Kurkish regime—and US forces. Former Congressman Stephen Solarz , once a lobbyist for the Turkish government, says from Istanbul, "the countdown for a military move has begun" and it's "a matter of weeks, not months." That's according to Jonathan Landay, national security correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers .
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.