US airstrikes in Amerli supported deadly Shia terror group - The Long War Journal

"While helping Iraqi forces to break the Islamic State’s siege of Amerli, the US Air Force supported a deadly Shia militia that is responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers. The Shia militia, known as Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous, has also captured and executed US soldiers and British citizens in the past."

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Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans -

"Although President Obama pledged last year to revive his efforts to close Guantánamo, his administration has managed to free just one low-level prisoner this year, leaving 79 who are approved for transfer to other countries. "

U.S. Strikes Militants Besieging Turkmen in Iraq -

More mission creep - David C. Unger

“American warplanes launched airstrikes on Sunni militants who have been besieging the town of Amerli in northern Iraq on Saturday, in a broadening of the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
The Pentagon announced the expanded strikes Saturday night.”

“Administration officials had characterized the dangers facing the Turkmen, who are Shiite Muslims considered infidels by ISIS, as similar to the threat faced by thousands of Yazidis, who were driven to Mount Sinjar in Iraq after attacks by the militants.”

Stop Hiding Images of American Torture -

"Images of war are frequently appalling, and the safety of American citizens and soldiers is vitally important. But the greatest threat to that safety lies not in the photographs of horrific behavior; it lies in the fact of the behavior itself. The treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was a shameful episode in U.S. history.

America reinforces its values and thus its security by being transparent about even the worst abuses of those values, not by hiding the evidence deep in a file drawer.”


This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
Representatives for two rebel groups in Mali agreed to end hostilities and join together for peace talks with the government next month.
Riek Machar’s rebel group in South Sudan have rejected a power-sharing deal.
Vice reports on weapons moving into South Sudan.
17 were killed in in-fighting among factions of the Seleka rebel group in the Central African Republic.
Abdullah al-Thinni has resigned as Libya’s prime minister in an attempt to end a power struggle. 
Egypt and the UAE have secretly carried out airstrikes in Libya.
An indefinite ceasefire was brokered between Israel and Gaza.
Scenes from on the ground in Gaza and Israel — captured by photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Peter van Agtmael.
The UN says that 3 million people have fled Syria in the current conflict, and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.
American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who has published under the name Theo Padnos, was released from captivity in Syria this week. He was held by the Nusra Front.
His release was secured with the help of Qatar, who are continuing to try to negotiate the release of other Western hostages — one of whom is now known to be an American aid worker held by ISIS.
Steve Coll on the kidnapping of journalists.
ISIS captives, including James Foley, were waterboarded.
Evan Hill remembers his correspondence with Foley.
The mother of captive journalist Steven Sotloff has released a video plea to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for her son’s freedom.
Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt report on ISIS’s management and organizational structure.
One piece of reporting indicates that there is support among non-extremist rebels in Syria for US action against ISIS, saying that ISIS has “ravaged” Syria and hijacked their revolution.
Public beheadings have become a “common spectacle" in Syria, according to the UN.
Two journalists acquired an ISIS laptop — full of “how-tos” for weaponizing the bubonic plague, among other things.
A 33-year-old US citizen — Douglas McCain — was killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. US intelligence has reportedly identified almost a dozen Americans who have similarly traveled abroad to join ISIS.
43 UN peacekeepers are being held by an armed group in Syrian Golan Heights.
Mapping ISIS’ development and expansion in Syria and Iraq.
In Iraq, ISIS is accused of ethnic cleansing in a prison massacre in Mosul where 670 Shia prisoners were reportedly killed.
US airstrikes in Iraq, day by day.
Armed Yemeni rebels staged sit ins this week outside the capital city, Sanaa, protesting the government.
An ongoing, bloody Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan has killed as many as 900 in some of the “worst fighting” in years.
Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election is costing the country ‘s economy $5bn. 
PM Sharif has been named by Pakistani police as a murder suspect in the deaths of 14 protesters near Lahore in June.
Thousands of Pakistani demonstrators, lead by Tahir ul-Qadri and Imran Khan, have camped out in front of parliament in Islamabad since mid-August demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down. Pakistan’s army chief has now been named mediator in the crisis.
Russia has opened up a new offensive in Ukraine and NATO has accused Russia of “blatant violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Ukrainian soldiers coming out of Novoazovsk say they were “cannon fodder" for Russian tanks.
Ukraine’s prime minister announced the country’s renewed intentions to join NATO.
In photos: what remains of Donetsk.
The debate over Russia’s invasion/incursion plays out, of course, on Twitter.
Obama announced executive actions to benefit veterans, soldiers and military families.
The prosecution rests in the Blackwater trial.
Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.


This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.

Obama must answer: Are we at war with the Islamic State?  - The Washington Post

"I’d like to hear an honest discussion by our leaders about what we’re signing up for. Obama called the Islamic State a “cancer” and said the fight against it “won’t be easy and it won’t be quick.” To my ears, this suggests that the United States is making a long-term commitment and that time is on our side, not the Islamic State’s. I’d like to examine both assumptions."

Lawmakers Ask Boehner for Vote on Iraq -

"August 27, 2014

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House

US. House of Representatives
Washington, DC. 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

As the principle cosponsors of the original and amended versions of H. Con. Res. 105 to
require the President to seek Congressional authorization before deploying armed services engaged in
combat operations in Iraq, we are writing to request that Congress debate and vote on such an
authorization when the House reconvenes the week of September 8th.”

Lawmakers Want Congress to Decide on Military Action Against ISIS -

"A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday called for Congress to debate and vote on whether to authorize President Obama to take military action against Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria.

In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, the lawmakers — Representatives Barbara Lee of California and James McGovern of Massachusetts, both Democrats, and Walter B. Jones, Republican of North Carolina — said it was time for Congress to weigh in on whether to give Mr. Obama the power to broaden what began as a limited military mission in Iraq.

The number of American troops and airstrikes in Iraq has “increased significantly” while lawmakers have been on their August break, the three House members said, and the administration has begun weighing whether to expand the operation to Syria.

“We all share concerns about the Islamic State’s (IS) brutal tactics and further destabilization of the region,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that they also supported the Iraq mission that Mr. Obama announced on Aug. 7. “But current military operations now underway in Iraq appear to be beyond the scope of these limited purposes, and even greater expansion is under discussion.

“These are serious matters that require congressional debate and a vote on whether to authorize them,” the letter says.”

Military Skill and Terrorist Technique Fuel Success of ISIS -

"At the top the organization is the self-declared leader of all Muslims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a radical chief executive officer of sorts, who handpicked many of his deputies from among the men he met while a prisoner in American custody at the Camp Bucca detention center a decade ago.

He had a preference for military men, and so his leadership team includes many officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army.”

"Political changes after the American invasion accelerated their rise. Members of Mr. Hussein’s Baath Party were barred from government positions, and the political dominance of Iraq’s Shiite majority made many Sunnis feel disenfranchised.

“After 2003, what did these guys have to do but get more radical?” Mr. Knights said.”

Gov't Resists Court Review of State Secrets

Secrecy News
Gov’t Resists Court Review of State Secrets
Posted on Aug.27, 2014 in Judicial, state secrets privilege by Steven Aftergood

"It is “not appropriate” for a court to conduct its own independent review of evidence that the government asserts is protected by the state secrets privilege, attorneys for the government argued last week."