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Brad Carson, the Acting Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, issued a letter to the American Psychological Association earlier this month in which he requested that the organization reconsider its prohibition of psychologists’ involvement in national security-related interrogations at Guantanamo and other detention sites. In his letter to the APA, Carson posited that such restrictions could hinder future efforts to protect the country and advised the association to clarify that its views on interrogations were a “matter of [the APA’s] policy” rather than an “ethical mandate.”

An APA council voted to approve the interrogation ban last August after a board-commissioned report compiled by Chicago lawyer David Hoffman found that James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two prominent psychologists, had advised the CIA as the spy agency implemented its post-9/11 torture program. The APA-affiliated Society of Military Psychology and four psychologists have disputed the Hoffman report’s conclusions on the grounds that strict procedures were put in place in 2005 to prevent the recurrence of detainee abuses. The Pentagon and APA are expected to meet soon to discuss the former’s appeal. New York Times
In a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) demanded Friday that the Defense Department disclose the results of a survey conducted last year to determine whether Kansas-situated Fort Leavenworth was a suitable site for dozens of Guantanamo detainees who are not eligible for transfer to another country. Carter noted during a ceremony at U.S. Southern Command last week that he had presented to President Obama the Pentagon’s proposal for shuttering the detention facility and is awaiting further guidance from the commander-in-chief. In order to fulfill his campaign pledge of closing Guantanamo, Obama must either use his executive authority or work with Congress to lift the statutory ban on detainee transfers to the United States. The Hill

PBS NewsHour: Why Hasn’t the Guantanamo Bay Prison Closed?

Oregon: Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed militia that has occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon since early January, visited an FBI-staging area in a nearby town on Friday to meet with federal authorities. Bundy ended the session abruptly, however, after the federal agent with whom he was meeting made it clear that the government had no intention of conducting the negotiations in front of the press. The parley with Bundy came two days after Gov. Kate Brown called on FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to do more to end the “unlawful occupation” of the wildlife refuge. Guardian

New York Times: Opposing Factions Take to Facebook in Oregon Wildlife Refuge Dispute
Wall Street Journal: Oregon Officials’ Patience Wears Thin as Standoff Enters Fourth Week
ABC News: Forum Over Oregon Standoff Canceled Over Safety Concerns
Despite the fact that the next President will have to decide whether to abide by or flout laws on torture, immigration, and other contentious issues, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only presidential candidate to respond to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage’s third survey on executive power, which included questions on Guantanamo, torture, and surveillance, among other issues. Five out of seven candidates drafted responses during the 2012 presidential cycle; nine out of 12 did so in 2008. Partisan political considerations may explain the dramatic decline in candidates’ participation. Savage reports that whereas Republicans are hesitant to articulate their far-reaching views of presidential prerogative so long as President Obama occupies the Oval Office, Democratic candidates are loathe to acknowledge their opposition to expansive notions of executive power lest Obama need to invoke them. New York Times
Taking advantage of a decades-old relationship that endures despite changing regional dynamics, Saudi Arabia and the United States have been working together to fund, arm, and train the opposition forces arrayed against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published in the New York Times on Saturday. Under the multi-year arrangement, Riyadh has provided the bulk of the money and weapons while Washington has led the training effort. About three years ago, President Obama reportedly authorized the CIA to provide lethal assistance to Syrian rebels as a means of exerting influence over the opposition and preventing Saudi and Qatari assistance from going to radical groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra. Experts suspect that Riyadh’s largesse is driven as much by shared interests with Washington as its desire to position itself as an indispensable player in the negotiations to end the conflict in Syria. New York Times

Wall Street Journal: Syrian Forces, Helped by Russian Airstrikes, Seize Rebel Stronghold
Washington Post: Islamic State Strikes Back in Syria After Losing Ground
Vice News: Wave of Airstrikes Said to Kill Scores of Civilians in Islamic State Territory in Syria
TomDispatch: Failed States and States of Failure

Turkey: Vice President Joe Biden met with Turkish officials in Istanbul for seven hours on Saturday as part of an Obama Administration effort to encourage the country to cooperate with Iraqi and U.S. forces in a forthcoming campaign to wrest Mosul from the Islamic State. Biden also pledged additional American assistance, including aerostat balloons, to help Turkey monitor ISIS’ smuggling operations and secure a 60-mile stretch of its border with Syria. Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters

Vice News: Joe Biden Says the PKK and the Islamic State Are Equal Threats to Turkey
Newsweek: Pentagon Chief Ash Carter: Turkey Could Do More Against ISIS
Foreign Policy: United States Mounts Last-Ditch Effort to Save Syria Talks as Turks Threaten Boycott
The Economist: Widening the Conflict

Afghanistan: In a closed-door forum in Qatar, Doha-based members of the Taliban’s Political Commission reiterated that the armed movement would not participate in negotiations with Kabul so long as foreign troops remained in Afghanistan. The envoys also demanded that the international community lift travel and financial sanctions on the group’s leaders and reopen the Taliban’s political office in Doha as additional preconditions for reconciliation talks. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Deutsche Welle

New York Times: Afghan Officials, Voicing Security Fears on Facebook, Are Fired for Their Trouble
United Kingdom: A former MI5 officer is seeking official permission to present evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee in Parliament that the British government knew as early as December 2002 that the CIA was torturing detainees at Guantanamo. British representatives reportedly witnessed the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques during visits to the detention site and later discussed the matter at MI5’s headquarters in London. Shaker Aamer, a British resident who was recently released from Guantanamo, has also alleged that British officers were present when American authorities tortured him at military bases in Afghanistan shortly after his 2001 capture. Reuters, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph

ISIS Video: The Islamic State released a video Sunday that featured seven of the Paris attackers carrying out beheadings and target practice in ISIS-held territory before returning to Europe. The video appears to corroborate Western intelligence agencies’ long-held suspicion that there were close operational links between those who carried out the November 13 attack on civilian targets across Paris and the terrorist group’s central leadership in Syria. A still image of the video was included in the recent issue of Dabiq magazine in what independent experts said evinced the sophistication of ISIS’ media department. New York Times, Guardian, Reuters
Can We Stop Homegrown Terrorists?: “Today’s concerns about terrorism from inside the United States are rooted, ironically, in the success of efforts to thwart terrorist plots from abroad,” writes Peter Bergen in the Wall Street Journal. “The last foreigner who came close to a successful attack on the U.S. was the ‘underwear bomber’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab… All of this helps to explain a stark fact: Every lethal jihadist terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11 has been carried out by individuals with no formal connection to foreign terrorist groups. The threat today is so-called lone wolves.”

How to Get Congress and Obama to Agree on Closing Guantanamo: “The principal legal obstacle to closing Guantanamo is a series of statutory prohibitions on moving detainees into the United States,” write Steve Vladeck and Benjamin Wittes in the Washington Post. “The debate over whether the president can or should close Guantanamo by executive action is an interesting one, but he won’t actually do it. The main political obstacle to closing Guantanamo is a fundamental disagreement over whether military detention should be a legally available option—not just for those already in custody, but for future terrorism suspects.”

Pakistan’s Unnecessary Martyrs: “The army is not alone in its speed to celebrate its own failures,” writes Mohammed Hanif in the New York Times. “Although the Taliban jostle to take credit for these atrocities, analysts deflect the blame onto our older enemies. Someone from abroad must be funding the attackers, they say. Surely, India is behind this. But weren’t these killers our strategic assets until recently? Didn’t they pledge to fight alongside the Pakistani Army if India dared attack us?”
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