The Soufan Group Morning Brief

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The FBI and Oregon State Police announced Tuesday that LaVoy Finicum, the defacto spokesperson of the armed militia that has occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon since early January, was killed during a traffic stop. Details are sparse at this time, but it appears that Finicum was shot as law-enforcement officers attempted to arrest him. During the same traffic stop, authorities also apprehended Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Cliven Bundy and leader of the armed group, and several of Finicum’s colleagues who were traveling with him to a community meeting near Canyon City. Bundy and other occupiers are expected to be charged with conspiracy to impede U.S. officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats. An unknown number of armed militia members remain holed up at the refuge, where they continue to demand that the government return federal land to local control. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Guardian, Reuters

NY Mag: Oregon Occupation Spokesman Killed, Eight Militants Arrested
Vice News: The Oregon Militia Spokesman Has Been Killed and Its Leaders Detained After FBI Confrontation
Buzzfeed: Who Was LaVoy Finicum?
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the National Security Council’s records will remain impervious to public scrutiny via Freedom of Information Act requests. The D.C. Circuit concluded in 1996 that the NSC did not constitute a federal agency as defined by FOIA and, therefore, was not subject to the federal statute. In a lawsuit brought on behalf of the City University of New York’s legal clinic, attorneys Ramzi Kassem and Douglas Cox contended that the advisory body’s Principals Committee’s involvement in selecting targets for drone strikes and authorizing torture techniques was evidence of an independent, agency-like authority. While the Second Circuit Court was thought to be more favorable to those pressing for greater transparency in the national-security arena, Judge Reena Raggi and two of her colleagues disagreed, writing that “the described process manifests the very function of advising the President in connection with the exercise of his authority, as envisioned by Congress in establishing the NSC.” Politico, The Hill, Courthouse News Service

Warrantless Surveillance: The D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel released charging papers on Tuesday that accused Thomas Tamm, a former Department of Justice attorney who had filed warrant requests before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, with two counts of ethical violations for his role in notifying the New York Times in 2004 of the Bush Administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping. According to the office, Tamm engaged in professional misconduct by revealing his client’s secrets to the media and failing to share his knowledge of other DoJ staffers’ wrongdoing with the proper internal authorities. FBI agents at one point attempted to pressure him into pleading guilty to felony charges, though the Justice Department ultimately declined to pursue the case in court. Tamm faces a range of potential punishments for his alleged misconduct, including disbarment. The Intercept, National Law Journal, Ars Technica

Mass-Shooting Case: Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, was charged Tuesday with unlawful possession of a machine gun a day after he was arrested by FBI agents. According to federal authorities, the suspect had planned to carry out a mass-casualty attack on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee in the hopes of killing 30 Americans and inspiring others to do so in the name of Islam. He had discussed his plans at length with FBI informants before purchasing his weapons, stating that “nobody can play with Muslims” and ominously warning that “such operations will increase in America.” Hamzeh had been under investigation since last September when the FBI learned that he had planned to travel abroad to attack Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, but instead changed his target to a domestic site due to logistical and financial constraints. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press

Gitmo: Moroccan authorities have again postponed a hearing in which they will decide whether to pursue terrorism charges against Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri, a 46-year-old former Guantanamo detainee who was never charged with a crime during his 13-year stint at the detention facility. Chekkouri’s judicial proceedings have been delayed repeatedly since he was returned to his home country in September of last year. His hearing was rescheduled for February 9. ABC News

Miami Herald: Bogus Bomb Scare Shuts Down Guantanamo Base Commissary
Here & Now: Discussion of Torture Keeps Guantanamo Trials in Limbo

Intel Agencies: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently acknowledged that the country’s intelligence workforce is 77 percent white and 62 percent male despite concerted efforts to enhance diversity. The 2011 data was released in November of last year in compliance with a FOIA request filed by Damien Van Puyvelde and Stephen Coulthart, two national-security professors at the University of Texas at El Paso. The Hill

Defense One: The Intelligence Community Must Remove Barriers to Minority Recruitment
Quartz: Spy Agency MI5 Is the UK’s Most LGBT-Friendly Employer
On Tuesday, Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, invited several anti-Assad opposition leaders to the initial round of UN-sponsored talks to end the Syrian conflict, which are slated to start in Geneva later this week. The Special Envoy indicated the previous day that he would not identify those he had invited until they confirmed their participation. While de Mistura and other diplomats insist that the negotiations will go forward, doubts continued to emerge Tuesday as opposition leaders threatened to boycott the talks unless the Assad regime halted its sieges. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned, meanwhile, that his country would walk away from the political transition process if the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, a U.S. ally, were included. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Yahoo News, Al Jazeera

Guardian: UK Urges Syrian Opposition to Attend Geneva Peace Talks
Washington Post: U.S.-Backed Rebels Lose a Key Town to Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Afghanistan: After more than a half-decade of pursuing an “exit strategy” from Afghanistan, U.S. military commanders are reportedly coming around to the realization that the effort to develop effective Afghan security forces is a generational undertaking that will require sustained troop commitments for years to come. “What we’ve learned is that you can’t really leave,” a senior Pentagon official confided to the Washington Post. The U.S. military has been caught off guard by the Taliban’s resurgence across swathes of Afghan territory and al Qaeda’s staying power in the region despite nearly a decade of drone strikes. President Obama announced in mid-October of last year that 9,800 American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016, though those plans could be altered again in response to the tenuous security environment. Washington Post

New York Times: Afghan Police Officer Suspected of Helping Taliban Kill 10 Comrades

Civilian Casualties: The Tampa-based U.S. Central Command recently changed the manner in which it discloses information related to civilian casualties caused by American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to an article published Tuesday in the Washington Post. In short, the U.S. military will no longer publicize detailed accounts of its civilian-casualty investigations. In a statement to the Post, Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, claimed in essence that the process of declassifying the contents of an investigation was overly burdensome and hindered the military’s ability to make even limited information available in a timely manner. Going forward, detailed accounts of these investigations will likely remain classified unless a FOIA request is filed. Washington Post
Denmark: As anti-refugee sentiment rises across Europe, Danish lawmakers voted Tuesday in favor of legislation that will require asylum seekers from Syria and elsewhere to turn over their jewelry and other valuable assets to reimburse taxpayers for their stay in the country. Wedding rings, family heirlooms, and other objects of sentimental value will be exempted from seizure. The bill will also prevent asylum seekers from bringing their families to Denmark for a period of three years, a provision designed to make the country even more unattractive as an asylum destination. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian

Buzzfeed: Denmark Decides That Refugees Need to Hand Over Their Stuff If They Want In
New York Times: Migrant Influx in Germany Raises Fears of Anti-Semitism
Foreign Policy: For Finland and Norway, the Refugee Crisis Heats Up Along the Russian Arctic

Israel: In remarks delivered to the Security Council on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the recent rise in Palestinian attacks against Palestinian civilians even as he acknowledged that it was “human nature to react to occupation.” In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Secretary General of providing a “tailwind to terrorism.” On Monday, a Palestinian assailant attacked Shlomit Krigman, a 23-year-old mother of six, and another woman with a knife; Krigman died of her wounds on Tuesday morning. New York Times, Guardian, Reuters

Opening a New Front Against ISIS in Libya: “The Pentagon is ramping up intelligence-gathering in Libya as the Obama Administration draws up plans to open a third front in the war against the Islamic State,” writes the Editorial Board of The New York Times. “That is deeply troubling. A new military intervention in Libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent.”

Restricting Muslim Travelers to the United States Does Little to Keep Americans Safe: “And the program doesn’t just waive visas: In order to qualify for Visa Waiver status, a country must exchange terrorist watch-list and criminal information with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” write Ryan Greer and Amir Handjani in Quartz. “By incentivizing expansive security cooperation, we are more likely to know if a traveler is a security concern… If we reduce the incentives for being in the program, we undermine that cooperation.”
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For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Libya, Extremism, and the Consequences of Collapse.
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