The Soufan Group Morning Brief



A series of previously classified documents, disclosed by the CIA in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU, shed light on the brutal techniques used on detainees in the CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation program. The files include instructions and specifications for medical staff on enforcing sleep deprivation, limiting detainees’ caloric intake, and waterboarding. The documents also contain testimony from Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah about his torture while being held at CIA black sites overseas. New York Times, CNN

VICE News: Psychologist James Mitchell Admits He Waterboarded al Qaeda Suspects
Guardian: CIA medical staff gave specifications on how to torture post-9/11 detainees
ABC: What Newly Released CIA Documents Reveal About ‘Torture’ in Its Former Detention Program

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from transferring any detainees out of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The measure would restrict the use of funds for transferring any Guantanamo detainee to “any other location.” The Hill

Orlando shooting: Omar Mateen, the gunman in the Orlando massacre, threatened to strap bombs to hostages during the standoff with police, according to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Investigators have found no evidence of explosives inside the Pulse nightclub. FBI Special Agent Ronald Hopper, who is in charge of the FBI’s Orlando office, has also disputed reports that Mateen had targets other than the Orlando nightclub and urged patience with investigators, citing the complex crime scene. New York Times

New York Times: There’s a Disconnect in Americans’ Worry About Terrorism
Washington Post: It’s impossible to monitor all terror suspects. These charts show why.
Wall Street Journal: Federal Authorities Call Orlando Shooting Hate Crime, Act of Terrorism
VOA: What Makes for Effective Counterterrorism?
LA Times: FBI says it is confident it can recover data from Orlando shooter’s damaged cellphone

ISIS hacker: Twenty-year-old Ardit Ferizi, a native of Kosovo, pleaded guilty to cyber hacking and terrorism charges on Wednesday for stealing the personal data of U.S. service members and forwarding it to ISIS. Last June, Ferizi hacked into a server used by a U.S. online retail company to steal the personal information of around 100,000 people. Washington Post, AP

Surveillance: The House of Representatives is set to vote today on an amendment to the annual defense bill that would prohibit the NSA and other intelligence agencies from searching Americans’ data incidentally collected during surveillance of foreign targets. The House passed similar amendments the last two years, but the measures were removed in the final Senate-approved versions. Bloomberg, The Hill

Donald Trump doubled down on his call for mass surveillance of American mosques on Wednesday. Responding to sharp criticism by President Obama for his comments in the wake of the Orlando attack, Trump said “we have to go and we have to maybe check, respectfully, the mosques. And we have to check other places. Because this is a problem that if we don’t solve it, it’s going to eat our country alive.” CNN

NATO will keep forces in Afghanistan into 2017, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Wednesday. NATO defense ministers agreed to maintain the alliance’s bases in Afghanistan, which could make it easier for the United States to keep more troops in the country to assist the struggling Afghan security forces. Washington Post, Reuters

Syria: Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia of violating the fragile “cessation of hostilities” agreement in Syria after continued strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo. Kerry said “Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite, and in fact very limited, with respect to whether or not Assad is going to be held accountable.” Reuters, VOA

Yemen: UAE officials said on Wednesday that the “war is over” for its forces in Yemen. The government statement left open the possibility for Emirati troops to remain in Yemen for counterterrorism operations. AP

France: France eased its gun regulations for off-duty police officers to carry their firearms even when the country is not in a state of emergency. The change comes in response the killing of an off-duty officer and his partner by an ISIS-affiliated attacker. French authorities also received a warning from Belgian intelligence regarding the threat of small ISIS terror cells traveling from Syria to France and Belgium during the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. New York Times, Guardian

TIME: The Tale of Two Killers in Orlando and France Shows How ISIS Operates Today

Egypt: On Wednesday, a search team in the Mediterranean found the first wreckage of the EgyptAir flight that veered off course last month and crashed into the sea, according to the Egyptian government. The discovery is the first significant development in the search for the aircraft since investigators detected signals from the plane’s black boxes nearly two weeks ago. New York Times
Terrorism: The Wrong Conversation: “The two presumptive presidential nominees have reacted to the massacre in Orlando—the deadliest shooting in US history—in predictable ways: Donald Trump was narcissistic and hateful, and Hillary Clinton was reasonable and resolved,” writes Masha Gessen in The New York Review of Books. “This is the conversation about terrorism that America has been having for nearly fifteen years, and it is the wrong conversation because it confuses cause and effect and, consequently, proposes the wrong solutions.”

Solving Islam’s Extremist Problem Starts With Solving its Homophobia Problem: “There are Muslim leaders, predominantly from the United States, who have been swift to denounce the latest in the never-ending series of terrorist acts undertaken by people who claim an affiliation with Islam. Such condemnations are necessary but not sufficient for the urgent task of building bridges between diverse communities,” writes Junaid Jahangir on Foreign Policy. “And though this is admirable work, more needs to be done from within the Muslim leadership — from the community to the national level — that addresses bullying, discrimination, and violence against the LGBT community in general and LGBT Muslims in particular.”

Civil Liberties Keep Americans Safe: “After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government changed its domestic policies in a lot of ways that did little to keep its residents safer from terrorism, even as it infringed on civil liberties and weakened basic protections against government abuses,” writes Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic. “The nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, has prompted renewed calls from prominent figures for new infringements on the civil liberties of law-abiding American citizens and residents. Their suggestions would do little if anything to keep anyone safer, and would assist jihadists in further chipping away at freedoms and protections against government abuses.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Preventing the Next Orlando

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