The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

The Senate voted against four separate gun control proposals on Monday, including measures that would prevent suspected terrorists from being able to buy a gun. The legislation included amendments to prohibit people on the federal terrorism watch list from purchasing guns and to close loopholes in background check regulations. The votes largely split along party lines, as the legislation included two Democrat-sponsored measures and two Republican-backed proposals. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also sharply criticised Republicans saying they “need to put the lives of innocent Americans ahead of the NRA.” The Hill, LA Times, New York Times

Washington Post: A week after Orlando, Republicans protect terrorists’ right to bear arms

Facing sharp criticism from Republicans in Congress on Monday, the Justice Department reversed its initial decision to redact portions of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s conversations with hostage negotiators and police dispatchers. The Justice Department said it had previously edited out mentions of ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, from the transcript out of respect and sensitivity for the victims of the attack and to avoid “providing the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda.” NBC, Washington Post

New York Times: Orlando Police Defend Actions as Clock Ticked in Massacre
Washington Post: ‘You already know what I did': Read excerpts of the Orlando shooter’s 911 calls
The Hill: Ryan rips 'preposterous' ISIS redaction from shooter transcript
CBS: During shooting, Mateen told cops: "You people are gonna get it"
The Intercept: FBI Still Concealing Almost All of What the Orlando Gunman Said

Surveillance: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to expand federal surveillance powers by introducing an amendment to an annual criminal justice appropriations bill. The legislation would allow the FBI to use tools called “national security letters” to obtain suspects’ internet browsing history and other online records without a warrant during terrorism investigations. The Hill, Reuters

Cybersecurity: Intellectual property theft against U.S. firms has sharply declined since President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to crackdown on cyber espionage last year, according to a new study by the network security firm FireEye. Experts say that the effort is part of President Xi’s effort to bring the Chinese military, suspected of sponsoring most Chinese cyber attacks, further under his control. New York Times, Washington Post

DNC Hack: Two independent research firms confirmed suspicions that the Russian government hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s network in March, according to the firms’ assessments. Cybersecurity firms Fidelis Cybersecurity and Mandiant both confirmed an earlier assessment by the firm CrowdStrike, which the DNC hired to investigate the breach of its research files. Washington Post

ISIS launched a counter-attack against Arab and Kurdish fighters trying to retake the northern city of Manbij on Monday. The U.S.-backed fighters sustained heavy casualties in the attack. ISIS militants recaptured three villages south of Manbij in surprise attacks which killed at least 28 Syria Democratic Forces fighters. Reuters

Iraq: Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV who died in clashes with ISIS militants in Iraq in March was awarded a Silver Star, the third-highest award for combat valor. Four U.S. military advisers were also lightly wounded earlier this month in Northern Syria after an anti-tank shell exploded near their position. These incidents highlight the increasing danger facing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, participating in what have been described as “train, advise, and assist” roles in the fight against ISIS. CNN, CNN

Afghanistan: A Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in Kabul on Monday. The attack targeted the guards’ minibus while on its way to their post at the Canadian Embassy. Another Taliban bombing killed a provincial council member in eastern Kabul. A third bombing in the northeastern province of Badakshan killed at least eight people and wounded 18 others. AP

Iran: Iran’s intelligence ministry said on Monday that it had foiled what would have been one of the country’s “biggest terrorism plots ever.” Iranian intelligence officials said that “Wahhabi takfiris” were planning numerous bombings around the country. Authorities arrested several people and confiscated bombs and large quantities of explosives. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Philippines: The U.S. Navy has deployed two aircraft carriers to the Philippine Sea, a rare move that comes amid rising tensions with China and other countries in the South China Sea. The USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carriers and their associated strike groups carried out trainings, defense drills, and sea surveillance activities, according to Navy officials. Washington Post
Pain Versus Gain: “Last week, a new batch of declassified documents released in Freedom of Information Act litigation again graphically chronicled the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ used in the wake of 9/11. These documents remind us yet again of a central fallacy shared by too many participants in the Great Torture Debate: the assumption that torture works,” writes Harold Koh on Just Security. “That assumption...has led them to an instrumental, consequentialist conclusion: If we face the existential threat of a ‘ticking time bomb,’ at some point, law and morals must give way.”

Is Bangladesh the next ISIS hotspot?: Bangladesh is “home to almost 150 million Muslims, and up until recently steered clear of the kind of radicalism that has plagued other parts of the world. But unfortunately there are ominous signs that this is changing,” writes Ravi Agrawal on CNN. “For more than two years, a spate of brutal murders has rocked the South Asian nation. At first the killings had a clear pattern, targeting well-known secular writers in the capital, Dhaka. The attacks seemed designed to silence those who dared to criticize Islam.”

Obama Needs to Protect the Iran Deal: “A narrative is emerging in Iran that the United States has failed to live up to a key commitment under the nuclear agreement,” write Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Reza Nasri in The New York Times. “If this narrative gains momentum and wipes out the sense of hope and optimism that the nuclear deal brought to Iran’s business community and its general public, we risk re-entering the tired old path of mistrust and antagonism — a lose-lose paradigm for Iran, the United States, the Middle East and beyond.”

Out Now: Karen Greenberg's newest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, is the definitive account of how America's War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Unprecedented Scope of the Refugee Crisis

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