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Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

New From the GAO

October 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Combating Terrorism: Strategy to Counter Iran in the Western Hemisphere Has Gaps That State Department Should Address. GAO-14-834, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-834
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666199.pdf

2. Federal Paid Administrative Leave: Additional Guidance Needed to Improve OPM Data. GAO-15-79, October 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-79
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666565.pdf

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Home Is Where They Have To Take You In: Right to Entry For U.S. Citizens, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 16, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Home Is Where They Have To Take You In: Right to Entry For U.S. Citizens, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congressional interest in revoking passports for U.S. citizens who have gone abroad to fight for foreign terrorist groups is partly motivated by concern about preventing such persons from returning to conduct terrorist activities in the U.S. Advocates of revoking a passport for a U.S. citizen who is outside the U.S. believe that this would prevent the person’s reentry into the U.S. Contrary to a common misconception, however, the denial or revocation of a passport does not signify or cause a loss of citizenship. A passport only documents a person’s status as a U.S. citizen; it does not literally embody the citizenship itself. Moreover, federal courts have recognized a U.S. citizen’s right to enter the U.S., even without a passport.

See also: (No) Papers, Please: No Passports for U.S. “Foreign Fighters”, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 10, 2014) (PDF)

UN — Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The present report in the fourth annual report submitted to the General Assembly by the current Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freesoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson.

The key activities undertaken by the Special Rapporteur between 17 December 2013 and 31 July 2014 are listed in section II of the report. In section III, the Special Rapporteur examines the use of mass digital surveillance for counter-terrorism purposes and considers the implications of bulk access technology for the right to privacy under article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Progress and Continuing Challenges, CRS Insights (October 1, 2014)

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Progress and Continuing Challenges, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On August 18, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced the complete destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons (CW). Despite this significant achievement, serious challenges relating to Syrian CW remain. In early September, the Syrian regime announced previously undeclared chemical weapons research facilities, raising questions about what else it might be concealing. Repeated reports have alleged chlorine gas attacks by the Assad regime. Moreover, press reports speculate that insecure chemical weapons stocks in Syria and Iraq may have gotten into the hands of the Islamic State (ISIL). Most of these questions cannot yet be answered definitively, but the fate of Syria’s CW capabilities warrants continued attention.

CRS — Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (October 1, 2014)

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests. However, a common enemy has emerged in the form of the Islamic State organization, reducing gaps in U.S. and Iranian interests somewhat.

During the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. officials identified Iran’s support for militant Middle East groups as a significant threat to U.S. interests and allies. A perceived potential threat from Iran’s nuclear program came to the fore in 2002, and the United States orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to try to compel it to verifiably confine that program to purely peaceful purposes. The pressure has harmed Iran’s economy and might have contributed to the June 2013 election as president of Iran of the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned as an advocate of ending Iran’s international isolation. Subsequent multilateral talks with Iran produced an interim agreement (“Joint Plan of Action,” JPA) that halted the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief. In advance of a November 24, 2014 deadline for the JPA to expire, the search for a “comprehensive solution” on the nuclear issue remains impeded by substantial differences over Iran’s long-term capacity to enrich uranium Talks to try to finalize a comprehensive deal began September 18 and will continue until that deadline.

CRS — The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation (September 18, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In order to protect national security, the government maintains various terrorist watchlists, including the “No Fly” list, which contains the names of individuals to be denied boarding on commercial airline flights. Travelers on the No Fly list are not permitted to board an American airline or any flight on a foreign air carrier that lands or departs from U.S. territory or flies over U.S. airspace. Some persons have claimed that their alleged placement on the list was the result of an erroneous determination by the government that they posed a national security threat. In some cases, it has been reported that persons have been prevented from boarding an aircraft because they were mistakenly believed to be on the No Fly list, sometimes on account of having a name similar to another person who was actually on the list. As a result, various legal challenges to placement on the list have been brought in court.

The “Khorasan Group” in Syria, CRS Insights (September 24, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

The “Khorasan Group” in Syria, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 22, U.S. military forces launched strikes against Syria-based terrorists referred to by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan Group,” whose members President Obama has described as “seasoned Al Qaeda operatives in Syria.” According to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, the group “includes some former al Qaeda operatives, core al Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan [a region historically known as Khorasan] who made their way to Syria.” Rhodes added that the Administration views the Khorasan Group as “an extension of the threat posed by al Qaeda and their associated forces. These are individuals who have their origin, their history serving in al Qaeda.” Other U.S. officials and independent observers report that the group’s members may hold leadership roles in the Al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian insurgent organization known as Jabhat al Nusra (the Support Front), which the United States has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell has described the “Khorasan Group” as “the external operations arm” of Jabhat al Nusra, saying its members “came from Pakistan” and “focus on attacks in the West.” Despite this reported affiliation, some observers believe the approximately 50 to 100 members of the “Khorasan Group” focus primarily on planning international terrorist acts, rather than aiding Jabhat al Nusra’s efforts to topple the Asad regime.

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