The Early Edition: June 21, 2016

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

IRAQ and SYRIA

Just what has the Islamic State lost since 2014? A lot. Here’s a quick rundown: 45-percent of the territory it controlled, and along with that the tax revenues that came from having nearly 3.7 million people living under it at its territorial peak. Four major cities, five if Fallujah falls. Nine captured military installations. Nine towns along Syria’s border with Turkey that could be used to move fighters, materiel, and money. Seven large scale money making facilities including oil fields, refineries, a cement plant, a mine, and the infamous Mosul dam. While these losses have hurt the Islamic State’s income to the tune of a 26-percent decrease, it still rakes in $23 million a month. All of that is according to this New York Times feature.

Michele Flournoy, contender for Defense Secretary should Hillary Clinton win the White House wants more US troops fighting the Islamic State, and possibly the Assad regime. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker explores statements Flournoy and her colleagues at the Center for a New American Security have been making about what’s needed to defeat the Islamic State and implement a “no bomb zone” in Syria.

Derek Chollet empathizes with the dozens of diplomats who penned the “Dissent Channel” cable calling for greater US military involvement in the Syrian war, but says the blame for Assad’s remaining in power can’t all be laid on the Obama administration. The Pentagon’s former international affairs chief explores alternate scenarios that may, or may not, have helped reduce the bloodshed in Iraq and Syria. [Defense One] 

CYBERSECURITY, TECHNOLOGY, and SURVEILLANCE

Dartmouth College researchers and a non-profit say they’ve devised a tool that can instantly detect and remove online content posted by terrorists and their supporters. The White House has even praised the project. However, this effort raises plenty of obvious questions about free speech and censorship. Especially problematic is that the lack of a common definition around the globe about what, exactly, constitutes terrorism. Such ambiguity leaves the door wide-open for oppressive governments to use tools like this to stifle dissent, writes Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post.

Chinese government cyberespionage is down dramatically since 2014. A combination of widespread negative publicity, US indictments, and the threat of US economic sanctions may be the cause, claims a new report from cybersecurity firm, Fireeye. Read more here. [Washington Post]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Justice Department is opposing the Obama administration’s proposal to allow detainees at the Guantanámo detention facility to plead guilty to terrorism charges in federal courts, opening the door for them to serve out their sentences in a foreign prison. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the proposal would violate the rules of criminal procedure, prevailing in what a White House official describes as “a fierce interagency tussle” over the plan which had support from the State and Defense Departments. Nevertheless, the administration will abide by Lynch’s call. Via Reuters.

Incoming European Union President, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, is on record as saying “Islam has no place” in Slovakia. Read more from The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor here.

How did Donald Trump and his advisors come to the decision to make Muslims a target in his presidential campaign? This Washington Post article explores that question.

A car bomb along the Syrian border in Jordan killed six Jordanian security officials today. No one has yet claimed responsibility. [The New York Times] 

About the Author(s)

Just Security

We are a forum on law, rights, and U.S. national security. You can follow on Twitter @just_security.