The Early Edition: January 30, 2017

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.

The MUSLIM BAN

“This is not a Muslim ban.” President Trump tried to defend his executive order temporarily prohibiting entry to the US for migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries even as the exact limits of the scope of the order and its legal constitutionality remain unresolved, Brady Dennis and Jerry Markon write at the Washington Post.

The White House pulled back on part of the temporary ban by saying it would not apply to those with green cards granting them permanent residence in the US, the Department of Homeland Security formally issuing an order exempting legal residents from the order Sunday, Peter Baker reports at the New York Times.

Top Democrats are demanding a meeting with the head of the Department of Homeland Security to discuss how the executive order is meant to be implemented, Heather Caygle reports at POLITICO.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will introduce two bills in response to the executive action today, the first immediately rescinding the order, the second limiting executive authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne reports.

An annotated version of Trump’s immigration order is provided by Adam Liptak at the New York Times.

A comparison between the final executive order and the earlier draft that was leaked to the press, revealing many potentially significant updates, is made by Just Security’s Jay Shooster.

A letter calling for the D.H.S. Inspector General to investigate Trump officials’ failure to obey the federal court order was sent by Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, the Huffington Post’s Kim Bellware reports.

Canada will offer temporary residency permits to travelers who are stranded by Trump’s order, Rob Gillies reports at the AP.

The judicial branch’s “lighting speed” reaction to Trump’s order Saturday night is the beginning of litigation that may last for years, writes Adam Liptak at the New York Times.

A recap of the work of the courts – and the lawyers – over the weekend as a consequence of the Executive Order on immigration signed by President Trump Friday, where things stand at the beginning of the week and what the big questions are going to be over the ensuing days is provided by Just Security’s Steve Vladeck.

Trump has omitted from his order a number of Muslim-majority countries where his company has done business, adding a further layer of illegitimacy to “one of the most arbitrary executive actions in our recent history,” Richard W. Painter and Norman L. Eisen write at the New York Times.

Major firms and personalities in Silicon Valley began to speak out against the Muslim Ban over the weekend, a departure from their former view that the president should be taken “seriously, but not literally” that many felt was long overdue, the BBC’s Dave Lee reports.

The “bonfire” over Trump’s executive order on refugees demonstrates that government by “deliberate disruption” can explode and cause damage, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

The Muslim ban is the culmination of the war on terror mentality but is also uniquely shameful, writes Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.

NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL ORDER

Steven Bannon was given a full seat on the “principles committee” of the National Security Council while the roles of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence were downgraded in an executive order signed by Trump Saturday evening, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report at the New York Times.

The presidential directive established Bannon’s policy influence and gave the man who was reportedly directly involved in shaping the immigration mandate something no previous president has bestowed on a political adviser, writes Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post.

The dangers of giving unqualified Bannon a place on what is “effectively the central nervous system of the US foreign policy and national security apparatus” are explained by David J. Rothkopf writing at the Washington Post.

“Stone cold crazy.” Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice condemned Trump’s order making changes to the NSC, Rebecca Savransky reports at the Hill.

What the reorganization of the NSC means, and what it doesn’t. I.M. Destler explains at POLITICO MAGAZINE.

OTHER EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and CABINET CONFIRMATIONS

Military leaders were given 30 days to compile and present a report outlining a “comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS” in an executive order signed by Trump Saturday, the Hill’s Nikita Vladimirov and Mallory Shelbourne report.

Trump’s plans to build a wall along the Mexico border were praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday via Twitter, Rory Jones reports at the Wall Street Journal.

All of Trump’s executive actions up to Jan. 27 are collated and explained by Aidan Quigley at POLITICO.

A look at the week ahead for Cabinet confirmation hearings is provided by Elise Viebeck at the Washington Post.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY

President Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia discussed joint efforts to fight terrorism and address the conflicts in Syria and Yemen by phone Sunday, Trump taking the call from the Oval Office where National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and son-in-law Jared Kushner were also present, the Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne reports.

The US’s commitment to the defense of South Korea remains “ironclad,” President Trump reassured the country’s acting president today, Choe Sang-Hun reporting at the New York Times.

America will remain committed to being a Pacific power despite potential policy changes under President Trump, officials told a conference on US alliances with Australia and Japan today, Rod McGuirk reports at the AP.

The phone call between President Trump and Russian President Putin Saturday was a display of mutual respect between the two leaders, Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov said today. [Reuters]

Trump’s call with Putin was one of five conversations he had with foreign leaders Saturday: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; French President François Hollande; Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull; and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Colin Dwyer reports at NPR.

China naturally fills the power vacuum created by Trump’s rejection of foreign alliances, barriers to global trade and withdrawal from efforts to fight climate change, undermining the effectiveness of the bigger US Navy Trump wants in countering Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific – revealed as a display of strength aimed at those who voted against Trump at home rather than any foreign power, David Axe writes at The Daily Beast.

The EU should take more seriously the potential threat posed by President Trump, judging by the signals he has sent out, Wolfgang Münchau cautions at the Financial Times.

Turkey’s hopes that its president would get along well with Donald Trump are shattered after a week of Trump in the White House, Zia Weise writes at POLITICO.

SYRIA

Assad regime forces captured all towns and villages in the Wadi Barada valley near Damascus from rebels over the weekend, Al Jazeera reports.

New breakouts of fighting between a dozen important rebel movements in Syria’s Idlib region are battles for turf and authority but also reflect the nation’s ever-changing complexities as domestic and foreign actors shift policies and tactics, writes Rami G. Khouri at Al Jazeera.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-Hawaii) visit to President Assad this month and her “parroting” of his propaganda on her return to the US is the clearest triumph so far of the Syrian government’s ongoing lobbying effort in Washington, writes Josh Rogin at the Washington Post.

IRAQ

Relations between the US and Iraq have been strained by President Trump’s executive order on immigration, which Iraqi officials had not been consulted on, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt report at the New York Times.

Iraqi security forces are punishing defectors to the Islamic State by evicting their families from their homes and transporting them to camps for displaced persons, David Zucchino reports at the New York Times.

YEMEN

A US commando was killed and three others wounded in fierce clashes with al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen Sunday morning, the military confirmed yesterday. Eric Schmitt reports at the New York Times.

This was the first ground raid against al-Qaeda in Yemen under President Trump, reports Kimberly Dozier at The Daily Beast, who has the number of American soldiers wounded at four.

At least 10 Yemeni civilians were killed in the raid, according to medics and local media. The US military’s statement does not mention any civilian deaths, however an anonymous US military official reportedly told Al Jazeera that they could not be ruled out.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

The US embassy “needs to be” in Jerusalem, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday, Ian Fisher reporting at the New York Times.

The Beit El settlement in the occupied West Bank has some influential backers, including Donald Trump and several of his close associates including his pick for ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, ties that could upend decades of US policy on Israel, write Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash at the Washington Post.

QUEBEC CITY MOSQUE SHOOTING

A shooting at a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers last night that left six people dead and eight others wounded was an act of terrorism, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack, Tracey Lindeman and Rob Gillies report at the AP.

This story is still unfolding. Live updates are provided at the New York Times.

LIBYA

Turkey reopened its embassy in Libya today after closing it in response to the security situation there two and a half years ago, Reuters reports.

Did the Obama administration achieve its goal of ousting the Islamic State from Libya? Courtney Kube and Robern Windrem consider this question at NBC News.

EUROPE

Turkey and the UK deepened defense links Saturday when UK Prime Minister Theresa May visited President Erdoğan in Ankara where they agreed to a $125.5 million defense deal, Jenny Gross reports at the Wall Street Journal.

At least seven Ukrainian troops were killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, government officials said today. [AP]

European leaders rejected President Trump’s ban on all refugees and the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US Sunday, Alison Smale reports at the New York Times.

Over a million people in the UK so far have signed a petition to stop President Trump’s UK state visit, the BBC reports.

The UK government has so far rejected the calls to ban Trump, calling it a “populist gesture,” the BBC reports.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain does not agree with the ban and will protest if any British citizens are affected Sunday, Jason Douglas reports at the Wall Street Journal.

May was heavily criticized for her failure to condemn President Trump’s “Muslim ban,” the leader of the opposition party Labour Jeremy Corbin calling for Trump to be banned from the UK in response, Al Jazeera reports.

GUANTANAMO BAY

The five alleged 9/11 plotters failed to attend a hearing at Guantánamo Bay at which an elderly man testified about his son’s call from aboard the hijacked United 175, reports Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald.

The debate over whether the civilian or the military legal system is best to deal with terrorism cases is informed by the prosecution of Somali terrorist Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, one of the US’s most important terrorism informants, at a federal court in Manhattan, write Adam Goldman and Benjamin Weiser at the New York Times.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

Nothing improper was found by the FBI when it listened in on telephone calls from President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, a US intelligence official told NBC News’ Ken Dilanian.

Facebook and other social media companies must take a stronger position against the spread of fake news or face action from Brussels, the EU’s digital chief warned. David Bond and Duncan Robinson report at the Financial Times.

UK politicians are launching a parliamentary inquiry into fake news to investigate concerns about the public being influenced by propaganda and untruths, the BBC reports. 

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About the Author(s)

Zoë Chapman

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security, Legal Researcher at UK-based human rights organization, JUSTICE