Monday Top News Executive Summary

Congress reconvenes, Taliban peace talks, Iran infractions, SEAL leaders dismissed, and more.

Media Editors · Sep. 9, 2019

Above the Fold

CONGRESS RECONVENES: Congress’s August recess comes to a conclusion today. The legislative chambers “face a broad array of issues, with spending, trade policy, guns and an expanded border wall all potential flashpoints,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Adding to the complication: Lawmakers are already keeping an eye on next year’s elections.” That will be the primary calculus for the two parties’ leadership in the lead up to the 2020 election — meaning more bulwarks, more obstruction, more rhetoric, and more grandstanding are the only sure bets.

PEACE TALKS SCRUBBED: “President Donald Trump’s decision to hold a meeting in Washington with Taliban leaders and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to try to solidify a peace deal to end the 18-year-long war was first discussed about a week ago,” NBC News reveals. Yesterday, Trump stated that he “immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations” because “they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people.” But according to NBC News, National Security Advisor John Bolton “vehemently opposed” the meeting, and Vice President Mike Pence “made the case against a meeting at Camp David, a location Trump suggested.” And rightly so. This week marks the anniversary of 9/11, and “Pence argued at one point that such a meeting could send the wrong message to members of the U.S. military who have fought — and been killed by — the Taliban for years.”

National Security

IRAN INFRACTIONS: Via Reuters: “Iran said on Saturday it was now capable of raising uranium enrichment past the 20% level and had launched advanced centrifuge machines in further breaches of commitments to limit its nuclear activity under a 2015 deal with world powers. … The 2015 pact curbed Iran’s disputed nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions, but has unraveled since the United States pulled out of it last year and acted to strangle Iran’s oil trade to push it into wider security concessions.” Importantly, Iran was already violating the nuclear deal even before the U.S. abandoned it. Iran is now exploiting the U.S. withdrawal and twisting its own machinations as vindication for more blatant violations. On a related note, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is admonishing Barack Obama for pacifying Iran.

SEAL LEADERS DISMISSED: “In a highly unusual move, three senior leaders of a SEAL team were dismissed Friday due to a loss of confidence in their leadership skills only weeks after a unit in Iraq was sent home accused of sexual assault and the platoon chief of another unit was convicted for posing with a casualty. Naval Special Warfare Command said Rear Adm. Collin Green relieved them because their leadership failures caused a breakdown of order and discipline within two units while deployed to combat zones. The men will remain in the Navy and they are not accused of any misconduct themselves.” (Associated Press)

HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: “The number of migrants caught crossing the southwest border continued a sharp decline in August… Border Patrol arrested roughly 51,000 migrants in August, a 30 percent drop from the previous month. The latest figures signal that counter-migration measures instituted by the Trump administration may be reducing the number of border crossers. Border arrests rose from July to August in eight of the last 10 years, which suggests the current drop is not related to recent historical patterns.” (Politico)

Government, Politics, & Media

SANFORD CHALLENGES TRUMP: “Former Gov. Mark Sanford on Sunday said he will mount a primary challenge to President Trump in 2020, jumping into the race after publicly toying with the idea for several months,” according to The Washington Times. However, the odds are greatly stacked against Sanford and other Republican challengers. As CBS News reports, “The Republican parties in South Carolina and Nevada announced Saturday that they would not be holding their presidential nominating contests in 2020, and all Republican delegates will be committed to President Trump. They join the Kansas Republican Party, which confirmed on Friday that it will not hold its caucuses in 2020.”

DARK CLOUDS AT NOAA: “Former top officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are assailing the agency for undermining its weather forecasters as it defends President Donald Trump’s statement from days ago that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama,” according to the Associated Press. “They say NOAA’s action risks the credibility of the nation’s weather and science agency and may even risk lives.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post adds that the agency’s “acting chief scientist said in an email to colleagues Sunday that he is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.”

ALARMING PRECEDENT: “Own a rifle? Got a scope to go with it? The U.S. government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you. That’s because the government wants Apple and Google to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered. It’s an unprecedented move: Never before has a case been disclosed in which American investigators demanded personal data of users of a single app from Apple and Google. And never has an order been made public where the feds have asked the Silicon Valley giants for info on so many thousands of people in one go.” (Forbes)

GOOD RIDDANCE: “ThinkProgress, the influential news site that rose to prominence in the shadow of the Bush administration and helped define progressivism during the Obama years, [has shut] down. The outlet, which served as an editorially independent project of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), [ended] current operations on Friday and [will] be converted into a site where CAP scholars can post.” (The Daily Beast)

Closing Arguments

POLICY: The hate-crime spike in New York City has nothing to do with white supremacy (National Review)

POLICY: The long-term benefits of corporate tax cuts are undeniable (Foundation for Economic Education)

HUMOR: Democrats propose mandatory free-speech buyback for dangerous ideas (The Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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