"President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history. Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president." Bolton was an outspoken advocate of military action during the George W. Bush administration, and has "called for action against Iran and North Korea."
In the wake of President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will pull out the majority of its combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, questions have arisen in Congress about the status of Taliban detainees taken during the 13-year armed conflict.
“We’re currently in armed conflict with the Taliban and al-Qaida,” said Stephen Preston, general counsel to the Department of Defense, speaking in front of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “At some point, the armed conflict with the Taliban ends.” At that point, Preston said, the U.S. will no longer have a basis in international law to hold belligerents.
But most agree that the armed conflict with Taliban will not end when U.S. forces pull out of Afghanistan. The battle with the Taliban is generally bundled into the larger fight against al-Qaida, and so the Obama administration could use the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to hold detainees like those it released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl long past the end of troop presence in Afghanistan.
Some in Congress are trying to limit the AUMF, which the Bush and Obama administrations have used to justify indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay and military action against forces “associated with” al-Qaida worldwide. A measure introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., would allow the AUMF to expire in 2015.
But in Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., reaffirmed that the U.S. would not be compelled to release Taliban detainees “as long as we’re fighting al-Qaida and as long as we’re fighting their associated forces.”
Preston was called to testify alongside Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to answer questions about the prisoner swap that traded Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
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"When a Russian news agency reached out to George Papadopoulos to request an interview shortly before the 2016 election," deputy communications director Bryan Lanza encouraged him to respond. "You should do it," Lanza wrote in a September 2016 email, "emphasizing the benefits of a U.S. 'partnership with Russia.'" The Trump campaign has "sought to paint the 30-year old energy consultant as a low level volunteer" in the campaign, but recently disclosed emails show that Papadopoulos had contact with "senior campaign figures" in the Trump campaign, "such as chief executive Stephen K. Bannon and adviser Michael Flynn," who encouraged him to "broker ties between Trump and top foreign officials."