By Kristina Wong - 03/17/16 07:53 PM EDT
THE TOPLINE: Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, addressing a number of issues from a draft to Iran's detention of U.S. sailors earlier this year.
On troops being ordered to torture terrorists: Dunford said it would hurt the morale of U.S. troops.
"Our men and women -- and I'm proud of them -- when they go to war, they go to war with the values of our nation," Dunford told the Senate Armed Services.
Dunford was responding to a question from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump on primary rivals who don't back him: 'I don't know how they live with themselves' The Trail 2016: Who is really winning? Graham: GOP Senate could rein in Clinton White House MORE (R-S.C.), on whether the military would carry out orders on waterboarding or targeting terrorists' families.
GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpConway says she'll talk to Trump about press safety Helen Mirren gives advice for being a ‘nasty woman’ Gingrich goes off on Megyn Kelly over Trump allegations: 'You are fascinated with sex' MORE has floated both ideas.
On whether Iran violated international law in detained U.S. sailors: Carter said doing so was "inconsistent with international law," echoing comments by the Navy's military chief.
"As I made clear then, Iran's actions were outrageous, unprofessional and inconsistent with international law, and nothing we've learned about the circumstances of this incident since then changes that fact," Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On whether the U.S. needs a military draft: Carter appeared to favor abolishing the draft, amid a debate over whether women should be forced to register.
"We want to pick our people. We don't want people forced to serve us," Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
GOP SENATORS UNVEIL IRAN SANCTION BILLS: Senate Republicans unveiled two Iran sanctions bills on Thursday, one to target its support of terrorist activities and human rights abuses, and another to target Iran's ballistic missiles testing.
One bill, introduced by Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkCalifornia National Guard official: Congress knew about bonus repayments Great Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (Ill.) and backed by 11 others, would impose new sanctions against Iran's military and an Iranian airline assisting the military and for human rights abuses.
"I reject our current posture of willful ignorance and inaction towards Iran's terrorist activities, illegal missile testing, funding Assad's war, and human rights abuses," said Kirk, a staunch critic of Iran and advocate of Iran sanctions.
The other bill, introduced by Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteWarren slams GOP Sen. Burr as 'puppy on a leash' for backing Trump GOP gets chance to run on ObamaCare Republicans make M investment in Senate races MORE (Ariz.), and backed by 10 other GOP senators, would impose sanctions on individuals who helped Iran's missile program or are tied to sectors of the economy that support the program and entities that own 25 percent or more of the missile program.
It would also require President Obama to certify that any individuals named in United Nations Security Council resolutions aren't tied to the ballistic missile program, and require the administration to impose sanctions if he can't make that guarantee to Congress.
Kirk and Ayotte are both facing reelection fights in November.
Reaction: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies released a research memo Thursday urging the U.S. to use sector-based economic sanctions to counter Iran's ballistic missile program.
KERRY USES THE 'G' WORD: Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryThe evidence backs Trump: We have a duty to doubt election results Effective sanctions relief on Iran for sanctions’ sake What would a Hillary Clinton presidency look like? MORE on Thursday said he believes the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is responsible for genocide -- the first time the U.S. has made such a proclamation since the war in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004.
"My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgement, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims," Kerry said, using a derogatory Arabic name for ISIS.
Congress had given the State Department until Thursday to decide whether the group's actions against the Yazidis and other groups were genocide.
Lawmakers were pushing for Kerry to do so sooner, but the State Department had said -- as recently as Wednesday -- that he was not at the point yet where he felt he had all the information and evidence needed to make a decision.
The announcement set off a flurry of GOP reaction:
House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanPence calls for Republicans to 'come home' to elect Trump Intelligence director: Withholding classified briefings from Trump, Clinton ‘not an option’ Ladies, don’t give it up for Trump MORE (Wis.): "[N]ow that our government is recognizing this crisis, it needs to do more to stop it.
House GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersPeople with Down syndrome are a gift to bioscience RNC chair, GOP lawmakers unleash on Trump over leaked audio Help individuals with disabilities achieve the American Dream with the ABLE to Work Act MORE (Wash.): "Now is not the time to return to silence."
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (Calif.): "[N]ow, the president must step up and lay out a broad, overarching plan that's needed to actually defeat and destroy ISIS."
Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.): "ISIS is the face of evil and there is no room for equivocation. Their actions clearly constitute genocide."
To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Syrian Revolution, the U.S. Syrian American community is screening the film "Little Gandhi: The Lost Truth of The Syrian Uprising" at the United States Navy Memorial's Burke Theater, from 6pm to 10pm.
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