Overnight Defense: Trump orders would hurt morale, warns top general

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. 

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"Those kinds of activities that you described are inconsistent with the values of our nation, and quite frankly I think it would have an adverse effect, many adverse effects. One of them would be the morale of the force.

Dunford was responding to a question from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.), on whether the military would carry out orders on waterboarding or targeting terrorists' families.

GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE has floated both ideas.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has the story here. 

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.

For more, click here. 

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. 

Read the story here. 

 

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 KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid 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.

For more, click here. 

"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 Ann AyotteStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Trump voter fraud commission sets first meeting outside DC RNC chair warns: Republicans who refused to back Trump offer 'cautionary tale' 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. 

The Hill's Jordain Carney has more here. 

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.

Read it here.

 

KERRY USES THE 'G' WORD: Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report 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. 

Read more on Kerry's decision here.

The announcement set off a flurry of GOP reaction: 

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea 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 RodgersPolitical decency may triumph despite Trump's DACA decision Ryan calls for 'permanent legislative solution' on DACA Harvey response puts squeeze on GOP 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."

 

TOMORROW: 

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. 

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: Army: Bergdahl had mental illness when he walked off post

-- The Hill: Rabbis to boycott Trump speech to pro-Israel group

-- The Hill: Cruz names new adviser who questioned Obama birthplace

-- The Hill: Senate Intel encryption bill nears release 

-- The Hill: Court skeptical of releasing secret 'torture' report

-- The Hill: North Korea launches ballistic missile into sea

 

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