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 GrahamCNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill Trump wrestles with handling American enemy combatants Flake: Trump's call for DOJ to probe Democrats 'not normal' MORE (R-S.C.), on whether the military would carry out orders on waterboarding or targeting terrorists' families.

GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates 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 KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns 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 AyotteTrump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Stale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections 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 KerryKerry: Trump's rhetoric gave North Korea a reason to say 'Hey, we need a bomb' Russian hackers targeted top US generals and statesmen: report Trump officials to offer clarity on UN relief funding next week 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 RyanGOP rep: Virginia defeat 'a referendum' on Trump administration After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Pence: Praying 'takes nothing away' from trying to figure out causes behind mass shooting 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 RodgersDemocrats expand House map after election victories The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill Overnight Regulation: Trump pick for USDA job withdraws amid Mueller scrutiny | Powell tapped for Fed | Female GOP lawmakers offer paid leave plan | Feds launch program for drone deliveries 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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