Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Friday, October 6, 2017, 12:42 PM

President Trump is expected to “decertify” Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal next week, the Washington Post reported. He will announce the deal is not in the U.S. national security interest and leave the decision whether to impose new sanctions on Iran up to Congress. Congressional leaders are wary of entirely nixing the agreement, the New York Times reported. The move is part of a larger White House policy shift on Iran as the administration seeks to aggressively confront Iran’s ballistic missile program, its Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Iran’s weapons shipments to terrorist groups in the Middle East, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Russian hackers stole classified NSA data on U.S. cyber defense from the personal computer of an NSA contractor. The contractor’s use of Kaspersky antivirus software appears to have led the hackers to target him, the Wall Street Journal reported. The stolen data included details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign networks, how the NSA writes code to exploit adversaries’ networks, and how the NSA defends U.S. computer networks. This incident is the first known time that Kaspersky software has been directly linked to Russian government hacking, a long-standing allegation of the company’s critics including senior U.S. government officials. Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s co-founder, denied any “inappropriate connection” to the Russian government. Eric Geller and Cory Bennett wrote for Politico about the NSA’s problems securing the data its contractors handle.

White House officials believe that Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal cell phone was compromised by hackers, Politico reported. White House security professionals concluded that Kelly’s phone was the victim of hacking going back as far as December, before he became secretary of homeland security.

New research suggests that Russian disinformation posts on Facebook was shared hundreds of millions of times, the Post reported. Social media analysis found that the Russian-linked accounts, which were widely reported on for their purchases of political advertising, also created free posts  with a far broader reach. Researchers hypothesized that many of the ads intended to reduce voter turnout. Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google will testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on November 1 to address Russian activities on their platforms, Reuters reported.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial opposition research dossier on the Trump campaign’s Russia connections, this summer, CNN reported. Sources indicated that the intelligence community took Steele’s dossier seriously enough that they did not include it in a public report about Russian interference in the 2016 election. They feared that confirming how much of it they had corroborated would have compromised sources and methods.

Iraqi forces retook the town of Hawija from Islamic State militants, capturing the militant group’s final remaining urban stronghold in the country, the Times reported. The Islamic State now only holds small outposts in the desert along the Syrian border.

U.S. officials suspect that the fighters that ambushed and killed three American special forces troops in Niger on Wednesday were affiliated with the Islamic State, CNN reported. Up to 50 militants attacked a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol, but officials did not confirm which of the several Al Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated groups carried out the ambush. Foreign Policy’s Paul Leary detailed how the ambush shines light on U.S. military involvement in Niger.

The ACLU filed a petition for habeas corpus for the American citizen being held as an enemy combatant in Iraq, the AP reported. ACLU lawyers argued in a petition to D.C. federal district court that the man is being unlawfully detained. A Pentagon spokesperson said the U.S. does have the authority to keep U.S. citizens in military detention in armed conflict situations. Administration officials are divided on how to handle the case because the U.S. lacks potential admissible evidence to try the man in civilian court, the Times reported. A senior administration official told the Times that interrogators questioned the man first for intelligence purposes and then started a new interrogation for law enforcement purposes, reading the subject his Miranda rights. Trump administration officials now face a choice between attempting to try the man on material support for terrorism charges or keep him in indefinite military detention.

Spain’s constitutional court suspended Catalonia’s parliament from meeting, preventing Catalan lawmakers from declaring independence as they planned, the Times reported. Catalan leaders may disobey the ruling as they attempt to capitalize on the results of this week’s independence referendum, which the Spanish government widely denounced as unconstitutional.

The U.S. halted military exercises with Gulf allies to reprimand them for their role in the blockade of Qatar, the Journal reported. U.S. Central Command suspended planned exercises with key partners Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in order to push them to resolve the dispute with Qatar. The rupture has made counterterrorism efforts in the region more difficult for the U.S. military.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Robert Chesney examined the ACLU’s habeas petition for the unnamed American citizen held as an enemy combatant in Iraq.

Robyn Greene detailed the findings of her new report on unintentional noncompliance with FISA Section 702 targeting and minimization procedures and on potential reforms. 

Benjamin Wittes shared the “Moron” edition of Rational Security.

Claire Groden outlined the implications of China’s crackdown on Bitcoin.

Sophia Brill argued that administration officials who took part in the updated travel ban security review should swear under oath that it did not have any preordained outcomes.

Stewart Baker shared the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring audio of a panel of experts at the Georgia Tech Annual Cyber Security Summit.

The Lawfare Editors highlighted the upcoming Hoover Institution book soiree where Benjamin Wittes will interview Timothy Edgar about his new book, Beyond Snowden.

 

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