Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 12:04 PM

Israeli hackers notified the National Security Agency that it found NSA hacking tools on Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky’s the network, the New York Times reported. Israel notified the NSA of the breach in 2015, and the agency later determined that the tools had fallen into the possession of the Russian government. Russian government hackers used Kaspersky’s commercial anti-virus software to scan for NSA code. NSA investigators linked the breach to an agency employee who used Kaspersky on his home computer, according to the Washington Post. U.S. lawmakers are considering a government-wide ban on Kaspersky software because of its connections to the Russian government; last month the Department of Homeland Security ordered federal agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their networks.

The U.S. conducted joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan, Reuters reported. A South Korean military spokesperson said the drills were part of the U.S. and South Korea “extended deterrence” strategy against North Korea, according to the BBC. In related news, FireEye, a cybersecurity company, said that North Korean hackers targeted U.S. electric companies in a spearphishing campaign, NBC News reported. FireEye did not find any evidence of compromised utility systems.

The Supreme Court dismissed one of the two travel ban cases, the AP reported. The court said in an order on Tuesday that Trump v. IRAP was moot because the executive order in question, Executive Order 13780, expired in September. The other travel ban case–Hawaii v. Trump, which also challenges the suspension of the refugee program–is still before the court, according to the Times. Separately, a federal district court judge in Hawaii ordered the administration to produce the Department of Homeland Security report that served as the factual basis for new restrictions in the most recent travel ban proclamation.

Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence committee, issued subpoenas to the firm that produced the Trump-Russia Steele dossier, CNN reported. Democrats on the committee said the Republican majority acted unilaterally and that Nunes’ involvement seemed to conflict with his previous recusal from the investigation. Nunes declined to comment on the subpoenas. The FBI has not responded to Nunes’ previous subpoenas about its work on the Steele dossier because the FBI’s special counsel investigation is looking into the matter, Reuters reported. Separately, Carter Page, a former Trump adviser, said he would invoke the Fifth Amendment and not cooperate with the Senate intelligence committee’s investigation, according to Politico. Page came under scrutiny after reports said he met with associates of Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2016.

A Turkish court sentenced a Wall Street Journal reporter to two years in prison for reporting on Kurdish separatists, the Journal reported. Turkish prosecutors charged Ayla Albayrek after she published a report in the Journal on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group, in 2015. Turkish prosecutors said that the story was “terrorist propaganda.” Turkey has recently escalated its crackdown on the press during its continuing war against Kurdish nationalists.

Raila Odinga, the main challenger to Kenya’s president, withdrew from the upcoming presidential election over concerns about electoral integrity, the Post reported. Odinga had successfully petitioned to nullify the results of the August presidential vote, but he said on Tuesday that not enough had been done to fix irregularities in the election. The announcement threw Kenya’s politics into disarray; its president said the vote would go ahead as opposition leaders led protests in the streets.

The State Department will offer rewards for information about two senior Hezbollah leaders, the Long War Journal reported. One of the leaders played a central role in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut.

A U.S. destroyer sailed near Chinese-claimed islands in a freedom of navigation operation, Reuters reported. China scrambled fighters and a helicopter to respond to what the defense ministry called a“provocation.” The operation is part of a broader U.S. effort to challenge “excessive maritime claims” in the South China Sea.

The Israeli government approved a plan for thousands of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Post reported. Many of the planned buildings will be part of isolated compounds deep inside the territory, which many Palestinians claim as part of a future Palestine.

The Pentagon is investigating the circumstances that led to the killings of four American soldiers in Niger, the Times reported. Senior military officials said privately that the investigation will likely reveal that the U.S. deployed troops without adequately assessing the risk or preparing the necessary medical evacuation logistics.

The Times’s Charlie Savage wrote about a hardening of policies at Guantanamo Bay that are pushing the bounds in the care of prisoners on hunger strikes.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Replying to Benjamin Wittes, Steve Vladeck made the case for why the lack of information about the American citizen being held as an enemy combatant should raise alarm bells.

John Bellinger and Andy Wang argued that the Supreme Court should clarify the meaning of the touch and concern standards in Jesner v. Arab Bank.

J. Dana Stuster updated the Middle East Ticker, covering the administration’s move to decertify the Iran deal, the U.S.-Turkey diplomatic spat and Saudi Arabia’s new arms deals.

Chris Mirasola analyzed the disputes over China’s cybersecurity law in the context of international trade agreements.

Matthew Kahn posted the transcript of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s remarks about encryption at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Geoffrey Corn discussed the protection of the wounded and the sick in a post that is part of a series building on the Fifth Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, featuring their discussion of the al Bahlul case, the habeas petition for the U.S. citizen enemy combatant, and the Schrems II case.

Emma Kohse and Benjamin Wittes analyzed the findings of a new report on Trump and obstruction of justice.

Stewart Baker shared the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring an interview with Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.