Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Quinta Jurecic
Thursday, January 5, 2017, 2:22 PM

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michel Lettre, and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Russian hacking and interference in the presidential election. DNI Clapper promised that intelligence officials will release a report on Russian election interference on Monday, though it remains unclear how much of the report will be publicly available. He also emphasized that Russia’s dissemination of misleading and false news online during the election was a propaganda tactic that the Kremlin continues to utilize on an ongoing basis. Under questioning from Senator John McCain (R-AZ), both Clapper and Rogers stated that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose organization distributed hacked DNC material and who Donald Trump has publicly backed against the intelligence community, was not a credible source of information. Clapper also expressed concern over Trump’s continued disparagement of the intelligence community. The Washington Post and The New York Times have more.

Intelligence officials have obtained information linking Wikileaks’ dissemination of hacked Democratic Party information to the Russian government, Reuters reports. Julian Assange has denied claims that the Kremlin provided his organization with hacked material, but the intelligence community now has “conclusive” evidence indicating otherwise. On that note, the Times examines Donald Trump’s strange alliance with Julian Assange as the two echo each other’s denials of Kremlin election interference.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of Trump’s high-profile Republican opponents in Congress, said yesterday that he would not support cabinet nominees who do not support the intelligence community’s conclusions on election interference. In the runup to confirmation hearings for members of Trump’s national security team, Politico writes that the transition team is working to prep the nominees on questions about Russian interference to avoid a public display of disagreement between the President-elect and his advisors—but given Trump’s inflammatory statements, such a display may be inevitable to some degree.

The Wall Street Journal reports on Trump’s plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, cutting staffing at the former and moving staff from headquarters into international field posts at the latter. A source close to the transition team indicated that the effort stems from the team’s belief that “the intelligence world has become completely politicized … they all need to be slimmed down.”

Attackers in the Turkish city of Izmir detonated a car bomb and exchanged gunfire with police outside a courthouse, killing a police officer and a court employee. Both gunmen were killed in the attack, which authorities have attributed to Kurdish militants. The BBC has more.

As Turkish police continue to search the gunman behind the New Year’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub, the Times takes a look at the tendency of the Turkish government and pro-government media to blame the United States for domestic crises. The U.S. has become an easy target as Turkey continues its drift toward authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notably, however, Turkish officials are also signaling that they expect Turkey-U.S. relations to improve under the Trump administration, placing the blame on President Obama.

U.S. troops have now entered Mosul along with Iraqi forces, the Journal reports. 450 U.S. soldiers, including special operations forces, intelligence and engineering troops, are now working with Iraqi troops to drive ISIS out of the city—an amount that roughly doubles the previous number of U.S. troops assisting the offensive.

At least 14 people were killed by two car bombs in Baghdad yesterday in an attack claimed by the Islamic State. The group has recently increased its terror attacks in and around Baghdad in response to the coalition offensive on Mosul. Reuters has more.

The leader of Ansar al-Khalifa, a Philippine terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, has been killed in a shootout with police, the Journal writes. Ansar al-Khalifa is believed to have been behind a number of recent attacks across the country that caused police to raise Manila to its highest terror alert in the last decade.

The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, for committing or posing a serious risk of committing acts of terrorism. The AP has more.

The United States is set to transfer four Guantanamo detainees cleared for release to Saudi Arabia, Reuters writes. These transfers will mark the first of the 18 or 19 releases scheduled to take place before the inauguration of Donald Trump, in a final rush by the Obama administration to clear Guantanamo Bay of as many detainees as possible.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Michael Adams cautioned us against the dangers of the Tallinn Manual.

Stewart Baker posted the first edition of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast of the new year.

Sarah Tate Chambers gave us a new edition of the Cybercrime Roundup.

Steve Slick alerted readers to an opportunity for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas-Austin.

Joel Braunold and Sarah Yerkes asked whether a peace deal is possible without trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

Danielle Citron and Benjamin Wittes proposed a simple system to improve civility on Twitter.

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.