Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Monday, May 15, 2017, 3:12 PM

While experts speaking to the Wall Street Journal feared that infections from the WannaCry ransomware that flooded Europe and Asia late last week might spike again as employees returned to work on Monday morning, the New York Times reports that there is no evidence of a second wave of infections. BBC reports that only $50,000 has been paid to the attackers so far, but the malware’s threat of doubling the ransom three days after infection may cause payments to increase soon. The attack, which has affected over 200,000 computers in at least 150 countries, originated from a hacking tool developed by the NSA and released by the Shadow Brokers group in their dump of NSA and CIA tools. Though Microsoft released a patch to protect against the tool in March, the software was able to attack computers on which the patch had not yet been installed.

After North Korea tested a new ballistic missile that traveled 435 miles on Sunday, NPR highlighted an unusual White House statement that emphasized the proximity of the impact location to Eastern Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the launch but warned against “intimidating” North Korea, the Washington Post writes. According to Reuters, the successful launch demonstrates a new level of advancement in Pyongyang’s technology. And on a whimsical note, the Times found that while only 36 percent of American adults can locate North Korea on a map, those adults who can are more likely to prefer a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the White House tomorrow to meet with President Trump, a meeting that the AP reports may be wrought with tension over the United States’ recent decision to arm Syrian Kurds, whom the Turkish government considers to be a terrorist group. Erdogan is also facing pressure from another NATO ally, Germany, which according to the Journal has threatened to withdraw forces from a base in Turkey in response to a Turkish ban on lawmakers visiting German troops.

The State Department accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of constructing a crematory at a military prison near Damascus to destroy evidence of the thousands of executions taking place each year, the Times writes. Reuters adds that in presenting the evidence, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones expressed skepticism over the Kremlin-backed deal to construct “de-escalation zones” to mitigate fighting within the country, noting the failures of ceasefires in the past. U.N.-sponsored peace talks will begin once again tomorrow in Geneva, though Reuters reports that U.N. has narrowed its format to discuss a new constitution, governance reform, elections, and terrorism.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument today in Hawaii v. Trump, on the President’s revised ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The question of whether the court could properly consider statements made by President Trump during the midst of the presidential campaign featured prominently in the argument, Reuters writes.

The Journal reports that the White House is working to swiftly appoint a new FBI Director as, according to the Times, moderate Republican Senators are beginning to distance themselves from the president in the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s abrupt termination. Bloomberg writes that President Trump considers personal loyalty to him to be a crucial qualification for the new Director, a request that Comey reportedly denied and which may have led to his firing. The Times runs through the candidates floated by the White House and reports on the candidates interviewed by the White House this past weekend, which include Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and former Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), previously a career FBI agent.

The Post reports that both Democrats and Republicans are calling for the President to turn over to Congress any tapes of his conversations with Comey following Trump’s threatening tweet on the subject last week. The White House has refused to provide any further details on Trump’s tweet, but Trump’s ex-employees reported to the Journal that they had seen him tape conversations in the past.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Jack Goldsmith interviewed Mark Moyar for the Lawfare Podcast about Moyar’s new book on the history of special operations forces.

Jack also explained the complexities of serving with integrity as a lawyer and political appointee in the Trump administration

Patrick Johnston and Colin Clarke analyzed the financial scenarios that ISIS may face in the next few years.

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