Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Quinta Jurecic
Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 3:14 PM

A suicide bombing at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester killed 22 people and wounded 59 other victims late last night. The bomber has been identified as Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British son of Libyan immigrants, the New York Times reports. The blast exploded as concertgoers, many of whom were teenage girls and young children, were beginning to depart the theater. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, though authorities have not yet confirmed any connection. In an address responding to to the bombing, President Donald Trump referred to terrorists as “evil losers in life.”

The Post reports that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers to deny public reports of an investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials to interfere in the presidential election, while senior White House officials asked whether the NSA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence could push Comey to “shut down the investigation” into the conduct of former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Trump’s conversation with Rogers on the subject was documented in an internal NSA memo. The Post’s story comes after a series of reports on Trump’s efforts to pressure former FBI Director James Comey into revealing information to him on the status of the Russia investigation and dropping the investigation into Flynn.

Testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence this morning, former CIA Director John Brennan gave new details on the investigation into Russian election interference. Brennan grew increasingly concerned in his last few months in office over what he saw as possible Russian efforts to influence and "suborn" individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign, he told the committee, adding that his concern stemmed both from the nature of the contacts and from the particular people involved, the Times tells us. He declined to name specific individuals who were in contact with Russian officials.

Flynn is refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee for documents chronicling on his interactions with Russian officials or conversations with Trump campaign officials regarding Russia, the Times writes. Additionally, Flynn reportedly misled Pentagon security clearance investigators on his receipt of payments from the Kremlin-backed television network RT, telling them that he had received no money from foreign sources.

For more information on Flynn, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza brings us an in-depth story on former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who briefed White House Counsel Don McGahn on the Flynn matter before she was dismissed for refusing to defend the administration’s first travel ban before the courts.

Special Operations forces killed seven suspected al-Qaeda fighters in a raid in Yemen this morning amidst an intensification of counterterrorism operations there by the Trump administration. The Post has more.

A possible Trump administration plan to increase U.S. troop deployment to Afghanistan would include sending hundreds more Special Operations forces to train Afghan special forces, the Post writes. The plan would call for a doubling of the size of Afghanistan’s highly-trained special forces, with the goal of better equipping the country to combat a resurgent Taliban. The deployment may be announced at a NATO summit in Brussels later this month. Meanwhile, the Times reports that the Trump administration is split on whether to go forward with the deployment, which would require sending up to 5,000 new American troops to Afghanistan.

According to South Korean officials, the North Korean missile test on Sunday made use of a medium-range ballistic missile incapable of reaching a U.S. military base in Guam, as some had feared. However, the test may still provide Pyongyang with useful data to assist in further developing the program, the Times tells us.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of martial law for 60 days in the island of Mindanao amidst an ongoing battle in the city of Marawi between Philippine forces and a militant Islamist group allied with ISIS. The country’s defense secretary stated that the government remains in control of Marawi despite the chaos. Previously, human rights groups have voiced concerns that a state of emergency could potentially give Duterte, who has headed a violent crackdown on drug use and trafficking, scope for further rights abuses.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Dillon Reisman made the technical case against data localization.

Justin Florence emphasized the importance of limiting White House contacts with the Department of Justice.

Kim Peretti and Justin Hemmings examined the misaligned interests of law enforcement and the victim company in data breach investigations.

In light of the recent behavior of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster, I asked whether it is possible to serve ethically in the Trump administration.

Andrew Keane Woods drew some lessons from the mutual legal assistance reform effort.

Elsa Kania studied China’s use of unmanned systems.

Scarlet Kim and Greg Nojeim looked at cross-border law enforcement in the digital age.

Julian Ku asked why the United States is more likely to sanction Chinese companies for supporting Iran than for supporting North Korea.

I updated Lawfare readers on new developments in L’Affaire Russe, specifically Michael Flynn’s refusal to comply with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee and the news that Flynn may have misled Pentagon security clearance investigators on his payments from RT.

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