Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Monday, June 5, 2017, 3:47 PM

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a reevaluation of policies to counter extremism in response to Saturday’s attacks in London, reports The Wall Street Journal. May, who was previously responsible for domestic security in her position as Home Secretary under Prime Minister David Cameron, is under fire from the opposition in advance of Thursday’s general election for not taking stronger steps to prevent terrorist attacks in Britain, which has been the target of three attacks in the past three months. The terrorism threat level in Britain remains at “severe,” the second-highest level, and police are taking additional security precautions.

In response to the London attacks, President Trump criticized the judiciary for halting the travel ban executive order, tweeting “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to [the Supreme Court].” The Journal reports that the President’s tweets about the order may weaken the administration’s position in the ongoing litigation over the ban, which has now reached the Supreme Court. The Fourth Circuit ruled last week in IRAP v. Trump that the president’s statements before and after his inauguration suggest the order was issued with discriminatory intent. The Ninth Circuit has also heard oral argument on the order but has yet to issue a ruling. The President also criticized the Mayor of London for statements made after the attack. BBC has more on that.

Five Middle Eastern countries have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of supporting terrorism and interfering in domestic affairs, The New York Times reports. The countries, all of which but Egypt are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, required Qatari diplomats to leave within 48 hours and (except Egypt) Qatari nationals to leave within 14 days. They also ended all air, sea, and land transport between the countries and closed their airspace to Qatari military and commercial flights. The Journal reported that oil prices rose sharply on the news and carried that the travel restrictions may adversely impact Qatar Airways.

The Yemeni government moved to prohibit journalists and aid workers from traveling to Yemen on UN-chartered flights, reports IRIN. The country is struggling in the midst of civil war, famine, and a looming cholera epidemic.

The White House will not invoke executive privilege to try to stop former FBI Director Jim Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, writes the Times. Comments by senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway last week led to speculation that the White House might try to prevent Comey from speaking to the committee. Comey’s hearing is expected to cover the many controversies related to investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that surfaced last month after the President fired Comey on May 9. Comey will testify in an open hearing at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 8 followed by a closed hearing.

In privacy news, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Carpenter v. United States, a case concerning whether law enforcement needs a search warrant to access data about the location of cellphone users, the Times reports. The case concerned a defendant convicted of armed robbery based in part on location data obtained from service providers without a warrant under the the Stored Communications Act. The case may cause the Court to review the scope of the “third-party doctrine,” under which individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for information voluntarily turned over to a third party.

From Guantánamo, the Miami Herald reports that a top doctor at the military prison said he would hypothetically support providing gender transition therapy to a prisoner who requested it. The issue of gender transition therapy for prisoners in U.S. military prisons came to the forefront when Private Chelsea Manning requested it while incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Manning was released earlier this year.

The Turkish government has given German parliament members access to the NATO base at Konya, but continue to deny access to 250 German soldiers stationed at Incirlik Air Base, says Reuters. Germany conducts its operations in the war against the Islamic State from Incirlik. Ties between Germany and Turkey have deteriorated since the lead-up to the recent referendum expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority. Turkey also moved today to revoke citizenship from 130 people suspected to have links to the militants responsible for last July’s failed coup, according to Reuters. Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has accused of orchestrating the coup, and several pro-Kurdish lawmakers are among those listed.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with their Australian counterparts in Sydney today to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to the Asia-Pacific region at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations. Reuters carries that in spite of the international condemnation of President’ Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, both U.S. and Australian officials affirmed the strength of the bilateral relationship.

President Trump’s foreign policy advisors were caught off-guard by the President’s failure to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Article V at last month’s NATO summit, according to Politico. Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had given final approval of a speech that affirmed Article V of NATO, which commits members to collective self-defense. At the last minute, the President selected an alternate speech that criticized NATO members for inequitable defense spending. Trump himself may have made the change, though the report says top aides Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller may have also played a role in the change.

Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner’s Strategic Initiatives Group, founded as an alternative to the National Security Council, is no longer in operation, reports The Daily Beast. The White House organization was allegedly doomed by in-fighting between its founders and a lack of funding.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, which addressed the many nuances of blockchain.

Quinta Jurecic posted the Lawfare Podcast, in which Benjamin Wittes interviewed Matt Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center and General Counsel at NSA, about reauthorization of Section 702 of FISA.

Amira Mikhail and Jordan Brunner summarized the Justice Department’s cert petition in IRAP v. Trump.

Zach Abels argues that the Trump administration’s neglect of civilian counterinsurgency strategies will be disastrous for U.S. military efforts in Iraq.

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