Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru, Matthew Kahn
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 4:43 PM

In a statement released late last night, the White House announced that the Syrian government appeared to be preparing to use chemical weapons and warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would “pay a heavy price” if such weapons were used again, reports The New York Times. Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians in 2013 as well as in April of this year. Though The Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon confirmed that it had seen indicators that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons The White House statement caught Pentagon and State Department officials off-guard.

Syria has denied the accusations, according to the Times. French President Emmanuel Macron agreed with Trump on the need for a “joint response” in the case of another chemical weapons attack, reports Agence France-Presse.

Cyberattacks struck government and corporate entities across Europe on Tuesday morning and have spread throughout the world, The Washington Post reports. The ransomware attack is similar to the WannaCry attack that occurred last month, demanding that users pay the hackers a ransom in Bitcoin to unlock access to their now-encrypted files. The malware, a version of the Petya virus, takes advantage of a vulnerability that can be exploited by EternalBlue, the leaked NSA tool that was a key component of WannaCry. The attack has affected targets as diverse as Ukrainian government systems, key infrastructure, the Maersk shipping company, the Chernobyl radiation monitoring station, and Merck pharmaceuticals. Forbes reports that professionals appear to have created the ransomware.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s visit to Washington may bring to the surface tensions with the White House over how to handle North Korea, according to the Post. Though Moon has emphasized his “common goals” with the Trump administration in dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program, his administration has signaled a desire to wind down Seoul’s joint military exercises with the United States. Missile defense deployment is also high on the agenda, as Moon campaigned on a promise to review an agreement between his predecessor and former President Barack Obama to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. However, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said yesterday that Moon’s review does not mean the government will cancel or reverse its approval of THAAD.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the White House yesterday in a meeting with Trump that may have increased pressure on China to cooperate with the U.S. on a host of issues, including the North Korean threat, the Times reports. The two nationalist leaders have a fair amount in common, and a deeper partnership with India on security and economic challenges could have strategic benefits for both sides. Before the visit, the Trump administration approved the sale of 22 “Guardian” surveillance drones, which India could use to monitor Chinese naval movement in the Indian Ocean.

The State Department designated China as one of the worst offenders of allowing the continuation of modern slavery, dropping it to the lowest tier of nations, the Times reports. Problems include human trafficking, forced labor, and forcible repatriation of North Koreans, even when the outcome will surely result in severe punishment. The designation will likely further erode the U.S.-China relationship, which has been recently beleaguered by difficulties of coordination on the North Korean threat.

The Colombian rebel group FARC, which has engaged in armed conflict with the government for over 50 years, has disarmed and begun the transition to a political party, the BBC reports. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for forging a peace agreement that ended the conflict in which 260,000 people were killed.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Matthew Kahn posted the Supreme Court’s ruling on the immigration executive order.

Jane Chong provided a guide to help understand the Court’s ruling.

Peter Margulies wrote about how the Court’s ruling balances the interests of relevant parties.

Adrian Vermeule wrote that the ruling proves Article II conservatism is alive and well.

Jack Goldsmith argued that the most important part of the ruling was the Court’s steady, sober analysis.

Bobby Chesney examined why the Trump administration may not be eager to bring an Islamic State detainee to Guantanamo.

Justin Florence and Larry Schwartztol provided possible Trump actions on the Mueller investigation—short of firing Mueller himself—that Congress should still treat as unacceptable overreach.

Dustin Lewis, Naz Modirzadeh, and Gabriella Blum discussed the need for thorough regulatory responses to the growing potential use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in warfare.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.

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