Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru, Quinta Jurecic
Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 4:03 PM

The ongoing ransomware attack across Europe, the United States, and Asia has raised concerns over the growing frequency of large-scale cyberattacks, The New York Times . The NotPetya attack is the second worldwide ransomware hacking since May, when the WannaCry virus disrupted the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. The Times what we know and don’t yet know about the malware.

The Journal on Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s comments that the lack of a chemical weapons attack showed that the Trump administration’s warning to the Assad regime in Syria worked. Late on Monday, the U.S. threatened to use force against Syria in the case of another chemical attack after the Pentagon saw indications that an attempt may have been looming. Politico the process behind the drafting and release of the administration’s abrupt warning: while Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster were all involved, the statement left numerous top officials across the State and Defense Departments blindsided.

The White House may shift the State Department’s bureaus of Consular Affairs and Population, Refugees, and Migration to the Department of Homeland Security, CNN . A White House official indicated that the proposal resulted from a “brainstorming session” dedicated to “improving efficiencies across government,” and is not yet a formal plan.

The Trump administration is considering taking a harsher stance on its relations with Pakistan in an effort to cut back Pakistani support for militant groups that have used the country as a base from which to conduct attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, Reuters . Options on the table include increased drone strikes, withholding of aid, and weakening Pakistan’s status as a U.S. ally. In a separate report released Tuesday, the Pentagon indicated that Pakistan was the most significant external factor affecting Afghan stability through governmental support of the Taliban and Haqqani Network. The Pakistani embassy in the United States warned the U.S. against using it as a “scapegoat” to explain challenges in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the Qatari Foreign Minister met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a closed-door meeting in Foggy Bottom, the Post . The two discussed the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which has shown no signs of resolution following Qatar’s rejection of the list of demands presented to it by the Gulf Cooperation Council States that recently cut their ties with Qatar. The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister told the press yesterday that the demands were non-negotiable and were a prerequisite to re-engagement with Qatar. Later in the day, Tillerson also met with the Kuwaiti Minister of State, whose government has attempted to mediate the weeks-long dispute.

Oil companies have expressed concern over the Senate’s new package of Russian sanctions, which would prevent American participation in any oil production projects in which a Russian firm is involved anywhere in the globe, the Washington Post . But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), who is shepherding the bill through the approval process, has said the issues can be “easily addressed.” The bill has stalled in the House over procedural concerns, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) has the Senate to complete a fix prior to the July 4th recess.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been under scrutiny amidst the various probes into Russian election interference, registered retroactively as an agent of a foreign government yesterday, The Wall Street Journal. The disclosure to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) unit marked an acknowledgement that a portion of Manafort’s lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych aimed to influence U.S. government officials and journalists. Manafort’s spokesman said Manafort began working with the FARA unit to navigate the registration process in September of 2016, prior to the election results and the investigation into Russian election interference.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that a Canadian court can grant an injunction anywhere in the world, if such a move is required to secure the injunction’s effectiveness, The Guardian . In the case, the Court forced Google to remove links to one company’s content from all versions of its search engine across the globe—not only the Canadian version—following an intellectual property dispute with a competitor. Critics fear that the decision could lead to corporations and governments increasing censorship requests that then eliminate permissible content from the entire internet, no matter the location. 

The trial of accused NSA leaker Reality Winner has been set for October, The Hill. Winner is charged with providing a top-secret NSA report on a 2016 Russian cyberattack on a voting software company to the news outlet The Intercept.

President Trump accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to meet in Paris on July 14th in celebration of Bastille Day as well as the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into World War I, CNN . The two are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including coordination on counterterrorism efforts.

A helicopter attacked Venezuela’s Supreme Court yesterday, CNN . Prior to the attack, an ex-policeman posted a video online announcing that his group planned to launch an air and land assault to restore democracy to Venezuela. From the helicopter, attackers threw grenades and shot at the building, though no one was injured. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro activated the government security forces in response. The nation has been in the depths of a political and economic crisis which has seen many calls for a change in leadership. Some have that the entire incident may have been staged by the government to generate legitimacy for a harsher crackdown on dissent.

 

 ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Charlie Savage the changes in the new, paperback edition of his book Power Wars, which provides a history of national-security legal policymaking in the Obama era.

Paul Rosenzweig if the cyberattack in Ukraine yesterday was a precursor to war, but updated the post after news broke that the cause was an outbreak of the Petya ransomware.

Shane R. Reeves previous attempts at creating “safe zones” in Syria and argued that without serious commitment, newly proposed zones will be just as ineffective or dangerous.

J. Dana Stuster the Middle East Ticker, covering the recent Saudi succession shakeup, the Gulf States’ demands to Qatar, and U.S. policy in Eastern Syria.

William I. Hitchcock Melissa Feinberg’s Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe (Oxford Univ. Press, 2017).

Matthew Kahn posted the of yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Section 702 reauthorization.

Andrew Kent the Supreme Court’s decision in Hernandez v. Mesa.

Jack Goldsmith the supplement to the new edition of Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th Ed. 2017), the casebook he co-authored with Curtis Bradley.

Daniel Byman whether Al Qaeda is in decline.

Josh Blackman the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision in IRAP v. Trump.

Benjamin Wittes a copy of his FOIA request for internal FBI communications surrounding the firing of James Comey. 

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