Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru
Thursday, July 6, 2017, 4:10 PM

Donald Trump delivered a speech Thursday morning in Warsaw in which he declared that the West must “defend our civilization” and saying that “[t]he fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” reports The New York Times. The speech was part of a short trip to Poland prior to the G20 Summit in Hamburg today. In a news conference with Polish President Andrejz Duda, Trump reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to its NATO obligations, including the Article V obligation to mutual security assurance. Trump also said he “thought” Russia tried to meddle in the election, though he was not convinced it was the sole actor. Last, he said the U.S. was considering “pretty severe things” to respond to North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

Most of Trump’s plans to respond to North Korea will likely cause tension with China and Russia, who do not support stronger sanctions and oppose the use of force, The Washington Post reports. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley took a tough stance at a Security Council meeting Wednesday, but with Russian and Chinese veto power, her resolution to cut North Korea’s foreign currency access and restrict its oil exports will likely fail. The Wall Street Journal examines how long it could be before North Korea has a nuclear-tipped missile that could hit major cities in the continental U.S. A series of interactive satellite images published by the Times shows that a rapid expansion of infrastructure in North Korea is not limited to military installations.

Turkish police have detained ten senior human rights workers, including the head of Amnesty International Turkey, after interrupting a digital security training session on the tourist island of Buyukada, the Journal reports. The location of the individuals is unknown. The Turkish government has pursued an aggressive crackdown on civil liberties, drawing the rebuke of foreign governments. International leaders could raise the issue with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at this week’s G20 summit.

The Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub, Jr., is resigning, the Times reports. Shaub posted a copy of his letter of resignation to Twitter and told the Times that “There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation.” Shaub clashed with the Trump administration over various ethics concerns, including Trump’s business holdings: while OGE recommended he liquidate his holdings, Trump did not. Schaub’ will take a new position at a nonpartisan advocacy group focused on campaign finance reform and voting rights.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is using Twitter in an attempt to amplify the island’s voice, the Times reports. China has attempted to limit Taiwan’s presence on the global stage, pulling away two of its only twenty allies since May 2016 and limiting its participation in international governance. Tsai became interested in the social media platform as a way to circumvent Chinese pressure following the global media response to Trump’s tweet announcing he had spoken with her.

A Russian hacker was sentenced to two years in prison after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, the Journal reports. Vladimir Anikeev was described as the leader of a hacking group which accessed the electronic devices of senior Russian government officials, including one of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s. They also took control of Medvedev’s Twitter account in 2014. The information gathered from the hack fueled an online investigation that then led to anti-government protests in some parts of the country.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson released a report on the potential national security damage of leaks, Politico reports. The document says there were over 125 stories from Trump’s inauguration to May 25, 2017 that contained leaked information. Jonson’s report suggests that federal law enforcement more rigorously investigate these types of leaks.

A confidential memo from the White House appears to cap the number of troops the Pentagon could send to Afghanistan without further consultation with President Trump at 3,900, the Journal reports. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster sent the memo to a small group of administration officials. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is under increasing scrutiny as some officials question how to break the current stalemate in the 16 year war. McMaster is expected to release a plan by mid-July. The White House had given unilateral authority to set troop levels to the DOD days before the memo was issued.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Kenneth Anderson and Matthew Waxman announced their essay, “Debating Autonomous Weapon Systems, Their Ethics, and Their Regulation Under International Law.”

Christopher Fonzone and Joshua A. Geltzer considered whether Trump can legally leave key executive positions unfilled.

Stewart Baker posted the second half of Monday’s Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.

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