Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn, Quinta Jurecic
Friday, July 28, 2017, 1:48 PM

North Korea has launched a missile that landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan, according to The Washington Post. The Pentagon confirmed that it detected a missile launch around 10:45 a.m. EST. Japanese and South Korean national security officials condemned the move. In recent days, U.S. intelligence officials had identified preparations for another test. The launch comes less than three weeks after Pyongyang fired its first missile deemed technically capable of reaching the United States. The AP reports that a Pentagon official says the launch was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Russian government seized two American diplomatic properties and ordered the State Department to reduce embassy staff by September, reports The New York Times. The Kremlin’s move comes one day after Congress sent a bill to the White House that would constrain the president’s unilateral authority to change sanctions on Russia. President Trump has not yet signalled whether he will sign the bill. Moscow’s decision also follows the Obama administration’s December 2016 expulsion of Russian diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds in response to Russian interference in the U.S. election. The move is the latest in rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Buzzfeed reports that RT founder Mikhail Lesin was murdered in November 2015 in a Washington, D.C. hotel the day before he planned to meet with officials at the Department of Justice. While the Justice Department previously closed the investigation into Lesin’s death, determining it to have been an accident, FBI sources informed Buzzfeed that Lesin was “beaten to death” in his Dupont Circle hotel, likely on behalf of the Kremlin. Lesin had traveled to Washington to meet with Justice Department officials about pro-Kremlin propaganda network RT.

The Pakistani Supreme Court ordered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down over allegations of corruption, reports the Times. The charges brought against Sharif stemmed from the Panama Papers disclosure, which showed that his family held valuable real estate holdings concealed by offshore companies. The former Prime Minister called the investigations into his family’s finances a conspiracy. His resignation may create a political opening for opposition leader Imran Khan in the next general elections.

Iran successfully launched a missile into space on Thursday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, according to the Times. Such launches are permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement. The launch comes as the Times also reports that President Trump has instructed his national security team to find a justification for declaring Iran is in violation of the agreement. The AP reports that the administration imposed new sanctions on Iran on Friday over the missile launch.

President Trump considered Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff, reports the Times. The president has openly said that he has lost faith in Priebus and that he wants “a general” to replace him.

Responding to attacks from the president, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Trump’s remarks were “hurtful” but described him as a “strong leader” in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the Times writes. Sessions reiterated his belief that he was right to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference, a major source of the president’s criticism.

The State Department ordered relatives of U.S. embassy staff in Caracas to leave Venezuela, The Wall Street Journal reports. A contentious vote on Sunday to elect members to the Constituent Assembly, a body tasked with drafting a new constitution, may deepen the already pervasive political and economic instability in Venezuela. The U.S. has threatened “strong and swift economic actions” against Venezuela if the country adopts the Constituent Assembly. Earlier this week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 13 Venezuelan government officials for alleged corruption and undermining democratic political processes.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

In the Intelligence Studies Essay, Steve Slick asked what effects President Trump’s revised executive order on the structure of the National Security Council will have on policy deliberations.

Paul Rosenzweig argued that Europe is unserious in its approach to privacy.

Nicholas Weaver examined the indictment of Alexander Vinnick for running the BTC-e crypto-currency exchange.

Andrew Keane Woods noted a new case filed by Google in the U.S. District Court of California challenging a Canadian Supreme Court ruling requiring Google to delist links to particular pages.

Trey Herr and Bruce Schneier flagged new revisions to their paper on estimating vulnerability rediscovery.

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