Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Rebecca Heller
Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 4:16 PM

China will implement new sanctions on North Korean lead, lead ore, iron, iron ore, coal, and seafood, reports the Washington Post. The sanctions, which take effect Tuesday, are in line with recently passed U.N. Security Council measures but unusual for China, which has been hesitant to impose sanctions that could trigger instability in its reclusive neighbor. The changes are likely to significantly impact North Korea’s defense industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hours after China unveiled the sanctions, North Korea appeared to back away from its threat to launch intermediate-range ballistic missiles into waters near Guam, according to the New York Times. North Korean state media said Tuesday that Kim Jong Un would monitor American actions “a little more” before acting.

China’s announcement corresponded with Beijing’s warning to Washington against starting a trade war after Trump aides said that the President plans to investigate alleged Chinese intellectual property theft—albeit using a bureaucratic process that will ensure that any U.S. action against China is far off, says the Times. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in warned the U.S. not to take military action on the Korean Peninsula without his country’s consent, reports the Journal. In a speech on Tuesday, Moon said that “no one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement.” The statement signaled Moon’s disapproval of Trump’s bellicose language towards North Korea.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Tehran could restart its nuclear program within hours if the United States imposes further sanctions on the country, reports The New York Times. Rouhani added that the program would be “far more advanced” than it was prior to the 2015 nuclear deal negotiations. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal and questioned whether the Iranian government is violating its terms. Through a law that also targeted Russia and North Korea, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Iran earlier this month to punish the country for ballistic missile tests and support for terrorist groups, among other activities.

Unilateral U.S. sanctions have limited Iran’s ability to realize economic gains from the nuclear deal, and Iranian conservatives have consistently argued that the United States would not fulfill its nuclear deal promises to Iran. As a result, Rouhani is under pressure from hardliners at home, who accrued additional power on the Expediency Council on Monday and who have consistently argued that the United States is not to be trusted. Iran is also struggling with its domestic counterterrorism strategy as it deals with militants at home and a growing Islamic State presence, according to the Washington Post.

Aid groups in Italy, including Doctors Without Borders, allege that the Italian government is intentionally impeding efforts to rescue migrants at sea, the Post writes. Doctors Without Borders announced that it would halt its patrols in the central Mediterranean as a result of threats from Libya’s coast guard. But Loris De Filippi, the president of the group’s Italian branch, said that the Italian government is making the group’s work nearly impossible and “has done everything in its power to create unfavorable conditions for NGOs like ours.” More than 2,200 people drowned in the central Mediterranean between January and July of this year.

A web hosting provider is fighting a search warrant requesting over 1 million IP addresses of visitors to, a website used to coordinate protests of President Trump’s inaugurations, according to the Post. The general counsel for DreamHost, the company that received the order, says that the Justice Department request constitutes prosecutorial overreach. The order also requests emails between interested protesters and the site’s organizers, deleted messages, subscriber information (including names and addresses), and unpublished photos and blog posts. A hearing is scheduled in D.C. Superior Court this Friday. On The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr has further analysis on DreamHost’s basis for resisting the warrant.

The FBI disrupted an Oklahoma man’s plot to set off a vehicle bomb next to a bank in Oklahoma City, reports the Times. Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested after he left a van that he believed contained an ammonium nitrate bomb next to the bank and attempted to trigger an explosion. Varnell was unaware that the bomb was fake and that he was the subject of an undercover investigation. He appears to have been motivated by an anti-government ideology and told an undercover FBI agent that “when militias start getting formed I’m going after government officials.”

California’s attorney general is suing the Justice Department over the Trump administration’s threats to restrict funding for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents, reports the Times. The lawsuit alleges that restricting funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” is unconstitutional and threatens state law enforcement’s ability to preserve public safety. In the last two weeks Chicago and San Francisco have also sued the Justice Department over the administration’s plan.

This month marks the three-year anniversary of ISIS’s massacre of Yazidis in northern Iraq. The Monkey Cage blog carries an analysis from Güneş Murat Tezcür on who the Yazidis are, why ISIS targeted them, and the condition of survivors.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Matthew Kahn posted Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark Martins statement on this week’s military commission hearings in the case of Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi.

William J. Antholis offered a local perspective on the events in Charlottesville.

Josh Blackman analyzed the role that the First Amendment played in the Charlottesville protests.

Kahn posted The Week That Will Be, Lawfare’s weekly roundup of job listings and writing contests.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.