Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Friday, August 18, 2017, 10:57 AM

At least 14 people have died and 80 are injured after a van drove into a crowd of pedestrians in a tourist district in Barcelona on Thursday. The New York Times reports that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Within a matter of hours, police shot four suspects in what Catalan authorities report to have been another attempted attack in Cambrils, a town 70 miles south of Barcelona. The death toll continued to rise Friday morning.

After the Barcelona attack, President Donald Trump promoted a debunked myth as an ostensible counterterrorism tactic. “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” tweeted the President. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” The statement references a gruesome and unfounded rumor about a military officer during the Spanish-American War that has proven false several times since it began to circulate in the wake of September 11, 2001, reports The Washington Post. Trump also referenced the legend at a February 2016 rally in South Carolina. Politifact has discredited the story.

The Navy relieved the captain and executive officer of the USS Fitzgerald, a naval destroyer that fatally collided with a Philippine cargo ship off the coast of Japan in June. In a statement, the Navy noted that it had also relieved one other senior officer and seven junior officers. The Times reports that all sailors on watch on the night of June 17 faced disciplinary action. Seven sailors aboard the Fitzgerald died in the incident. The Wall Street Journal has a summary of Navy the partially-redacted preliminary investigative report that the Navy released on August 11.

North Korea’s threats toward Guam have reinvigorated local opposition to expanding the island’s U.S. military presence, reports the Journal. Despite having one of the highest military-enlistment rates in the country, Guamanians — who are U.S. citizens — lack a voting representative in Congress or the right to vote in presidential elections. As many as 31% of the population oppose a delayed 2006 plan to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam and to build additional military facilities. After Kim Jong-un threatened to attack Guam last week has bolstered fears that any further development of military assets would only increase the likelihood that the island would become a military target if the crisis escalates again. Opponents of the plans have had some success in court, but with diminished political rights, have struggled to find a political avenue for their advocacy.

Secretaries of Defense and State, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, announced that North Korea might still face a military response to nuclear provocations, according to the Post. “In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if DPRK initiates hostilities,” Mattis said. “Very simply, in the event of a missile launch toward the territory of Japan, Guam, the United States, [South] Korea, we would take immediate and specific action to take it down.” The comment comes after President Trump said last week that the U.S. was prepared to take military action in response to North Korean threats, while White House adviser Steve Bannon contradicted the President in an interview late Wednesday night, insisting that there was “no military solution.” On Thursday in Seoul, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford reportedly gave assurance to South Korean President Moon Jae-in that the U.S. would not take military action against the North Korean government without South Korea’s agreement.

U.S. Cyber Command, the sub-unified command housed at the National Security Agency that manages the Defense Department’s cyberspace operations and defends military networks, will be elevated to a full unified command, the White House announced in a statement Friday morning. The Secretary of Defense has 60 days to conduct a review of whether Cyber Command should be separated from the NSA, which is responsible for signals intelligence collection. Cyber Command has been organized under U.S. Strategic Command, the unified command responsible for, among others, strategic deterrence, including nuclear and missile-defense capabilities. In its statement, the White House said the elevation will “help streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander.”

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Paul Rosenzweig commented briefly on two news stories; one on Russian interference, and another on embedding malware in DNA.

Sarah Tate Chambers wrote about the federated sources of data on white supremacist-perpetrated violent crime.

Megan Stifel and Jamil Jaffer summarized a new white paper on the tradeoffs of regulating emerging technology.

Bob Bauer explained how the events in Charlottesville last weekend highlight the flaws in the way President Donald Trump understands the Constitution.

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