Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 2:53 PM

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said the U.S. has “no risk-free options” regarding North Korea’s nuclear program and called the prospect of war on the Korean peninsula “horrific,” CNN reported. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the U.S. effort against Pyongyang is “diplomatically led” but the U.S. will use military options if diplomacy fails. The U.N. banned four North Korean ships from visiting any port worldwide after finding the vessels violated Security Council sanctions, according to the BBC. A U.N. spokesperson described the measure as unprecedented. A South Korean lawmaker said that North Korean hackers stole shared U.S. and South Korean military secrets in an attack on Seoul’s cyber defense systems last year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The stolen materials included details of plans to eliminate Pyongyang’s leadership in the event of war.

The Catalan president said he will pause a process for Catalonia to become independent and will remain open for dialogue with the Spanish government, the Guardian reported. In an address to the Catalan parliament, President Carlos Puigdemont said the results of last week’s independence referendum meant that Catalonia had won the right to be an independent country but that he would not immediately declare independence so that Catalonia could engage in dialogue with Spain and the European Union.

The head of Iran’s nuclear agency warned the U.S. against undermining the Iran nuclear deal, the AP reported. Ali Akbar Salehi said at an international conference that Washington’s “delusionary negative postures” would harm international non-proliferation efforts. Iran’s foreign ministry also warned that if the U.S. designates the Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, Iran will take “decisive and crushing” action, according to the Guardian. Former U.S. national security officials said that the possible terrorist designation would be an unnecessary escalation and would further compromise the stability of the nuclear deal. Writing for the Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman provided insight into the the State Department perspective on Trump and the Iran deal.

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case on whether the Guantanamo Bay military commissions can try purely domestic offenses, Bloomberg reported. In a filing on Tuesday, the justices denied certiorari in Bahlul v. U.S., rejecting a former Al Qaeda propagandist’s petition for the court to decide whether a military commission had the authority to convict him of the domestic crime of conspiracy to commit war crimes.

Microsoft said it is looking into its records to determine if Russian-linked operatives bought ads on its platforms before the 2016 election, Reuters reported. Google has discovered that Russian-linked ad purchases on its products amounted to less than $100,000, also according to Reuters. A New York Times investigation found that Russian pages on social media platforms repurposed posts from Americans to promote divisive political messages. Researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute published a report that said the Russian pages targeted current and former U.S. military personnel with conspiracy theories and right-wing political propaganda.

Email records between the Russian participants in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Trump campaign officials suggest that the Russians did not plan to share compromising information about Hillary Clinton or to collude with the Trump campaign to influence the election, CNN reported. A lawyer for the Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, who arranged the meeting, released emails between Trump publicist Rob Goldstone and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya that describe Veselnitskaya’s efforts to provide information about the Magnitsky Act, an anti-Russia sanctions law, to Trump officials. Agalarov’s attorney said that Goldstone was to blame for insinuating that the meeting was about dirt on Clinton.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the U.S. ambassador for the ongoing diplomatic dispute that resulted in the suspension of all visitor visas between the U.S. and Turkey, Reuters reported. Erdogan suggested that the U.S. ambassador in Ankara acted unilaterally to suspend nonimmigrant visa issuances at the embassy. The U.S. embassy said the move was in reaction to the politically motivated arrest of a diplomat at the consulate in Istanbul. The two countries attempted to strike a conciliatory tone as the dispute continues, the Times reported. Erdogan said the break was “regrettable,” while the U.S. ambassador said he took the decision, “with great sadness.”

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah began unity talks in Cairo on Tuesday, the Times reported. The negotiations over the formation of a unity government will address significant points of contention, including Hamas’ armed wing and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

U.N. officials said that the escalating violence in the Central African Republic has “early warning signs of genocide,” the Washington Post reported. Christian and Muslim militia groups renewed tensions in recent months. The country is divided between dozens of armed groups outside of governmental control. International observers warned that a civil war in the country would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis as nearly half of its residents are already in need of assistance.

CNN provided an inside look into the air campaign against the Islamic State in an interactive feature.

The Post’s Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe described the perspectives of foreign diplomats trying to understand the often erratic Trump administration.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes explained why he is calm in the face of the lack of information on the U.S. citizen detained as an enemy combatant.

Ned Price argued that congressional Republicans’ focus on unmasking will harm the renewal of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

Vanessa Sauter announced Lawfare’s upcoming screening of the documentary Icarus.

Naz Modirzadeh argued the proper debate about the use of force outside areas of active hostilities should be about the justifications for such a war.

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes shared their column from the Lawfare@FP feed, in which they assessed the Senate Intelligence Committee’s update on the Russia investigation.

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