Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 12:07 PM

Federal judges issued two separate orders halting the Trump administration’s latest travel ban order, the Washington Post . On Tuesday, a federal district judge in Hawaii temporarily blocked nationwide the implementation of the September 24 travel ban proclamation. Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Maryland issued a second, narrower suspension, stopping enforcement of the ban only for those with a “bona fide” relationship with the U.S.

Congressional investigators subpoenaed Carter Page, the former Trump campaign adviser, NBC News . Page is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to provide testimony about his role in the Trump campaign and his connections to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence demanded that Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, provide documents and testimony about his father’s business dealings, Reuters. Flynn Jr. is likely to receive a subpoena, ABC News .

Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Matt Tait, the cybersecurity expert who GOP operative Peter Smith asked to review hacked Hillary Clinton emails last year, Business Insider . Both Mueller and Tait declined to comment. Mueller’s team also interviewed Sean Spicer, the former White House communications director and press secretary, about President Trump’s conduct while in office, Politico. The investigators asked Spicer about the circumstances of Trump’s firing of James Comey and Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

The European Commission will keep the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the agreement that allows the transatlantic transfer of cross-border data under European law, in place after a positive annual review, Reuters . The omission was satisfied that the protections put in place adequately safeguarded Europeans’ personal data. It asked Washington to implement more privacy protections in this year’s reauthorization of electronic surveillance authorities under the Section 702 program.

Iran’s supreme leader threatened to “shred” the nuclear deal if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement, Reuters. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would respect the accord as long as all other signatories met their obligations under the deal. He continued, “Trump’s stupidity should not distract us from America’s deceitfulness.” He also demanded that European states refrain from sanctioning and “interfering” with Iran’s missile program.

A top election official in Kenya resigned and fled the country, saying it would be impossible for the upcoming presidential election to be credible, the Post . Another leading election commissioner said he also thought a fair election was impossible. After Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the presidential election result in August, election authorities scheduled a new vote for next week. But Raila Odinga, the leading opposition candidate, dropped out of the race, and his supporters have taken to street demonstrations instead.

Senator John McCain blocked Defense Department nominees over a dispute about clarifying the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy, the Post. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would not schedule confirmation votes for any Defense nominees for top political posts until the administration gives him details about its conditions for aid to Afghanistan. McCain has repeatedly demanded that Secretary of Defense James Mattis say exactly how the latest troop increase will change circumstances in Afghanistan.

The Senate intelligence committee will put forth “clean” reauthorization of the intelligence community’s Section 702 spying programs under Title XII of the FISA Amendments Act, Politico . Chairman Richard Burr said the intelligence committee’s reauthorization proposal would not significantly change the requirements under Section 702. It would not limit the FBI’s authority to search the Section 702 database nor impose new restrictions on “unmasking” the identities of Americans caught in the surveillance, as the House Judiciary Committee’s proposal does.

The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations warned that South Sudan is sliding into chaos and escalating violence, the New York Times . After a peace initiative from neighboring African countries stalled, the U.N.’s peacekeeping chief warned the Security Council that the country’s armed factions needed to rescue South Sudan from “the impending abyss.” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will visit South Sudan next week.

A group of veterans sued pharmaceutical companies over allegations the firms paid bribes to militias in Iraq that killed American soldiers, NBC News . The veterans are seeking damages from a group of American and European companies that they say bribed officials linked to the Mahdi Army, an Iranian-backed militia.

The Guardian’s Shaun Walker the findings a report from a Russian newspaper about the Internet Research Agency, the so-called “troll farm” that attempted to influence the 2016 election on 2016.

The New York Times Magazine’s Jason Zengerle about Secretary Rex Tillerson and the decline of the State Department.

BuzzFeed News’ Dan Vergano an in-depth account of the U.S. special forces raid on Kunduz, a city in the north of Afghanistan,  last year that left 26 civilians and two American soldiers dead.


ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Peter Margulies that the Hawaii federal district court rightly blocked the implementation of the most recent travel ban on the basis that it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Michael Paradis the implications of the collapse of Al-Nashiri’s defense team for the military commissions cases.

Daniel Byman the second part of his series on whether domestic right-wing violence should be labeled as terrorism.

Matt Tait Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s remarks about the “Going Dark” debate.

Vanessa Sauter the transcript of the FBI director’s remarks about Section 702 at the Heritage Foundation last week.

Stewart Baker the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring a discussion with Shane Harris on his reporting on recent developments linking Kaspersky to Russian espionage. Baker a second episode featuring an interview with Marten Mickos, CEO of a bug bounty company. 

Hayley Evans the U.K.’s new doctrine on the use of drones.

Sauter a bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a debate between Benjamin Wittes and Steve Vladeck about the unnamed American enemy combatant detainee.


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