Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11:28 AM

Russia blocked the renewal of the U.N. investigation into uses of chemical weapons in Syria, the Washington Post reported. At the Security Council, Moscow vetoed a resolution extending the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism for another year. This is the ninth time that Russia has vetoed Security Council efforts on Syria.

Kurdish leaders offered to freeze the results of the recent independence referendum in a bid to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government, the Wall Street Journal reported. The offer—largely a symbolic gesture—was meant to win favor with Baghdad as Kurdish leaders seek a deal to avoid losing more territory to Iraqi forces. On Tuesday, Kurdish forces repelled Iraqi troops from taking a key border crossing to Turkey, the New York Times reported. Baghdad is massing forces to retake all disputed areas, including the border crossings that provide important revenue for the cash-strapped Kurdish government.

The State Department ended U.S. assistance to military units in Myanmar involved in the displacement of Rohingya Muslims, Foreign Policy reported. The measures will likely have little effect, as the U.S. has few military ties to Myanmar. U.S. diplomats are planning to recommend that the State Department label atrocities carried out against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing,” according to the AP. U.S. officials have lagged behind their international counterparts in condemning the violence in Myanmar. At a congressional hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explicitly state that Myanmar’s forces are carrying out ethnic cleansing.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Commission (DNC) paid for part of the Steele dossier, a research document that said the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia, the Post reported. A lawyer representing Clinton and the DNC retained Fusion GPS, a political research firm, to conduct the research in spring 2016. A court filing in a suit against Fusion GPS revealed the connection, which Republican lawmakers have sought to make public for months. Fusion GPS is resisting a subpoena about its financial records from Rep. Devin Nunes, an action that may provoke a legal battle in the Russia probe, writes Politico’s Josh Gerstein.

The federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chair, for money laundering, the Journal reported. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is coordinating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The U.S. attorney continued the investigation this summer after its public corruption chief became a part of Mueller’s team. The investigations have also coordinated with the New York attorney general’s own money laundering investigation into Manafort

The Senate intelligence committee passed a version of a bill to renew the intelligence community’s surveillance authorities under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the Post reported. The bill includes some new restrictions on surveillance activities but not the requirement for the FBI to obtain a warrant to search the emails of Americans collected under the program, as civil liberties groups have demanded. The House judiciary and intelligence committees have proposed competing versions of the bill with more restrictive requirements for the FBI.

The Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Hawaii v. Trump, one of the challenges to President Trump’s second travel ban order, after the administration’s temporary refugee ban expired, Reuters reported. The justices remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss it as moot, because the 120-day refugee ban expired on Tuesday. Civil liberties groups have challenged the latest travel ban in lower courts and the issue may reappear before the Supreme Court on appeal.

The Post’s David Ignatius wrote about a Russian proposal to create an international convention to rewrite the rules for cyberspace.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Stewart Baker shared the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring an interview with Mieke Eoyang and Jamil Jaffer on Section 702 reform.

Khaled Elgindy reviewed Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon’s The Last Palestinian.

Dana Stuster updated the Middle Easter Ticker, covering Iraqi-Kurdish oil pipeline dispute, the latest in the Gulf crisis and an Islamic State ambush in Egypt.

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes shared their column from Lawfare@FP, noting Jeff Sessions’ extraordinary failure to address how the Justice Department is preparing for future Russian interference in our elections.

Sarah Grant summarized the recent executive order that allows the Pentagon to recall retired service members.

Matthew Kahn posted the Supreme Court’s order vacating the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Hawaii v. Trump.

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a panel from a Brookings Institution screening of the documentary Icarus.

Benjamin Wittes praised Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech on Tuesday afternoon.

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