Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Thursday, November 2, 2017, 11:32 AM

Federal prosecutors charged Sayfullo Saipov with providing material support to terrorism, as well as one count of  violence and destruction of a motor vehicle, the Washington Post reported. The FBI said Saipov told them he began planning his attack on pedestrians and cyclists in New York about a year ago. Saipov drew inspiration from the Islamic State group. In a tweet, President Trump said Saipov should receive the death penalty, walking back his threat to send Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times reported. The Times’ Rukmini Callimachi considered the potential reasons why the Islamic State group did not claim the attack itself.

The Department of Justice is considering charging Russian government officials with crimes in connection to the Democratic National Convention hack, the Wall Street Journal reported. Federal officials have amassed enough evidence to charge more than six members of the Russian government involved in the hack. Prosecutors may bring the cases —  run separately from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe— some time next year. The Russian hacking operation had targets around the world, encompassing over 4,700 gmail accounts from political opponents to U.S. defense officials, the AP reported. A list of targeted accounts from the hacking group known as Fancy Bear revealed targeted inboxes belonging to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. defense contractors, Ukrainian politicians and Russian dissidents. Ninety-five percent of Fancy Bear’s email phishing attacks occurred during Moscow working hours.

The House intelligence committee released a small sample of the Russia-linked Facebook ads designed to influence the 2016 election, CNN reported. The release also include all the Twitter handles of accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency, the “troll farm” that purchased the ads. Adam Schiff, the committee’s chief democrat, said the ads were a “representative sample” of the over 3,000 ads Facebook gave to Congress last month.

 The political research firm Fusion GPS paid Christopher Steele $168,000 to produce the Trump-Russia dossier, Reuters reported. The company disclosed the payment to congressional lawmakers investigating the dossier’s financial backers.

The CIA made public thousands of documents captured during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the Journal reported. The items include 79,000 audio and video files and 228 pages from bin Laden’s personal journal in its original Arabic form.

A judge at the Guantanamo Bay held the top defense counsel for the military commissions in contempt of court, sentencing him to 21 days in confinement, the Miami Herald reported. Judge Vance Spath, an Air Force colonel, declared that  Gen.John Baker’s decision to release three civilian lawyers from the trial of Rahim al-Nashiri was null and void. He confined Baker to his quarters for refusing rescind the order. Judge Spath also ordered the three lawyers to resume defending al-Nashiri by video link.

Niger’s prime minister said it would allow U.S. drone strikes against militant groups, the Journal reported. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger were “an accident” and that Nigerien authorities are conducting an inquiry into the ambush that killed them. U.S. military officials tried to send an armed drone to defend the ambushed soldiers, but that request did not reach the Nigerien government in time.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, visited the region where military violence against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority has displaced over 600,00 people, the Times reported. Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to condemn the atrocities Myanmar’s military has committed against Rohingya in the state of Rakhine. During the visit, she appeared in destroyed villages and again did not acknowledge what the U.N. has called a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.

Iraqi security forces said negotiations with Kurdish fighters over control of border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan had failed, according to the AP. Last week, Iraq’s prime minister halted military operations that seized portions of Kurdish territory and began talks about deploying forces along Kurdistan’s borders. Separately, a U.N. human rights report said that Iraqi courts do not have jurisdiction over international crimes, making it impossible for Iraq to try crimes committed by Islamic State group fighters in Mosul, Reuters reported. The report said Iraq’s justice system does not satisfy requirements for due process or have the capacity to successfully prosecute war crimes under international law.

The U.N.’s human rights chief said Australia must take immediate steps to resolve a crisis at a detention facility for asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea, according to Reuters. Detainees at the Manus Island Centre have barricaded themselves inside a holding center, saying they do not wish to be moved by Australian authorities to other detention facilities. Papua New Guinea’s High Court ordered Australia to close the camp last year, but detainees refused to leave. The over 600 people in the facility have no water or power. 

The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman explained the context of the U.S. Marine general held in confinement at Guantanamo Bay.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Scott Andersen and Sabrina McCubbin summarized the key points from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s AUMF hearing on Monday.

Bruce Ackerman summarized oral arguments in Smith v. Trump, the case challenging the legal authority of the conflict against the Islamic State group.

Garrett Hinck posted the video and testimony from the Senate intelligence committee’s hearing with social media company executives on Wednesday. He also posted the video and testimony from the House intelligence committee’s hearing with the same executives.

Scott Harman analyzed the ACLU’s attempt to assume “next friend” status to file a habeas petition for the unnamed U.S. citizen Islamic State fighter being held as an enemy combatant.

Sarah Grant shared “This Week at the Military Commissions,” summarizing the dramatic developments in the al-Nashiri case on Tuesday.

Vanessa Sauter posted the criminal complaint against George Papadopoulos.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an emergency edition of the National Security Law Podcast responding to Trump’s suggestion that he would send Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo.

Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview between Benjamin Wittes and Anne Applebaum about her new book on the 1930s famine in Ukraine.

Matthew Kahn posted the criminal complaint against Saipov.

Sauter posted the al-Nashiri defense team’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt proceedings in the case pending the appointment of a qualified defense counsel. 

 

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