Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 11:26 AM

In a speech to South Korean lawmakers, President Donald Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un not to underestimate the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported. In a portion of the address directed at Kim, Trump called for Pyongyang to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Heavy fog forced Trump to cancel a surprise visit to the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, the New York Times reported.

Trump then headed to China, arriving on Wednesday. He plans to ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to increase economic pressure on Pyongyang, according to the Times. Xi opened Trump’s visit by offering a series of business deals and a private tour of the Forbidden City, but Trump and Xi may struggle to find common ground on both trade and measures against North Korea, the Journal reported.

The Senate banking committee approved a bill that would impose harsh new sanctions on Chinese financial institutions assisting North Korea, Foreign Policy reported. The bipartisan legislation targets companies that help North Korea evade sanctions. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said it would put “some real teeth” in sanctions.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief received assurances from U.S. lawmakers that they plan to comply with the Iran nuclear deal, Reuters reported. Federica Mogherini said congressional officials told her their intention is to keep the U.S. in the agreement.

Russia criticized a U.N. report that labeled the Syrian government as responsible for the April chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, the Times reported. Russia’s representative to the Security Council faulted U.N. investigators for not visiting the site of the attack. The U.S. and the United Kingdom supported the report’s findings. Russia and the U.S. have circulated conflicting resolutions to extend the investigators’ mandate.

Spain’s constitutional court officially struck down Catalonia’s declaration of independence, according to Reuters. The move formally ended the autonomous region’s bid for separation from Spain.

Saudi Arabia expanded its crackdown on political corruption, targeting up to $800 billion of assets belonging to dozens of princes and businessmen, the Journal reported. The anti-corruption push has frozen the accounts of political opponents of the crown prince. Their seized assets may bring in billions to the Saudi government. Separately, Saudi airstrikes killed dozens of civilians in northern Yemen, including women and children, Al Jazeera reported. The strikes targeted Houthi rebel group villages.

Lebanon’s prime minister remained in Saudi Arabia, prolonging a political crisis in Beirut, the Journal reported. Saadi Hariri said he resigned his post on Sunday in Riyadh, but Lebanon’s president said he would not accept the resignation until Hariri returns freely to Beirut. Hariri visited the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday but then returned to Saudi Arabia. The leader of Hezbollah, one of Hariri’s political opponents, said he believed Saudi Arabia was holding Hariri against his will.

The Philippines halted construction on a small island in the South China Sea to avoid angering China, the Times reported. President Rodrigo Duterte ordered military construction on a sandbar in the Spratly Islands to cease after Chinese officials put pressure on the Philippines to stop its building efforts.

Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, met with a former intelligence official who advocates the unsupported idea that Russian intelligence services did not hack the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the Intercept reported. Pompeo met with William Binney, a former NSA official turned critic, to discuss Binney’s paper arguing that a DNC insider committed the hack, not Russian spies. According to Binney, Pompeo told him Trump urged Pompeo to take the meeting.

Politico’s Cory Bennett wrote about one international accord the Trump administration is keeping: the U.S.-China cyber espionage agreement.

The Times’ Paul Mozer detailed how China uses Facebook to spread propaganda abroad.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein covered the released audio of George Papadopoulos’ July arraignment.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Paul Rosenzweig flagged the American Bar Association’s newly released cybersecurity handbook for lawyers.

J. Dana Stuster updated the Middle East Ticker, covering the power play in Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s aggressive foreign policy moves.

Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman, Adam Twardowski and Benjamin Wittes analyzed survey data on public confidence in the president and the military on specific national security issues.

Sarah Grant summarized military commissions hearings from last Thursday and Friday, covering the habeas petition for Brig. Gen. John Baker.

Tamara Cofman Wittes and Brian Reeves analyzed policy options for reconstructing the newly captured city of Raqqa.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, covering developments in the Mueller investigation, military commissions news, and the ‘hybrid model’ of detainee interrogation and prosecution.

Vanessa Sauter posted the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a discussion between Benjamin Wittes and Susan Landau on her new book “Listening In.”

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