Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 12:32 PM

Zimbabwe’s military put President Robert Mugabe under house arrest as soldiers occupied government and media offices, Reuters reported. A military spokesperson said the dramatic seizure of power is aimed at stopping “criminals” close to the president. The takeover appears to be in response to the 93-year old Mugabe’s attempts to position his wife as his successor. Reporting from the New York Times suggests that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa—who Mugabe fired earlier this week—is the military’s preferred replacement for Mugabe.

The prime ministers of Britain and Spain said Russian groups had interfered in their electoral systems, the Washington Post reported. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy accused Russia of sponsoring an army of fake accounts to spread misinformation during the Catalan independence referendum. Britain’s leader Theresa May said Russia used state-run media to “undermine free societies.” Separately, Britain’s top cybersecurity official said Russia carried out a coordinated campaign to hack British telecommunications, energy and media firms in the last year, according to the Times.

China will send a high-level envoy to North Korea in a move that will likely put pressure on Pyongyang to limit its nuclear program, the Times reported. Chinese state-run media said the envoy would probably deliver a message to Kim Jong-Un that urges nuclear talks. The announcement of the envoy came days after President Donald Trump discussed North Korea with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting in Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pushed Myanmar’s leaders to investigate and end violence against Rohingya Muslims, according to the Times. Speaking from Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, Tillerson said there were the “credible reports of widespread atrocities” that the country’s security forces had committed against the Rohingya. Tillerson suggested that targeted economic sanctions may be an appropriate response to what the UN has called “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

The House of Representatives passed the joint congressional version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018, Politico reported. Representatives voted 365-70 for the $700 billion spending bill. The NDAA’s fiscal allocation exceeds the Budget Control Act’s $549 billion cap on defense expenditures. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the measure after Thanksgiving.

Lebanon’s president accused Saudi Arabia of holding Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who resigned last week, as a hostage, Reuters reported. President Michel Aoun said it was not acceptable for Saudi Arabia to hold Hariri against his will for unknown reasons. Aoun has previously said he would not formally recognize Hariri’s resignation unless the latter returns to Lebanon. On Wednesday, Hariri promised to return within two days.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security shared technical information about a North Korean cyber intrusion campaign targeting the aerospace, telecommunications and financial industries, Reuters reported. In an alert, the agencies said North Korean hackers used a type of malware that granted them access to protected systems and shared files. The agencies’ report also included IP addresses linked to the hackers.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Chesney summarized the 2018 NDAA’s provisions on cybersecurity.

Sarah Grant summarized the military commission proceedings at the Nov. 7 hearing in U.S. v. al-Nashiri.

Shannon Togawa Mercer live blogged Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

J. Dana Stuster discussed the connections of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s power play to conflicts across the Middle East.

Garrett Hinck posted the video and testimony from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on the president's’ authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.

Alan Rozenshtein analyzed how a bill making tech companies liable for sex trafficking on their platforms could signal a change in online platforms’ legal responsibility for user content.

Stewart Baker shared the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring discussions with Nicholas Weaver about the re-emerging encryption debate and with Michael Sulmeyer about the NDAA.

Evelyn Douek overviewed the European Union’s efforts to fight fake news.

Vincent Vitkowsky reviewed Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo’s book on emerging weapons and the law of war.

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview between Benjamin Wittes and Cass Sunstein on Sunstein’s book “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide.”

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