Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Vanessa Sauter
Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 1:36 PM

The FBI overstated the number of encrypted devices it couldn’t access, the bureau announced in a statement on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. FBI officials have been reporting to Congress and to the public that the bureau was locked out of nearly 7,800 devices in 2017. The correct number is closer to 1,200, according to an internal estimate. Top FBI officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray, have repeatedly cited the erroneous statistic in the “going dark” debate. The bureau cited “programming errors” as the cause of the miscalculation.

For the second time this year, Intel will release patches targeting newly discovered vulnerabilities in its chips, according to the Wall Street Journal. The bug is a variant of Spectre, one of the two major chip vulnerabilities revealed in January. For Intel, which dominates nearly the entire market for personal-computer processors and servers, Spectre and Meltdown have compromised an unprecedented number of chips in what security researchers believe risks secure data such as passwords. Intel’s new processors, to be released later this year, are expected to fix the hardware flaws that allowed Spectre and Meltdown.

Only two lawmakers, both Republicans, will join intelligence and Justice Department officials on Thursday to review classified information concerning an FBI source involved in the 2016 election investigation, the Washington Post reports. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House oversight committee, will meet with Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan. The source communicated with at least three Trump campaign advisers leading up to the 2016 election. Trump has accused the source of “spying” during the campaign and directed the Justice Department to investigate the FBI’s use of the source.

Michael Cohen’s business partner, Evgeny Freidman, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as a potential witness in either state or federal investigations, according to the Times. The “Taxi King,” as Friedman is known, faced counts of criminal tax fraud and grand larceny before striking a deal with the New York attorney general’s office; he pled guilty to one count of evading taxes on Tuesday. The deal could increase pressure on Michael Cohen, who is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan for his business practices.

The Defense Department retracted its invitation to China to join an international military exercise happening next month, the Journal reports. Chinese officials were alerted on Wednesday that the country could no longer participate in the Rim of the Pacific, a biennial exercise involving 27 nations. The decision signals U.S. disapproval of China’s continued militarization efforts in the South China Sea as relations between Beijing and Washington grow icier.

The American Civil Liberties Union has mounted a campaign protesting facial recognition software that Amazon has begun selling to local police, the Atlantic reports. Oregon’s Washington County and the city of Orlando, Fla., the two jurisdictions that have already adopted the software Rekognition, both implemented the technology without seeking permission of the public, sparking new questions over how advancing surveillance technology should be balanced with the right to privacy.

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

John Sipher addressed the impact President Donald Trump’s recent actions will have on recruiting future sources.

J. Dana Stuster analyzed the Trump administration’s “Plan B” for Iran.

Dan Byman broke down the nuances behind proxy wars.

Josh Blackman considered the possibility of conflicting nationwide injunctions.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.