Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 3:11 PM

Facebook confirmed it gave users’ data to four Chinese firms, including one company that the U.S. intelligence community flagged as a national security threat, according to the BBC. This confirmation comes after the New York Times reported on Sunday that Facebook engaged in similar data-sharing partnerships with over 60 cellular and other device-making companies. Facebook published a blog post Sunday pushing back against the Times’ claims that the social media company broke previous privacy pledges. News that the flagged Chinese firm, Huawei, had privileged access to user’s data raises “legitimate concerns” according to Sen. Mark Warner (D.-Va.), vice chair of the Senate intelligence committee.

A Senate subcommittee report says the Obama administration gave Iran access to U.S. financial services after the Iran Nuclear Deal was signed, reports the Washington Post. The report, which follows two years of digging by the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations, says the Obama administration helped Iran regain previously sanctioned oil money that was left in an overseas account after the nuclear deal went into effect. In response to the report, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said that the Obama administration “followed the law” and “worked to ensure the U.S. upheld our international commitments.”

China “won’t be scared” by the two American B-52 bombers which flew near disputed islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The bombers flew over the Spratly Islands, which the Chinese used as a base for training exercises as recently as May. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Saturday that the U.S. would “compete vigorously” over the South China Sea if necessary.

White House looks to institute additional economic penalties against Canada just two days before travelling to Quebec for G-7 summit, reports the Post. The summit will see President Trump face off against other world leaders whom he has disagreed with on a variety of issues including tariffs, the environment, and the Iran nuclear deal. This most recent move by the White House comes after Canada threatened to put tariffs on $13 billion worth of U.S. goods next month in response to President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

A former CIA officer’s espionage trial raises concerns about Chinese efforts to recruit U.S. intelligence officers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kevin Mallory, who worked for the CIA and other American intelligence services, gave classified documents to Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for $25,000. His trial began last week in Alexandria. On June 2nd, former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Ron Hanson was arrested and charged with providing classified information and technology to Chinese agents. A CIA spokesperson said Chinese intelligence gathering is “not a new problem” but nevertheless it “remains a persistent and constant challenge.”

In a Wednesday morning tweet, President Trump once again voiced his disdain that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not warn the president he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, reports the New York Times. The full tweet read:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor, “The president’s tweet regarding Attorney General Sessions this morning is part of a pattern, where the president admits out loud and shamelessly that he was trying to take steps to end the Russia probe...If he did nothing wrong, President Trump should welcome a thorough investigation to exonerate him.”

China will host the first China-Africa defense and security forum later this month, reports Defense One. The announcement underscores China’s recent efforts to strengthen economic and political relations within the African continent. The forum is expected to cover an array of issues including regional security, funding and improving Africa’s security capabilities, and increasing defense cooperation.

The Israeli Embassy tweeted a Mean Girls gif in response to Iranian Supreme Leader’s comments on Sunday calling Israel a “malignant cancerous tumor,” according to the Post. Millennial diplomacy has arrived.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Sam Roggeveen discussed the ideal outcome of the North Korea crisis for U.S. interests.

Alan Rozenshtein, Mayank Varia, and Charles Wright analyzed how law-enforcement can better gain access to encrypted data.

J. Dana Stuster rounded up news on Jordan’s newly appointed prime minister, the Gulf Crisis, and recent tensions in eastern Syria for this week’s Middle East Ticker.

Jack Goldsmith collated various commentators’ opinions of the president’s legal authority to pardon himself

Stewart Baker talked about the General Data Protection Regulation and much more on the Cyberlaw Podcast.

Mark Lawrence reviewed Max Boot’s latest book: “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.”

Curtis Bradley and Jack Goldsmith argued that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel’s test for unilateral uses of force provides no meaningful constraint on executive power.

Former FBI agent and Army officer Clint Watts and Benjamin Wittes scrutinized disinformation and social media on the latest Lawfare Podcast.

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