Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 3:47 PM

Federal prosecutors filed a 13-count superseding indictment against former CIA employee Joshua Schulte for stealing the agency’s cyber tools and turning them over to WikiLeaks last year, according to the Post. Prosecutors for the U.S. attorney’s office in the southern district of New York say that Schulte stole the information in 2016 and turned it over to an organization believed to be WikiLeaks. That group published a trove of CIA hacking tools last year in the so-called “Vault7” release. Wikileaks tweeted about the “weakness” of the case. Schulte also faces charges of receiving, possessing and transporting child pornography, which investigators found on a computer they seized from him.

President Trump ordered the Pentagon to establish a “space force” as the newest branch of the U.S. military, reports Defense One. Trump said the space force would be “separate but equal” with other military branches, rejecting proposals that it operate under the auspice of the Air Force. Aerospace security expert Todd Harrison stressed that the announcement “doesn’t mean that space will become more weaponized or militarized,” but rather, it will create a “cadre of space professionals. [It would] groom them and grow them to think space, space power, strategy, doctrine, and to develop more innovative operational concepts.” The Joint Chiefs’ office, along with several branches of the military, endorsed the idea, but the announcement seemed to catch the Pentagon by surprise: Spokesperson Dana W. White said, “Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue.”

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un received a warm welcome on a visit to China, reports Reuters. Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the “positive” outcome of Kim’s Singapore summit with President Trump and expressed China’s ongoing commitment to the peace process. This visit marks is the first time the Chinese government has announced Kim’s presence while he is still in the country. The diplomatic tone of Kim’s visit is a stark contrast to the Chinese commerce ministry’s latest announcement accusing the U.S. of “initiat[ing] a trade war.” Reuters reports that President Trump threatened 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products after China said it would retaliate against Trump’s original tariffs announced June 15. China called this latest move “extreme pressure and blackmailing,” while Trump said he and Xi maintain an “excellent relationship.”

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is testifying before the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday, reports the Post. The committees invited him to discuss his office’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday alongside FBI director Christopher Wray about the same subject. Lawmakers repeatedly asked Horowitz to confirm or deny President Trump’s claims that the report “totally exonerated” him of collusion. Horowitz said the inspector general “didn’t look into collusion questions.” Wray also came under fire for numerous leaks within the FBI. Read his prepared testimony and watch the livestream of today’s hearing.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that would allow users to sue Apple for high app prices, according to the Wall Street Journal. The case, Apple v. Pepper, centers around the tech company’s monopoly of its app store and its ability to artificially raise app prices to the detriment of consumers. Apple claims that users do not have legal standing to sue for damages.

Army Lt. Gen. Austin Miller hopes to be the next commander of Resolute Support, the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, and of NATO allied forces in the area, according to Military Times. Miller sat before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nomination hearing Tuesday morning. Miller faced difficult questions from lawmakers, many of whom were skeptical of his statement that he cannot offer an end date for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the Senate is expected to confirm Miller in the next few weeks.

Almost all major civilian agencies are providing cybersecurity data to the Department of Homeland Security. Twenty of the 23 agencies are “plugged in” to the department’s dashboard, and the other three will join by the end of July. This development showcases the growth of the program, given that as recently as late 2017, only two agencies were a part of the dashboard. The program will allow DHS to see which agencies are using vulnerable software, and provide them with patches as soon as a cyber attack occurs. Nextgov has the full story.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Walter Dellinger outlined the half-dozen government documents and memoranda on whether the Justice Department can indict the president.

Matthew Kahn posted the livestream of FBI director Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Horowitz’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Robert Chesney analyzed the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling that courts can review the decision-making process when the U.S. government decides to target an American citizen under the AUMF.

Kahn also posted the U.S. District Court’s ruling that military commission Judge Vance Spath lacked the authority to hold John Baker, the chief defense counsel, in contempt.

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