Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Thursday, June 28, 2018, 2:49 PM

A new parliamentary report claims Britain knew “beyond doubt” that the U.S. was mistreating detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay following the 9/11 attacks, according to BBC. On Thursday, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee released its report on the U.K.’s awareness of U.S. detention practices for terrorism suspects between 2001 and 2010. Intelligence officials claimed that they only had knowledge of mistreatment in “isolated incidents,” however; the report found that Britain supplied intelligence to the U.S. in 232 cases when it knew, or at least suspected, that mistreatment was occurring. In 13 cases, British agents witnessed the mistreatment first-hand. According to the committee, “That the U.S., and others, were mistreating detainees is beyond doubt, as is the fact that the agencies and defence intelligence were aware of this at an early point.” There is still no formal policy that prohibits Britain from participating in rendition.

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Helsinki for a summit on July 16, reports the Washington Post. The White House press secretary said the two leaders will discuss “a range of national security issues.” The location choice holds particular historical significance given that Finland was officially neutral during the Cold War. Proponents of the summit say that any steps to reduce tensions between the two nations are beneficial. But Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat and ranking member of the House intelligence committee, says the will be “another blow to NATO and our allies, and a gift to the Kremlin.”

South Korea must provide young men with an alternative to mandatory military service, according to the New York Times. South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the nation’s mandatory military service is unconstitutional because it fails to provide alternatives to those who object on religious or moral grounds. Before the ruling, young men who refused to serve the required 21 to 24 months would be imprisoned. Since 1953, South Korea has jailed more than 19,300 conscientious objectors. The court required the government to change its policy by the end of next year.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis guaranteed the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to South Korea, according to the Times. Mattis is on a week-long trip to Asia to shore up support following the Trump-Kim summit on June 12. President Trump surprised many when he announced the end of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises at the conclusion of the summit. Mattis said on Thursday that the policy shift “creates increased opportunity for diplomats to negotiate.”

An Israeli court convicted a 19-year-old Israeli-American after he made hundreds of anti-Semitic threats, reports BBC. Since 2015, Michael Ron David Kadar has threatened to bomb or attack more than 2,000 institutions with Jewish ties including airlines, police stations, hospitals and sporting events with Israeli and Jewish ties. Several schools were evacuated, and a number of planes had to make emergency landings as a result of this threats. Kadan was arrested in Israel in 2017 after a joint Israeli-U.S. investigation. His parents claimed he was unfit to stand trial due to a brain tumor that compromised his moral judgment. Judge Zvi Gurfinkel rejected their claims on the grounds that Kadan was “well aware of the consequences of his actions.”

North Korea appears to be upgrading a nuclear research center just two weeks after the Trump-Kim Singapore summit, according to the Journal. Experts at 38 North, a North Korea focused research website, found that satellite imagery revealed recent upgrades to the cooling system at a plutonium-production reactor. Some experts, including a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, cautioned that the images can only provide “limited insight” into the North’s actions. Nevertheless, they “highlight the likelihood that North Korea has not pressed pause on its general nuclear and missile activities.” Iran has also made changes to its nuclear facilities. The Hill reports that Iran has restarted operations at a uranium production facility. The Isfahan plant aerosolizes yellowcake uranium power for use in nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. This latest move is likely an attempt to pressure European nations to maintain the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal even after the U.S. withdrew in May. Tehran has expressed its willingness to abide by the agreement even without the United States.

The United Arab Emirates asked the International Court of Justice to dismiss Qatar’s suit alleging discrimination, according to Reuters. The suit claims that the UAE’s boycott of Qatar, which began in June of 2017, violates an international treaty by forcibly separating families. Lawyers for the UAE argued Qatar failed to pursue diplomatic channels to resolve the boycott and therefore the suit must be dismissed. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with its plan to dig a canal around Qatar and turn the rival nation into an island, reports Business Insider. The canal will be 38 miles long, five contractors are currently bidding for the project, and it is expected to cost $745 million.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Paul Rosenzweig highlighted the uncertainty of Fourth Amendment law after the Carpenter ruling.

Hayley Evans summarized the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity strategy.

Victoria Clark posted the indictment of the Charlottesville vehicle attacker.

Robert Chesney analyzed the cyber provisions in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.

David Stanton and Wenqing Zhao recounted this week’s China-U.S. cyber news.

Jen Patja Howell posted the latest Rational Security podcast.

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