Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Wednesday, July 18, 2018, 12:23 PM

Mariia Butina will appear in court on Wednesday afternoon for a hearing to decide whether she will remain in custody before her trial, says Reuters. The Justice Department has accused Butina, who is a Russian national, of failing to register as an agent of a foreign power and conspiring to act as an agent of that foreign power. Federal prosecutors filed a memo Wednesday morning asking a federal judge to deny Butina bail.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge to provide immunity to five individuals who are expected to testify against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, says the Wall Street Journal. According to the filings, the witnesses currently refuse to testify based on their fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.

In an effort to avoid U.S. sanctions, Iran filed a lawsuit against the United States in the International Court of Justice, says the New York Times. Tehran claims the sanctions violate a treaty signed by both nations in 1955, and asks for the sanctions to be nullified immediately. A representative for the U.S. Department of State called the lawsuit “baseless.”

The MGM hotel sued 1,000 victims of the Las Vegas shooting to avoid liability on the grounds that the attack was an act of terrorism, according to the Times. The basis for MGM’s lawsuit was found in a federal law known as the Safety Act (Support Antiterrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) that was passed after the September 11 attacks to protect federally certified security companies from liability for failing to prevent terrorist attacks. The company employed by MGM on the night of the shooting had the requisite federal certification.

Eight members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram confessed to their involvement in the 2014 abduction of 270 school girls, according to the Nigeria Police. Reuters reports that 22 suspects have been arrested as a result of a year-long intelligence operation. Earlier this year, Nigerian authorities charged two Boko Haram members with 15 to 20 years imprisonment for their involvement in the kidnappings.

France is preparing to release hundreds of inmates who were radicalized during the rise of the Islamic State and the war in Syria, reports the Journal. Many of the inmates were convicted on charges such as conspiracy to support a terrorist group, and their prison sentences will run out within the next year. French prosecutor Francois Molins said that authorities are preparing to address the potential threat as “people leave prison at the end of their sentences who will not have reformed at all, who are potentially more extreme as a result of their time inside.”

More than 2,000 of the world’s top artificial-intelligence researchers from 36 countries signed a letter vowing to never create lethal autonomous weapons, says CNN. In the letter, researchers conclude that “the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bob Bauer examined the question of impeachment in light of Trump’s defense of Vladimir Putin.

J. Dana Stuster updated us on potential U.S.-Russia coordination in Syria, Iran’s efforts to maintain its oil exports, and growing economic protests in Iraq.

Michael Sulmeyer noted an article by Greg Falco on the cybersecurity implications of President Trump’s proposed space force.

Stephanie Leutert and Caitlyn Yates outlined the legal paths of entry for Central Americans coming to the United States.

On the National Security Law Podcast, Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck debated whether Trump officials have an obligation to resign after Helsinki, the latest updates on Doe v. Mattis, and more.

Victoria Clark posted a brief field by the Department of Justice with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear private records requests.

Quinta Jurecic posted the indictment against Mariia Butina.

Stewart Baker posted the Cyberlaw Podcast, in which Brian Egan, Matthew Heiman, Jim Lewis, and Megan Reiss tackle Friday’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers, and more.

Jen Patja Howell posted the Lawfare Podcast, in which Alina Polyakova, Julia Ioffe and Ian Bremmer offered their analysis of the Helsinki summit.

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