Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 3:10 PM

According to satellite imagery, North Korea appears to be dismantling a key missile launch site, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Sohae Satellite Launching Station has served as Pyongyang’s primary launch facility since 2012. North Korea state media has not announced the move publicly.

President Trump is considering whether to strip the security clearances of six former intelligence officials, says the New York Times. The White House claims that the former officials—John Brennan, Susan Rice, James Clapper, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe—have “politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances.” Sen. Rand Paul floated the idea of removing Brennan’s security clearance earlier this week.

Israel shot down a Syrian warplane conducting air raids over Golan Heights, claiming that the plane was in “gross violation” of a 1974 United Nations demilitarization agreement, reports Reuters. Golan Heights is a strategic area that was largely demilitarized in 1974 and has been the site of rising tensions over the last few weeks as Syrian government forces attempt to retake rebel-controlled areas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel “took appropriate action.”

A Russian, state-sponsored hacking campaign gained access to the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities beginning in the spring of 2016 and continuing through 2017, reports the Journal. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security say that the hackers’ access was so pervasive that “they could have thrown switches,” and caused blackouts at any time. Officials report that the hacking campaign is likely ongoing.

Congressional negotiators agreed on a final draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, according to Defense News. Among other provisions, the bill will increase pay for U.S. troops by 2.6 percent, strengthen the committee that reviews foreign investments in U.S. businesses that may create risks to national security, and include a key compromise that provides leniency to allies who purchase Russian military equipment on the condition that they steps to decrease their dependency on that equipment. The House will likely vote on the bill later this week, and the Senate is expected to follow suit in August.

Qatar plans to spend $1.8 billion upgrading an airbase that the United States uses for key military and counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East, says the Washington Post. Qatar has been under a boycott instituted by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain since June of 2017. President Trump initially sided with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, however, under advice from the secretaries of defense and state, he has since called on both sides to overcome their differences. The Qatari Defense Minister said that the nation plans to upgrade its military base “so we can fly hand in hand with our partners.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Steph Leutert shared the final post in her series of dispatches from the southern border of Mexico, this one on TKTK.

Seth Barrett Tillman and Josh Blackman questioned whether special counsel Robert Mueller is an “officer” or “employee” of the United States.

Robert Chesney announced the Ninth National Security Law Workshop.

Bradley P. Moss analyzed whether President Trump can revoke the security clearances of former intelligence officials.

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