Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Rachel Bercovitz
Thursday, December 20, 2018, 3:42 PM

U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced the indictment of two Chinese nationals allegedly connected to the China-based hacking group APT-10, CBS News reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President Trump’s order for the withdrawal of the U.S.’s 2,000 troops from Syria within 30 days, describing the U.S.’s presence in Syria as illegitimate, the Washington Post reports. Trump’s Dec. 19 announcement by Twitter departed from the positions of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other national security advisers, who have cautioned against withdrawal, the New York Times reports.

The U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on current and former Russian intelligence agents on Wednesday, Politico reports. The sanctions targeted individuals allegedly involved in hacking international organizations and the two individuals reportedly involved with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

The Pentagon is set to withdraw 10 percent of its 7,200 troops and personnel stationed in Africa over the next several years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Chinese state-sponsored hackers allegedly targeted the European Union’s diplomatic communications network over several years, exposing thousands of cables that highlighted EU officials’ concerns about the Trump administration and risks posed by Russia, China and Iran, the Times reports.

The Justice Department sentenced Canadian ISIS-affiliate Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy to 40 years in prison for planning to carry out terrorist attacks in New York City in 2016, a Justice Department press release annoucned. The 20-year-old El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in 2016.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the final 2018 episode of the National Security Law Podcast, a thorough dive into the State Secrets Privilege.

Jen Patja Howell posted the latest episode of Rational Security, featuring an update on L’Affaire Russe and analysis of the U.S.’s troop withdrawal from Syria.

Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic expressed concern over Federal District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s conduct in the Dec. 19 sentencing hearing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Michael Kugelman and Adam Weinstein assessed the threat posed to Pakistan by the group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, arguing that Pakistan must accompany short-term legal actions with a longer-term strategy to undermine the ideology underpinning the movement.

Elsa Kania cautioned that debate over the U.S.’s actions with respect to Huawei must avoid conflating issues of economic interest and national security concerns.

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