Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Vishnu Kannan
Thursday, June 13, 2019, 3:35 PM

Two oil tankers caught fire after suspected attacks early Thursday morning near the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for the global oil trade. The crews, forced to abandon ship, were picked up by Iranian rescue units, NPR reports. This is the second such incident in recent weeks and comes against a backdrop of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

UK Foreign Minister Sajid Javid approved the U.S.’ request for the extradition of Julian Assange, charged with violating the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The request will be considered in a hearing on Friday, according to the BBC.

President Trump said he sees nothing wrong with accepting derogatory information on his political opponents from Russia or any other foreign government and sees no reason to call the FBI in the event a foreign government volunteers such information to his campaign, the New York Times writes. This morning, he equated accepting such information to his diplomatic meetings with foreign leaders in his capacity as head of state, the Times says.

The Russian military released a statement that the Russian and Turkish governments negotiated a cease-fire agreement, temporarily halting the fighting between Syrian government and rebel forces in northwest Syria. The statement did not include details about the duration of the agreement, per Reuters.

The U.S. and 25 other countries accused North Korea of violating U.N. sanctions by importing more than the annual limit of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products, according to a complaint submitted to the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea, the Associated Press reports.

President Trump announced an expanded military relationship with Poland, a reward for the country’s contributions to NATO. The president was explicit that the move was a punishment for Germany’s failing to meet its defense spending targets, according to the Washington Post. The president also dismissed concerns about the state of democracy in Poland, saying “Really. Everything is excellent.”

Turkey’s foreign minister said that the country would proceed with the purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, despite U.S. warnings that it could lead to the country’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program, Reuters reports. The statement comes after the U.S. suspended its program to train Turkish pilots.

Boris Johnson won the first round of voting in the contest for a new British prime minister, the BBC says.

The encrypted messaging platform Telegram reported experiencing a cyberattack during the Hong Kong protests, CNN says. The attack appears to have originated in China.

The House Intelligence Committee held an open hearing on the national security challenges of artificial intelligence, manipulated media and deepfakes, The Post reports. A video of the hearing is available on Lawfare.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes urged Democrats to stop talking about prosecuting Trump.

Amy Zeng released the most recent installation of Water Wars, covering exchanges between the U.S. and China at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, the U.S.’ sale of surveillance drones to four allies and Japan’s planned purchase of F-35s.

Irving Lachnow warned that smart homes pose a serious risk: the potential use of smart home devices by one person to monitor and harass another person.

Molly Reynolds and Scott Anderson analyzed a new measure that increases the power of House committees to pursue enforcement of additional subpoenas.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest episode of Rational Security, a conversation with Tamara Cofman Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes and Sophia Yan on protests in Hong Kong, Kamala Harris’ comments on indicting Trump and Pete Buttigieg’s foreign policy speech.

Vishnu Kannan shared a livestream of HPSCI’s hearing entitled "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1.”

Mikhaila Fogel shared a letter from the Justice Department informing the House Oversight and Reform Committee that President Trump has exerted executive privilege over certain documents subpoenaed by the committee regarding the administration's decision to include a question about U.S. citizenship in the 2020 census.

Scott Anderson and Hadley Baker shared the House Armed Services Committee’s draft F2020 National Defense Authorization Act and Defense Authorization Bill.

Baker also shared audio from the Hewlett Foundation’s 2019 Verify Conference.

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