Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Vishnu Kannan
Thursday, July 11, 2019, 2:01 PM

Multiple Iranian military vessels attempted to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday before a British navy vessel “got between them and issued a verbal warning [to the Iranian ships] to withdraw," according to U.K. Defense Ministry source, CNN reports. A U.S. aircraft captured video of the event. The U.K. Defense Ministry issued a statement expressing concern and urging “Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region." Iran's Revolutionary Guard denied that it tried to stop the tanker.

Nationwide raids to arrest undocumented immigrants around the country are slated to begin Sunday, according to two current U.S. Homeland Security officials, according to the Times.

The Central Intelligence Agency is pushing lawmakers to expand the protections of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, to include all undercover intelligence officers, not just those who have served abroad over the past five years, the New York Times writes. Critics of the expansion fear the proposed changes could threaten the press’ ability to cover the intelligence community.

Audio of a meeting last year between a close aide of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and Russian individuals reveals them negotiating a deal to channel tens of millions of dollars from Russian oil companies to Salvini’s Lega party, Buzzfeed News says. The recording is reportedly the first concrete evidence of Russian attempts to fund Europe’s nationalist and far-right political movements.

Twenty-two countries on the U.N. Human Rights Council, including several close U.S. allies, signed a letter calling on the Chinese government to halt its detention of ethnic Uighurs in western China. The U.S. did not sign the letter, having left the council last year, Reuters reports.

A State Department intelligence analyst resigned in protest after the White House blocked parts of his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which provided evidence that climate change poses threats to national security, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The White House hosts a “Social Media Summit” focusing on “dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies”, the Post reports. It will bring together Republican lawmakers; campaign strategists and right-leaning social media figures. Big tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter were not invited.

Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky has reportedly identified spyware sold by Gamma Group—a German private hacking company—in Myanmar, MIT Technology Review says. Although it is unclear who either the buyer and the target were, this malware has been used before by authoritarian governments to suppress dissidents and political opponents.

France approved a 3% tax on the revenue of big technology companies that provide digital services in the country, Reuters informs. Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced an inquiry into whether France’s decision amounts to unfair trade practice, the Times says. The investigation could lead to retaliatory tariffs.

Speaking before the House Financial Services Committee, the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman called for Facebook to pause its Libra cryptocurrency project until the “serious concerns” about it are addressed, Reuters writes.

ICYMI: Last Weekend on Lawfare

Liron Libman examined whether Israel’s limiting of Gaza’s fishing zones constitutes occupation under international law.

Jen Patja Howell shared the most recent episode of Rational Security in which Tamara Cofman Wittes, Shane Harris, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes discussed British Ambassador Kim Darroch’s resignation, the connection between the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and a Russian intelligence agency and more.

Steve Slick, Joshua Busby, Kingsley Burns shared results from their recent poll on public confidence in U.S. intelligence.

Vishnu Kannan shared the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s ruling in United States of America v. Concord Management & Consulting LLC, which decided that the release of the Mueller report violated a local rule of criminal procedure.

Kannan also shared a decision out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by Judge Victoria A. Roberts, denying the government’s motion to dismiss in Arab American Civil Rights League et al. v. Donald Trump et al.

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