Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Vishnu Kannan
Thursday, July 18, 2019, 11:10 AM

The Iranian military seized a foreign oil tanker and 12 crew members, which it said was transporting oil from Iranian smugglers to foreign clients, in the most recent escalation of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, the Washington Post reports. The identity of the tanker and crew are unknown, though U.S. officials doubt that it is the same UAE-based tanker which disappeared in the Strait last weekend.

The U.S. is preparing to send five hundred troops to Saudi Arabia, CNN reports. The move follows the Trump administration’s announcement in June that it would send one thousand troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, to which both countries are signatories. “Both sides underlined that the (nuclear deal) is the most important factor for ensuring security in the Middle East and maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” according to the Kremlin, Reuters writes.

The Russian government offered to sell Turkey fighter jets after the latter was excluded from the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program, according to the Associated Press. The exclusion was a response to the Turkish government’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defense system, which is incompatible with other NATO systems and the U.S. says could compromise information about the F-35.

The House of Representatives voted to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Bar in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents related to the Trump administration’s attempt to introduce a citizenship question to the 2020 census, the New York Times reports.

U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer asked the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct an investigation into FaceApp over national security and privacy concerns, Reuters says. However, the app’s developer has said that FaceApp stores only the photos users choose to upload and is not transferring data user to Russia, a statement security researchers have validated, according to the Guardian.

Microsoft warns that nation-state actors including Russia, Iran and North Korea have executed hundreds of cyberattacks in the last year against think tanks and nongovernmental groups that work with political candidates or parties in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal informs.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Diana Lee and Paulina Perlin examined the variation in defining “collection” across the intelligence community.

Stephanie Leutert observed that the policy of “metering” at the southern border is nontransparent and leaves asylum seekers in crowded, unsanitary conditions for long periods of time.

Vishnu Kannan shared documents pertaining to a second lawsuit filed against the Trump administration’s most recent asylum ban.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the most recent episode of the National Security Law Podcast in which they discuss the career and legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens, developments in border litigation, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and more.

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