Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Thursday, June 3, 2021, 4:54 PM

The Justice Department will give ransomware attack investigations a similar priority as terrorism, according to Reuters. New internal guidance at the department directs U.S. attorney’s offices around the nation to coordinate ransomware information with a central task force in Washington. This policy comes after two major ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and meat distributor JBS in the past month. The guidance reads, “To ensure we can make necessary connections across national and global cases and investigations, and to allow us to develop a comprehensive picture of the national and economic security threats we face, we must enhance and centralize our internal tracking.”

The Justice Department is reportedly investigating a consulting firm for possible illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukranian energy company Burisma, according to Politico. The company, Blue Star Strategies, added Burisma as a client while Hunter Biden served on its board. Republican attempts to investigate alleged corruption surrounding Burisma were central to proceedings of the first Trump impeachment. Two sources familiar with the probe say there has been grand jury activity related to the investigation.

The FBI announced that Russian-speaking criminal organization REvil was behind the ransomware attack on Brazil-based meat processor JBS, reports NPR. In October, a REvil representative who goes by the handle “UNKN” said the agriculture sector would now be the group’s main target. JBS has not said whether it paid a ransom.

President Joe Biden announced today that he will expand a blacklist of Chinese companies that allegedly have links to the Chinese military, according to the Wall Street Journal. Biden’s executive order will ban Americans from investing in 59 companies and is an extension of former President Trump’s executive order issued last November. When a 60-day grace period ends on Aug. 2, Americans invested in those companies will have one year to divest. One senior administration official told reporters, “We see this is one action in the sort of broader sweep of steps we are taking to strengthen our approach to competing with China and to countering its actions that are against our interest and our values.”

Israeli opposition lawmakers are ready for the parliamentary vote to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, writes the Washington Post. Opposition leader Yair Lapid delivered the official announcement at 11:22 P.M., 38 minutes before Lapid’s window to form a new government closed. In the proposed government, former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett would replace Netenyahu as prime minister for two years, followed by Lapid. The full parliamentary vote will likely occur within 12 days.

The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s past campaign fundraising activity involving his former business, per the Washington Post. DeJoy’s spokesperson confirmed the investigation but maintained DeJoy did not knowingly violate any laws. “Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector,” the spokesperson said. “He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.”

The Parliament of Denmark passed a law allowing the nation to relocate asylum seekers outside the country while their claims are processed, according to the New York Times. Human rights groups and the United Nations have criticised the law, saying it is incompatible with refugee protections outlined in international law. The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR stated that it is “opposed to national initiatives that forcibly transfer asylum seekers to other countries and undermine the principles of international refugee protection.” This legislation is the latest in a series of efforts to discourage asylum seekers from traveling to Nordic nations after the 2015 European migrant crisis.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Hatja Powell shared an episode of Rational Security covering the ransomware attack on meat processor JBS and a new search for evidence of the origins of the coronavirus. Madiha Afzal of the Brookings Institution joins to talk about withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Powell also shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Lawfare Executive Editor Scott Anderson and Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Middle East Policy, talk about the newest developments in Israel's political landscape.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast. He interviews the authors of a widely publicized Ransomware Task Force report, asking them if good cybersecurity policy has to be boring.

Sam Cohen and Alex Vivona covered the latest news out of the South China Sea, including Sino-Philippine tensions over the Whitsun Reef.

Daniel Richman and Sarah Seo traced the history of federal and state oversight of policing as context for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 which is pending senate approval.

Rohini Kurup shared an annual Department of Defense report on civilian casualties in connection to U.S. military operations.

Bryce Klehm announced the upcoming Lawfare Live episode which will feature Michel Paradis taking questions on his new Lawfare article, “Congress Demands Accountability for Service Members.”

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