Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Monday, June 7, 2021, 5:10 PM

The Justice Department announced it recovered most of the $4.4 million ransom Colonial Pipeline paid to cybercriminal group Darkside after an attack on the pipeline’s systems last month, according to the New York Times. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the department recovered the money by hacking Darkside and seizing 63.7 Bitcoins, now valued at $2.3 million. This recovery is the first of its kind by the department and comes as hackers who once focused on stealing corporate secrets are now attempting to disrupt critical infrastructure. 

The Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to the military draft’s male-only registration, reports NPR. In an accompanying statement, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged that women’s eligibility for military service has changed dramatically since enactment of the draft. But they explain that Congress is currently considering changing draft requirements by legislation, and the court should defer to Congress on policy that lawmakers are actively considering.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that immigrants receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are ineligible for permanent residency if they entered the country without legal authorization, according to the New York Times. The court’s opinion in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, affirms that immigration laws stipulate that eligibility for a green card is contingent on being “inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.” Receiving TPS does not necessarily forestall green card applications, but the court determined that because the appellants entered the country illegally, they are ineligible for permanent residency.

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department will no longer use legal tools, including subpoenas, to force journalists to relinquish information about their sources. The decision comes in the wake of other changes and controversies surrounding how the department interacts with the press. In May, President Biden said he would no longer permit the seizure of phone and email records, following Justice Department disclosures of attempts to do so during the Trump presidency. On Friday, the New York Times reported that a magistrate judge had forbidden the Times’s lawyers from revealing a Trump administration court order demanding email records. This revelation precipitated Saturday’s policy shift, with press Secretary Jen Psaki claiming that “no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night” and that such actions are incongruous with Biden’s policies.

A new report from European Union auditors warned of inefficiencies in the EU’s border agency, writes the Associated Press. In response to unprecedented waves of migration to the EU in 2015, the EU sought to strengthen Frontex and turn it into a full-fledged border and coast guard. Current plans for the agency have it on track to reach 10,000 officers by 2027 and around $1 billion in funding, as it seeks to deploy border guards to countries outside the EU and increases its focus on deportation. Auditors, however, allege that Frontex is currently failing to effectively support EU states in fighting “illegal immigration and cross-border crime,” warning against the hasty expansion of the agency when member states worry that Frontex is “draining their resources.”

In an undated audio recording, Islamic State West Africa Province leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi claims that the leader of rival militant Islamist group Boko Haram—Abubakar Shekau—“killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive” during a confrontation between the groups, according to the BBC. The Nigerian army has reportedly investigated his death since reports surfaced last month, but a spokesperson told the BBC that confirmation of Shekau’s death would only be made upon the discovery of probative evidence. The Islamic State’s official media has not yet issued a statement on Shekau’s death.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at three undeclared sites, reports the BBC. IAEA Director General told member states that Iran’s hesitance to cooperate “seriously affects the ability of the agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.” Iran has said that it is cooperating with the IAEA, and the country has agreed to share surveillance footage at nuclear sites until June 24 as an act of “good faith.” Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said, “We strongly expect that this mutual cooperation will soon yield practical results in this regard.”

Gunmen from an unknown militant group killed more than 160 people in Burkina Faso, according to NPR. The attackers opened fire on the village of Solhan, executed members of the local defense force and civilians and destroyed homes and the local market. No organization has claimed responsibility for the massacre, but government officials in Burkina Faso blamed militants tied to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The region has become a refuge for both organizations in recent years, and the ongoing political instability in neighboring Mali has made the fight against extremists difficult.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Robert Hills, Matt Kubic and Bill Mayew argued that when the Securities & Exchange Commission’s focus on terrorism, it misses instances of more traditional financial misrepresentation.