Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Sage Rudolf
Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 4:54 PM

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The White House is meeting daily with the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Energy and other governmental agencies to anticipate potential impacts of a railroad strike that threatens to cause supply chain disruption and transportation fallout. Over 57,000 workers, represented by two nationwide unions, are locked up against railroad carriers over strict penalization for health and family attendance emergencies and lack of time off. Ongoing negotiations between freight carriers and union leaders indicate that it is possible an agreement can materialize before the strike begins, but one of the union leaders said that carriers BNSF and Union Pacific are currently holding up negotiations. 

A U.S. intelligence review commissioned by the Biden administration found that Russia spent at least $300 million on covert international political influence since 2014. The review was declassified Tuesday to expose the Kremlin’s “attempts to undermine democratic processes” in dozens of countries according to an anonymous senior U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Post, though the review did not detail U.S.-based efforts by Russia. Cryptocurrency and physical gifts were reportedly funneled through both Russian embassies and oligarchs. 

John H. Durham’s investigation of the origins of the probe into the 2016 election and former President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia seems to be nearing an end after three years, reports the New York Times. Durham had been appointed by then Attorney General William Barr to determine whether there had been a conspiracy to concoct the investigation into Trump—and Trump and his supporters believed that the inquiry would reveal so-called “deep state” motivations. Whether the findings will be made public remains to be decided by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Growing Russian and Saudi Arabian oil affiliations may pose a threat to U.S. energy supplies, reports the New York Times. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and OPEC Plus, an oil cartel created in 2016 by Russia and Saudi Arabia, indicates an enduring relationship between the two countries. Upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Saudi Arabia continued to support Russia’s oil industry despite Western discouragement. The New York Times suggests a discrete transition of Middle Eastern reliance on Western fossil fuel companies to Russian affiliation. 

Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s former chief security officer, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the social media company’s cybersecurity negligence on Tuesday. In his testimony, Zatko said that Twitter’s security oversight posed a threat to national security. The Committee raised concerns on Twitter’s passivity surrounding disinformation and hate speech on the platform as well. When asked about the prevalence of spam bots on the platform, Zatko said that the answer “would harm the image and valuation of the company,” indicating lax spam detecting tools, procedures, and incentive. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart further unsealed previously redacted parts of the search warrant affidavit used to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Aug. 8. In one newly unredacted section, the affidavit references a request made by the Justice Department in June asked Trump to provide video surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago from Jan. 10 onward. It is currently unclear how much Trump and his legal team complied with this request.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill yesterday to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with rare exceptions. Graham’s bill was met with Democratic, and even some Republican, apprehension as it would restrict state abortion laws at a national level, whereas Republicans have embraced the Supreme Court’s decision as allowing states to determine their respective abortion policies. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Peter Feaver and Michèle Flournoy wrote that an open letter published in War on the Rocks  shows a remarkable consensus on what core principles of civil-military relations are necessary for maintaining the rule of law and argues that both civilians and the military need to participate in upholding these ideals.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Scott R. Anderson sat down with Leigh Baldwin and Sean Williams to discuss Vladimir Putin’s history of involvement in communist intelligence agencies and far-right German movements.

Kristen Eichensehr and Cathy Hwang examined the extension of federal government involvement and intervention in cross-border investments under the pretense of national security. Eichensehr and Hwang argue for transparency from countries engaging in this “national security creep.” 

Katherine Pompilio shared U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks’ ruling dismissing former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others in which he alleged that the accused were responsible for intentionally spreading malicious disinformation about the validity of his campaign and personhood.   

Pompilio also shared the Justice Department’s response to former President Donald Trump’s objection to the government’s motion for partial stay. 

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