The Week That Was

The Week That Was

By William Appleton
Friday, October 21, 2022, 4:48 PM

Paul Rosenzweig argued that the Biden administration’s executive order on U.S.-European Union (EU) signals intelligence offers a relatively new U.S. approach to signals intelligence collection, resolving key points of tension between the United States and EU over commercial privacy and national security. 

Quinta Jurecic, Alan Rozenshtein, and Scott R. Anderson sat down to discuss some of the week’s big national security news including the Biden administration’s new executive order limiting its collection of signals intelligence, the House select committee’s subpoena of the former president, the Biden administration’s new National Security Strategy, and more:

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Anna Bower to discuss the Fulton County Special Grand Jury, its powers, and her recent piece on Lawfare entitled, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Georgia Special Purpose Grand Juries But Were Afraid to Ask.”:

Bower also explained the special purpose grand jury system in Georgia, and discussed how it differs from a normal grand jury, the special purpose grand jury procedure, the scope of the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigation, why it can’t issue indictments, and more. 

Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian discussed the implications of the two unsuccessful impeachments of former President Donald Trump for Congress’s oversight power and argued that the new precedents set during the Trump impeachments threaten to turn Congress’s ultimate check on the executive into nothing more than a political messaging tool. 

Katherine Pompilio shared the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ Oct. 20 order denying Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) emergency motion to stay an Aug. 19 district court order requiring him to testify before the Fulton County Special Grand Jury. The special grand jury is currently investigating alleged attempts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. 

Pompilio also shared the Oct. 21 subpoena of former President Donald Trump, issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The subpoena ordered the former president to submit documents for review by Nov. 4 and to appear for testimony on Nov. 14. 

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck sat down to discuss ongoing Mar-a-Lago document litigation, the House select committee’s subpoena of former President Donald Trump, the Biden Administration’s executive order on handling EU citizen data in the context of American intelligence gathering, and more:

Jurecic sat down with Molly Reynolds, Jonathan Shaub, and Wittes to discuss historical precedents for current and former presidents testifying before Congress and debated the likelihood of a Trump appearance before the House select committee:

David Priess sat down with David Marchick to discuss recent examples of effective—and ineffective—presidential transitions, the roles played by outgoing presidents and agency teams, and what else can be done to nail down best practices for presidential transitions:

Pompilio shared the Justice Department’s Oct. 17 sentencing memorandum recommending a six month sentence and $200,000 fine for former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress after his refusal to comply with a Sept. 23, 2021, subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Pompilio also shared Bannon’s Oct. 17 sentencing memorandum requesting a sentence of probation and a stay of his sentence pending an appeal of his conviction. 

Darrell West, Elaine Kamarck, and Elizabeth Howard sat down to discuss public faith in elections and the importance of combating existing misinformation, protecting election officials, and guaranteeing that existing cybersecurity measures are adequate to protect the vote of the American people:

Priess also sat down for a chat with Olivia Troye about her experience working on a small team supporting former Vice President Mike Pence. They discussed the many different tasks that supporting a vice president entails, the ups and downs of working with Pence during the coronavirus pandemic, the value of civil service professionals, the inappropriate handling of classified material Troye witnessed during her final years on the job, and more:

Jurecic also sat down with Chesney and Charlie Savage to discuss changes to U.S. counterterrorism operations in recent years, how the Biden administration’s new policy compares to Obama and Trump- era policies, and the significance of these changes for U.S. counterterrorism operations going forward:

Maggie Smith, Erica D. Lonergan, and Nick Starck discussed the Russian hacker group Killnet, its series of distributed denial of service attacks in October, and argued that Killnet’s real impact is in its ability to shape narratives around the Russian war in Ukraine, not in its ability to disrupt or damage its targets.

West also sat down with Nicol Turner Lee to discuss the need for an incentive-based rating system to improve the performance and optimization of machine learning algorithms:

Kellen Dwyer discussed the recent conviction of former Uber Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan on charges of obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony stemming from what the Department of Justice called his “attempted cover-up” of the 2016 Uber hack. Dwyer also covers the turf war between the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security over mandatory cyber incident reports and argues that the Justice Department should issue formal guidelines clarifying cyber reporting obligations. 

Stephanie Pell sat down with Dwyer to discuss the Sullivan case. They spoke about the specific charges Sullivan faced, how those charges blur the line between covering up a data incident and declining to report it, and why the Justice Department should clarify its charging policy to address industry concerns raised by the Sullivan case:

Claudia Swain discussed the positive train control system—which is used to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce speed restrictions, and prevent trains from entering work zones—and the vulnerabilities of the current system to cyber attacks. Swain also argued that the Federal Railroad Administration should ensure that railroads implement best practices for cybersecurity

Ilana Krill discussed a Sept. 2022 report by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism highlighting the increased threat posed by violent extremists to critical infrastructure. Krill analyzed the distinctions between homegrown violent extremists, domestic violent extremists, and the differing motivations and ideologies that inform what and why they choose to attack.

Avery Schmitz discussed how violent extremist groups exploit the charitable nonprofit status, the financial implications of their tax exempt status, and argued for a regulatory approach that would prevent government subsidization of these groups while avoiding infringement on First Amendment rights.

Stewart Baker, Richard Stiennon, Mark MacCarthy, and David Kris sat down to discuss the latest disruption in China’s semiconductor industry, the market for identity security, the new White House National Security Strategy, PayPal’s new misinformation policy, and more:

John Foote scrutinized U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s assertions regarding CBP’s enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act through seizure and forfeiture and discussed the lack of a clear legal basis in U.S. customs law for this kind of enforcement. 

And Cornell Overfield discussed a recent Russian legislative initiative that would require diplomatic clearance for foreign warships traveling through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and argued that despite Russia’s desire to control navigation in the Russian Arctic, a regime of innocent passage clearly applies to the internal waters of the NSR.  

And that was the week that was.