The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Rishabh Bhandari
Saturday, July 30, 2016, 10:22 AM

This week’s news was dominated by the Demoncratic Convention and allegations that the Russian government hacked the DNC, perhaps to aid Republican nominee Donald Trump. 

Jack Goldsmith launched Lawfare’s coverage when he asked whether anyone in the U.S. government is delegated the responsibility of protecting the integrity of our electoral system from cyberespionage. He also published both a series of salient tweets he sent out when Wikileaks released the first batch of DNC emails and also an interview he did with Slate’s Isaac Chotiner. He rounded up his contribution with a post grappling with the questions of attribution and precedent that are at the heart of this alleged attack.

Susan Hennessey called on the intelligence community to disclose what it knows about Russia’s alleged interference in the election while protecting sources so that the public can factor this information into its electoral calculus. She also flagged a similar public request by legislators Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to President Barack Obama. Carrie Cordero raised some of the reasons why the intelligence community will wrestle in the coming weeks with how much information it should provide the public.

Susan also authored a piece with Benjamin Wittes wherein the two studied Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin to determine whether the Republican nominee for president can be considered an agent of a foreign power under the law. Ben also noted that Trump implored Russia to conduct further cyberespionage operations against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Bruce Schneier warned readers that our voting machines are also vulnerable to Russian interference on election day. Carrie noted the distinct cyber threats that face public institutions such as the DNC vis-à-vis the private sector. Frank Cilluffo and Sharon Cardash broke down a presidential policy directive that offers clarity regarding how the interagency process will work in the case of significant cyberattacks.

Ben also posted the latest edition of the Rational Security podcast; the DNC hack was unsurprisingly the main focus of the episode and the inspiration for its memorable name, “How Cozy is Your Bear?”

But if podcast episodes are measured by the bluntness of their titles, Stewart Baker probably won this week’s competition with a new Steptoe Cyberlaw episode, “Vlad’s Cojones.”

That was the special emergency edition, actually. Here's the main Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast this week: 

Matt Tait ended our comprehensive review of the DNC hack—at least for this week—with a magisterial post both echoing Susan’s call for the U.S. government to publicize Russia’s involvement in this hack and also offering suggestions for how the United States should punitively respond.

In other news, Susan teamed up with Nicholas Weaver to highlight some of the technical complexities and national security consequences that could arise from the arguments being formed in a series of related child pornography cases.

Nick also analyzed how the iPhone’s TouchID feature intersects with the concept of a warrantless search as was determined in Riley v. California.

Paul Rosenzweig filled us in on a recent conclusion by the National Institute for Standards and Technology that two-factor authentication through SMS messaging is no longer considered sufficiently secure.

Jack and Matt Waxman publicized a piece they wrote for the Washington Quarterly evaluating the legal consequences of President Barack Obama’s proclivity for “light-footprint” military actions. 

Benjamin Wittes wrote the third installment of his series on the possible parameters and pitfalls of the U.S. presidency with a focus on how Trump could abuse the capabilities of the intelligence community.  Quinta Jurecic reflected on President Obama’s speech at the DNC convention and the virtue of a president who openly grapples with the moral weight of the job.

Peter Margulies suggested that Israel has been effective in ensuring that its investigations of alleged violations of the law of armed conflict are largely cordoned off from the chain of command.

Julian Ku contemplated how effective economic sanctions could be as a tool for U.S. policymakers as Washington seeks to persuade Beijing to abide by the South China Sea award.  

John Bellinger pointed us to an article by Sue Biniaz, a former State Department lawyer, that reveals the type of practical tactics international negotiators must sometimes employ to hammer out international climate change agreements.

Stephanie Leutert penned a new piece in her Beyond the Border series that introduces us to the actors that are primarily driving violence in Mexico and Central America.

Nora Ellingsen and David Ryan continued Lawfare’s coverage of the ongoing 9/11 trials in Guantanamo Bay.

Nora also reported on a charge that three men in Florida were providing material support to terrorism.

Ellen Scholl traversed the globe to identify how energy developments are influencing geopolitics for another edition of Hot Commodities.

Gregory Kruczek filled us in on why a safe haven for minorities in Iraq is both unlikely and undesirable for the very minorities this proposal intends to protect.

Quinta shone a spotlight on a sextortion report published by Legal Momentum, Orrick, Herrington & Suttcliffe LLP, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She also posted the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast, wherein Benjamin Wittes interviewed Steve Budiansky on Steve’s new book about the NSA’s role in the Cold War.

And that was the week that was.