The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Gordon Ahl
Saturday, December 21, 2019, 9:42 AM

“What the heck is TheSoul Publishing? I’m still honestly not sure.” These were the opening words of Lisa Kaplan’s investigation of a massive social media company run by Russians out of Cyprus that mostly shares goofy craft videos but also sometimes posts false pro-Russia content to tens of millions of followers.

Joshua R. Fattal discussed the Justice Department’s unprecedented use of the Foreign Agents Registration Act to target foreign-based disinformation actors. For a deeper exploration into the origins of Russian disinformation, Quinta Jurecic and Alina Polyakova spoke with Peter Pomerantsev about his new book, “This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality”:

Lawfare dabbled in labor law this week as Torey L. McMurdo commented on legal ambiguities that present challenges for service members in academia who have to take military leave.

In response to the Department of Justice inspector general’s report that reviewed the FBI’s controversial Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the FISA Court issued an order requiring the FBI to submit a written statement on what has been and will be done to correct procedural errors. Also, the inspector general testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on his report.

Stewart Baker shared a special edition of the Cyberlaw Podcast, in which Bob Litt, David Kris and Bobby Chesney comment on the inspector general's report and ways to improve the FISA process:

On this week’s episode of Rational Security, the hosts also covered the inspector general's report, in addition to discussing U.S. corporate involvement in constructing a domestic surveillance system in the United Arab Emirates and how a Senate impeachment trial might work:

To keep up with the latest on impeachment this week, Mikhaila Fogel posted the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report. Gordon Ahl posted a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting new witnesses for a Senate trial. Quinta Jurecic shared video coverage of Wednesday’s House debate and the vote in which both articles of impeachment passed on near party-line votes.

Ahl also uploaded a supplemental brief from the House Judiciary Committee concerning the House litigation to access grand jury material in the Mueller report.

The National Defense Authorization Act was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. Bobby Chesney explained a new provision in the act that will fine-tune the range of military cyber operations subject to the 48-hour notification requirement.

As Congress considers changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Jeff Kosseff discussed the history and importance of this legal framework for maintaining the open internet.

Christopher C. Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, argued that Congress should act on legislation introduced earlier this year to close a critical gap in U.S. cybersecurity.

Steven M. Kleinman considered how the film “The Report” offers a chance to narrow partisan divides on the issue of torture.

Eyal Tsir Cohen and Kevin Huggard explored the key takeaways from escalating raids by Israel in Syria. Meanwhile, Gordon Ahl posted a memorandum from the Israeli Attorney General’s Office stating that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Palestine.

Frederica Saini Fasanotti considered the risks of escalation in the Libyan Civil War and how the United States ought to press harder for a ceasefire. Zach Vertin highlighted six plotlines that will shape the future of geopolitics in states surrounding the Red Sea, ranging from great power competition to the establishment of a new regional forum.

Preston Lim discussed the latest Canadian national security news, including Attorney General David Lametti’s decision to block the disclosure of evidence in an ongoing case.

Jen Patja Howell provided two additional episodes of The Lawfare Podcast. First, David Priess sat down with reporter Shane Harris and former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin to discuss the conviction of former CIA officer Jerry Lee and the broader debate on Chinese espionage:

Second, Priess spoke to Peter Bergen, a CNN national security analyst, about his new book: Trump and His Generals:

Scott Anderson and Benjamin Wittes summarized their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for records to explore whether the FBI is punishing employees for their political views and shared the complaint they filed in this case.

Jacob Schulz posted a district court opinion and order that Edward Snowden cannot collect the proceeds from his new book. To wrap up document posts for the week, Gordon Ahl shared an appellate ruling in a FISA Section 702 case that suggested the querying of databases for communications of Americans raised constitutional questions.

Maury Shenk acted as a guest host on this week's standard episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast which covered U.S.-China relations in the tech space and a cyberattack on Iranian banks, among other topics:

And John Bellinger implored us all to read Judge William Webster’s New York Times Op-Ed, entitled “I Headed the FBI and the CIA. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love,” from which he shared excerpts on Lawfare.

And that was the week that was.