The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Matt Gluck, Tia Sewell
Sunday, August 9, 2020, 8:15 AM

Benjamin Wittes detailed the Department of Homeland Security’s open source intelligence reporting on his tweets and work by New York Times journalist Mike Baker. Wittes also analyzed a set of internal DHS documents detailing how the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) was empowered to circumvent normal oversight. Frank X. Taylor, who formerly led the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, criticized DHS’s reports on Wittes and Baker and argued that I&A plays a critical role in safeguarding homeland security. And Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast on the bizarre DHS story, featuring commentary from former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris, Quinta Jurecic and Wittes himself:

Elliot Setzer shared Acting Secretary of DHS Chad Wolf’s testimony before the Senate about the department’s recent personnel deployments to Portland, Oregon and other protests. Howell also shared a breakdown of the Senate oversight hearing on DHS, without the theatrics:

In addition, Lawfare writers warned of potential obstacles in what’s shaping up to be a rocky 2020 presidential election. Herb Lin and Steven Weber examined how a foreign adversary might try to intervene in the American democratic process, secret-agent style. Matt Gluck shared an Office of the Director of National Intelligence statement on potential foreign threats to the integrity of the November election. Robert Taylor argued that the military must have a contingency plan in place should the president himself disrupt the forthcoming election.

As the pandemic continues to complicate standard voting procedures nationwide, Chelsey Davidson, Miye D’Oench and Axel Hufford assessed the voting landscape in New Hampshire as part of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections series. In another installment of the project, Jennifer Friedmann, VinhHuy Le, Michelle Ly, Christopher Maximos and Mohit Mookim discussed challenges facing Ohio in the 2020 election. D’Oench and Hufford also considered the safety precautions that allowed South Korea to conduct a secure election while preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Setzer also shared a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

William Ford and Margaret Taylor summarized the House Republicans’ latest litigation to stop remote proxy voting in Congress in the midst of the pandemic.

Taylor also moderated a discussion, which Howell shared on the Lawfare Podcast, about a Democratic congressional report on the Trump administration’s effect on the State Department.

Jacob Schulz shared a Department of Justice review of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications that the inspector general’s office previously determined contained factual inaccuracies.

Nathaniel Sobel and Julia Solomon-Strauss discussed the most recent developments in the Trump v. Vance saga. In another Trump administration battle over the exposure of information, Setzer shared the most recent event in the ongoing dispute over the testimony of former White House Counsel Don McGhan: A U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruling that found the House Judiciary Committee has standing to sue in federal court to enforce its subpoena of McGahn.

Preston Lim discussed recent national security developments across Canada, including a Federal Court ruling that held the Canadian intelligence service broke the law in its information collection and a Human Rights Watch report detailing the plight of Canadian citizens detained in Syria for their alleged connections with the Islamic State.

Sergei Hovyadinov explained how more diligent transparency reports from major U.S. tech platforms could reveal significant Russian internet censorship. And Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a discussion with two misinformation experts, journalists Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, about the conspiracy theory QAnon and its spread across major technology platforms:

Jordan Schneider assessed pressing China policy questions and evaluated U.S.-China relations more broadly. He argued that the U.S. should be concerned about TikTok and discussed on ChinaTalk the internal dynamics in the Trump and Xi administrations and their implications for trade between the two countries. Bobby Chesney explained President Trump’s executive orders that place sanctions on prominent Chinese tech platforms TikTok and WeChat:

Chesney also considered Congress’s war powers role in the U.S.’s new “defend forward” cyber strategy, and Stefan Soesanto detailed the U.S. failure in drawing together an international coalition to combat alleged Chinese state-sponsored hackers.

Howell also shared a conversation with Michel Paradis, senior attorney for the Defense Department, about his new book, “Last Mission to Tokyo: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raiders and Their Final Fight for Justice”:

Gluck also discussed a recent Department of Defense report that revealed deficiencies in biosafety and biosecurity practices within high-level Defense Department research labs.

Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West introduced the new Lawfare-Brookings joint podcast TechTank, that will focus on emerging technological developments and their broad implications.

And Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines featuring an interview with Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Department of Defense, on the biggest challenges facing the intelligence community today:

And that was the week that was.