Today's Headlines and Commentary

Matthew Kahn
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 3:25 PM

Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a story alleging that President Donald Trump disclosed “highly classified information” received from a foreign intelligence partner to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

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Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a story alleging that President Donald Trump disclosed “highly classified information” received from a foreign intelligence partner to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. The Post wrote that Trump “seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat,” which officials said was related to the use of laptops on commercial aircraft. One source briefed on the matter told Buzzfeed that “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.” U.S. officials said that the disclosure placed in jeopardy the continued use of the intelligence source in question.

The intelligence released by Trump came from Israel, the New York Times writes. The revelation adds a further twist to the the story of Trump’s disclosures, which reports had previously indicated might jeopardize the United States’ relationship with the foreign intelligence partner in question: Israel is a major source of intelligence for the United States and one of the closest American allies. Israel’s ambassador to the United States stated that “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States.” The AP reports this morning that according to an anonymous European official, at least one European country may stop sharing intelligence with the United States if President Trump gave classified information to Russian officials.

This morning, President Trump tweeted that “he wanted to share [information] with Russia” which he “ha[s] the absolute right to do”—confirming details of the Post’s story by referencing a conversation related to “terrorism and airline flight safety.” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster stated in a press briefing that the “premise” of the Post story was false and that Trump could not have endangered national security because the president did not know “where th[e] information came from.”

The Times reports that new digital clues connect the WannaCry ransomeware attacks to North Korean-linked hackers. CNN writes that the hacking collective, called the Lazarus group, was also linked to attacks on major financial institutions and the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures. The Wall Street Journal analyzed the financial cost associated with the attacks, noting that the $50,000 paid in ransoms by Monday night represented “a tiny sliver of the real cost of the attack.”

The New Yorker has published a preview of a forthcoming interview with former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in which Yates reveals that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s name was never obscured, or “masked” in the intelligence reports that Yates received. Flynn’s name was included unredacted in the original intelligence report.

The Journal also reports that Arab Gulf nations have offered to improve formal relations with Israel if Prime Minister Netanyahu makes efforts to restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. The Journal story comes as Defense One reports that Gulf leaders are embracing Donald Trump, who has been accused in the past of taking actions that would strain the peace process.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the White House today seeking a “new beginning” for Turkish US relations, NPR reports. CNN says Erdogan hopes to persuade President Trump to halt plans to transfer antitank weapons to Syrian Kurds, which Turkey fears will ultimately cross into its borders.

From Guantánamo Bay, the Miami Herald writes that a civil case brought by a former death-penalty expert who served on a 9/11 trial defense team will not halt this week’s court proceedings, according to the case judge. Some were concerned that the lawsuit, which resulted in the recusal of three attorneys on the case but the details of which remain murky, would delay the proceedings of the commission.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Jack Goldsmith highlighted a note in the Harvard Law Review on how the Supreme Court might rule on an upcoming case dealing with corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute.

Considering the WannaCry ransomware attack, Herb Lin wrote a response to Microsoft’s blog post about the government’s obligations to disclose vulnerabilities. Bobby Chesney also wrote on the consequence of WannaCry for future thinking about unpatched operating systems and third party harm.

Jack and Benjamin Wittes made the case for why partisan political figures cannot serve as FBI Director.

Quinta noted an upcoming change to Lawfare’s coverage of military commissions and published the May 14 statement of Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins.

Jane Chong live-blogged the oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Hawaii v. Trump.

Jeffrey Rosen described a modern framework for thinking about digital privacy.

Jordan Brunner, Emma Kohse, Helen Klein Murillo, Amira Mikhail, and Ed Stein summarized the FISC’s approval of new and amended targeting and minimization procedures.

Stephen Krasner described the most plausible option for addressing the North Korean threat.

Nada Bakos and Dennis Gleeson approximated what a foreign intelligence analysis of the United States might look like right now.

Paul Rosenzweig posted the lede in the Washington Post’s report on Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian officials, and Jack, Susan, Quinta, Ben, Elishe Wittes, and Matthew Kahn laid out initial thoughts on the Trump intelligence disclosure.

Susan and Ben interviewed former DNI General Counsel Bob Litt in an emergency edition of the Lawfare Podcast.

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Matthew Kahn is a third-year law student at Harvard Law School and a contributor at Lawfare. Prior to law school, he worked for two years as an associate editor of Lawfare and as a junior researcher at the Brookings Institution. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2017.

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