Today's Headlines and Commentary

Vanessa Sauter
Thursday, January 11, 2018, 12:48 PM

The House voted to renew Section 702 for another six years, Axios reports. An amendment imposing limits that the intelligence community opposed failed in the House earlier in the day.

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The House voted to renew Section 702 for another six years, Axios reports. An amendment imposing limits that the intelligence community opposed failed in the House earlier in the day. Early Thursday morning, Trump tweeted about the bill, first insinuating FISA Section 702 facilitated the surveillance and “abuse” of the Trump campaign. Trump later expressed support for the bill. The bill’s next hurdle will be in the Senate. It will otherwise sunset next Friday.

A Justice Department cyber prosecutor from the department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Ryan K. Dickey, was assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in November, according to the Washington Post. The recent addition makes Dickey the only member known to specialize in computer crimes. He previously worked on prosecutions against Megaupload and hacker “Guccifer.”

Trump has not committed to an interview with Mueller, despite his promise last June that he would provide a sworn statement to the special counsel, the New York Times reports. At a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Trump said he “would see what happens” concerning an interview with Mueller under oath, calling the investigation a “Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election.”

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska is suing former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and business partner Richard Gates for misappropriating millions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal reports. The complaint states that Mueller’s indictment of Manafort and Gates in late October “provide[d] detail regarding movement of funds from bank accounts in Cyprus to accounts in the United States controlled by Manafort and Gates,” helping Deripaska’s suit. Deripaska’s investment group accuses Manafort and Gates of “secretly and improperly profit[ing]” from the nearly $18.9 million Deripaska invested.

At a press conference on Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in recognized policy differences with the United States over North Korea, though Moon expressed gratitude for the Trump administration’s facilitation of talks between the North and South, the Journal reports. During a separate conversation with the president later the in the day, Trump emphasized that the U.S. would not engage in military action against Pyongyang while inter-Korean talks were ongoing. Moon has indicated “guarded optimism” following Tuesday’s talks between North and South Korea.

The U.S. military will bolster its presence in Afghanistan this year as the Pentagon’s focus shifts away from fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Journal reports. The Pentagon is sending more resources into Afghanistan, including a number of armed and unarmed drones and roughly 1,000 combat advisers. The decision is part of the Trump administration’s larger strategy to decrease its presence in the Middle East and prioritize capabilities in East Asia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has established the “Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team” focused on investigating those who provide material support to the Islamic group in Lebanon, Reuters reports. In a statement on Thursday, Sessions asserted that “the Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations.”

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

John Bellinger and Richard Fontaine argued that improving human rights in Iran would strengthen national security.

Harry Graver summarized the International Religious Freedom Act in light of the State Department assigning Pakistan to its “Special Watch List.”

Jalel Harchaoui warned of Libya’s monetary crisis.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law Podcast.

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Vanessa Sauter is a program associate in the Cybersecurity & Technology Program at the Aspen Institute. She was previously an associate editor at Lawfare and received her bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 2016.

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