Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Thursday, February 27, 2020, 11:31 AM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

President Trump’s re-election campaign sued The New York Times for libel yesterday, alleging that an Op-Ed published by the newspaper falsely claimed that there was a “quid pro quo” between Russian officials and the 2016 Trump campaign. The lawsuit concerns an article by Max Frankel, headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” according to the New York Times.

The House Judiciary Committee canceled a vote on an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act after a bipartisan coalition called for greater limitations on government surveillance than the reauthorization bill contained, reports the Wall Street Journal. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s bill aims to end the National Security Agency’s phone-metadata program and make changes to the operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but critics of the measure—including Rep. Zoe Lofgren—contended that these efforts didn’t go far enough to curb government surveillance powers.

President Trump announced Wednesday that Vice President Pence will lead the administration’s response to coronavirus, writes the Washington Post. The move comes amid news that a person in Northern California with no known link to foreign travel tested positive yesterday for the virus. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Wednesday for the federal government to redirect money from the construction of President Trump’s border wall, reports the New York Times. Other Democratic presidential primary candidates have likewise criticized the Trump administration’s response to the threat.

The U.N. disarmament chief warned Wednesday that “the specter of unconstrained nuclear competition looms over us for the first time since the 1970s,” according to the Washington Post.

The United States yesterday blacklisted a senior member of the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia in response to the group’s attacks against U.S. forces, reports Reuters. The State Department said it has designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi, the group’s secretary general, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters retook a strategic northwestern town in Syria and cut off the key highway linking Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Associated Press. Government forces made other gains and took control of almost the entire southern part of Idlib province. The government’s military campaign to recapture Idlib has sparked a humanitarian crisis and the war’s largest single wave of displacement.

A U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement funds from states and cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, reports Reuters. The decision was a blow to so-called sanctuary cities and overturned a lower court ruling.

Senate Democrats yesterday introduced legislation to reverse President Trump’s decision to shift billions in military funding toward the U.S.-Mexico border wall, writes The Hill. Observers view the bill as an attempt to prevent the administration from leveraging military funding and would also place new limitations on the amount of money the Pentagon would have the authority to transfer going forward.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had created an official section in its immigration office to strip citizenship rights from naturalized immigrants, as part of the Trump administration’s broad effort to remove from the country immigrants who have committed crimes, reports the New York Times.

A former Boeing manager suspected of spying for China is alleging that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search his house for evidence was based on inaccurate assertions, according to the Washington Post.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security featuring a discussion of the administration’s response to coronavirus, recent reports on Russian election interference and details about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Jen Patja Howell shared a bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Ben Buchanan on offensive cyber operations.

Ben Buchanan argued that his new book on government hacking shows the value of digging deep into individual case studies.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast also featuring an interview with Ben Buchanan about his new book “The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics.”

Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith discussed how to reform the pardon power.

Jacob Schulz shared a criminal complaint in which federal prosecutors charged five individuals with links to Atomwaffen, a violent white supremacist group, for a pattern of harassment and intimidation.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast in which the hosts discuss FISA reform and other recent developments.

Vishnu Kannan compiled the national security highlights from the tenth Democratic debate.

Elliot Setzer shared a new study produced by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on the NSA call detail records program.

Wyatt Hoffman, Ducan Hollis and Christian Ruhl discussed the state of fragmented cyber norms processes and the prospects for their consolidation.

Elliot Setzer shared the New York District Attorney’s brief in a Supreme Court case seeking access to Trump’s financial records.

Elliot Setzer shared the livestream of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the FY2021 national defense budget.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.

Subscribe to Lawfare