• ARGUMENT: Ukrainegate 2.0Manafort’s Reward: Sen. Ron Johnson and the Ukraine Conspiracy Investigation: Part II

    After three years of insisting that unvetted information should never form the basis for an investigation into an active presidential candidate (did someone say “Steel Dossier”?), Republican members of the Senate would never attempt to do such a thing themselves, right? “Wrong,” Asha Rangappa and Ryan Goodman write in Just Security, adding that this is exactly what Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is attempting to do in the home stretch of the 2020 election: “An attempt to accomplish through a congressional hearing what President Donald Trump was unable to achieve through his quid pro quo to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, namely, to put Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, under a cloud of suspicion before the country votes this November.” But Johnson’s investigation as a second purpose, too: “The goal isn’t just to smear Biden, but also to shift blame for 2016 election interference to Ukraine.”

  • SecretsLawmaker Questions Intelligence Community Cybersecurity

    Following damning CIA report on stolen hacking tools — “the largest data loss in CIA history” — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to explain what steps have been taken to improve the cybersecurity of some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, held by federal intelligence agencies.

  • COVID-19 & terterrorismLawmakers Press Administration on Counterterrorism Efforts Amid COVID-19

    Senators Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), both members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called on the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Intelligence Community to answer questions about what these agencies are doing to address ongoing and emerging terrorist threats amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators note that there is evidence of both foreign and domestic potential terrorists trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Russia connectionSenate Intel Releases Report on Intel Community Assessment of Russian Interference

    On Tuesday, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a new report, the fourth and penultimate volume in the Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation. The latest installment examines the sources, tradecraft, and analytic work behind the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that determined Russia conducted an unprecedented, multi-faceted campaign to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “One of the ICA’s most important conclusions was that Russia’s aggressive interference efforts should be considered ‘the new normal,’” said Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), the committee’s chairman.

  • PerspectiveThe U.S. Needs to Know What Went Wrong

    When America has recovered from the coronavirus crisis and people are back to work, Congress should consider a 9/11-style independent commission to examine why the United States was so unprepared for the pandemic.

  • PrivacyLawmaker Presses Clearview AI on Foreign Sales of Facial Recognition

    Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts earlier this week raised new concerns about Clearview AI’s facial recognition app. Markey initially wrote to Clearview in January 2020 with concerns about how the company’s app might violate Americans’ civil liberties and privacy. Clearview is marketing its product to users in foreign countries with authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia. The company might also be collecting and processing images of children from social media sites.

  • China syndromeBipartisan Bill Would Reimburse Telcoms for Replacing Huawei’s, ZTE’s Equipment

    New bipartisan legislation aims to protect American communications networks from threats presented by foreign suppliers like Huawei and ZTE. The “rip and replace” part of the legislation would offer relief to reimburse smaller telecommunications providers – largely in rural areas – by reimbursing them for the costs of removing and replacing untrusted foreign equipment.

  • China syndromeSen. Rubio Wants Review of Sale of AT&T Unit Operating in Central Europe to a “China proxy”

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is asking U.S. officials to review the national-security implications of AT&T’s planned sale of its majority stake in Central European Media Group Enterprises (CME) to PPF Group, a Czech-owned conglomerate, because of PPF’s record of acting as “China’s proxies” inside the Czech Republic. Rubio charges that PPF has “supported China’s malign activities abroad.”

  • The Russia connectionSenior U.S. Democrats Demand Russia Sanctions Over 2020 Election Interference

    U.S. Senate Democratic leaders have urged the administration to impose sanctions on Russia after U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of Congress that Russia was again trying to interfere in a national election. “We urge you to immediately draw upon the reported conclusions of the Intelligence Community to identify and target for sanctions all those determined to be responsible for ongoing elections interference, including President Putin, the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be directly responsible, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for their efforts,” the senators write in their letter.

  • Perspective: Cyber operationsMilitary Cyber Operations: The New NDAA Tailors the 48-Hour Notification Requirement

    Congress will soon enact the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA fiscal 2020), which includes a provision that will fine-tune the range of military cyberoperations subject to the 48-hour notification requirement associated with “sensitive military cyber operations.”

  • Perspective: The Russia connectionThe National Security Threat of Peddling Russian Disinformation

    The impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has served as a forum for efforts by President Trump, Rudi Giuliani, and some GOP lawmakers to spread the lie fabricated by the Russian intelligence services that the interference in the 2016 U.S. election was not done by Russia to help Trump – but was carried out by Ukraine to Help Hillary Clinton! This Kremlin-fabricated canard has been thoroughly investigated by the U.S. intelligence community, and totally debunked. “Distrust is now being sown by American officials against the same government these officials purport to represent,” Cipher Brief writes.

  • The Russia connectionThe “fictional narrative” that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election “advance[s] Russian interests”: Fiona Hill

    Fiona Hill, who until July this year was the National Security Council’s top Russia adviser, on Thursday told the House Intelligence Committee that it is a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine, and not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election that Trump won. “The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016,” Hill said. “It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.” Hill pleaded with the Intelligence panel, “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”

  • Perspective: The Russia connectionRussia's Disinformation War Is Just Getting Started

    The disinformation wars are only just getting started, warns a new report on Russian social media interference released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Published last week, the report offers the most comprehensive look at the efforts of the Russian propaganda factory known as the Internet Research Agency to divide Americans, undermine public faith in the democratic process, and aggressively support Donald Trump before and after the 2016 election. Paris Martineau writes in Wired that in addition to affirming much of what had been reported about Russian online interference over the past three years—including in Robert Mueller’s sweeping indictment of the IRA in February 2018—the report offers a comprehensive look at the extent of past foreign influence operations and recommendations on how best to prepare for those yet to come. It’s the second volume to come out of the Senate Intel Committee, though this one is “much more detailed in its analysis, meticulously cited, and concerned with influence and impact,” says one expert. “The conclusions in the second volume are notably bolder and unequivocal in supporting academic research and the advisory groups’ findings. It reads like a different report altogether.”

  • PerspectiveAmid Questions of Legality on Delaying Ukraine Aid, White House Shifted Authority: Report

    The White House earlier this year authorized a politically appointed official to withhold military aid meant for Ukraine after budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the congressionally approved funds, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. After the OMB’s budget staff members questioned Trump’s blocking of the congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority to continue holding the funds. Duffey was previously a high-ranking Pentagon official and the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. Former OMB officials told the Journal that it’s highly unusual for a political officer like him to gain such power.

  • PerspectiveSenate Intel Committee: Russia Is Already Trying to Influence the 2020 Election

    In recent months, President Donald Trump has intensified his efforts to advance the lies spread by the Kremlin and undermine the U.S. intelligence community consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. On July 25, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to help push a Russian and far-right conspiracy theory that the U.S. cybersecurity company Crowdstrike worked with Ukranians and Democrats to frame Russia for election meddling. Patrick Tucker writes in Defense One that one important contribution of the second report on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, issued by the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is that the committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), is decisively refuting Trump and his conspiracy theory.