• North Korea Using Companies Registered in Britain to Bypass Nuclear Sanctions

    North Korean efforts to evade international sanctions have been aided by companies registered in Britain, according to an investigation by the London-based Royal United Services Institute. The report explains how Britain-registered companies are being used to operate cargo ships smuggling coal out of North Korea, which is the country’s biggest export. Income from the trade provides crucial funds for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, according to the United Nations Security Council.

  • Handgun Buyers with a Prior DUI Have a Greater Risk for Serious Violence

    Legal purchasers of handguns with a prior DUI conviction have a greater risk of a future arrest for a violent offense — including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and for firearm-related violent crimes, a new study has found.

  • Hundreds of Cops Are in Extremist Facebook Groups. Why Haven’t Their Departments Done Anything about It?

    In June, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting identified hundreds of police officers across the country who were members of closed racist, Islamophobic, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook. “We sought reaction from more than 150 law enforcement departments about their officers’ involvement in these extremist groups,” Will Carless writes in Reveal News, but “only one department – the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which fired a detective for racist posts – has publicly taken any significant action. Social media activity isn’t just a public-facing display of officers’ beliefs and biases. Officers are susceptible to being radicalized online just like so many civilians, said Christy Lopez, a Georgetown Law professor who oversaw the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department.

  • New Estimates of Iran’s Breakout Capabilities at Declared Sites Using a New, Simple-to-Use Breakout Calculator

    A new report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) presents and applies a breakout calculator to several theoretical cases in which Iran increases its stocks of low enriched uranium (LEU) above the limits allowed in the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “During the next many months, breakout times at Natanz and Fordow appear long enough to make an Iranian decision to break out risky,” and, therefore, unlikely, the Institute says. “However, even in the case in which Iran takes no action other than to increase its stocks of up to 3.67 and 4. 5 percent enriched uranium, breakout times could shrink precipitously during the next two years. The potential for relatively rapid decreases in breakout times argues for relatively quick action against Iran’s noncompliance with the JCPOA limits.”

  • Britain Is “At War Every Day” Due to Constant Cyberattacks, Chief of the Defense Staff says

    The Chief of the U.K. Defense Staff has said that Britain is “at war every day” due to constant cyberattacks from Russia and elsewhere. Russia and China’s “interpretation” of the rules governing international engagement threatened “the ethical and legal basis on which we apply the rule of armed conflict,” General Carter said. “Russia is much more of a threat today than it was five years ago.” He added: “There is still clearly going to be human interaction – warfare is essentially a political function - but it will be a much more sophisticated and will include the new domains [alongside land, sea and air] of space and cyber.”

  • White Supremacy Has Triggered a Terrorism Panic

    Our collective response to terrorism seems to swing on a pendulum between rank complacency and terrified myth-making. In January 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed the Islamic State as al Qaeda’s “JV team.” But by September of that year, after the group had captured Mosul in Iraq and launched a genocidal campaign of slaughter against the Yazidis, he started bombing it. A similar dynamic can be observed in the case of white supremacy today. This is not “to suggest that the threat of white supremacy is not real or that we should be complacent about it,” Simon Cottee writes. “Of course it is real, and of course we need to indict and seriously punish those who have committed or are plotting to commit terrorist atrocities in the name of white supremacy.” But we should resist the urge to treat white supremacy as “a mythical monster against which to signal our moral virtue”: “White supremacy is not a monolith endangering our children and societies, but we might just make it into one by overinflating it into precisely this.”

  • The Strange Career of “National Security”

    National security—it’s an unusual phrase. Americans use it to frame war, terror, and everything else. Refugees fleeing violence and destitution are considered a “national-security threat.” So too are imported automobiles, as the Trump administration declared last year. Chinese ownership of the dating app Grindr “constitutes a national-security risk.” And Greenland, Senator Tom Cotton asserts, is “vital to our national security.” One might think the country has always been obsessed with national security. This is not the case, Dexter Fergie writes: “Americans didn’t begin using the phrase with any frequency until the 1940s. In fact, the Cambridge historian Andrew Preston has counted a mere four mentions of national security by U.S. presidents from 1918 to 1931. That is an average of one utterance for each of the presidents who served during that period. It’s also fewer than the number of times I wrote national security in the opening paragraph of this essay.”

  • The FISA Oversight Hearing Confirmed That Things Need to Change

    Section 215, the controversial law at the heart of the NSA’s massive telephone records surveillance program, is set to expire in December. Last week the House Committee on the Judiciary held an oversight hearing to investigate how the NSA, FBI, and the rest of the intelligence community are using and interpreting 215 and other expiring national security authorities. If last week’s hearing made anything clear, it’s this: there is no good reason for Congress to renew the CDR authority,” McKinney writes, adding: “Despite repeated requests from the members of the panel to describe some way of measuring how effective these surveillance laws are, none of the witnesses could provide a framework. Congress must be able to determine whether any of the programs have real value and if the agencies are respecting the foundational rights to privacy and civil liberties that protect Americans from government overreach.”

  • “Big, Fat, Juicy Targets”— the Problem with Existing Early-Warning Satellites. And a Solution.

    In 2018, the US Air Force announced its intention to cancel the seventh and eighth space vehicles in the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program—a collection of satellites that provides early warning of incoming missiles—and declared its desire to transition over to the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, which will serve the same purpose but which proponents say will be less expensive and more robust. “What went wrong with the SBIRS program, and what advantages might the Next Generation satellites have?” Jaganath Sankaran asks.

  • Trump Is Giving Iran More Than It Ever Dreamed of

    For the past six months, there has been plenty of reason to believe that Iran has primarily been motivated by fear, even desperation, in its confrontation with the United States. Lately, however, there are signs that Tehran has shifted to a strategy driven instead by a sense of opportunity and advantage. Kenneth M. Pollack writes in Foreign Policy that the trigger for this shift has been the Trump administration, whose misguided approach to Iran is on the cusp of splitting the United States from its Sunni Arab allies—a monumental geostrategic victory that Tehran has sought for 40 years.

  • IAEA: Iran Expands Enrichment in New Breach of Nuclear Deal

    Iran has started using advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, the UN’s nuclear watchdog says, in a further breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Advanced centrifuges “were accumulating, or had been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium,” the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in the report to member states cited by Western news agencies on September 26.

  • Under the Radar, Iran’s Cruise Missile Capabilities Advance

    The recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia posed a major shock to the global oil market. How were the attacks conducted? Shahryar Pasandideh writes that while initially thought to have been exclusively carried out by aerial drones, more recent reports indicate that 18 Iranian origin drones and at least seven cruise missiles were used. Although much is uncertain about the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the incident has directed considerable attention towards Iran’s cruise missile capabilities.

  • How Artificial Intelligence Could Make Nuclear War More Likely

    If you are a millennial, computers have been trying to get you killed since the days you were born. On 26 September 1983, the satellites and computers of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, tasked with using data to determine if the United States was launching a nuclear attack, told the humans in charge exactly that was happening—five U.S. ballistic missiles were incoming and the time for the USSR to prepare to launch a retaliatory attack was now. The reason why you are alive today to read this item is that the human involved, then-Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, believed that the computer was wrong. Over the next year, the Pentagon will spend $1 billion to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will “compete, deter and, if necessary, fight and win the wars of the future“—including, presumably, an apocalyptic scenario of the kind Petrov, a human, averted. Among the jobs that could be outsourced to decision-making computers are the jobs of modern-day Petrovs and other humans tasked with deciding if it’s time to end humanity with a nuclear strike.

  • Europe's Extremists Try Recruiting from Police, Army: Europol

    Europol, the European police agency, issued a “Strategic Report” earlier Tuesday, saying that right-wing violence is on the rise in many EU states. The confidential report, cited by German media, says that the extremist groups seek to boost their “combat skills” by recruiting military and police members. The report noted that extremist groups are getting “increasingly popular among younger and better educated demographics.”

  • Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy?

    On 18 August 2008—after almost seven years, nearly 10,000 interviews, and millions of dollars spent developing a whole new form of microbial forensics—some of the FBI announced that it had concluded that Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins was the person responsible for the fall 2001 anthrax letter attacks. “It’s been 10 years since the deadliest biological terror attack in U.S. history launched a manhunt that ruined one scientist’s reputation and saw a second driven to suicide, yet nagging problems remain,” Noah Shachtman writes. “Problems that add up to an unsettling reality: Despite the FBI’s assurances, it’s not at all certain that the government could have ever convicted Ivins of a crime.”