• Less information leaves U.S. vulnerable as midterms approach

    In May 2018, explaining why the intelligence community objected to revealing the name of an FBI informant who talked with several Trump campaign officials in order to explore the extent of their ties with Russian intelligence operatives, FBI director Christopher Wray said: “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.” High-level U.S. officials say that the United States knows less in 2018 than it did in 2016 about Russia’s planned and executed attacks on U.S. democracy and infrastructure – and one reason is that Russian informants have gone silent. Current and former officials said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts — but they also raised the possibility that the outing of an FBI informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.

  • California: New planning tools to prepare state for devastating climate change impact

    Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California the other day released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response.

  • Experts: Int’l community must target terrorists who use human shields

    Because terrorists use human shields to protect themselves or cause civilian casualties “without facing consequences,” it is imperative that “terrorists and their sponsoring regimes must be held accountable for their brutal practice of using civilians as human shields,” argued two experts.

  • Fund meant to protect elections may be too little, too late

    The Election Assistance Commission, the government agency charged with distributing federal funds to support elections, released a report Tuesday detailing how each state plans to spend a total of $380 million in grants allocated to improve and secure their election systems. But even as intelligence officials warn of foreign interference in the midterm election, much of the money is not expected to be spent before Election Day. The EAC expects states to spend their allotted money within two to three years and gives them until 2023 to finish spending it.

  • How the U.S. has failed to protect the 2018 election--and four ways to protect 2020

    If the weak response of the Obama White House indicated to America’s adversaries that the U.S. government would not respond forcefully, then the subsequent actions of House Republicans and President Trump have signaled that our adversaries can expect powerful elected officials to help a hostile foreign power cover up attacks against their domestic opposition. The bizarre behavior of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Devin Nunes, has destroyed that body’s ability to come to any credible consensus, and the relative comity of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has not yet produced the detailed analysis and recommendations our country needs. Republican efforts to downplay Russia’s role constitute a dangerous gamble: It is highly unlikely that future election meddling will continue to have such an unbalanced and positive impact for the GOP.

  • Russian investments in the United States: Hardening the target

    The United States is the single largest recipient of foreign investment worldwide. This openness reflects the country’s innovative industries, deep capital markets, and ease of doing business – and it also contributes to making them possible. At the same time, a hands-off reporting regime makes it difficult for law enforcement and other government agencies to determine whose money is behind investment flows or where they should focus their investigative resources. While most foreign investment is benign, the current framework presents inviting loopholes through which adversaries can gain non-transparent access to U.S. businesses, technology, and data.

  • Microsoft reveals Russian hacking attempts ahead of U.S. elections

    Microsoft says it has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts to target U.S. political groups ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November. The company said a hacking group linked to Russia’s government had created fake Internet domains in order to mimic the websites of two conservative Washington-based think tanks that have been critical of the Kremlin — the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. It said the Russian hackers also created three fake domains designed to look as if they belonged to the U.S. Senate.

  • Election security bill without paper records and risk limiting audits? No way.

    The Senate is working on a bill to secure election infrastructure against cybersecurity threats, but, unless amended, it will widely miss the mark. The current text of the Secure Elections Act omits the two most effective measures that could secure our elections: paper records and automatic risk limiting audits.

  • Following Peter Smith's money

    Peter Smith, a GOP donor and operative who killed himself in May 2017 after a short illness, was determined to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. He believed Russian government hackers had them. Buzzfeed News reports that Northern Trust, where Smith had a personal bank account, turned over ti the Justice Department documents showing 88 suspicious cash withdrawals totaling about $140,000 between January 2016 and April 2017. The FBI and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators suspect Smith used some of the cash to fund his Clinton email operation and pay the Russian government hackers.

  • Strategies in U.S. climate litigation

    The courts have played a central role in climate change policy, starting with a landmark Supreme Court case that led to the mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States. How do the courts address climate cases today? Who wins, who loses and what kinds of strategies make a difference in the courtroom? Pro-regulatory litigants more likely to win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases than those involving coal-fired power plants.

  • UN Report: With aid from Iran, al Qaeda is resurgent

    A United Nations report found that although the threat of ISIS has diminished, as the terror group is transitioning from “a proto-State network to a covert network,” al Qaeda is newly resurgent with support from Iran. The report states, “the global Al-Qaida network continues to show resilience. Al-Qaida’s affiliates and allies are much stronger than those of ISIL in certain places, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia and the Sahel.”

  • Former senior intelligence officials rebuke Trump for the Brennan security clearance decision

    In an unprecedented rebuke to President Donald Trump, more than a dozen former senior U.S. intelligence officials have signed a letter pointedly criticizing him for what they describe as his “ill-considered” decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan. “Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views,” they write.

  • Interactive map pinpointing extremism and hate across U.S.

    Last week, in advance of the first anniversary of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released the ADL H.E.A.T.(Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism) Map — an interactive map detailing extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. The map is a visual reflection of select proprietary datasets developed by ADL experts in its Center on Extremism.

  • Corbyn pressed on wreath laying at the grave of a Black September terrorist

    In 2014, Jeremy Corbyn, now leader of the Labor Party but then a back bencher, was invited to Tunisia to attend a conference on the Middle East. He used the occasion to visit the cemetery where several PLO terrorists are buried (the PLO had moved its headquarters from Beirut to Tunisia in 1982). Corbyn claims that he laid a wreath at the grave of a PLO leader who was killed in an Israeli commando raid in 1985 – but pictures show that he laid a wreath about 20 meters away, at the grave of a Black September terrorist who took part in the killing of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

  • Why political scientists aren’t writing about Russian hackers

    Political scientists who study election mechanics — — campaign finance, what polling data have to do with voting, how different population groups vote, how effective political advertisements are — are yet to come to grips with the role Russian government agents played in the 2016 election. Clark University political scientists Robert Boatright writes that “We don’t have the ability to track exactly what went on over Twitter or Facebook in the election, which accounts were real and which were fake. And … we may not regain the sort of transparency that enabled us to study elections with the precision we once did. We don’t really have any precedent for studying what a foreign government might do to influence an American campaign in this way because it hasn’t been done before in the United States. Maybe we’ll get there in a few years, but for now, all we know is that our research is more likely than usual to be incomplete.”