• Trump Told Russian Officials in 2017 He Wasn’t Concerned About Moscow’s Interference in U.S. Election

    President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 10 May 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter. “White House officials were particularly distressed by Trump’s election remarks because it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries’ elections, they said,” the Washington Post reports, quoting a former Trump administration official to say: “’What was difficult to understand was how they got a free pass on a lot of things — election security and so forth,’ this former official said. ‘He was just very accommodating to them.’”

  • A New National Security Framework for Foreign Interference

    A series of recent signals from Trump administration officials, including the President, are normalizing an idea that is detrimental to our national security – that soliciting foreign interference in a U.S. election won’t be prosecuted. Jessica Brandt and Joshua Rudolph write in Just Security that with foreign rivals from Beijing to Moscow and elsewhere watching closely, it will become open season on our democracy unless we quickly shift our legal framework for such behavior from a campaign-finance perspective to a national security approach. It is now stunningly evident that when it comes to protecting our democracy from foreign interference, our current legal framework is not up to the task,” Brandt and Rudolph write. “That is in part because what we are dealing with are national security threats, not a technical campaign finance violations.”

  • 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.”

  • Venezuelan Regime Preparing to Confiscate Exiles’ homes, property

    During the past two decades, the government of Venezuelan has systematically expropriated billions of dollars in land and other assets of private companies. Reports from Venezuela say that the government is now turning its attention to the homes of the millions of Venezuelans living abroad.

  • Guyana: Ethnic Politics and a Coming Oil Bonanza

    Guyana’s president David Granger on Wednesday announced that the earliest day for the delayed parliamentary elections will be 2 March 2020, around the time that ExxonMobil plans to launch offshore oil production which will transform the country’s economy. The ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) party faces a tough challenge from the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which runs on a platform that promises to toughen the terms of the large oil production contract.

  • Spies and the White House Have a History of Running Wild Without Congressional Oversight

    For decades now, the evolving role of congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence has involved major clashes and scandals, from the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s to the intelligence abuses that led to the 2003 war in Iraq. Central to all of these clashes are attempts by intelligence agencies, the president and the executive branch to withhold damning information from Congress. Another common element is the use of civilians to carry out presidential or intelligence agency agendas.

  • Stronger Response to Domestic Terror Needed: Expert

    To counter the rise of violent far-right terrorism in the U.S., the federal government should strengthen its partnerships with civilian researchers and embrace a public health approach for at-risk individuals, terrorism expert told a congressional committee.

  • Privacy Flaw Found in E-Passports

    Researchers have discovered a flaw in the security standard of biometric e-passports that has been used worldwide since 2004. This standard, ICAO 9303, allows e-passport readers at airports to scan the chip inside a passport and identify the holder.

  • China’s Access to Foreign AI Technology

    Within the pages of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Report, presented in January of this year by former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, is a section titled ‘Emerging and Disruptive Technologies and Threats to Economic Competitiveness’.  The assessment summarizes the Intelligence Community’s concerns about AI and Autonomy. In an example of just what the U.S. Government is worried about, the Justice Department recently filed a criminal complaint against a Chinese government official and associates accusing them of trying to get U.S. universities to sponsor visas for people they described as Chinese research scholars, when in fact, says DOJ, the people had been sent to recruit American scientists. 

  • 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.

  • NYC Bans Calling Someone an “Illegal Alien” out of Hate

    It’s now against the law in New York City to threaten someone with a call to immigration authorities or refer to them as an “illegal alien” when motivated by hate. The restrictions — violations of which are punishable by fines of up to $250,000 per offense — are outlined in a 29-page directive released by City Hall’s Commission on Human Rights. The Commission on Human Rights made clear that the directive is, at least in part, a rebuke of federal crackdowns on illegal immigration.

  • Russia’s Fingerprints Are All Over Trump’s Ukraine Whistleblower Scandal

    “Elements of the bombshell whistleblower report outlining various aims pursued by the Trump administration with respect to Ukraine keep connecting back to Russia,” Julia Davis writes. “Several of the reported objectives of President Trump, his administration officials, and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani would benefit the Kremlin, and not the United States or its national security. Namely, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was urged to make a deal with Putin, pressured ‘to play ball’ with respect to providing or manufacturing compromising materials about Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, and essentially tasked with concocting ‘the evidence’ to disprove the well-established fact that the Democratic National Committee server was hacked by Russian intelligence agents in 2016.”

  • 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.

  • 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.”