The Soufan Group Morning Brief


On Monday a federal judge in New York ruled in favor of Apple in a case involving the unlocking of a drug dealer’s iPhone. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled that the 1789 All Writs Act does not apply in instances where Congress passed on the opportunity to give the government proper authority to access information it needed. He added that the government’s interpretation of the over 200-year-old-law was “absurd” and would undermine “the more general protection against tyranny that the Founders believed required the careful separation of governmental powers.” Although the New York case involves a different version of iPhone software and a different request for technical help, the ruling could have a major impact on the case between Apple and the Justice Department concerning the phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. In both cases, the government argues that the All Writs Act provides it the authority to compel Apple to provide technical assistance. Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NBC News

Lawfare: Demystifying Apple’s FAQ – A Rebuttal
Wall Street Journal: Apple Lawyer Will Be Thrust Into Spotlight During House Testimony
Washington Post: The technology at the heart of the Apple-FBI debate, explained
Christian Science Monitor: In Apple v. FBI, it's a matter of trust
The Verge: The five questions that will decide Apple’s fight with the FBI
Guardian: Apple's battle with the FBI: who's supporting them – and who's not?
Huffington Post: Apple: Profit to Trump National Security
Buzzfeed News: San Bernardino Survivor’s Husband To Judge: Terrorist iPhone “Unlikely” To Hold Valuable Information
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday that Congress must pass new legislation to allow President Obama to follow through with his plan to transfer the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil. Carter said that the transfer of detainees to the U.S. “cannot be done under current law” and that “the law has to be changed.” CBS News, The Hill

NSA: On Monday, the Obama administration made public a previously classified document about a 2002 NSA program that allowed the government to eavesdrop on Americans’ international communications without court approval. The document included statements by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo about why the Bush-era surveillance program, known by the code name Stellarwind, was legal. Yoo argued that the program complied with the Fourth Amendment regarding unreasonable searches, and that the president’s constitutional authority as commander-in-chief overruled wiretapping laws included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. New York Times, USA Today

Cyber Warfare: The Pentagon announced on Monday that it is using new digital weapons against ISIS in an effort to neutralize the group’s ability to communicate, direct and recruit forces, and manage finances in Syria and Iraq. Ash Carter said that U.S. Cyber Command is conducting a new military campaign “to interrupt ISIL’s command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their networks so that they can’t function.” Wall Street Journal

New York Times: Review: ‘Dark Territory’ Illuminates Cybersecurity’s Shadows
Bloomberg: Pentagon Seeks $35 Billion to Beef Up Cybersecurity Over 5 Years

ISIS in New York: The trial of Tairod Pugh, a U.S. Air Force veteran accused of leaving the United States to fight alongside ISIS, began in Brooklyn on Monday with his lawyer claiming Pugh’s right to freedom of speech as his defense. Defense attorney Eric Creizman said that Pugh may have viewed ISIS propaganda and shown interest in the group, but that “none of this is illegal” and that “in this country, we don’t punish a person for his thoughts.” Creizman added that Pugh's intentions were just “fantasy” and urged the court to “protect him as a citizen under our Constitution.” Pugh has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and to obstruction of justice. Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, New York Times

Newsday: Air Force veteran wanted to die for ISIS, prosecutors say

U.S. Delta forces have begun operations in Iraq to target, capture, or kill top ISIS leaders, according to a report by CNN. An administration official told reporters that Army special forces have spent several weeks preparing for the “Expeditionary Targeting Force” operations, including setting up safe houses, building informant networks, and coordinating with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces. CNN

Iraq: The Pentagon announced plans to ramp up its efforts to take back the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS on Monday. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he expects the U.S. military to provide additional assistance, similar to support provided to Iraqi forces in Ramadi, such as “things like logistics and bridging.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford added that Iraqi leaders had already shared their attack plan and that he would provide his recommendations in the “near future.” Washington Post, New York Times

Syria: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that the U.S.-Russian-brokered partial ceasefire is largely holding through its third day despite “some incidents.” However, there are signs that the truce is unravelling, as an official from the opposition leadership group, the High Negotiations Committee, stated that the cessation of hostilities faced a “complete nullification.” Reuters, Voice of America

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Humanitarian Aid Reaches Damascus Suburb

European Union: On Monday U.S and European officials published details of a new privacy deal to replace the previous “Safe Harbor” agreement which would re-establish a way for businesses to transfer digital information about EU citizens back and forth across the Atlantic. The new agreement, know as “Privacy Shield,” includes tighter rules for private companies that handle personal information, obliges the U.S. Department of State to create an ombudsman to monitor surveillance complaints, and requires an annual review of data protection standards. Wall Street Journal, Guardian

France: A Paris court has ordered the former head of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, retired U.S. Army Major General Geoffrey Miller, to appear as an “assisted witness,” over allegations of illegal detention and torture of former Guantanamo detainees Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi. Benchellali and his lawyer, William Bourdon, believe it is unlikely Miller, who ran the military prison between 2002 and 2004, will appear in front of the French court. Voice of America, Deutsche Welle
Why the most dangerous group in Syria isn't ISIS: “Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, is more dangerous than ISIS -- and while the two groups share the common goal of establishing a global caliphate, they are using different means to achieve it,” writes Jennifer Cafarella on CNN. “Jabhat al-Nusra is leveraging its battlefield contributions to create relationships with civil society, civilian populations and other Syrian opposition groups. It then manipulates those relationships in order to achieve dominance.”

The Broken System of Classifying Government Documents: “Too much information is classified, and those restrictions last too long. Right now, there are thousands of people in the government who can classify information,” writes Abbe David Lowell in The New York Times. “No one risks any real penalty for using the stamp; the only punishment comes from not using it. The result is overclassification.”

ISIS and Genocide: “The United States is once again confronted with an ongoing case of genocide, this time in the Middle East,” writes Amanda Rothschild in Foreign Affairs. “If Congress acts, if members of the Obama administration advocate for a new course, and if Obama begins to see costs to his agenda and legacy, things might change. In light of the fact that the president is nearing the end of his second term, however, political pressure might matter less.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State Seeks Revenge in Iraq

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