The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2016
JUDGE REJECTS SETTLEMENT OF NYPD SURVEILLANCE OF MUSLIMS

A federal judge in Manhattan on Monday rejected the terms of a settlement stemming from the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims, saying the agreement did not provide enough oversight of an agency that has shown a “systemic inclination” to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion.
 
In January, Mayor de Blasio agreed to appoint a civilian lawyer from outside the NYPD to oversee the department’s counterterrorism activities -- part of a compromise to settle two lawsuits accusing the city of violating the rights of Muslims in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.
 
But in the surprise decision released Monday, the judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., said the settlement did not go far enough for an agency that had become “accustomed to disregarding” court orders. “The proposed role and powers of the civilian representative do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move and have their being in this city,” Haight wrote. The decision means lawyers for both sides will have to negotiate changes to the settlement or fight the lawsuit in court. New York Times, NY Daily News, Courthouse News
 
Related:
New York Daily News editorial: An unsettling decision
NEW LEAK MAY SHOW IF YOU WERE HACKED BY THE NSA
Shadow Brokers, the name of the person or group that caused waves in August when it released online elite hacking tools used by the NSA, released a new cache of files Monday morning, claiming that the data revealed the IP addresses, or network designations, of computer servers supposedly compromised by The Equation Group, a hacker outfit widely believed to be linked to the NSA. Ars Technica, Fortune
 
Militia plot: Patrick Stein, the alleged leader of a right-wing militia who is accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where dozens of Somali Muslims live in a Kansas town, slammed the proceedings against him on Monday, accusing federal prosecutors of failing to share information and evidence with his defense attorneys in a timely manner. Associated Press
 
Orlando 911 tapes: Four 911 recordings from the Orlando massacre were released Monday, including those of shooter Omar Mateen negotiating with law enforcement. New York Times

FBI SPEEDS UP ITS REVIEW OF POSSIBLE CLINTON-RELATED EMAILS
After a storm of criticism over the weekend, the FBI told lawmakers Monday that it was accelerating its timeline for reviewing emails potentially linked to Hillary Clinton, amid growing public pressure over the agency’s surprise announcement. Officials could not say whether the entire review would be completed by Election Day, or whether the results will be released publicly. Los Angeles Times
 
Criticism of FBI Director James Comey’s Friday announcement has continued to mount, notably from former law enforcement officials, who have suggested that Comey broke with decades of precedent. The Justice Department signaled Monday that it wants the politically charged investigation to follow standard procedures, including a strict limit on official comments about the probe. But given the highly unusual nature of the disclosure, it may be impossible for Justice to conduct the investigation in a normal fashion or control how it is depicted in public. Washington Post


IRAQI FORCES ENTER MOSUL FOR THE FIRST TIME
Iraqi special forces have reportedly entered Mosul’s city limits, as they continue to lead the charge to drive ISIS militants from the northern Iraqi city. Reports from inside the city, still under ISIS control, suggest the militants there have stepped up their brutality, executing dozens of residents suspected of aiding Iraqi security forces and herding thousands of families into positions as human shields. BBC News, Wall Street Journal
Related:
CNN: Inside ISIS-Held Mosul: Secret Film Shows Desolate Scene
 
TALIBAN ENVOY BREAKS SILENCE, URGING PEACE
Breaking with nearly 15 years of public silence, Sayed Muhammad Tayeb Agha, who until recently was the Taliban’s chief negotiator and head of their political commission, recently issued a letter about peace talks to the insurgency’s supreme leader and sat down with the New York Times, his first on-record interview in years, to discuss reconciliation efforts. In the letter to the Taliban’s supreme leader, Agha supported talks with the Afghan government and said the insurgency should be urgently trying to position itself as an Afghan political movement independent from the influence of Pakistani intelligence officials who have sheltered it since 2001. New York Times
Related:
Los Angeles Times: Afghanistan Tries to Clean Up Its Militias, Both Legal and Illegal
Slate: The First Big Foreign Policy Crisis of the Next Presidency May Be Afghanistan
 
RUSSIA: SYRIA PEACE TALKS DELAYED INDEFINITELY
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the failure by Western governments to rein in Islamist rebels in Syria had indefinitely delayed the resumption of peace talks. Reuters
 
In related news, the Pentagon acknowledged Monday that a Russian fighter jet and an American aircraft came within a half-mile of colliding while conducting nighttime operations on Oct. 17. The near miss was  “the closest we have come, to date,” to a midair collision between U.S. and Russian aircraft over Syria, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said. Washington Times
Related:
Washington Post: ‘We’re Not in Perfect Control’: U.S. Plans Operation Against ISIS in Syria Despite Obstacles
Los Angeles Times: In Syrian Capital, the Civil War Suddenly Feels Far Away


WAS A TRUMP SERVER COMMUNICATING WITH RUSSIA?
Slate published a long investigative piece Monday alleging that a computer server registered to the Trump Organization was for months possibly engaged in a secret channel of email communication with a top Russian bank. The Slate report says that a group of computer scientists have pored over months of domain name system activity between the two servers and concluded that the data likely signals human communication. At the same time, the New York Times reports that the FBI has also been investigating the computer data showing an odd stream of activity between the Trump server and Alfa Bank. But FBI investigators ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts. Slate, New York Times
 
The New York Times also reports that FBI agents have, over the past several months, scrutinized advisers close to Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, and searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats. So far, however, “none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Trump.” New York Times
Related:
Mother Jones: A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Trump
TOP OP-EDS
What ISIS really wants from battle for Mosul: “The situation around Mosul is still positive,” writes Hassan Hassan in The National. “But the sectarian statements over the past week as the Iranian-backed militias join the battle provide a window to what could go wrong during this iconic battle.”
 
The long shadow of J. Edgar Hoover: “In hurling barbs at Hillary Clinton, FBI Director James Comey has at once revived his reputation for confronting commanders in chief and resurrected the spirit of the FBI’s most infamous high priest,” writes Tim Weiner in the New York Times. “Somewhere, tearing wings off flies in a dark star chamber in the sky, J. Edgar Hoover is smiling…[Comey’s] miscalculated decision to unleash his letter to Clinton hunters in Congress looked less like a legal maneuver than an act of political warfare.”
 
Humanitarian smugglers -- Europe’s scapegoat in the ‘refugee crisis’: “Deeply entangled within the EU’s robust fight against human smuggling in the current ‘refugee crisis’ is the threat of criminalisation of a range of humanitarian acts, which should not be punished but rather praised,” writes Rachel Landry in EU Law Analysis.
 
Comey did the right thing: “The continuing refrain from Hillary Clinton supporters and other observers that FBI Director James B. Comey’s action was ‘contrary’ to Justice Department policy is flatly wrong,” writes William Barr in the Washington Post. “While I do not agree with everything done and said over the summer in connection with the email investigation, I think that, last week, Comey had no choice but to issue the statement he did.”
 
Comey’s massive mistake: “In an election that has featured the obliteration of one long-accepted political or social norm after another,” writes the New York Times in an editorial, “it is sadly fitting that one of the final and perhaps most consequential acts was to undermine the American people’s trust in the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.”
EDITOR'S PICK
Guardian: Exclusive: ‘There Will Be Terrorist Attacks in Britain,’ Says MI5 Chief
 
Center for Public Integrity: A Nonpartisan Election Guide to National Security and Foreign Policy Issues (Part II)
 
TomDispatch: One Veteran’s War on Islamophobia
 
SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Enormous Challenge of Nation-Building




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