The Soufan Group Morning Brief

Editor’s Note: There will be no Morning Brief on Monday, July 4th in recognition of the Independence Day holiday. We will be back Tuesday, July 5th.

FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016

Law enforcement officials increased their use of wiretaps by 17 percent last year but did not run into many problems with encrypted data, according to a new government report. Out of more than 4,000 total wiretap warrants from 2015, law enforcement agencies only encountered encryption thirteen times. However, the statistics only cover warrants for communications between devices and do not include warrants seeking to mine data from devices nor wiretaps conducted without a warrant for “foreign intelligence” purposes. Civil liberties advocates claim the new statistics undermine government arguments that criminals are evading investigations by using encrypted technology. The Hill, The Intercept

Defense Secretary Ash announced the lifting of the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the armed forces on Thursday. Carter said “effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly...They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.” New York Times, Washington Post

Joint Base Andrews: Joint Base Andrews, home to Air Force One, was on lockdown on Thursday because of incorrect reports of an active shooter on the base. The lockdown was lifted after about an hour and a half, after officials realized the incident was actually a preparedness drill simulating an active shooter emergency. New York Times

Torture: More than 50 retired generals and admirals called for both Republicans and Democrats to “unequivocally” reject the use of torture in their campaigns in the upcoming election. 58 retired military leaders wrote in letters to both parties’ platform committees, “we have diverse political affiliations and opinions, but we are in firm and unanimous agreement that the United States is strongest when it remains faithful to its core values.” The Hill, Human Rights First

FBI: Secret FBI rules allow federal agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from only two internal officials, significantly less oversight than under normal judicial proceedings. The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept, concern the FBI’s use of “national security letters” to obtain information about journalists’ calls without obtaining a warrant. The Intercept

Terror List: On Thursday, the State Department added the group Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent to its list of foreign terror organizations and placed sanctions on its leader, Asim Umar. The group was responsible for an attack on a naval dockyard in Karachi, Pakistan, and the killing of several activists and writers in Bangladesh. Wall Street Journal

Massachusetts terror suspect: The son of a Boston Police captain who is accused of plotting terror attacks at a university was indicted on new charges on Thursday, including attempting to provide material support to ISIS and the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was initially charged last summer with unlawfully possessing firearms in connection with a plot to carry out a terror attack at an unnamed state university. Boston Globe

The Obama administration has offered to share intelligence with Russia in order to help improve targeting of terrorist groups in Syria if Moscow agrees to stop bombing civilians and opposition fighters. The proposal, described as “enhanced information sharing,” does not include joint military planning, targeting, or coordination with U.S. airstrikes or military operations. Washington Post

Afghanistan: Taliban insurgents bombed a convoy of buses full of police cadets on the outskirts of Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 33 people, including four civilians. The police cadets recently graduated from a police training academy in Wardak Province and were traveling to Kabul for their first assignments. New York Times

Cameroon: Two Boko Haram suicide bombers killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens of others in northern Cameroon late Wednesday. The attacks hit a video club and a mosque near the border with Nigeria. New York Times

Turkey: Turkish police arrested 11 foreigners suspected of being members of an ISIS terror cell linked to Tuesday’s suicide bombing at the Istanbul airport. Counterterrorism police carried out the arrest during a morning raid in the Basaksehir district on Friday. This raises the number of people arrested in the investigation into the attack to 24. A Turkish government official said on Thursday that the suspected suicide bombers were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals. Reuters

CNN: From Russia with hate
TIME: How the Russian Fighters of ISIS Became a Terror Threat in Turkey

Refugee Crisis: Italian authorities recovered a fishing vessel the sunk off the coast of Libya last year carrying hundreds of refugees headed to Europe. Between 700 and 800 refugees are believed to have drowned, and authorities have recovered at least 300 bodies from the shipwreck. New York Times

Egypt: A gunman shot and killed a Coptic Christian minister on the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 46-year-old Reverend Rafael Moussa in the city of El Arish. New York Times
Rethinking the Doctrine of Homeland Security – Reflections on Orlando: “Almost everything we think we know about homeland security is outdated. If the lessons of Paris (twice), Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando, Istanbul (just yesterday), Sony, the Sands Hotel, and the Ukrainian electric grid tell us anything, they tell us that our doctrine of homeland security (such as it is) needs urgent revision,” writes Paul Rosenzweig on Lawfare.

In Syria, Starving Instead of Fasting: “Among the litany of calamities incubated by the Syrian civil war — the rise of the Islamic State, a refugee crisis that spans the world, a death toll of about 400,000 — the international community seems to consider the slow grind of life behind a blockade a second-order problem,” writes Avi Asher-Schapiro in The New York Times. “But starving civilians to gain a military advantage is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, and wasting away under siege can be just as traumatic as barrel bomb attacks and public beheadings.”

Obama proposes new military partnership with Russia in Syria: “The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels,” writes Josh Rogin in the Washington Post. “The Obama administration is understandably trying to find some creative way to salvage its Syria policy in its final months. But the proposal that Obama offered Putin will have costs for the U.S. position vis-à-vis Russia as well as for the Syrian crisis long after Obama leaves office.”

Revisionist History: Saigon, 1965

Out Now: Karen Greenberg's newest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, is the definitive account of how America's War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.


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