The Soufan Group Morning Brief


FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2016

A truck rammed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice on Thursday night, killing at least 84 people and wounding over one hundred others. The driver, reportedly a 31-year-old French national of Tunisian origin, was shot and killed by police after travelling over a mile through the crowd along the city’s waterfront promenade. French authorities believe the attack was an act of terrorism and said the truck was carrying grenades and firearms. No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

New York Times: Truck Attack in Nice, France: What We Know, and What We Don’t
Wall Street Journal: Truck Attack in France Shows Limits of Global Hunt for Terrorism
CNN: Bastille Day terror attack leaves scores dead in Nice

The 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission report could be released as early as Friday, according to multiple sources. The State Department and intelligence agencies have reportedly reviewed and approved the release of the pages with “minimal redactions.” Many believe the 28 pages link Saudi Arabia to the attacks on 9/11. CNN, CBS, The Hill

Cybersecurity: Microsoft won a major legal battle against the Justice Department on Thursday after a federal appeals court ruled that the government cannot compel the company to turn over emails or other personal data stored on overseas computers. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling that Microsoft must hand over email records of a suspect in a drug investigation stored in a data center in Dublin. Wall Street Journal, New York Times

NSA: On Thursday, the National Security Agency asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson that claims the agency conducted warrantless mass surveillance during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The lawsuit alleges that the NSA collected the text messages, emails, and metadata on every phone in the Salt Lake City area leading up to and during the 2002 games. AP

Surveillance: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has demanded the withdrawal of several new proposals that would impose new rules on the the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the federal watchdog agency which investigates the government’s security programs. The changes, which were attached to a pending intelligence authorization bill, would undermine the PCLOB’s independence and authority. New York Times

The U.S. military will likely deploy additional troops to Iraq to support local forces in the fight against ISIS. U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, who oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East, said in an interview in Baghdad on Thursday that he thinks “there will be some additional troops that we will ask to bring in,” in addition to the 560 extra troops announced earlier this week. Reuters

Yemen: The U.S. military is considering increasing its presence in Yemen, according to officials. U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said that the U.S. military has identified a variety of locations which could be suitable for American forces, but did not provide details on any potential troop numbers or exact locations. Reuters

Russia: Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss a plan to improve cooperation and intelligence sharing in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. The two met for three hours late into Thursday night to negotiate details of an extensive cooperation agreement, which reportedly lays out plans for a joint facility in Jordan to help coordinate American and Russian airstrikes against ISIS and the Nusra Front. New York Times, Reuters, The Hill

Cameroon: Cameroonian security forces have allegedly tortured and killed dozens of civilians during mass arrests of Boko Haram suspects, according to a report by Amnesty International. Witnesses said that Cameroonian forces were indiscriminately killing civilians and looting and destroying property. AP

ISIS in Latin America: The top U.S. military commander in Latin America and the Caribbean said on Thursday that he sees the possibility of an ISIS presence in the region. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd said that he recognizes “the potential for radicalization — and especially this phenomena of self-radicalization, internet-inspired, or facilitated self-radicalization,” in Latin America. The Hill
Truck attacks -- a frightening tool of terror, with a history: “We don't know enough yet to say what prompted the Nice attack. But what the the attack in Nice shows is that we are now in an era when lone terrorists are becoming increasingly lethal,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN. “This will have important implications for how we conceive of the danger of lone terrorists in the West going forward. Law enforcement authorities in the States and other Western countries will have to consider the vulnerabilities to vehicular attacks of large, packed crowds of the kind that we saw jamming the waterfront in Nice celebrating their national holiday on Friday.”

Obama’s Whac-A-Mole strategy: “Can this strategy work? It has been characterized as a “Whac-A-Mole” approach that simply keeps beating up the bad guys without ever solving the problem. This is true, but actually solving the problem involves creating an effective and inclusive political system in places such as Syria, seen by all elements within the society as legitimate — an almost impossible task for a foreign country,” writes writes Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post. “Better to focus U.S. energies on defeating the most dangerous groups, which would then give local regimes a chance to take control of their countries.”

Why the U.S. Pretends Drone Strikes Are Secret: “The U.S. does a disservice to the counterterrorism partners who requested the secrecy in the first place. The people in these countries know who is flying the drones,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “By pretending otherwise, their leaders forgo the chance to make the public case for U.S. airstrikes. Eventually that lie will catch up with even the most discreet dictators and threaten the quiet alliance that all this secrecy was supposed to protect in the first place.”

Council on Foreign Relations: Rogue Justice: A Conversation with Karen Greenberg

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: A Massacre in Nice

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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