The Soufan Group Morning Brief


*|MC:SUBJECT|*
MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2017
TRUMP AIDE SAYS TRUMP ACCEPTS RUSSIA IS BEHIND ELECTION HACKING

Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday that Trump accepts the conclusion by the intelligence community that Russia is to blame for a string of cyber attacks during the presidential election. Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” Priebus said on Fox News Sunday. Priebus later said on CBS that “no one is disputing” that “this particular hack was perpetrated by Russian entities.”

The position marked a significant shift for Trump, who in recent days has dismissed the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian actors were behind the hacking of the DNC and Democratic aide John Podesta and that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the cyber campaign in a bid to aid Trump’s chances of winning.

But Priebus also sought to deflect attention onto what he called the DNC’s shoddy cybersecurity protections and the fact that the Russian campaign was not able to alter the outcome of the election, a point Trump aide Kellyanne Conway also repeatedly emphasized during an appearance on NBC. Slate, The Hill, NBC News, Washington Post

Divisions in Congress over Trump’s approach to Russia are reportedly deepening, and could be a major factor during the confirmation hearings this week for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Wall Street Journal
Related:
New York Times: ‘What’s the Big Deal?’ Ask Trump Voters on Russia Hacking Report
Washington Post: Russians Dismiss U.S. Report Accusing Putin as ‘One More Giant Fake’
MAN ACCUSED OF RECRUITING FOR ISIS FACES TRIAL
An Arizona man accused of recruiting for ISIS goes on trial in New York federal court today, with prosecutors hoping to use his social media posts as a key part of their case. Ahmed Mohammed el-Gammal faces charges that he helped a young New Yorker link up with ISIS fighters in Syria in 2015 via a contact in Turkey. In one Facebook message, el-Gammal said he would rather live in a tent in an Islamic state than enjoy all the “luxuries under an infidel state.” Associated Press

Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting: Authorities say the gunman who killed five people at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Friday had a history of mental health issues but no apparent links to terrorism, though that has not yet been ruled out officially as a motive. Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal

Crowley plagiarism scandal: Conservative media personality Monica Crowley, who has been tapped by Trump for a national security communications role, was accused this weekend of plagiarizing sections of her 2012 book. CNNMoney found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarized passages in the bestseller What the (Bleep) Just Happened. CNNMoney


TRUCK RAMS INTO ISRAELI SOLDIERS IN JERUSALEM, KILLING FOUR
In an incident Israeli authorities are calling a terror attack, a truck driven by a Palestinian rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers on a busy promenade in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring 17 others. The driver was shot dead at the scene. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the scene of the attack and said the perpetrator was “by all indications a supporter of the Islamic State.” He added, “This is part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State, by ISIS, that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem. This is part of the same ongoing battle against this global scourge of the new terrorism.” Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times

ISIS BLAMED FOR WAVE OF ATTACKS IN BAGHDAD; DOZENS KILLED
A series of bombings struck Baghdad and the surrounding area on Sunday, killing at least 23 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for at least one of the attacks -- a suicide bombing on a market that killed 16 people. In Mosul, meanwhile, Iraqi special forces reached the eastern bank of the Tigris river in the city for the first time since the effort to drive out ISIS militants began in October. CBS/AP, Reuters

North Korea rebukes Trump: Less than a week after Donald Trump tweeted that North Korea would not be allowed to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korea has responded that it can conduct its first test of such a missile “anytime and anywhere.” New York Times

U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan: The number of weapons dropped in Afghanistan in 2016 rose by around 40% to 1,337, according to Pentagon numbers -- a further sign of growing U.S. involvement in the war following the withdrawal of most coalition troops two years ago. Wall Street Journal
Related:
New York Times: 300 Marines to Aid Fight Against Taliban in Spring


DEATH OF RAFSANJANI DEALS BLOW TO IRANIAN REFORMERS
The death on Sunday of 82-year-old former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who often called for more personal freedoms and the establishment of better relations with the United States, has dealt a major blow to the country’s reformers and moderates. New York Times

GERMANY’S SECURITY CHIEF: ISLAMIST SCENE IS GROWING
Germany’s top domestic security chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, said in an interview this weekend that the country's radical Islamist scene is not only growing, but becoming more decentralized, posing greater challenges to surveillance operations. AFP
Related:
Politico: Germany’s Terror Divide
TOP OP-EDS
How we fool ourselves over Russia: “The reality is that our relationship with Russia will remain competitive, and often adversarial, for the foreseeable future,” writes William J. Burns in the New York Times. “At its core is a fundamental disconnect in outlook and about each other’s role in the world. It is tempting to think that personal rapport can bridge this disconnect and that the art of the deal can unlock a grand bargain. That is a foolish starting point for sensible policy.”

Bonfire of the intelligence vanities: “Two weeks before a peaceful democratic transition of power, Democrats are using Russian cyber hacks as an excuse to explain their defeat, and Donald Trump is playing into their hands by refusing to acknowledge that Vladimir Putin is no friend of America,” writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “The only winner here is Mr. Putin, who must be laughing at his success in causing Americans to mistrust their own democratic system.”

Trump’s dangerous anti-CIA crusade: “While Mr. Trump’s statement on Friday that he had a constructive meeting with senior intelligence officials on the Russian hacking issue was a step in the right direction, his disparagement of American intelligence officers over the last few months is likely to cause significant damage to the CIA,” writes Michael Morrell in the New York Times.

Trump and the future of intelligence: “The intelligence community faces two looming dangers in the next four years,” writes Joshua Rovner in Lawfare. “The first is neglect. The second problem is politicization.”
EDITOR'S PICK
 
SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief.




Center on National Security
Fordham University School of Law
150 W. 62nd St. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10023 US
Copyright © 2016 Center on National Security, All rights reserved.

Comment