The Soufan Group Morning Brief

The Soufan Group Morning Brief, June 6, 2017

Reality Winner, a 25-year-old government contractor from Augusta, Ga., was arrested over the weekend and charged under the Espionage Act with leaking a secret report to a news organization that described some of Russia’s election-related hacking activities. The Justice Department didn’t identify the news organization in court papers, but reports confirmed it was the Intercept, which on Monday afternoon posted online a document that it said was produced by the NSA and which described Russian government efforts to use hacking techniques against employees of a company that provides technical support to U.S. states’ voting agencies.
Winner’s charge is the first criminal charge filed in a leak investigation during the Trump administration. She has reportedly served in the Air Force for six years, including a recent assignment at Fort Meade, Md., home of the NSA. According to court documents, she  had a top-security clearance as an active-duty member of the Air Force from January 2013 until February of this year, when she began working for Pluribus International, a government contractor, at a facility in Georgia.
The leak investigation began after authorities learned less than a week ago that the document had been obtained by a news organization, because the organization had asked for a comment on the classified ­material. A reporter contacted an individual working at another government contractor seeking an opinion about the document. That person then contacted authorities, sparking the ­investigation. Espionage Act charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, although conventional leak cases have typically resulted in prison terms of one to three years. Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, NBC News
According to the Intercept’s report, the top-secret NSA document that was leaked concludes that Russia’s military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election. The Intercept
In a series of Twitter posts Monday that continued into the evening, President Trump may have irretrievably undermined his lawyers’ efforts to persuade the Supreme Court to reinstate his executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, according to legal experts. Saying he preferred “the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version” he had issued in March, Mr. Trump attacked both the Justice Department and the federal courts. He also contradicted his own aides, who have suggested he was causing a pause in travel, by calling the order “what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” He said it would be imposed on “certain DANGEROUS countries” and suggested that anything short of a ban “won’t help us protect our people!” New York Times, CNN, Los Angeles Times
CNN: George Conway Hits Trump Over Travel Ban Tweet
GOP congressman calls for war against radical Islamists: A Republican congressman from Louisiana has been criticized for writing a screed on Facebook shortly after the London attack that calls for killing radical Islamists. “Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter,” Clay Higgins posted on Sunday. “Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” Washington Post
London mayor calls for cancellation of Trump’s UK visit: London Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling on the British government to cancel a state visit from President Trump after Trump criticized his response to this weekend’s terror attacks in London. “I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan said in an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News. The Hill

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Tuesday it had begun a battle to capture Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, launching attacks from the east, west and north of the city. The US-led coalition was supporting the assault with air strikes, it said. ISIS captured the city from rebel groups in 2014 and has used it as an operations base to plan attacks in the West. Reuters, BBC News

British authorities released the identities of two of the three men who killed seven people near London Bridge over the weekend, and at least one of them had been known to authorities -- and had had a cameo in a television documentary on homegrown violent jihadists. Rachid Redouane, 30, and Khurum Shazad Butt, 27, along with a third assailant — plowed through London Bridge pedestrians in a van Saturday night, then stabbed patrons at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market. All three were shot dead by police officers.
Butt was known to police and to MI5, and had appeared in the 2016 Channel 4 documentary “The Jihadis Next Door.” A 27-year-old former transit worker who was born in Pakistan but became a British citizen, he was sociable with neighbors, but displayed enough signs of radicalization for neighbors to call a police hotline to warn that he was an extremist. Telegraph, ABC News, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times
Detroit Free Press: London Terror Suspect Was Influenced by Dearborn Cleric, Says Friend
The Atlantic: Theresa May’s Terrorism Strategy
Los Angeles Times: Can Tech Companies Do More to Stop Terrorism?
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a shooting and hostage situation that left two men dead in Melbourne on Monday night. The gunman, named by police on Tuesday as Yacqub Khayre, took a woman hostage in an apartment building; police shot him dead after he emerged from the complex with a sawn-off shotgun, shooting at officers. They then discovered the body of another man in the foyer of the apartment block.
Khayre, a 29-year-old Australian citizen who came from Somalia as a child refugee, was one of two men acquitted by a jury in 2010 of plotting a suicide attack in Sydney. Three people were convicted of conspiracy in that plot, which police thwarted before it could be executed. Since then, Khayre has spent time in prison for various criminal offenses, but was on parole at the time of the attack.
The evidence pointing to terrorism first emerged with a call to a television station during the siege, in which a man said, “This is for I.S.,” presumably a reference to the Islamic State, and, “This is for Al Qaeda.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described yesterday’s incident as a “terrorist attack” that underlined the need for constant vigilance in the face of Islamist extremism. Associated Press, Guardian, Bloomberg, New York Times
Guardian: Yacqub Khayre: Melbourne Siege Gunman’s History of Violent Crime and Drugs
How different - and dangerous - is terrorism today? “On Sunday, just hours after three men launched an assault on London Bridge, British Prime Minister Theresa May stepped in front of 10 Downing Street and told the world, ‘We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face,’” writes Robin Wright in the New Yorker. “In many ways, the attack in the British capital, as well as others over the past two years in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and Manchester, actually weren’t all that unique in terms of tactics, targets, or even motive.”
Trump tanks his own case at the Supreme Court: “Is Donald Trump trying to throw his own Supreme Court case?” asked Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View. “The president’s bid to be the Shoeless Joe Jackson of high-court litigation took a big step forward with an astonishing series of early-Monday-morning tweets. He insisted on calling his executive order restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries a ‘travel ban,’ denounced his own Department of Justice for watering down the original order, and -- incredibly -- called for strengthening the ban, presumably after the court has upheld the revised order.”
Why Trump criticized a London under attack: “Like previous presidents, Trump defines America in contrast to Europe,” writes Peter Beinart in The Atlantic. “But for Trump, what makes America exceptional is not its peacefulness or inclusiveness or resistance to socialism. It is its resistance to globalism. America is the opposite of the European Union. It is the place where borders and national identity remains king.”
Why more troops won’t help Afghanistan: “More troops, more training, more bombing, and more money might budge the front lines in Afghanistan,” writes Barnett Rubin in the New Yorker, “but the main problems are not at the front but in the rear, in the political divisions in the Afghan government, in the sanctuary the Afghan Taliban have enjoyed in Pakistan, and in the hostility of many regional countries to the U.S. presence.”

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

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