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Lawfare Roundup: US, Syria, others and hard national security choices

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President Trump has ordered the total withdrawal of US ground forces from Syria, to be completed within 30 days, the New York Times reports. Some Pentagon officials reportedly oppose the move, arguing that it would betray America’s staunch Kurdish allies and increase Russian and Iranian influence in Syria. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement that the withdrawal has begun.

Internal interviews and records reveal that Facebook gave Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and other major technology companies more invasive access to users’ personal data than it had publicly disclosed, the Times reports. Special arrangements Facebook made with these companies exempted them from the platform’s conventional privacy rules, giving Netflix and Spotify access to users’ private messages and Microsoft’s Bing search engine access to the names of almost all Facebook users’ friends.

The District of Columbia attorney general sued Facebook on Wednesday for giving Cambridge Analytica, a British data analysis firm, access to tens of millions of users’ names, “likes” and other personal information without their consent, the Washington Post reports.

Stephen Biegun, the US special representative to Pyongyang, announced that Washington is considering easing the travel ban on North Korea to allow US aid workers to distribute humanitarian relief there,  the Wall Street Journal reports. Biegun made the announcement on Wednesday upon arriving in Seoul, where he will meet with senior South Korean officials to discuss the stalled denuclearization negotiations with North Korea.

Russia said Wednesday that it will not permit the US to inspect its newly developed nuclear-capable cruise missile, which Washington alleges violates the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Reuters reports. Washington has threatened to withdraw from the treaty because of this violation.

The Senate intends to pass a short-term spending bill that will avert a government shutdown but deny President Trump the money he sought for his border wall, the Post reports. Nevertheless, Trump insists that the US military will build the wall, Politico adds.

A federal jury convicted Nicholas Slatten, a former Blackwater security guard, of first-degree murder for his involvement in the 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians that killed or wounded 31, the Post reports.

Though Taliban officials discussed ending the war in Afghanistan at length with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the group continues to refuse to engage with representatives from the government in Kabul, according to the Journal.

Chinese authorities have detained a third Canadian citizen following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, Reuters reports .


ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Allison Peters lauded the “Paris Call For Trust and Stability in Cyberspace” as an important step toward outlining common principles for securing cyberspace, but emphasized that the norms the Call works to establish will only be as strong as their enforcement.

Quinta Jurecic posted a US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruling in a sealed case related to a grand jury matter believed to be linked to the special counsel investigation.

Jurecic and Scott Anderson unpacked the D.C. Circuit ruling in In re Grand Jury Subpoena, the secret case suspected to be connected to the Mueller investigation.

In this week’s Middle East Ticker, J. Dana Stuster examined the partial ceasefire in Hodeidah, Yemen; reports that the Trump administration is considering extraditing Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey; and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to launch a new military offensive in eastern Syria.

Stewart Baker shared this week’s Cyberlaw Podcast, which addressed recent regulatory developments in blockchain and cryptocurrency, as well as projections for 2019.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Mikhaila Fogel and David Priess discussed Priess’s book, “How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives.”

Credits | Lawfare

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