1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Security Intelligence: How an IoT Botnet Could Breach the Power Grid and Cause Widespread Blackouts

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The Internet of Things (IoT) poses a major threat to our national infrastructure. An IoT botnet comprised of high-wattage devices such as air conditioners, heaters and washing machines could enable cybercriminals to launch a large-scale, coordinated attack on the power grid.

This finding, which was part of a study presented by Princeton researchers at the 2018 USENIX Security Symposium in August, demonstrates that the more interconnected our world becomes for the sake of convenience, the larger the implications for security.

Introducing MadIoT, the Latest IoT Security Threat

The presentation showcased a new class of potential attacks called “manipulation of demand via IoT (MadIoT)” that can use botnets to manipulate the power demand in the grid and cause widespread local power outages, and even large-scale blackouts. The attacks target the demand side of the national grid instead of the supply side, which includes heavily protected assets such as power lines and plants.

Power grid security standards are all based on the assumption that the power demand can be predicted reliably on an hourly and daily basis,” the researchers wrote in their report. “Power grid operators typically assume that power consumers collectively behave similarly to how they did in the past and under similar conditions.”

This is particularly concerning now that some individuals, companies and government agencies are using IoT applications to control these power-sucking appliances, many of which have poor security measures in place.

How an IoT Botnet Could Roil the Energy Sector

The researchers examined three categories of attack by running simulations on real-world power grid models. The simulations found that MadIoT attacks can lead to local power outages and, in the worst cases, large-scale blackouts. These attacks could also be used to increase the cost of operating the grid, which would benefit a few utilities in the electricity market.

Let’s take a closer look at how these three scenarios played out.

In the first scenario, using simulators on the small-scale power grid model of the Western System Coordinating Council (WSCC), the researchers found it would take 90,000 air conditioners and 18,000 electric water heaters to disrupt the power demand in a targeted geographical area.

In another scenario, the researchers discovered that even a “small increase in power demands may result in line overloads and failures.” Using a model of the Polish power grid from summer in 2008, the researchers revealed that an increase of only 1 percent in demand would lead to a cascading grid failure with 263 line failures and outages for 86 percent of customers. In this scenario, criminals would need access to “about 210,000 air conditioners, which is 1.5 percent of the total number of households in Poland.”

In the third scenario, the researchers demonstrated that a 5 percent increase in the power demand during peak hours by an adversary can result in a 20 percent increase in the power generation cost. This kind of attack would likely be used for financial gain rather than to damage infrastructure, the researchers noted.

The third scenario mirrors an incident that occurred in early 2018 when cryptocurrency miners drove up the cost of power in Plattsburgh, New York. Because the town is so close to Niagara Falls, electricity prices in the area are extremely low, which attracted power-hungry miners, since mining requires a massive amount of energy. But all that crypto mining led to a surge in demand, and the town was forced to purchase energy on the open market to keep up. Eventually, the town imposed an 18-month moratorium on cryptocurrency mining companies while it worked to resolve the issue.

The IoT Botnet Threat Is Very Real

Taking over and enslaving interconnected, high-wattage appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators might seem far-fetched, but as the Mirai botnet first taught us in 2016, the potential for IoT botnets to wreak havoc is very real. Just as Mirai took advantage of insecure routers and webcams, so too could an industrious attacker who gains access to the high-wattage appliances we use every day in our homes — which are increasingly connected to the outside world for the sake of convenience.

“This work sheds light upon the interdependency between the vulnerability of the IoT and that of the other networks such as the power grid whose security requires attention from both the systems security and power engineering communities,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers also noted that they hope their work will help protect the grid against future threats associated with insecure IoT devices. Improved IoT security will become increasingly critical as more smart appliances hit the market.

It’s Up to IoT Vendors to Prioritize Security

According to Graham Cluley, the threat of MadIoT serves as yet another reminder that IoT device manufacturers need to do more to prioritize security, such as test their appliances for vulnerabilities and work to prevent potential future compromise.

Security has been a concern around the IoT since the first connected devices came to market. With that in mind, the IoT Security Foundation published free security guidelines to help manufacturers adopt secure development.

“[IoT device vendors] sell a product at a certain cost. But having to maintain it for the next 10 years is not something that enters their thinking,” said Paul Dorey, chairman of the IoT Security Foundation, in a recent Financial Times interview.

The bottom line is that both device makers and organizations deploying IoT technologies need to prioritize security as IoT devices proliferate. If they don’t, they could be putting entire neighborhoods — even entire countries — at risk of a blackout.

The post How an IoT Botnet Could Breach the Power Grid and Cause Widespread Blackouts appeared first on Security Intelligence.

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1. Russia from mikenova (112 sites): Putin – Google News: Putin adds ‘lengthy’ chat with Trump to G-20 agenda – Asia Times

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Asia Times

Putin adds ‘lengthy’ chat with Trump to G-20 agenda
Asia Times
Russian President Vladimir Putin will have more than one chance to chat in person with his American counterpart this month, the Kremlin said Friday, and there will be no shortage of issues to discuss. Officials from Russia and the US said last month

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News and Times from mikenova (17 sites): 1. My Blogs from mikenova (26 sites): Puerto Rico Journal: Renewable Energy – Google News: Millions in funding announced for renewable energy project in Mongolia – CNBC

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November 02, 2018
Renewable Energy – Google News: Millions in funding announced for renewable energy project in Mongolia – CNBC
Renewable Energy – Google News: Nearly £20m funding secured for major renewable energy plant in UK – gasworld
Renewable Energy – Google News: Puerto Rico Considers 100% Renewable Energy, But Natural Gas May Come First – InsideClimate News
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New Energy PR – Google News: Growth of Smart Coatings Market to Increase With Use of Nanotechnology in Manufacturing – TMR – PR Newswire (press release)

Renewable Energy – Google News: Millions in funding announced for renewable energy project in Mongolia – CNBC

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Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images This photo taken on June 4, 2013 shows wind turbines at the Salkhit Mountain wind farm, 70 kilometres from Ulan Bator, Mongolia. 
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Renewable Energy – Google News: Nearly £20m funding secured for major renewable energy plant in UK – gasworld

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Wardley Biogas has received £17m ($22.1m) of funding to construct a new plant at Follingsby Lane, Wardley which will convert unwanted organic waste into green gas for use across the region’s heat, power and transport sectors.
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As Puerto Rico rebuilds from last year’s hurricanes, lawmakers on the island territory have introduced an ambitious clean energy bill that would commit Puerto Rico to getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.
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PUNE, India, November 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — ReportsnReports adds Global and China Graphene Industry Report, 2018-2023 to its online research library. Graphene, a kind of new material, is still being developed and ready to be commercialized for the moment.
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ALBANY, New York, November 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The global smart coatings market is fragmented in nature due to the presence of a large number of players operating the market.
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News and Times from mikenova (17 sites): 1. My Blogs from mikenova (26 sites): Puerto Rico News: puerto rico electricity – BingNews: Puerto Rico Considers 100% Renewable Energy, But Natural Gas May Come First

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November 02, 2018
puerto rico electricity – BingNews: Puerto Rico Considers 100% Renewable Energy, But Natural Gas May Come First
puerto rico electricity – BingNews: Mammoth Energy Services (TUSK) CEO Arty Straehla on Q3 2018 Results – Earnings Call Transcript
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As Puerto Rico rebuilds from last year’s hurricanes, lawmakers on the island territory have introduced an ambitious clean energy bill that would commit Puerto Rico to getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.
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Our team has been in Puerto Rico for just about a year and continues to work closely with PREPA and other governmental agencies to improve the resiliency of the energy infrastructure network in …
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When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the storm devastated the island’s electrical grid, leaving many people without power for months. This lack of electricity, as well as other storm-related damage, prevented air-quality monitoring in many areas.
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News and Times from mikenova (17 sites): 1. My Blogs from mikenova (26 sites): Current News: Current News – Attack On Pittsburgh Synagogue Newsletter // November 02

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November 02, 2018
Trained for Tragedy
Pittsburgh synagogue victim funeral, Trump’s campaign tour, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: 5 things to know Friday
Vigil for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue attack sends message of hope, resiliency
Did Muslim Groups Raise More than $190000 for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims?
Pittsburgh synagogue attack hits home

Trained for Tragedy

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The UPMC Presbyterian campus, approximately 2 miles from the Tree of Life synagogue, received five patients following Saturday’s shooting.(Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)
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Editors, USA TODAY Published 3:54 a.m. ET Nov. 2, 2018 This is a painted rock in memory of Rose Mallinger, 97, found Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, part of a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, to the 11 people killed during worship services Saturday Oct.
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Vigil for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue attack sends message of hope, resiliency LAS VEGAS – Hundreds came together Thursday to stand in solidarity with the local Jewish community after 11 people were shot and killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week. 
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Did Muslim Groups Raise More than $190000 for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims?

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CLAIM American Muslim groups raised more than $190,000 to benefit victims of the mass shooting attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
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Pittsburgh synagogue attack hits home

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PLATTSBURGH — There is one degree of of separation between the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Temple Beth Israel here.
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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Stars and Stripes: Ramstein begins teen center fees as wider Air Force struggles to cover MWR costs

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The Air Force has begun charging a $70 annual fee for dependents to attend teen activity centers on Ramstein and Vogelweh air bases, while similar Army centers offer the service for free.

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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Test Feed Using Fields: The Navy’s Most Expensive Aircraft Carrier “Will Prepare for Combat” (Think Exploding Bombs)

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Kris Osborn

Security,

Welcome to “shock trials”.

As for a maiden deployment of the USS Ford slated for 2022, Navy officials tell Warrior Maven the ship will likely be sent to wherever it may most be in need, such as the Middle East or Pacific.

The US Navy is planning to finalize weapons integration on its new USS Ford carrier and explode bombs in various sea conditions near the ship to prepare for major combat on the open seas, service officials said.

(This first appeared last month.)

Service weapons testers will detonate a wide range of bombs, to include a variety of underwater sea mines to assess the carrier’s ability to withstand enemy attacks. “Shock Trials,” as they are called, are typically one of the final stages in the Navy process designed to bring warships from .development to operational deployment.

“The USS Gerald R. Ford will conduct further trails and testing, culminating in full-ship shock trials. The ship will then work up for deployment in parallel with its initial operational testing and evaluation,” William Couch, an official with Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior Maven earlier this year.

Testing how the carrier can hold up to massive nearby explosions will follow what’s called a Post Shakedown Availability involving a final integration of various combat systems.

“The Post Shakedown Availability is planned for 12 months, with the critical path being Advanced Weapons Elevator construction and Advanced Arresting Gear water twister upgrades,” Couch added.

The Navy’s decision to have shock trials for its first Ford-Class carrier, scheduled for deployment in 2022, seems to be of particular relevance in today’s modern threat environment. In a manner far more threatening than most previously known threats to Navy aircraft carriers, potential adversaries have in recent years been designing and testing weapons specifically engineered to destroy US carriers.

One such threat is the Chinese built DF-21D “carrier killer” anti-ship missile. This weapon, now actively being developed and tested by the Chinese military, can reportedly hit moving carriers at ranges up to 900 nautical miles.

Accordingly, unlike the last 15 years of major US military counterinsurgency operations where carriers operated largely uncontested, potential future conflict will likely require much more advanced carrier defenses, service developers have explained.

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Test Feed Using Fields

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1. World from mikenova (22 sites): FOX News: Washington teacher accused of groping taxi driver shot and killed special-ed teacher before turning gun on himself, police say

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Police believe Dustin Altshuler, who had just been charged with groping a female taxi driver, shot and killed special education teacher Laura Cole on Wednesday before killing himself.

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News and Times from mikenova (17 sites): 1. My Blogs from mikenova (26 sites): Puerto Rico Journal: FBI Now Offering $20000 For Information Leading To Arrest Of Paul ‘Bogus’ Girard

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November 02, 2018
FBI Now Offering $20000 For Information Leading To Arrest Of Paul ‘Bogus’ Girard
crime rates puerto rico – Google News: Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.2.18 – Florida Politics (blog)
crime in puerto rico – Google News: Refuse To Be A Victim Crime Prevention Seminar to be Held in Tillamook County, Oregon – Tillamook Headlight-Herald
crime in puerto rico – Google News: Fall back! Daylight saving time ends Sunday – WGRZ.com
Refuse To Be A Victim Crime Prevention Seminar to be Held in Tillamook County, Oregon

FBI Now Offering $20000 For Information Leading To Arrest Of Paul ‘Bogus’ Girard

VI Consortium (press release)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of Paul “Bogus” Girard to $20,000, V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Glen Dratte said Thursday.
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crime rates puerto rico – Google News: Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.2.18 – Florida Politics (blog)

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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson. We did it once before, can we do it once again …
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crime in puerto rico – Google News: Refuse To Be A Victim Crime Prevention Seminar to be Held in Tillamook County, Oregon – Tillamook Headlight-Herald

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Tillamook, Or. – The National Rifle Association’s award-winning crime prevention and personal safety seminar, Refuse To Be A Victim®, will be offered at the following locations:
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crime in puerto rico – Google News: Fall back! Daylight saving time ends Sunday – WGRZ.com

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Daylight saving time ends on Sunday, meaning it’s time to fall back. Leslie Smith, USA TODAY It’s one of the rites of autumn, along with pumpkin spice, football games and raking leaves: The end of daylight saving time, which will occur at 2:00 a.m.
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Refuse To Be A Victim Crime Prevention Seminar to be Held in Tillamook County, Oregon

Tillamook Headlight-Herald
Tillamook, Or. – The National Rifle Association’s award-winning crime prevention and personal safety seminar, Refuse To Be A Victim®, will be offered at the following locations:
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1. World from mikenova (22 sites): World – TIME: Google Doodle Celebrates Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) With Hand-Painted Skulls

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Google is celebrating the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with its own ofrenda (altar) decked out with painted calveras (skulls).

The skulls featured on Friday’s Google Doodle are lined with traditional marigold flowers and candles. Google “Doodler” Nate Swinehart hand-crafted the skulls used in the image out of clay, according to Google.

The holiday, which is held every Nov. 1 and 2, intermingles the Roman Catholic celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day with traditions first started by the Aztecs, Toltecs and other peoples native to Mexico. The event is marked each year with parades, parties and colorful costumes.

“Day of the Dead (or El Día de los Muertos) is an ancient holiday dating back thousands of years to the Aztec Empire,” Google said. “In its essence, it’s a joyous occasion that’s about dispelling fear and embracing the cycle of life.”

Day of the Dead altars are typically placed in people’s homes, and are often lined by photos of the dead, as well as food and drink offerings like sugar skulls.

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News and Times from mikenova (17 sites): 1. My Blogs from mikenova (26 sites): Current News: News / MN Newsletter // November 02

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November 02, 2018
mikenov on Twitter: The FBI News Review and Updates In 100 Brief Posts fbinewsreview.org/fbi-news-revie…
mikenov on Twitter: FBI News Review | Bike with Mike! | fbinewsreview.org | Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! | News, Reviews, Analysis, Opinions fbinewsreview.org
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November 02, 2018 Current Events China engaging in behaviour that is troubling India, Japan and others, says John Bolton Top stories from The Straits Times on Friday, Nov 2 ‘Revolution has just begun!’ Conte warns EU Italy will ‘change from TOP TO BOTTOM’ Lewis Hamilton criticises Fernando Alonso’s career moves Lando Norris: The British teenager set to make Formula One history China engaging in behaviour that is troubling India, Japan and others, says John Bolton Financial Express US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
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The Trump administration is taking a tougher approach to dealing with Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
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Ceremony Held For ‘The Underline’ Linear ParkAn amazing new park project that will stretch for miles broke ground on Thursday in Miami-Dade County. John Bolton Announces Venezuela, Cuba & Nicaragua Sanctions In MiamiPresident Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, addressed an invitation-only crowd Thursday at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower, Miami’s Ellis Island of sorts, that processed Cuban refugees fleeing communism.
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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Just Security: Why the First Amendment Does Not Protect Trump Campaign Collusion with Wikileaks and Russia

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Despite the president’s signature hostility toward the press, the Trump campaign is strenuously trying to wrap itself and Wikileaks in the protective garb of the First Amendment in defending against a lawsuit involving the hacking and dissemination of Democratic National Committee emails in 2016.

The case involves a civil suit brought by a DNC employee and two Democratic donors whose private financial and personal information was disclosed by Wikileaks as part of the DNC hack. The legal maneuvers in this case are being closely watched for what they suggest about how the Trump lawyers may approach any allegations of collusion with the Kremlin and Wikileaks that come directly out of the Mueller investigation.

The campaign’s lawyers told a judge that even if the president and his lieutenants worked with Russians and Wikileaks to disseminate emails to influence the outcome of the presidential election, only the act of stealing those emails would be prohibited. The campaign and Wikileaks, on this view, acted like the news media in simply passing on the stolen information.

This line of argument is a striking distortion of the core principles of freedom of the press.  It also relies on a demonstrable falsehood—that the Trump campaign had no involvement in the Kremlin and Wikileaks’ conspiracy to violate U.S. election law in acquiring and distributing the emails.

The very Supreme Court case that the campaign cites in its defense—Bartnicki v. Vopper—offers a clear roadmap for showing why its position is wrong. In that 2001 opinion, the Court upheld First Amendment protections for a radio host who had received from an unknown source, and later aired, the contents of an illegally intercepted cell phone conversation between two union officials discussing the use of violent tactics in a labor-management dispute. The Trump campaign asserts that it is no different from the broadcaster: its hands are legally clean, and it was just exercising its free speech rights.

That assertion of blamelessness is the critical flaw in the Trump campaign’s case, because the Bartnicki court was careful to note that the radio host had not solicited the illegal recording or been otherwise involved in the original plan for illegal interception and distribution.

The court stressed the significance of these facts: It was not laying down the ironclad protection that Trump campaign is claiming. It noted in particular its repeated refusal to answer categorically whether truthful publication may ever be punished consistent with the First Amendment.” Rather,

“[O]ur cases have carefully eschewed reaching this ultimate question, mindful that the future may bring scenarios which prudence counsels our not resolving anticipatorily. . . . We continue to believe that the sensitivity and significance of the interests presented in clashes between [the] First Amendment and privacy rights counsel relying on limited principles that sweep no more broadly than the appropriate context of the instant case.” Florida Star, 491 U. S., at 532–533.

It is on fundamental factual distinctions between Bartnicki and the Trump case that the campaign’s First Amendment theory founders.  Unlike Bartnicki’s radio host, the campaign is not free of involvement in illegal activity. It did not merely comment on what the Russians and WikiLeaks conspired to make public. It willfully engaged with both the Russians and WikiLeaks in both the pursuit and the publication of the stolen emails—actions that bump up against clear prohibitions in federal campaign finance law. Foreign nationals may not contribute or spend funds to influence an American election, and, crucially, a U.S. political campaign cannot assist or act in coordination with foreign electoral intervention.

We know that the Russians were peddling assistance to a receptive campaign, that the campaign learned as early as April 2016 that Russians possessed stolen emails, that the campaign via the president’s son Donald Jr. advised the Russians on when to release derogatory information (“later in the summer”), that the Russian hacking operation continued long after the Russians first made contact with and were greeted receptively by the campaign, that the president himself publicly encouraged the Russian government to locate the so-called “missing“ Clinton emails, and that Russian spies quickly followed by trying to hack Clinton’s personal email. There are also reports that the Russians may have previewed the plan to disseminate the emails before ever doing so.  For the purposes of the ongoing civil suit, those allegations alone rob the campaign of its current defense.

Still more about this coordinated activity may come to light as the special counsel reportedly investigates early contacts between WikiLeaks and Trump associate and campaign surrogate Roger Stone. Only this week, the New York Times disclosed emails between Stone and senior Trump campaign aide that show a campaign alerted in advance to the WikiLeaks’ possession of the stolen emails and pressing for their public release.

The Bartnicki court stressed that that the radio host was a passive recipient of the cell phone recording who did not even know who had made it. In contrast, the Trump campaign was in no way passive, and it knew exactly who had done the hacking and who was providing the platform for publication.

These are not the only differences that work against the Trump campaign’s propositions. The Court in Bartnicki singled out the public significance of the conversation captured in the illegal recording. The labor dispute was protracted and bitter, very much a matter of public debate before the cell phone conversation was exposed. It was on the basis of that context that the court found that the material issue had distinctive public importance that carried great weight in the constitutional analysis.

The Trump campaign’s pursuit of the stolen emails was not focused on any such particular issue of public significance. It was the Russians’ and WikiLeaks’ goal, shared by the campaign, to steal and release private material that would be simply embarrassing and disruptive to the Democrats. And, indeed, that turned out to include such things as internal personal squabbles, donors’ private information, credit card and social security numbers.

The campaign lawyers endeavor to put the best possible face on this campaign dirty trick. They argue that the material uncovered by the hacking exposed important facts about the DNC’s tilt toward Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders and conduct toward donors and the press.  But whatever the “public significance” of these matters, the campaign did not have any advance reason to believe that exposure of the emails would uncover them. Its aim, the Russians’ and WikiLeaks’ were the same: exploit the illegal hacking to whatever electoral advantage could be gained.

There is misplaced concern that a defeat for this First Amendment defense puts media protections at risk. Federal campaign finance regulation supplies useful guidance here: It exempts standard journalistic activity, but denies those protections to conduct outside the “legitimate press function.” It is clear from disclosures by an internal WikiLeaks critic that Julian Assange targeted Hillary Clinton and sought to work with the Trump campaign and the Russians to secure her defeat. This is not a “legitimate press function.” And the conflation of Wikileaks’ plan of campaign attack with standard journalistic activity undermines important distinctions critical to the protection of the free press.

The danger presented by a Trump campaign victory on this First Amendment issue is that, if successful, it will rely on this case to assert a broader constitutional defense of the alliance it struck with Russia in the 2016 election. This is a direct threat to special counsel Robert Mueller investigation’s efforts to achieve accountability under the law for foreign interference in the 2016 election.

In effect, the Trump campaign’s lawyers are preparing to pivot from the claim that there was “no collusion” to the claim that collusion is constitutionally protected. The ongoing litigation is a testing ground for this novel constitutional theory, and it should be the place where that theory quickly dies.

 

[Editor’s note: Readers may also be interested in Floyd Abrams, What Facts Would Deny the Trump Campaign First Amendment Protections in Colluding with Russia; Andy Wright, The DNC Lawsuit and First Amendment Sensitivities; Elizabeth Goitein, The Constitutional Rubicon of an Assange Prosecution; Ryan Goodman and Steve Vladeck, Q&A: Why an Assange Prosecution Could Pose Such a Threat to the Press]

Photo credit: Carl Court/Getty Images

 

Just Security

1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites)


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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Just Security: The Early Edition: November 2, 2018

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JAMAL KHASHOGGI KILLING

Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul yesterday renewed calls for Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the investigation into the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, claiming that “no one can escape responsibility.” Gul alleged that Saudi Arabian Chief Prosecutor Saud al-Mujab  — who spent three days in Istanbul as part of joint Turkish-Saudi efforts to investigate the killing — had failed to answer Turkish investigators’ queries about the location of the writer’s remains as well as who ordered the killing, Suzan Fraser reports at the AP.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that it could be “a handful” of weeks before the U.S. formally responds to Khashoggi’s death, making the comments yesterday in an interview with a St. Louis radio station. Pompeo claimed that the administration is still in the process of gathering evidence, but is “reviewing putting sanctions on the individuals that we have been able to identify to date that … were engaged in that murder,” with Washington already having revoked the visas of the men suspected to have been involved in Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate, John Bowden reports at the Hill.

Turkish officials are looking into the possibility that Khashoggi’s body was destroyed in acid after he was killed inside the Saudi consulate. A senior Turkish official has stated that “biological evidence” found in a garden outside the consulate supports the proposition that Khashoggi’s body was disposed of near the site of the killing and that his body was “not in need of burying,” Brett Samuels reports at the Hill.

The remains of Khashoggi’s body should be located and returned to his family for a burial as soon as possible, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters yesterday. Reuters reports.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly told the U.S. he considered murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to be a dangerous Islamist, according to media reports. Prince Mohammed’s reported phone call with the White House came on Oct 9. – before the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with the Crown Prince also reportedly urging the White House to preserve the U.S.-Saudi alliance, the BBC reports.

“The growing international consensus that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind it has done almost nothing to weaken his grip on power over the kingdom,” David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard explain in an analysis of the Crown Prince’s position at the New York Times.

“It is now up to the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz writes at the Washington Post, arguing that “of all nations, the U.S should be leading the way.”

Saudi Arabia must be held to the same standards as Iran, the Washington Post editorial board comments, pointing out: “if the U.S. does not impose significant punishment on Saudi Arabia, how can it expect other nations to enforce its sanctions against Iran?”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the Khashoggi fallout to maintain maximum pressure on the kingdom, the Economist explains in an analysis of Turkish-Saudi relations.

“The ongoing quagmire in Yemen and alleged murder of Khashoggi presents an opportunity to reconsider the repeated patterns … misconceptions … and broken promises of the U.S.-Saudi relationship” Adam Weinstein comments at Foreign Policy, arguing that “a new wave of activist and clerical arrests inside Saudi Arabia, as well as Khashoggi’s disappearance, is a testament to the flaws of this model of expedited and disingenuous reform.”

A month on from Khashoggi’s disappearance in the Istanbul consulate, Al Jazeera provides a timeline of the developments in his case.

SYRIA

The U.S.-led coalition fighting against Islamic State group (I.S.) in Syria announced yesterday that it is working to “de-escalate” fighting between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) fighting the Islamist militants, the move coming a day after the U.S.-backed alliance – including a combination of Kurdish and Arab fighters – suspended an offensive against I.S. in the east of the country after Turkey shelled its positions. “We have been in communication [with] both Turkey and the S.D.F. to de-escalate the situation,” U.S. spokesperson Col. Sean Ryan commented in a message on Twitter, AFP reports.

Russia accused rebels in Syria’s Idlib Province yesterday of trying to destroy the Russian-Turkish brokered plan to create a demilitarized zone in the northwestern rebel-held region, according to Interfax news agency. “There are still Nusra militants in Idlib who are not stopping their attempts to wreck the implementation of the memorandum that was agreed between Russia and Turkey,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was cited as saying, Reuters reports.

Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia group is paying former U.S.-backed rebels to switch sides and join a growing force in southern Syria, expanding its presence near the Israel border despite appearing to withdraw to evade Israeli airstrikes, according to activists and a former rebel commander. The militant group has allegedly recruited up to 2,000 fighters, with the Syrian government and its military ally Russia depending on Hezbollah and other Iran-allied militias to battle the remaining armed opposition in the south, Sune Engel Rasmussen and Suha Ma’ayeh report at the Wall Street Journal.

President Trump and his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday highlighted coordination in Syria as a key priority, in a phone conversation that marked an easing in relations between Washington and Ankara. Vivian Salama reports at the Wall Street Journal.

A total of 260,000 Syrian nationals have returned to an area of land in northern Syria where Turkey carried out its cross-border operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” in 2016-17, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced yesterday. Reuters reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 188 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between Oct. 21 and Oct. 27. [Central Command]

YEMEN

The U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Shi’ite Houhi rebel movement says it has bombed Sanaa International Airport and an adjoining airbase, which were allegedly being used to launch drone and ballistic missile attacks, the air raids coming yesterday just hours after Yemen’s internationally recognized government announced that it is ready to re-start peace talks with Houthis. Coalition spokesperson Col. Turki al-Malki said today that aviation at the airport and international aid efforts were not affected, Al Jazeera reports.

“The Yemeni government is ready to immediately discuss all confidence-building measures,” the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed in a statement yesterday, indicating a readiness to return to the negotiating table. The development comes following the collapse of U.N.-led consultations collapsed in September when the Houthi delegation failed to show up, Reuters reports.

The Gulf state of Oman yesterday welcomed the calls from the U.S. and the U.K. for a ceasefire in Yemen, according to the Omani state news agency. Oman is a Gulf ally of Saudi Arabia – but not a member of the Saudi-led coalition – and maintains good relations with the Houthi movement, Reuters reports.

Despite new U.S. calls for a cease-fire in Yemen “neither side shows any sign of backing down,” Brian Rohan explains in an account of the present state of the conflict at the AP.

An analysis of the difficulties that lie ahead in the attempt to reach a peace settlement for Yemen is provided by Asa Fitch and Saleh al-Batati at the Wall Street Journal.

IRAN

Iran attempted to assassinate an Arab separatist leader living in Denmark, according to Danish authorities, who have added that that a suspect in the “unusual and very serious” plot has been remanded in custody. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a message on Twitter congratulating the Danish government on “its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin,” Martin Selsoe Sorensen reports at the New York Times.

Denmark has recalled its ambassador to Iran, and potential joint European action –including the imposition of sanctions – is on the agenda for a meeting of European Union (E.U.) Foreign Ministers on Nov. 19. Laurence Norman reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz today described the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul as “despicable” but said that co-operating with the kingdom against common foe Iran remains Israel’s priority. It is not clear whether Steinitz’s views represent those of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuters reports.

AFGHANISTAN

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai commented yesterday that he welcomes the entry of the five Taliban leaders freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in 2014 into peace negotiations. Karzai added that he now supports talks between the Taliban and the U.S. — but only as a stepping-stone toward direct talks between the militant group and a negotiating team representing Afghans from across society, Kathy Gannon reports at the AP.

Afghan government control over districts in the country is at the lowest point since a U.S. inspector general began tracking the data in 2015, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (S.I.G.A.R.) watchdog announced yesterday. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

An account of the movement of persecuted Uighur Muslims from China into Afghanistan is provided by Haiyun Ma and I-Wei Jennifer Chang at Foreign Policy, who argue that “the Xinjiang government’s repressive policies, including ‘re-education camps’ can only serve to drive Uighur militancy and complicate Afghanistan’s internal security”

U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS

President Trump yesterday claimed he had a “very good conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping of China, signaling progress in the nations’ trade dispute, the comments coming just hours before federal prosecutors produced charges against a Chinese technology firm for alleged espionage against U.S. companies. Vivian Salama, Aruna Viswanatha and Kate O’Keeffe report at the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the charges at a press conference yesterday, with a Chinese state-owned company, a Taiwanese company and three Taiwanese nationals charged for engaging in economic espionage on behalf of the Chinese government – allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S.-based semiconductor company Micron Technology. “The problem has been growing rapidly, and along with China’s other unfair trade practices, it poses a real and illegal threat to our nation’s economic prosperity and competitiveness,” Sessions said in remarks at the Department of Justice (D.O.J.), also suggesting that the activity had been “overshadowed in the press by threats from Russia or radical Islamic terrorism,” Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro yesterday reiterated that he plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, after similar moves made by the U.S. and Guatemala. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly welcomed the plan, the AP reports.

An analysis of the role of Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone – who “sold himself to Trump’s Campaign as a WikiLeaks pipeline” – is provided by Sharon LaFraniere, Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim at the New York Times, in the light of newly released correspondence that sheds light on the connections between the parties.

A press conference intended to publicize sexual assault claims against special counsel Robert Mueller collapsed “in spectacular fashion” yesterday, after pro-Trump operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl “failed to demonstrate a grasp of even basic details” about the alleged accuser. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Will Somer reports at The Daily Beast.

President Trump is “screwing up his own foreign policy,” Ivo Daadler and James Lindsay comment at POLITICO Magazine, arguing that the president’s decision to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (I.N.F.) without consulting the U.S.’ international allies “is emblematic of his approach to foreign affairs.”

Just Security

1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites)


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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Trial Preview: Third Attempt to Convict Blackwater Guard for 2007 Massacre of Iraqi Civilians

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On Monday, Nov. 5, the third criminal trial of Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten for his role in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre begins in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before Judge Royce Lamberth. Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder in 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment, but in 2017, the D.C. Circuit reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial on the grounds that Slatten’s  prosecution should have been severed from that of his codefendants—Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard. The government retried Slatten earlier this year, but a hung jury ended the effort in a mistrial.

Factual Background

The D.C. Circuit summarized the facts of the case in its 2017 opinion as follows:

On September 16, 2007, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad near a United States diplomat who was under the protection of Blackwater, a private security firm under contract with the State Department. The defendants were members of Blackwater’s Raven 23 team, which was sent to provide secondary support in the effort to evacuate the diplomat. Rather than meeting the primary team at the pre-arranged checkpoint, Raven 23 shift leader Jimmy Watson ignored his orders and directed the team to Nisur Square, a traffic circle in downtown Baghdad that Watson intended to “lock down.” A car bomb had exploded in Nisur Square earlier that year, in response to which Iraqi security had been dramatically increased, with multiple checkpoints at the Square’s entrances for potential threats.

The Raven 23 convoy, which consisted of four armored vehicles, came to a stop at the south end of the Square, and together with Iraqi police they brought all traffic to a halt. Two or three minutes later, witnesses heard the “pops” of shots being fired, and a woman screaming for her son. The car that had been hit, a white Kia sedan, had been flagged days earlier by a Blackwater intelligence analyst as a type that might be used as a car bomb. According to the government, the Kia then rolled forward and lightly bumped the vehicle in front of it. The driver’s side of the Kia windshield had a hole in it and was splattered with blood.

Two nearby Iraqi police officers approached the Kia on either side, and they saw the driver’s face full of blood, with a bullet wound in the middle of his forehead. One turned back to the convoy, waving his hands to indicate the shooting should stop, while the other made similar gestures as he tried to open the driver’s door. At that point, the vehicle in front of the Kia moved away, causing the Kia to roll forward again. Heavy gunfire erupted from the Raven 23 convoy into the Kia, and the Iraqi officers took cover behind their nearby kiosk. Multiple grenades were fired at the Kia, causing it to catch fire. The Kia passenger was shot and killed.

Indiscriminate shooting from the convoy then continued past the Kia, to the south of the Square. Victims were hit as they sought cover or tried to escape, giving rise to the bulk of casualties that day. At some point a Raven 23 member radioed that they were taking incoming fire, but others could not locate any such threat. When the shooting died down, a radio call indicated one of the Raven 23 vehicles had been disabled and needed to be hooked up to another vehicle to be towed. During the hook-up, a member of the Raven 23 convoy saw an Iraqi shot in the stomach while his hands were up, by an unidentified Blackwater guard who had exited his vehicle. Once the hook-up was complete, the Raven 23 convoy began moving slowly around the circle and north out of the Square, where isolated shootings continued both to the west and north. By the time the convoy finally exited the Square, at least thirty-one Iraqi civilians had been killed or wounded.

Procedural History

The D.C. Circuit ruling described the case’s procedural backdrop:

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, the State Department conducted mandatory de-briefing interviews of the Raven 23 team. Because the testimony of certain witnesses before the grand jury relied on those statements, the district court dismissed the case as tainted as to all defendants. United States v. Slough, 677 F.Supp.2d 112, 166 (D.D.C. 2009) (citing Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 92 S.Ct. 1653, 32 L.Ed.2d 212 (1972)). This Court agreed that the oral and written statements that resulted from the de-briefings were compelled, and thus could not be used directly or indirectly by the government against the defendants who made them, but remanded the case for a more individualized analysis of the effect of the taint. United States v. Slough, 641 F.3d 544, 548, 554-55 (D.C. Cir. 2011).

On remand, the government used a new prosecutorial team and convened a new grand jury, which returned indictments against the defendants for voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Slatten moved to dismiss the charges against him as time-barred, which this Court ultimately granted by writ of mandamus. In re Slatten, No. 14-3007 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 18, 2014). The government thereafter obtained an indictment charging Slatten with first-degree murder. [Author Note: First-degree murder, unlike manslaughter, is not subject to the statute of limitations and was therefore not time-barred]. The defendants were tried jointly in the summer of 2014, and after seven weeks of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts except three. The district court sentenced Slatten to life imprisonment, and it sentenced Slough, Liberty and Heard to the mandatory term of imprisonment of thirty years for their convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), plus one day on all of the remaining counts.

The D.C. Circuit addressed seven major issues in its opinion:

  1. jurisdiction under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA);
  2. venue in the District of Columbia;
  3. the defendants’ motion for a new trial on account of statements made by a key prosecution witness post-trial that seemingly contradicted his testimony at trial;
  4. the sufficiency of the evidence to support conviction;
  5. Slatten’s claim of vindictive prosecution;
  6. Slatten’s motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants; and
  7. Eighth Amendment concerns related to the severity of the sentences imposed on Slough, Liberty, and Heard.

The D.C. Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, favoring the government, on each of the first five issues. However, it found that the lower court abused its discretion in denying admission of critical hearsay evidence and refusing to sever the cases, to Slatten’s severe detriment, and ordered a new trial. (The Eighth Amendment issue is not relevant to Slatten’s retrial and will not be discussed further in this post. The D.C. Circuit held that the mandatory 30-year sentence imposed on the three defendants convicted of manslaughter violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and remanded to the district court for resentencing. That proceeding is yet to occur.)

First, the D.C. Circuit panel agreed that the defendants’ conduct was covered by MEJA, which allows for the prosecution of extraterritorial crimes committed by civilians employed by Defense Department employees and contractors, as well as contractors employed by other agencies “to the extent such employment relates to supporting the mission of the Department of Defense overseas.” Although the defendants’ work in Iraq was through a contract with the State Department, the court determined that “Blackwater employed the defendants to provide security for the diplomats whose work plainly supported the DOD mission,” and that defendants’ employment “increased the manpower available to the military by replacing military personnel previously assigned to guard State Department personnel” and therefore supported the Defense Department mission. The court also affirmed the validity of the jury instruction with regard to MEJA jurisdiction.

Second, the court reviewed and concurred with the district court’s determination that venue was proper in the District of Columbia. Under 18 U.S.C. §3238, when offenses are committed outside the territory of the United States, venue is proper either “in the district in which the offender, or any one of two or more joint offenders, is arrested or is first brought” or “in the district of the last known residence of the offender or of any one of two or more joint offenders.” The government established venue by arresting in the District of Columbia another Blackwater guard named Jeremy Ridgeway, who was involved in the Nisour Square incident and who agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempted voluntary manslaughter. Ridgeway, the court held, counted as a “joint offender” with Slough, Liberty, Heard and Slatten under the statute because they all participated “in the same act or transaction constituting a crime or crimes.” Ridgeway’s arrest in D.C. was therefore sufficient to establish venue for the trial of Slough, Liberty, Heard and Slatten, even though Ridgeway himself did not go to trial.

Third, the D.C. Circuit decided that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendants’ motion for a new trial, without conducting a hearing, on account of inconsistencies between a key government witness’s testimony at trial and his victim impact statement submitted at sentencing. Iraqi police officer Sarhan Dheyab Abdul Monem testified at trial about his observations in Nisour Square during the attack, recounting how he approached the Kia after the initial shots were fired from the Raven 23 convoy and saw that the driver had been killed instantly by a shot to the head and that a passenger, the driver’s mother, remained alive in the vehicle. In his written victim impact statement, however, Monem said he “remained in [his] traffic cabin unable to move nor think” after the first round of gunfire from the Raven 23 convoy and that he “heard the driver of the Kia pleading with his mother to get out of the car before they were both killed.” Slatten argued that the victim impact statement undercut the government’s case against him, since he could not be guilty of murder if the person he allegedly killed was actually alive after the shooting in Nisour Square began. The other defendants argued that Monem perjured himself and that the new evidence refutes key parts of the government’s theory. The district court nevertheless rejected the motion for a new trial because there was enough other evidence in the record supporting Monem’s trial testimony—which had been subject to defense cross-examination—to make it improbable that a new trial would result in acquittal. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, noting the “broad discretion” the court gives to a trial judge “in ruling on a motion for a new trial, both in his actual decision and in what he considers before making that decision.”

Fourth, the court found that the evidence presented in support of Slatten’s first-degree murder charge—for Slatten’s involvement in the death of Ahmed Al-Rubia’y, the driver of the white Kia—was sufficient such that “after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” The court weighed testimony from several other Blackwater guards in the Raven 23 convoy implicating, in some cases directly and in others indirectly, Slatten in Al-Rubia’y’s killing and suggesting anti-Iraqi animus as motive, as well as other evidence supporting the conviction, against testimony by other Blackwater guards and Iraqi police officers that arguably exculpated Slatten. The D.C. Circuit panel said it was the jury’s responsibility, as the finder of fact, to consider the gaps and conflicts in the evidence and that it was reasonable for the jury to return a guilty verdict, even if “a different jury might have resolved the conflict differently.”

Fifth, the D.C. Circuit dismissed Slatten’s claim of vindictive prosecution, reviewing the district court’s determination for clear error. Slatten argued that the government’s decision to charge him with murder, after the manslaughter charges against him were dismissed as time-barred, amounted to vindictive prosecution. “The Due Process Clause prohibits prosecutors from upping the ante by filing increased charges in order to retaliate against a defendant for exercising a legal right,” but “[t]o succeed on a claim of vindictive prosecution, a defendant must establish that the increased charge was brought solely to penalize him and could not be justified as a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion.” Slatten did receive disparate treatment from his co-defendants who were charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter, but that fact was insufficient to show government vindictiveness given that what prompted the murder charge was the dismissal of the manslaughter charges. The statute of limitations prevented the government from treating Slatten the same as his co-defendants and “left the government with no alternative but to charge him with murder or else see a heinous crime go unpunished.” On that set of facts, “the district did not err, let alone clearly err, in rejecting Slatten’s defense of prosecutorial vindictiveness.”

Slatten’s sixth claim on appeal—that the district court abused its discretion in denying Slatten’s motion to sever his trial—was the winner. The government charged Slatten with murder on the theory that he intentionally shot at the Kia, killing Al-Rubia’y, without provocation or perception of threat from the vehicle. But in two interviews with State Department investigators and a written sworn statement following the massacre, one of Slatten’s co-defendants, Slough, said he was the one to shoot Al-Rubia’y and did so because the vehicle headed right at the convoy despite verbal and physical signals from the guards to stop. (Slough’s identity as the declarant was under seal during the first trial and his name was redacted from the district court and D.C. Circuit filings. However, filings in Slatten’s second trial openly referred to Slough as the co-defendant in question.) “The co-defendant’s statements,” the D.C. Circuit wrote, “strike at the heart of [the government’s] theory and instead point to the co-defendant, not Slatten, as the Blackwater convoy member who first “engaged and hit the driver” of the white Kia.” Slatten argued to the district court that severance was essential so that Slough could be called as an exculpatory witness for Slatten or Slough’s prior statements admitted without jeopardizing Slough’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The district court rejected Slatten’s argument, deeming it unlikely that Slough would agree to testify at Slatten’s trial and classifying Slough’s prior statements as inadmissible hearsay.

Slatten appealed the hearsay determination and the D.C. Circuit reversed, concluding that Slough’s oral and written statements to State Department investigators should have been admitted under Federal Rule of Evidence 807, the residual hearsay exception. The exception narrowly permits only hearsay testimony that is “very important and very reliable,” and only if, as the D.C. Circuit noted, five conditions are met:

First, the statement must have “equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness” comparable to those found in Rule 803’s and Rule 804’s enumerated hearsay exceptions. FED R. EVID. 807(a)(1). Second, it must be “offered as evidence of a material fact.” Id. § 807(a)(2). Third, the statement must be “more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts.” Id. § 807(a)(3). Fourth, “admitting it [must] . . . serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice.” Id. § 807(a)(4). And finally, the proponent of the statement must have given “an adverse party reasonable notice of the intent to offer the statement and its particulars, including the declarant’s name and address, so that the party has a fair opportunity to meet it.”

The court believed that this was “one of those exceptional circumstances” because “[s]everal of the circumstances surrounding the co-defendant’s declarations indicate their reliability and manifest that he was likely telling the truth at the time he made his statements”; there was no other “evidence more probative on the point for which Slatten seeks to admit his co-defendant’s statements”; and “because of the critical nature of the co-defendant’s statements . . . their exclusion had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury’s verdict and was therefore not harmless error.” The D.C. Circuit also noted that the district court expressly acknowledged the government’s concession that Slough’s statements to the State Department investigators, if admissible, would justify severance of Slatten’s case. Finding the statements admissible under Rule 807, the D.C. Circuit held that the district court’s denial of Slatten’s motion to sever was an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, it reversed Slatten’s conviction and remanded for a new trial.

Second Trial

Slatten’s second trial began in late June 2018 and lasted five weeks. The evidence presented remained much the same as in the original trial, though narrowed to the material relevant to Slatten’s role in the Nisour Square shootings. Judge Lamberth generally affirmed his evidentiary rulings from the joint trial and denied most of Slatten’s pretrial motions to exclude a variety of witness testimony and physical evidence. However, as a result of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, Slatten was newly able to introduce Slough’s post-incident statements implicating himself as the first to shoot at the white Kia and its driver. Supporting this account of events was the testimony of two witnesses, Iraqi police officers, who said the first shots came from the turret of Slatten’s vehicle, where Slough sat, rather from inside the vehicle, where Slatten sat. Slatten also benefited from shaky testimony by the Raven 23 convoy leader, Jimmy Watson, who previously testified confidently that Slatten was the first shooter that day.

The jury deliberated for 16 days and was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, leading Judge Lamberth to declare a mistrial. Shortly thereafter, the government declared its intent to retry Slatten a third time.

Third Trial

Prosecutors have said they expect the new trial to last approximately fifteen days. In pretrial motion practice, Judge Lamberth largely reaffirmed and adopted his rulings on the equivalent motions from the second trial, including his denial of Slatten’s motions for acquittal and to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, lack of venue, and vindictive prosecution. On new motions from the defense, however, Lamberth precluded certain government arguments and evidence, including argument about the government’s charging decision related to Slough, graphic video evidence depicting Al-Rubia’y’s remains, and argument that Slatten was the only Raven 23 who possessed the weapon and skillset necessary to kill Al-Rubia’y in his vehicle.

Jury selection occured this week and the trial kicks off next Monday, Nov. 5.

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