Fdd's overnight brief

June 7, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The U.S. Treasury has placed sanctions on six entities and seven individuals in China, Hong Kong and Iran for allegedly helping Iran obtain technology for use in its ballistic missile program. – Wall Street Journal

A former member of Iran’s police force who resigned in protest against the suppression of demonstrators, is said to have died under what colleagues say were suspicious circumstances. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Four people, including a Mossad agent, died when a small yacht capsized in a lake in northern Italy late last month with new information coming to light suggesting it was more than a freak accident. – Iran International

The US State Department responding to reporters on Monday did not deny that its special envoy for Iran had secret meetings with Tehran’s ambassador to the UN. – Iran International

Israel’s UN ambassador says Iran’s nuclear weapons program is in the process of being negotiated under an interim deal that does not roll back uranium enrichment. – Iran International

John Bolton writes: These tectonic developments augur impending strategic failure for America and its key allies. Instead of trying to second-guess and undercut a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, the White House should prepare for what happens after Ayatollah Khamenei is called to his maker. Waiting for the ayatollah’s end before we begin planning could forfeit the opportunity. Iran has only had two supreme leaders. This is our chance to make sure there isn’t a third. – Wall Street Journal

Saeid Golkar and Kasra Aarabi write: Through the installation of his cult of personality, the 84-year-old ayatollah has been able to inject young blood to advance and sustain his ideological vision for the foreseeable future. In the coming months and years this new generation of Khamenei absolutists can be expected to eagerly pursue the supreme leader’s ideological polices at home and abroad at an even greater pace, with all eyes on neutralizing the three existential threats the regime faces. While Khamenei’s “purification” project was designed to ensure blind loyalty to strengthen his hand at this critical juncture, the empowering of ideological “yes men” could end up having the opposite effect. Only time will tell how this gamble plays out. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

A major dam and power station in a Russian-occupied part of Ukraine were destroyed Tuesday, narrowing Ukraine’s options for a planned counteroffensive in the south by unleashing a torrent of water that caused serious flooding. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine asked the International Court of Justice to declare Russia in violation of treaties against terrorism financing and racial discrimination for actions dating from 2014 in occupied Crimea and the Kremlin-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions. – Wall Street Journal

Three months before saboteurs bombed the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, the Biden administration learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the undersea network, using a small team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces. – Washington Post

The destruction of the Kakhovka dam potentially poses problems for a canal supplying water to Crimea that has for years been a point of geopolitical tension between Kyiv and Moscow, Russian officials warned on Tuesday. – New York Times

The battle to raise the U.S. debt ceiling rekindled debate in Congress over funding for Ukraine, as House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday he had no immediate plans to take up legislation to boost defense spending beyond what was in last week’s deal. – Reuters

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has enough water to cool its reactors for “several months” from a pond located above the reservoir of a nearby dam that has broken, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Tuesday, calling for the pond to be spared. – Reuters

Russian officials warned that supplying Ukraine with U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets would escalate the war as it stretches into its 15th month. – The Hill

David Ignatius writes: It might take weeks before the results of the Ukrainian campaign are clear, but Kyiv has already succeeded in expanding the stalemated fighting in Bakhmut, the bitterly contested eastern city that was ground zero throughout the winter. This is now a campaign with multiple military and political fronts — and aftershocks that reach to Moscow, Beijing and Washington. […]Ukraine’s willingness to gamble on its summer offensive is a measure of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s confidence but also his need to show results. Such big wagers have mixed results in military history. – Washington Post

Andreas Kluth writes: That would be Russian President Vladimir Putin. Throughout his murderous assault on Ukraine, he’s threatened to turn the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station into a second Chernobyl, or even to launch nuclear weapons. Reading him the finer points of the Geneva Conventions (to which Russia is a signatory) feels a bit like singing Kumbaya to Sauron. All the more reason why Ukraine must defeat him, and the West must help. – Bloomberg

Alexander J. Motyl writes: “New Europe” isn’t just as old as “Old Europe.” When it comes to Russia, it’s smarter and wiser than Old Europe. Centuries of dealing with Mother Russia’s perennial fits of imperial expansion and old-fashioned bloodletting have taught the New Europeans things that their naïve siblings in Old Europe cannot even imagine. It’s high time for Western Europe and the United States to realize, fully and permanently, that only by listening to the Eastern Europeans can Putin’s imperialist designs be stopped. The West would do well to continue feasting on crow. – The Hill

Ted Lipien writes: This is possibly the worst possible time to have a management crisis at the USAGM, just as Putin is waging his unrelenting propaganda war against the U.S. and his murderous hot war against Ukraine. And these management failures threaten the work and reputation of many excellent VOA broadcasters. I can’t predict what else could go wrong at USAGM. But this crisis-prone U.S. government-media conglomerate desperately needs Congress to intervene with bipartisan personnel and management reforms. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: This was most notable in Biden’s overt retreat following the Russian downing of a U.S. drone in international airspace in March. In stark contrast with the United Kingdom, the White House has also repeatedly and publicly insisted (doing so again on Tuesday) that it opposes Ukrainian military action inside Russian territory. The problem with this stance is that even if it seems sensible in relation to the specific issue in question, it plays perfectly to the Russian security elite’s belief that they can advantageously escalate further. Put simply, it’s time to keep an even closer eye on the Zaporizhzhia plant. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: Top line: This targeting of a civilian dam represents an obvious breach of the laws of war. If Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government is to blame, it must learn that such actions carry far higher penalties than they offer prizes. If not, Moscow will have little reason to avoid future outrages of a similar kind. – Washington Examiner


Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed a rare border shooting in which three Israeli soldiers and an Egyptian security officer were killed, the leaders said in separate statements on Tuesday. – Reuters

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that Israel’s democracy requires “an independent judiciary,” wading into the controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul that has drawn mass protests in Israel. – Reuters

The mother of a Palestinian toddler who died of his wounds after being shot by Israeli soldiers last week called for justice on Tuesday as she attended his funeral in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered Tuesday for the funeral of a 2-year-old boy who died this week after he was mistakenly shot by Israeli troops during a shootout in the West Bank. – Agence France-Presse

Concerns in the Negev are rising following the terror attack on the Egyptian border that killed three IDF soldiers, Ramat Ganev Council head Eran Doron told Maariv on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday threatened to bomb Hezbollah and Lebanon “into the stone age,” if the terror group “makes a mistake” and “starts a war against Israel.” – Jerusalem Post

National Unity chairman Benny Gantz said Tuesday that he would not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government in order to help push a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia over the finish line, but that he would be willing to back it from the opposition. – Times of Israel

An Israeli motorist was lightly hurt in a shooting attack Tuesday night near the northern West Bank town of Huwara, the military and medics said. – Times of Israel

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant brushed aside Iranian claims that it had developed a new hypersonic missile Tuesday, saying Israel would always have a solution to counter it, as tensions remained high over Tehran’s nuclear program. – Times of Israel

A Polish government delegation was visiting Israel Tuesday to meet government officials as the countries seek to mend their frayed ties, the Kan public broadcaster reported. – Times of Israel

Andrew Tucker, Gregory Rose, and David Benger write: Israel’s defense forces protect its citizens from ceaseless barrages of rockets and terror attacks. But in New York and The Hague, Israel must depend on other countries to speak out in its defense. Those countries that truly value the UN system will make submissions to the UN court, urging it not to give politicized sanctions advice. They have until July 25 to do so. They might also urge that the PLO to return to the table to negotiate peace, in the spirit of the UN charter’s values. – The Hill

Gil Troy writes: Because these young heroes knew they had something to die for, they had something to live for, too. We Zionists keep saying, in so many ways, to the newly-stricken families and the other mourners that you and we are sad today. But we know, Ted Lasso-style, that you and we are never alone. We will never forget these wonderful souls, the country they defended and the Zionist us-ness they embodied in their young and far-too-short lives.” – Jerusalem Post


The former Afghan soldier, called Wasi by family and friends, sat in a dental chair and conversed in Pashto with his older brother Sami as Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” played in the background. It was a scene thousands of miles from the places he’d been the past two years. – Associated Press

The European Union called on Afghan authorities Tuesday to investigate the poisoning of primary schoolgirls in the country’s north after 77 students were hospitalized. – Associated Press

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is slamming the Afghanistan dissent cable to which Secretary of State Antony Blinken allowed congressional access Tuesday as “embarrassing” and saying that it debunks the Biden administration’s narrative that it was caught off guard by the country’s swift collapse in 2021. – Fox News


A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted the former local head of Amnesty International, Taner Kilic, and three other rights activists in a re-trial of a protracted case on terrorism charges, the rights group said. – Reuters

Turkish authorities on Tuesday seized and jailed a 16-year-old youth for drawing a mustache on an election campaign poster showing re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, media reports said. – Agence France-Presse

Freeing your country from the demands of global capital, though, is a costly business. With the lira losing almost 30% of its value against the US dollar over the past year, a swollen current account deficit and a central bank that’s burned through currency reserves, Turkey needs foreign money again. Erdogan, it seems, has accepted that. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia

The Biden administration is pressing Saudi Arabia to lift travel bans on some U.S.-Saudi citizens as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the kingdom this week, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The surprising deal on Tuesday ending a civil war in the world of professional golf stands to produce benefits for former President Donald J. Trump’s family business by increasing the prospect of major tournaments continuing to be played at Trump-owned courses in the United States and perhaps abroad. – New York Times

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s antitrust cops could try to block the golf tour merger, but it’s hard to see who will be harmed by it. The President would be wiser to follow the PGA’s lead and patch things up with the Saudis. – Wall Street Journal

David von Drehle writes: One wonders, as the governor of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund assumes the chairmanship of professional golf, whether Norman has not achieved a variety of revenge. In the newly “combined commercial businesses” that will take the place of good old golf, who can argue any longer that there are higher values than the bottom line? By what standard will an Open championship matter more than being first on the total winnings list? Forget the green jackets. Now, it’s all about the greenbacks. – Washington Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: The bottom line is that the best way for Arab countries to influence Israel is to engage with Israel. Despite his coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would go to great lengths to compromise with MBS. It is also up to the US to repair its relations with the Saudis and convince MBS they have a partner in the US if they normalize with Israel. This is a strategic goal for the US, as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “Full normalization is a declared national security interest of the United States.” It is up to MBS and President Joe Biden to show courage and leadership befitting their high office. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The health of a son of Libya’s late leader Moammar Gadhafi was deteriorating three days into a hunger strike to protest his detention in Lebanon without trial, his lawyer said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Aaron Zelin writes: Without proper mechanisms to repatriate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate them into society in the future, they could pose new security dilemmas and threats to North African states. Therefore, even if jihadism in North Africa has probably reached its lowest level of activity in some time, it is necessary to maintain focus on the issue as any changed dynamics could alter the level of threat posed to the region as a whole as well as to local populations. – Hoover Institution

Mustafa Naji and Ibrahim Jalal write: Many previous Houthi partners were used by the group as it navigated Yemen’s volatile political landscape, only to later end up under house arrest, displaced, exiled, or eliminated. Given the Houthis’ track record with partnerships and their current capture of the state, build-up of counterbalancing institutions, and sizable paramilitary forces, as well as the country’s fragmentation and multiplicity of actors and ambitions, a central question arises: Is power-sharing with the Houthis always likely to end in failure or is a different path possible? While history is certainly indicative, that is a question only the Houthis can answer. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

A North Korean youth group has donated rocket launchers to the military in a show of “fervent patriotism”, state media KCNA reported on Wednesday, as the isolated state confronts what it sees as growing foreign threats. – Reuters

Editorial: Meanwhile, WHO denied Taiwan even observer status to the World Health Assembly, and singled out Israel for condemnation over claims it violated the health rights of its Palestinian and Druze populations. Kim Jong Un will fit right in. – Wall Street Journal

Gedaliah Afterman and Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein write: As Israel’s ambassador to South Korea, Akiva Tor put it in an interview earlier this year that Korea and Israel have been dating and it’s time for the two to finally get married. Then-president Shimon Peres visited South Korea, in 2010, as the first Israeli president to do so, and president Reuven Rivlin followed, in 2019. A visit by Yeol and other South Korean leaders to Israel could truly elevate the Israel-South Korea partnership not only bilaterally but in the Middle East and beyond. – Jerusalem Post


As investor concern grows over an information crackdown in China, another key data source has become mysteriously rarer: readouts from meetings of the nation’s 24 most-powerful men. – Bloomberg

The US Space Force is set to launch a constellation of satellites this summer to track Chinese or Russian space vehicles that can potentially disable or damage orbiting objects, the latest step in the burgeoning extra-terrestrial contest between superpowers. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit China in the coming weeks for talks with top officials, possibly including President Xi Jinping, people familiar with the matter said, as the US looks to resume high-level communication despite continued tensions. – Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon said the Biden administration is pursuing the right strategy on China by focusing on national security and working with allies and the business community. – Bloomberg

The growing tensions between the U.S. and China have had a major impact on various sectors, including cyberspace, which is now becoming an integral part of modern warfare. – The Hill

Joseph Bosco writes: Aquilino said that, despite current tensions, war with China is “not imminent, and it is not inevitable.” Yet he also noted that China and the West have different value systems, with China’s informed by “Marxist” thinking. The admiral didn’t say it, but unless Beijing’s approach to the world changes — among the fundamental objectives of Richard Nixon’s opening to China —conflict will indeed be inevitable. – The Hill

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: More effectively competing and deterring China’s Communist Party regime requires relentless focus to build up credible combat power. Mending gaps and maintaining any shrinking advantage in sectors such as shipbuilding, the organic and commercial defense and aerospace industrial bases, or cutting-edge technology means the Pentagon has no time to spare nor ability to take its foot off the gas. Shrinking forces will not be able to change the minds of leaders intent on upending the status quo. As our military superiority continues to decline, leaders must be more clear-eyed and honest that we have met our peer and it is China. – American Enterprise Institute

South Asia

The U.S. and India are expected to reach a deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington this month to manufacture jet-fighter engines in India, U.S. and Indian officials and defense executives said. – Wall Street Journal

The local governor of Russia’s Pacific island of Sakhalin has invited companies from India and China to tap the region’s energy resources following the departure of European and American oil and gas majors. – Reuters

President Joe Biden’s top official for the Indo-Pacific region said on Tuesday he hoped a visit this month by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “consecrates” the relationship with India as the most important for the U.S. in the world. – Reuters

Hammad Azhar, who has served as Pakistan’s finance and energy minister, says police and plain-clothed officials have burst into his home six times in recent weeks, smashed his belongings and threatened his 82-year-old father, warning that his daughter would be abducted. – Reuters

Germany and India are closing in on a deal to build diesel submarines in the South Asian country as Russia’s prolonged war in Ukraine pushes New Delhi to expand its sources of military hardware beyond top supplier Moscow. – Bloomberg


Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau said his government “must remove the stigma” from a security agreement with Australia and work toward having it ratified by parliament, local media reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

New Zealand and Fiji are finalising a defence agreement that will increase engagement between the two countries militaries and help build capacity and skills in the Fiji Defence Force, the Fijian prime minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Thailand is in a “delicate phase” after its election last month and the U.S. goal is to support an “effective, stable, democratic government” there, the top U.S. official for the Indo-Pacific region said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Fiji’s leader indicated Wednesday his nation is reconsidering its security ties with China at a time that geopolitical tensions in the Pacific are rising. – Associated Press

Japan announced Tuesday that it joined the United States and Australia in signing an agreement on a $95 million undersea cable project that will connect East Micronesia island nations to improve networks in the Indo-Pacific region where China is increasingly expanding its influence. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a special appeal of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s bribery conviction for allegedly receiving gold and thousands of dollars from a former political ally, legal officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press

A Thai state enterprise that has been exporting electricity to neighboring Myanmar has cut off power to two border towns with notorious casino complexes that allegedly host major organized crime operations, Thai officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press

U.S., Japanese and Philippine coast guard ships staged law enforcement drills in waters near the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday as Washington presses efforts to reinforce alliances in Asia amid an increasingly tense rivalry with China. – Associated Press

The Philippines will ensure that it won’t be used by other countries for their own benefit as it continues to boost ties with its allies amid heightened geopolitical tensions, according to the nation’s newly appointed defense chief. – Bloomberg

China is taking aggressive new actions in the Taiwan Strait, escalating Beijing’s routine harassment in the international waterway at a low point in diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington. – The Hill

James Stavridis writes: But big doors swing on small hinges. At the height of the Cold War, a popular novel was published, and a powerful film followed, called The Bedford Incident.  Set in the icy waters of the north Atlantic, it was about a crisis at sea involving an American anti-submarine destroyer, USS Bedford, and a Russian submarine. Nuclear war is narrowly averted. Now China and the US may be heading into similar danger. – Bloomberg


Thousands of workers across France walked off the job and took to the streets on Tuesday in an attempt to breathe new life into a protest movement that has lost momentum since President Emmanuel Macron signed his contentious pension overhaul into law. – Wall Street Journal

Sweden’s defense minister said Tuesday his country’s top priority is to gain full NATO membership before the allied leaders gather for their next summit, saying an addition will make the trans-Atlantic alliance even stronger. – Associated Press

In an election that reflected strong global opposition to Russia’s war against Ukraine, NATO and European Union member Slovenia soundly defeated Moscow’s close ally Belarus on Tuesday for a seat on the U.N. Security Council starting in January. – Associated Press

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas warned that certain members of the NATO alliance are not taking their defense targets seriously enough, urging them to spend more to ward off any potential threats. – Bloomberg

Lionel Laurent writes: Macron is right to try a new approach, and the gospel of a more self-reliant Europe is worth preaching. But even a message as simple and popular as supporting Ukraine may not be enough to truly galvanize Europe or propel Macron’s agenda forward. If Paris fails to back up words with action or real diplomatic investment — which wouldn’t be the first time — this may not be the last mea culpa Macron offers his partners. – Bloomberg

Janusz Bugajski writes: At a time of regional upheaval, Washington must send a clear message that it supports the aspirations of the Serbian people for fair elections and a democratic government while fully defending the integrity of Serbia’s neighbors. Only a pro-Western administration in Serbia that severs Belgrade’s corrupt ties with Moscow and revokes any expansionist regional ambitions can become a genuine partner for Washington. And without a decisive American strategy containing concrete goals, timetables, rewards, and punishments for all protagonists, the western Balkans could again slide toward war. – Washington Examiner


Sudan’s warring military factions are restarting ceasefire talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya TV reported on Tuesday, as they clashed by air and on the ground in the capital Khartoum. – Reuters

Kenyan police fired tear gas at hundreds of people protesting near parliament on Tuesday against a proposed finance bill that would hike taxes on fuel and housing. – Reuters

The Dutch supreme court on Tuesday ruled that a man facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide should not be extradited to Rwanda because it cannot be guaranteed his trial will be fair. – Reuters

An American-based aid group said that approximately $900,000 was stolen from its Congo programs by members of the organization who conspired with outsiders. – Associated Press

Latin America

Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, is scheduled to go on trial this month on charges that he abused his power as president to make baseless attacks against Brazil’s election systems. If convicted, he would be ineligible to run for office for eight years. – New York Times

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, one of the leading contenders to be the country’s next leader, said on Tuesday he will resign to focus on winning the presidential nomination of the ruling party for the 2024 election. – Reuters

Leaders of Venezuela’s fractured opposition are shaking voters’ hands and promising — yet again — that they will defeat President Nicolás Maduro at the ballot box. – Associated Press

A Peruvian judge on Tuesday affirmed this week’s planned extradition to the U.S. of the main suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway. – Associated Press

Candidates to be Guatemala’s next president are taking a cue from the leader of neighboring El Salvador and promising their voters they will build mega-prisons and hammer criminal gangs into submission. – Associated Press

United States

Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan and his allies in Congress are demanding documents from and meetings with leading academics who study disinformation, increasing pressure on a group they accuse of colluding with government officials to suppress conservative speech. – Washington Post

Mark Meadows, the final White House chief of staff under President Donald J. Trump and a potentially key figure in inquiries related to Mr. Trump, has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office, according to two people briefed on the matter. – New York Times

The latest twist in the inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents is the surprise revelation that a previously unknown federal grand jury in Florida has recently started hearing testimony in the case. – New York Times

Scott Wallsten writes: What is to be done? In the short-term, the Commerce Department can do the sensible thing and renew its waivers while other agencies issue new ones. In the future, however, legislators ought to fairly examine the gap between their best intentions and a policy’s actual outcomes. “Buy American” makes for a great bumper sticker, but great bumper stickers rarely make for good policy. – The Hill


Prince Harry on Tuesday became the first high-ranking British royal to give evidence in court in over a century, as he detailed his allegations that reporters from Mirror Group Newspapers illegally hacked his cellphone to get scoops, the latest broadside by the disaffected duke against Britain’s tabloid newspapers. – Wall Street Journal

Artificial intelligence poses an “existential risk” to humanity, a key innovator warned during a visit to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, suggesting an international agency like the International Atomic Energy Agency oversee the ground-breaking technology. – Associated Press

A group of Democratic senators wrote to Twitter owner Elon Musk and the company’s incoming CEO, Linda Yaccarino, to raise concerns that actions since Musk’s takeover of the social media platform may have violated legal obligations and threatened consumer data security. – The Hill

Senators are set to convene for three bipartisan briefings on artificial intelligence (AI) to deepen their expertise on this “pressing topic,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others announced on Tuesday. – The Hill

The FBI is warning the public about the use of “deepfakes” to harass or blackmail targets with fake sexually explicit photos or videos of them. – The Hill

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: The weird urge of AI promoters to stoke terror about their creations perhaps is better as an example of a problem than a description of one. In the digital age, if you can capture the public’s attention, it can be worth billions. AI entrepreneurs have figured this out and taken it to extremes: Pay attention to us because we might kill everybody. And it’s working. They are getting attention. – Wall Street Journal

Parmy Olson writes: Looking more closely at AI systems now, versus wringing our hands about a vague apocalypse of the future, is not only more sensible, it puts humans in a stronger position to prevent a catastrophic event from happening in the first place. Yet tech companies would much prefer that we worry about that distant prospect than push for transparency around their algorithms. When it comes to our future with AI, we must resist the distractions of science fiction from the greater scrutiny that’s necessary today. – Bloomberg

Samuel Woolley, Martin Riedl, and Josephine Lukito write: Despite the growing need to understand influencers and other problems online, social media platforms such as Twitter have made it more difficult to use their data to conduct research. More transparent, ready, data access for independent research is critically necessary to understand how political influencers use TikTok and other platforms to manipulate the groups in our democracy who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately, social media companies don’t appear to be moving in that direction. – The Hill

Roger Cochetti writes: It now seems likely, but by no means certain, that end-user AI will have a major impact on the global economy and social structure, and will both create and destroy numerous businesses. In the process, there will be businesses that win and those that lose. Government regulation is not the key driver in determining business winners and losers, but it is an important factor. Depending on what is or is not done, it could easily be a key factor. Under these circumstances, we can expect a constantly shifting landscape of positions on whether AI should be regulated and if so, exactly who should be regulated and to what extent. Buckle up — these rides come only once every few decades. – The Hill


Within a few days of establishing a marketplace for commercial companies to provide surveillance and tracking data to military users, the Commercial Space Office received its first tasking from U.S. Africa Command. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin on Tuesday announced it has selected a General Electric Aerospace engine for the aerial refueling tanker it’s seeking to sell to a wavering Air Force. – Defense News

Michael Rubin writes: The damage retired officers do by accepting MEK largesse is not limited to the Iran matter. Taking money from the MEK corrupts the reputation of the U.S. military. Rajavi or the various organizations she controls do not offer honoraria or plane tickets to Shelton and Jones because she respects them or their knowledge of Iran. Rather, she wants to rent associations with the positions they held in the military. […]Those accepting MEK cash may believe there is no price to pay for an easy reward, but they are wrong: The price extracted from the military’s reputation is huge. – Washington Examiner