Fdd's overnight brief

November 2, 2020

In The News


Suspected Iranian government-backed hackers have probed a number of state election websites since September, accessing nonpublic voter registration data in at least one state, federal agencies said in an alert Friday. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s air force began an annual drill Monday, state television reported, with its aging fleet of U.S.- and Russian-made jet fighters taking part alongside locally made drones and other aircraft. – Associated Press

U.S. intelligence officials and researchers at major internet firms say hackers from around the globe have targeted the 2020 U.S. election, including the campaigns of President Donald Trump and his challenger, Joe Biden. – Reuters

The United States revealed on Thursday it had seized Iranian missiles shipped to Yemen and sold 1.1 million barrels of previously seized Iranian oil that was bound for Venezuela, in the Trump administration’s latest move to increase pressure on Tehran less than a week before Nov. 3 election. – Reuters

Support for Mr Rouhani and the reformist camp has collapsed amid an economy devastated by US sanctions and the region’s worst coronavirus death toll. With the president standing down after two terms in office, his replacement will have to steer the country through its economic crisis and manage tensions with the US. – Financial Times

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: The on-going construction-related activity that we have observed through late October 2020 continues to be consistent with Iranian statements about its effort to build expeditiously a new centrifuge assembly plant in the mountainous area near the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. […]This general area also includes pre-existing tunnels (dating to 2007) that have already been associated with the Natanz enrichment plant, and Iran may be planning to build additional facilities underground, with new support areas located nearby on the surface. – Institute for Science and International Security


Greece urged Turkey on Sunday to rescind a naval advisory announcing hydrocarbon exploration activity in the Mediterranean, saying the area it covered included Greek continental shelf. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This dance of naval provocations shows that Turkey will use the Navtex notice whenever it wants a new crisis with Greece and then climb down when it gets bored. It has also sent Syrian mercenaries to Libya and Azerbaijan, clashed with the Syrian regime, bombed Kurds in Iraq, incited against Armenia and France and threatened its NATO allies. It has also threatened to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israel’s control.  This year has seen nearly endless crises with Turkey on all its fronts – from Armenia to Syria to the sea. – Jerusalem Post

Simon Schofield writes: There is a toxic political cocktail being purveyed and supped in Ankara. Its ingredients include hard-line political Islamism, Turkish ethno-nationalism, irredentist dreams of restoring Ottoman territory and a bunker mentality belief of Western conspiracies against Turkey. The only possible outcome is that tensions will continue to escalate as Erdogan steers his country away from Western liberal democracies and toward the “managed democracies” club led by Russia and China. – Jerusalem Post

Andrew Greco and Will Christou write: Russia is militarily pressuring Turkey across northern Syria likely to force a favorable negotiated settlement. Russian forces are likely setting conditions for negotiations by seeking to establish new positions along the Turkish border in Raqqa Province, forcing Turkey to withdraw from observation posts in regime-held territory, and conducting airstrikes against Turkish proxies and infrastructure in Aleppo Province. Turkey will likely respond to Russian pressure by escalating its involvement in Syria or another theater of conflict between the two countries, such as Nagorno Karabakh. – Institute for the Study of War

Andreas Kluth writes: Nominally, Turkey is a member of NATO and still officially interested in applying to join the EU. In reality, Erdogan needs to portray Europe as the enemy. Because he’s weak at home, he’ll seize on any propaganda opportunity he gets. The danger is that in the process he might unleash passions and hatreds far beyond his, or anybody’s, control, potentially causing more violence, suffering and perhaps war. Europeans and Turks of any faith should see through Erdogan’s vanity and cynicism — and tactically ignore him. – Bloomberg


Three and a half years later, the promised peace seems further away than ever. Trump’s plan, crafted by son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, landed with a thud in February and all but disappeared. – Washington Post

Israel’s leader on Sunday praised President Donald Trump’s Mideast policies, even as he avoided openly taking sides ahead of the U.S. presidential election. – Associated Press

Israel on Saturday welcomed a declaration by the Dominican Republic that the Caribbean country may consider moving its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. – Reuters

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told Israeli officials during a visit to Israel this week that the Trump administration has approved selling F-22 stealth fighters to the Jewish state, according to a Friday report in a Saudi-owned newspaper. – Times of Israel

Hundreds of people gathered on Friday at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to demonstrate against French President Emmanuel Macron and his comments protecting the right to caricature the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, the Jewish News Syndicate reported. – Jerusalem Post

A senior commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Fatah faction, was killed on Saturday in the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. – Jerusalem Post

Israel received official authorization to export fruit and vegetables to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry announced. – Jerusalem Post

President Trump is leaning into his foreign policy record with Israel in the waning days before the presidential election, pushing through a rash of policy changes and touting breakthrough diplomatic agreements as proof his policies are best for the region and U.S. security. – The Hill

The Israeli army said on Monday its forces demolished overnight the home of a Palestinian man charged with the August murder of Rabbi Shay Ohayon in central Israel, which prosecutors say was an act of terrorism. – Haaretz

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: While there are major official policy differences on Iran between US President Donald Trump and US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Israel may be in danger no matter who wins Tuesday’s election. Both politicians, for different reasons, may be ready to cut a deal with the Islamic Republic that may only be cosmetically better than the 2015 nuclear deal. – Jerusalem Post

David Makovsky, Basia Rosenbaum, and David Patkin write: Should Trump win, the recent pattern of greater approvals outside the barrier is bound to increase. U.S. officials insist that their plan was just an opening bid and that they are awaiting a Palestinian counteroffer. But Netanyahu seemingly views the plan as a ceiling for Palestinian demands rather than a floor, and will presumably continue increasing settlement activity indefinitely if Trump is reelected. In that sense, U.S. voting results will likely determine whether the geographic scope of settlement expansion continues as it has during 2020. – Washington Institute

Udi Shaham writes: The peace agreement between Israel and the UAE will not only bring Emirati investment money into Israel, it will also bring Israeli tourism to the Persian Gulf. While Turkey had suffered a decline in Israeli tourism in the past decade due to political tensions between the two countries, the political climate of the UAE has allowed it to fill that gap. – Jerusalem Post

Roee Kibrik and Einat Levi write: To live in peace with our neighbors, diplomatic relations and government-to-government cooperation are not enough. They must be accompanied by civilian ties, which are generally absent from Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan. Such ties, when carried out with sensitivity and wisdom, can contribute to improving conditions for future peace agreements and to strengthening existing ones. – Jerusalem Post

James Phillips writes: The U.S. needs to augment its deterrence of Iran by maintaining a favorable regional balance of power and strengthening U.S. allies against Iran. Transferring the Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs would strengthen Israel’s military capabilities, enhance deterrence of Iran, and give Tehran additional incentives to compromise on the nuclear issue. Such a transfer would send a strong warning to Iran that its nuclear weapons program will be ended—one way or another. – Heritage Foundation

David Rosenberg writes: The coronavirus has massively depressed air travel to and from Israel, except for one small sliver of the industry. Demand for business class seats on the Tel Aviv-Dubai route, spurred by a condition we’ll call Dubai fever. […]Ironically, the structural problems facing the UAE economy offer Israel one opportunity. The rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are keenly aware that they need to change their economic model – for Dubai, away from construction, for Abu Dhabi, away from oil – and Israel can lend a helping hand in developing a high-tech sector. – Haaretz

Alex Fishman writes: The Iranians have been increasing their efforts to entrench themselves within the Syrian military and especially the 7th Division of the 1st Corps. It is from within this division that Iran is executing what it calls its “Golan File” – an effort to build a network of terror cells along the Israeli border on the plateau. The plan also includes establishing branches of Hezbollah’s southern command to lay the groundwork for a second front against Israel in a future war. – Ynet

Alex Fishman writes: For the people of the Strip, the completion of the project would mean an exponential leap in the quality of life. This potential improvement in the living conditions of the people of Gaza will strong-arm the Hamas leadership – according to Israeli sources –  to carefully consider the price of its continued violence against Israel, as well as its insistence on not resolving the issue of Israeli prisoners and missing persons. – Ynet

Adam Yahya writes: This is a unique opportunity for Israel to normalize relations with its asylum seekers and allow us to thrive not just exist. We deserve the next stage in our integration. Allow us to integrate with dignity and in return, we will reward you with our accomplishments. – Ynet


At least three people were killed and more than 50 injured in a gas pipeline explosion in southern Iraq, police sources said on Saturday. – Reuters

Iraq will support any unanimous decision taken by OPEC+ about its future oil output policy, the OPEC producer’s oil minister said in statement on Friday. – Reuters

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government said in a statement on Friday that the terrorist attack on an oil pipeline which occurred on Wednesday resulted in halting exports to Ceyhan, a city in Turkey’s Adana province. – Reuters

Sardar Aziz writes: The white paper is a sign that Iraq needs a radical change not only in its economic policy but also in its other areas of governance. While all Iraqis rhetorically agree on the need for change, very few agree on the practical nature of what that change should look like. Nevertheless, the country has no easy choice even if it can agree on a way forward. […]Since the current bleak outlook has convinced the Iraqi political class that the White Paper has to be supported, much will depend on the government’s decisions in managing its implementation. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

More Capitol Hill headwinds are greeting the Trump administration’s fast-moving sale of 50 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the United Arab Emirates, as Democrats on Friday introduced a new bill to curb the sale. – Defense News

The UN’s Libya mission said Saturday that a joint military commission with representatives from the two parties to the country’s conflict will meet this week on Libyan soil. – Agence France-Presse

Charles Thepaut writes: The U.S. and Europe nevertheless still have legitimate interests in the region. By rethinking their cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa, they can make a vital multilateral contribution to help address social crises and tensions between regional actors. De-escalation and reform in the Middle East are vital for Europe and essential to the U.S. if a new administration (of either party) really wants to end the “endless wars” and revisit a relationship with the region. – The Hill


China has rejected Australia’s appeal to scrap a tariff on its barley exports, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, all but closing the door on a trade worth about A$1.5 billion ($1.05 billion) in 2018. – Reuters

Australia has stopped sending rock lobster to its biggest market of China after new Chinese customs inspections were imposed on the live seafood, an industry group and the Australian government said. – Reuters

Huawei is working on plans for a dedicated chip plant in Shanghai that would not use American technology, enabling it to secure supplies for its core telecom infrastructure business despite US sanctions. – Financial Times

For Chinese officials working on the country’s 14th five-year plan, the US looms large over the drafting process. – Financial Times

China has launched more satellites than any other country this year as of Sept. 30, according to a report by Bryce Space and Technology. This puts China on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row. – Breaking Defense

China issued a new warning to the U.S. over journalist visas, after accusing the Trump administration of giving Chinese media staff new travel documents that would expire in a matter of days. – Bloomberg

Ryan C. Berg writes: With a concerted effort, the United States can assist with a range of tools to help Latin American countries monitor and confront Chinese fleets, uphold international laws and norms, and keep local communities vibrant. – Foreign Policy

Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Drexel write: However, if American universities successfully defend free thought, Chinese students may well return home convinced of the virtues of an open society. Universities and lawmakers alike need to recognize the asymmetry we are facing, and, with a clear-eyed view of our vulnerabilities, find ways to keep illiberal elements in check. Transparency is key: To quote Sun Tzu once more, “If we know the enemy and know ourselves, we need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – American Enterprise Institute

Jude Blanchette and Scott Kennedy write: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) this week held the fifth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party Central Committee. […]As usual, the plenum was held at a closely guarded hotel in western Beijing with no access for independent media and observers. Hence, determining the major takeaways requires a bit of tea-leaf reading. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Since the United States signed a troop withdrawal agreement in February with the Taliban, the militants have established new checkpoints along major highways, seizing control of long stretches of roadways, extorting millions of dollars a month from truckers and travelers and even displacing the police’s own efforts to extort bribes. – New York Times

A Taliban attack, most likely carried out by a drone, killed at least four security officers in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, according to senior and local Afghan officials, representing what could be the group’s first publicly known use of the method in the 19-year war. – New York Times

Gunfire erupted at Kabul University in the Afghan capital early Monday and police have surrounded the sprawling campus, authorities said. – Associated Press

South Asia

The protests in the Middle East and South Asia were the latest sign of rising dismay directed at France and the government of President Emmanuel Macron, which has defended cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, which denigrated the prophet Muhammad. – Washington Post

Indian government forces killed a top rebel commander in Kashmir during a gunbattle Sunday in the disputed region’s main city, police said, calling it a major success against the rebels’ long fight against Indian rule. – Associated Press

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday his government will give provisional provincial status to part of Kashmir, drawing condemnation from India, which has long objected to any such changes by Islamabad. – Reuters

Richard M. Rossow, Kriti Upadhyaya, and Yatin Jain write: The goal of the project is to strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States and India through collaboration in higher education, research on key issue areas, related economic growth, and people-to-people linkages. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Police arrested seven opposition figures Sunday, including four sitting pro-democracy lawmakers, and charged them with offenses related to a scuffle that broke out in Hong Kong’s legislature earlier this year. […]Pressure on the pro-democracy camp has intensified this year after Beijing implemented a wide-ranging national-security law in the territory in late June. – Wall Street Journal

Indonesia will see a significant boost in trade and investment from the United States as a result of Washington’s renewed trade preference facility with Southeast Asia’s largest economy, a top Indonesian official said on Sunday. – Reuters

Indonesian president Joko Widodo on Saturday condemned what he called “terrorist” attacks in France, but also warned that remarks by President Emmanuel Macron had “insulted Islam” and “hurt the unity of Muslims everywhere.” – Reuters

Indonesian Muslims marched to the heavily guarded France Embassy in Indonesia’s capital on Monday to protest France’s president and his staunch support of secular laws that deem caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad as protected speech. – Associated Press

Kim Jong Un beamed from his palatial rostrum as the world’s largest mobile intercontinental ballistic missile rolled across Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square shortly after midnight on October 10. Here was indisputable evidence of North Korea’s rapid progress in the country’s nuclear technology. – Financial Times

South Caucasus

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday his troops would “go to the end” should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. – Reuters

Armenia’s leader urged Russia on Saturday to consider providing security assistance to end more than a month of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, and both sides in the hostilities accused each other of breaking a mutual pledge not to target residential areas hours after it was made. – USA Today

Armenia and Azerbaijan once more accused each other of bombing residential areas on Saturday, in defiance of a pact to avoid the deliberate targeting of civilians in and around the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

Russia on Saturday pledged to “necessary” help for Yerevan in the conflict with Azerbaijan if fighting reached Armenian territory, after its ally requested security assistance. – Agence France-Presse

When Lebanon’s financial crisis pushed Vartkes to leave for Armenia this summer, he never imagined he would volunteer to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh. […]The fighting, some of the deadliest in the mountain enclave in more than 25 years, has prompted mass mobilisation across Armenia and seen its vast global diaspora spring into action. – Reuters

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: If in the coming days Azerbaijan captures strategic territory, such as transportation corridors, that would fundamentally alter the balance of power in terms of future bargaining between the two sides. […]But in reality, whatever the outcome of the current hostilities, these two leaders will keep pushing Armenia and Azerbaijan away from the West—a recipe for long-term instability—while broader Russia-Turkey competition will continue to unfold beyond the South Caucasus. – Washington Institute


Joe Biden has called Russia’s Vladimir Putin a “KGB thug,” mocked President Trump as “Putin’s puppy” and described Russia the biggest threat to the United States. It adds up to clues on what a possible Biden presidency would mean for Moscow. – Washington Post

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden will apply for Russian citizenship while also keeping his U.S. nationality, he said Monday. – Washington Post

Russia has presented the United States with a range of options as to how to improve ties between the world’s top two nuclear powers that have suffered successive blows in recent years. But Russia also emphasizes that much work needs to be done bring bilateral relations back on track. – Newsweek

Russian interference has been minimal so far in the most tempestuous U.S. presidential election in decades. But that doesn’t mean the Kremlin can’t inflict serious damage. The vulnerability of state and local government networks is a big worry. – Associated Press


The caricatures have put France at a dangerous impasse, widening its divide with Muslim nations and leaving many French Muslims feeling alienated. – New York Times

French authorities are investigating whether the shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon on Saturday stemmed from a personal dispute, officials said. The shooting rattled the nation, coming days after three people were killed at a basilica in Nice on the French Riviera in a suspected terrorist attack. – Wall Street Journal

Since an Islamist radical beheaded a French schoolteacher this month, authorities have detained dozens of suspected extremists, moved to disband Muslim civic groups and shut down a mosque where thousands worship, escalating a long-simmering conflict over the place of Islam in French society. – Wall Street Journal

The bloodshed in the Nice church — which Macron called “an Islamist terror attack” — triggered probes in France and Tunisia. On Friday, counterterrorism authorities in Tunisia began investigating an online claim of responsibility by a man calling himself Walid Saidi, representing the previously unknown “Al-Mahdi” group, Tunisian media reported. – Washington Post

No matter who occupies the White House in January, Europe is preparing a more independent course. – Washington Post

A late surge from Moldova’s diaspora voters gave the pro-Western challenger Maia Sandu the lead in the first round of Sunday’s presidential election, setting the stage for a run-off against pro-Moscow incumbent Igor Dodon in the second round. – Reuters

After winemakers, cookie bakers, and olive growers wound up as collateral damage, Europe is closely watching the U.S. presidential election, waiting to see whether the next four years will mean more tariff wars under Republican President Donald Trump or a shift toward less confrontational negotiation under Democratic challenger Joe Biden. – Associated Press

Sir Keir Starmer has appealed for party unity and said there was “no reason for a civil war” after Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension over a report on antisemitism. – The Times

Editorial: But Mr. Macron is only saying Islam should expect to have the same formal and ideological relationship to the state and French society that Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism do. His approach is notable because he is treating terrorism not only as a policing or intelligence-gathering problem, and not only as an economic problem in low-income areas. His strategy is starting the debate in the right place. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The new Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is working hard to purge left-wing anti-Semitism, and Mr. Corbyn’s suspension is a clear and overdue statement of what sort of party Labour wants to be. It’s also an example to parties such as America’s Democrats that also have struggled with creeping anti-Semitism among elected officials. – Wall Street Journal

Rokhaya Diallo writes: Instead of working to bring the population together, the government has chosen to adopt reactionary language and direct its rhetoric toward criminalizing and stigmatizing France’s Muslim population. […]The goal of terrorists is to break our society, and the government is offering them a perfect opportunity to make their point. Nothing good will come from a country in which one of the largest minority groups faces constant suspicion. Resentment is the breeding ground of violence. – Washington Post

Vincent Geisser writes: If anything, it is the French government’s rhetoric that could end up convincing some Muslims that they are indeed different from other French people. The country’s leaders may well be accelerating the creation of precisely that which they fear: a distinct Muslim identity and community within France. – New York Times

Dalibor Rohac writes: An unbundling of the EU would be a simple acknowledgment of reality today. Its alternative, namely obstinate insistence on European unity and one-size-fits-all solutions, will not lead to an ever closer union. Instead, it is the surest path to the bloc’s paralysis and ultimate irrelevance. – Foreign Policy

Hany Ghoraba writes: Thursday’s bloodshed once again made clear the undeniable terrorism threat facing France. Macron’s plan may have its critics, but it seems to be the only one introduced by a European head of state to counter radicalism and Islamism. More importantly, his government already is targeting the sources pushing radical ideology. It remains to be seen whether international outcry and the calls for boycotts will hinder Macron’s efforts. – Algemeiner

Ali Al Nuaimi writes: Western-based Muslim communities are creating their own version of Islam, but it is a version based on their countries of origin, rather than creating a version that complements the laws and regulations of where they now live. Until we speak the same language, and understand the diversity within Islam, the West can never win this war. – Haaretz


Tanzanian President John Magufuli won a second term in a landslide, election officials said, following a chaotic vote slammed as fraudulent by human-rights groups and the opposition. […]The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania said “irregularities and overwhelming margins of victory raised serious doubts,” – Wall Street Journal

A U.S.-brokered peace deal with Israel has deepened rifts in Sudan’s fragile transitional government, divisions that are set to delay the implementation of central elements of the agreement and could destabilize a nation still recovering from decades of internal conflict. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Special Operations forces conducted a predawn raid in neighboring Nigeria to free the American before he could be sold to terrorists. – New York Times

Sudan says it has signed an agreement with the U.S. that could effectively stop any future compensation claims being filed against the African country in U.S. courts, following Washington’s decision to remove the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. – Associated Press

Now, after Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties, Baraka is among 6,000 Sudanese in Israel once again fearing for their fate. Israel already has indicated it will seek to settle the migrant issue in upcoming talks with Sudan, whipping up trepidation in the community that Israel might forcibly return them to Sudan, a place they say they fled because of conflict or persecution. – Associated Press

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia kicked off Sunday the latest round of talks over Addis Ababa’s controversial dam on the Blue Nile, waters critical to the two downstream nations. – Agence France-Presse

At least 21 people have been killed in a massacre suspected to have been committed by militants from the Islamist ADF group in conflict-wracked northeast DR Congo, a local official said Saturday.  – Agence France-Presse

Latin America

But on the eve of Election Day, Mr. Trump’s approach to Venezuela has yielded both some political success and a foreign policy failure. Although recent polls show Mr. Trump running close to his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., among Florida’s Latino voters, his administration’s harsh sanctions have failed to oust Mr. Maduro, while leaving Chinese, Russian and Iranian interests more firmly entrenched in Venezuela. Mr. Maduro has effectively vanquished Mr. Guaidó, whose popular support has collapsed.- New York Times

Protesters in Mexico burned effigies of Donald Trump and a border patrol agent on the U.S. border on Saturday, condemning President Donald Trump’s migration policies and urging Americans to reject him at the ballot box on Tuesday. – Reuters

Daniel F. Runde writes: Pursuing these efforts will help build Latin America’s creative economic reach and increase the region’s democratic values and economic prosperity. But more importantly, this will give Taiwan an opportunity to effectively leverage its economic strength and expand the scope of its soft power to become a global (and not just a regional) alternative to China. – The Hill

North America

Economic and trade sanctions have become a top U.S. foreign-policy tool for the Trump administration, and that would be unlikely to change under his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. – Wall Street Journal

At a moment when the United States has pulled back from its allies, the former secretary of state lamented the Trump administration’s allergy to international accords. – New York Times

A slide show once shown to cadets training to join the Kentucky State Police includes quotations attributed to Adolf Hitler and Robert E. Lee, says troopers should be warriors who “always fight to the death” and encourages each trooper in training to be a “ruthless killer.” – New York Times

Senior U.S. officials revealed Thursday that security threats have been made against top Pentagon authorities not only when traveling outside the U.S., but when on American soil. – Fox News

As Americans contemplate the possibility of a nail-biter of a U.S. presidential vote Tuesday, there’s another cohort of people who are watching closely with nerves on edge as the race enters its final stretch: the rest of the world. – USA Today

Alaska Senate candidate Al Gross is accusing Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) of antisemitism over a digital attack ad that features a photo of Gross, who is Jewish, fanning out dollar bills — a classic antisemitic stereotype. – Jewish Insider

A Canadian border official testified on Friday he received an “out of the ordinary” request from the FBI for the phone number of the supervisor on duty the next day when Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was to arrive in Canada. – Reuters


The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division is mounting the largest operation to secure a U.S. election, aiming to prevent a repeat of Russia’s 2016 interference and to ward off new threats posed by Iran and China. – Washington Post

Hackers are stepping up attacks on health care systems with ransomware in the United States and other countries, creating new risks for medical care as the global coronavirus pandemic accelerates. – Agence France-Presse

Synthetic media — be it text, audio and especially deep fake videos — form what Omer Benjakob correctly labels a “new front” in the battle against fake news: smart and lean online forces established specifically to spread disinformation, to produce oppressive pornographic images, or to disrupt political systems, are now amongst us. Recognizing them is increasingly hard if not impossible to the untrained human eye. – Haaretz

This week, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency, the part of DHS tasked with protecting critial infrastructure, issued a warning that a North Korean hacking outfit is actively seeking to attack think tanks, experts, and government agencies. – Defense News

Charlie Warzel writes: Which is to say that all eyes are on Facebook. The security of the platform from outside interference as well as domestic manipulation is a crucial factor in assuring a fair and free election. At the head of that effort is Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy. I spoke with him on Friday afternoon. – New York Times

James Andrew Lewis writes: But it is essential to remember that the same pressures apply to non-democratic states that are ultimately less able to deal with these ailments. The internet increases the fragility of authoritarian states, and their efforts to minimize this should not be allowed to shape a new global internet architecture. […]The choice before us is not to prevent balkanization but to manage it to defend the internet as a space for individual action—in speech, in data, and in innovation. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Pentagon has quietly begun withdrawing top military officers from U.S. embassies in Africa and downgrading other such posts world-wide, a move officials say is necessary to shift resources to counter China and Russia on the geopolitical stage and meet congressional caps on the number of generals and admirals in the U.S. military. – Wall Street Journal

Now, the Air Force is discarding its decades-old height standards, which have disqualified nearly half of female candidates and had a particular impact on women of color. The new standards are part of an effort to eliminate often overlooked obstacles to the advancement of women in a service whose leadership and pilot corps are overwhelmingly male. – Washington Post

The Pentagon has created a new civilian position in the Space Force that will eliminate a layer of bureaucracy, the Defense Department announced Friday. – The Hill

Frederico Bartels writes: Unilaterally reducing our defense budget while maintaining the same goals and missions for our armed forces would be an invitation for our adversaries to challenge our resolve and our commitments abroad. Both our conventional and strategic deterrence has to promote global stability and prosperity. – The Daily Signal

Trump Administration

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas apologized Sunday afternoon for giving an interview with a Russian government-backed media outlet registered as a foreign agent in the United States, saying he was “unaware” of their status. – Washington Examiner

A Boston Globe opinion columnist was slammed for comparing supporters of President Trump to ISIS terrorists. – Washington Examiner

The group of Russian hackers accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election earlier this year targeted the email accounts of Democratic state parties in California and Indiana, and influential think tanks in Washington and New York, according to people with knowledge of the matter. – Reuters