News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
This is an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
The former MI6 officer Christopher Steele has won a legal battle in the United States against three Russian oligarchs who sued him over allegations made in his dossier about the Trump campaign and its links with Moscow.
The oligarchs – Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan – claimed that Steele and his intelligence firm, Orbis, defamed them in the dossier, which was leaked and published in early 2017. The Russians own stakes in Moscow-based Alfa Bank. All are billionaires.
On Monday, a judge in the District of Columbia, Anthony C Epstein, upheld a motion by Steele to have the oligarchs’ case thrown out. Epstein did not determine whether the dossier – which Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed as “fake” – was “accurate or not accurate”.
But the judge concluded that it was covered by the US first amendment, which protects free speech. He ruled that the oligarchs had failed to prove a key part of their case: that Steele knew that some information in the dossier was inaccurate, and had acted “with reckless disregard as to its falsity”.The Guardian
A Washington state lawmaker recently referred to journalists as “hateful people,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
State Rep. Matt Shea (R) reportedly made the remark during a speech at a gun rights rally in Spokane on Saturday.
Shea allegedly defended gun rights and free speech, but criticized the press, including those at the event, as “those dirty, godless, hateful people.”
He reportedly has a contentious relationship with the press and routinely declines to offer statements for articles.The Hill
Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to ban members of Congress and the White House staff from owning individual stocks — and replace them with government-managed investment accounts.
Those are just two of the dozens of proposals dotting the Massachusetts Democrat’s sweeping new legislative package, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, which she unveiled Tuesday. Warren said the bill is designed to “eliminate the influence of money in federal government.”
While the measure is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it comes amid speculation that Warren could run for president in 2020. President Donald Trump ran on “draining the swamp,” but his administration has been racked with corruption scandals, while many of Trump’s private businesses have reaped financial gains during the early stages of his term.CNBC
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wrongly denied hundreds of military sexual trauma claims in recent years, leaving potentially thousands of veterans without benefits, according to a new report from the VA inspector general.
The VA in 2017 denied 5,500 of 12,000 military sexual trauma claims, and Tuesday’s report found that 1,300 of those claims were processed incorrectly.
The number of service members who reported a sexual assault increased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, with 5,200 members reporting incidents last year, the report found. Studies have suggested that at least five out of every six sexual assaults go unreported, according to the report. The inspector general found that the VA failed to order medical exams more than half of the time, did not review proper documentation and did not pursue claims even when there was sufficient evidence.The Hill
Russia is preparing to search for a nuclear-powered missile that was lost at sea months ago after a failed test
A nuclear-powered Russian missile remains lost at sea after a failed test late last year, and Moscow is preparing to try to recover it, according to people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report.
Crews will attempt to recover a missile that was test launched in November and landed in the Barents Sea, which is located north of Norway and Russia. The operation will include three vessels, one of which is equipped to handle radioactive material from the weapon’s nuclear core. There is no timeline for the mission, according to the people with knowledge of the report.CNBC
From high-ranking former directors of the CIA and the Office of National Intelligence to CIA analysts and linguists who may never have testified publicly before Congress, or even posted to Facebook, intelligence officials have made the choice to sign the letter stressing their concern that a political litmus test is being applied to a field in which national security is supposed to be held above partisan concerns.
After former CIA Director George Tenet convened a group of former directors over email to decide what to do about Trump’s punitive response to Brennan, their decision to go public led to two letters over the course of the weekend. Responses are still pouring in, according to the Tenet letter’s organizers.
The majority of those who signed the second letter “are rank and file career intelligence officers, national security professionals who would never imagine speaking out against the president,” said Nick Shapiro, former CIA deputy chief of staff and the organizer of one of the letters.CNN
Signatories from all corners of the national security community spoke up, Shapiro said. “They are saying this is not what I risked my life for,” to have the President utilize a tool of national security to “punish someone for speaking their mind,” he said.
The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights.
In a report scheduled for release on Tuesday, Microsoft Corporation said that it detected and seized websites that were created in recent weeks by hackers linked to the Russian unit formerly known as the G.R.U. The sites appeared meant to trick people into thinking they were clicking through links managed by the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, but were secretly redirected to web pages created by the hackers to steal passwords and other credentials.
Microsoft also found websites imitating the United States Senate, but not specific Senate offices or political campaigns.New York Times