SCOTUS upholds travel ban; Navy needs AI to build its fleet; ‘Underground’ may be next war domain; US to world: stop buying Iran’s oil; and just a bit more…

President Trump comes out on top in his first big policy test at the Supreme Court. The quick read: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that Mr. Trump had ample statutory authority to make national security judgments in the realm of immigration,” The New York Times reported when the decision was announced Tuesday.

The immediate effect “lifts the legal cloud over the policy,” the Times writes, since “Mr. Trump’s ban on travel had been in place since December, when the court denied a request from challengers to block it.”

Wrote Roberts in an historic opinion: The travel ban is “expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.” You can read the SCOTUS decision for yourself (PDF), here.

The big winner: “judicial deference to presidential national security assertions,” wrote Matt Tait of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin. Tait goes the distance in a Twitter thread laying out the “broad logic” of the decision.

His summary, after reading the arguments: “In other words, the President can use national security authorities in ways that are blatantly unconstitutional, and can even say that he’s doing it for unconstitutional reasons, just so long as the paper he actually signs authorizing it doesn’t say that he’s doing it for those reasons.”

Reminder of the countries in Trump’s travel ban: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

And there are four countries “noticeably missing from that list,” according to Bloomberg. Those include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Each of those four are “located in the same region as the countries subject to the ban and they’re home to large Muslim populations. They also have something else in common: They all do business with Trump.”

Why that’s even being brought up: “15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia. Two of them were from the U.A.E., and one was from Egypt. More recent attacks in the U.S. haven’t involved immigrants from any of the countries on Trump’s list.” More here.

If you’re after a more comprehensive review of the decision, Lawfare has this explainer.

In other national security-related court decisions Tuesday, a federal judge in San Diego said all children must be returned to their families within 30 days.

As far as we know, “about 2,000 children remain split from their parents,” the Washington Post reports. The Tuesday decision means that now “all children must be reunited with their families within 30 days, allowing just 14 days for the return of children under 5 to their parents. He also ordered that parents be allowed to speak by phone with their children within 10 days.”

In the judge’s own words: “The unfortunate reality is that under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property.”

Likely next outcome: “The Trump administration could appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.” Meanwhile, “17 states, including New York and California, sued Trump’s administration in an attempt to require federal officials to reunite families” on Tuesday. So we’ll be hearing a bit more about this in the weeks and months to come.

Before we leave these immigration stories, check out the “Spy Base Where the Military Will Detain Immigrants,” in this report from The Daily Beast on central Texas’s Goodfellow Air Force Base — one of two U.S. military bases where migrants will be kept in detention.  


From Defense One

Tech Summit wrap: Our thanks to the more than 500 folks who came out to the Newseum for D1’s third annual Tech Summit on Tuesday — and the hundreds more who watched online. Here are some of the highlights:

Navy: US Can’t Build Trump’s Planned Fleet — Unless AI Can Slash Costs // Bradley Peniston: The nation’s defense strategy depends on using advanced tech to build and repair warships more cheaply, says acquisition chief James Hondo Geurts.

‘Underground’ May Be the U.S. Military’s Next Warfighting Domain // Patrick Tucker: Tunnels and subterranean infrastructure demand high-level attention, training, and technology, the military’s intelligence chief says.

Google’s Withdrawal from Pentagon AI Project Risks US Lives, Says Work // Bradley Peniston: Former deputy defense secretary says the tech giant should consider how its work might help save U.S. troops — and how it is currently helping China.

The Mystery at the Heart of North Korea Talks // Uri Friedman, The Atlantic: The parties have yet to agree on what exactly should be denuclearized. But one South Korean official has a plan to close the gap.

Florida Airport Will Be the First to Scan Every International Traveler’s Face // Aaron Boyd, Nextgov: U.S. Customs and Border Protection is doing it to meet a Congressional mandate to speed up security lines.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free.


North Korea appears to be upgrading a plutonium processing plant. 38North says satellite images show work at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, used to separate plutonium from spent fuel rods. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with recent nuclear diplomacy, says the independent research group: “The North’s nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang.” More, including the photos, here.
US upgrading anti-missile systems in S. Korea. The high-altitude THAAD and lower-altitude Patriot interceptors are getting improvements, Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves told Bloomberg.
FWIW, from The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda: “Every time Pompeo, Trump, or administration surrogates tell you that June 12, 2018, was the first time North Korea agreed to ‘denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,’ remember that they actually did so in January 1992.”
Harris advances to full Senate for July vote. Retired Adm. Harry Harris, the former PACOM commander tapped to fill the ambassadorship to South Korea that has been vacant since Trump took office, will get a vote on his nomination in early July, Yonhap reports.

Mattis sees Xi. Key quotes, via Reuters: “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors. What is other people’s, we do not want at all,” state television cited Xi as saying. Mattis, in comments in front of reporters, told Xi his talks had been “very, very” good.
And John Bolton’s in Russia. Here’s a photo of the national security adviser meeting Russian counterparts in Moscow, “part of an effort to lay the ground for a summit between the Russian president and President Donald Trump.” Reuters cites the TASS news agency as saying that Bolton had discussed potential cooperation between the two countries’ security councils.
One year ago: Bolton wrote: “we negotiate with Russia at our peril.”

U.S. demands world stop buying Iran’s oil. Countries that continue to import Iranian oil will face U.S. sanctions after Nov. 4, AFP reports: “A senior State Department official warned foreign capitals ‘we’re not granting waivers’ and described tightening the noose on Tehran as ‘one of our top national security priorities.’”
Waivers, please: Japan and South Korea are among the energy-poor countries asking for exceptions, Reuters reports.

U.S. threatens Turkey’s F-35s. If Ankara goes through with plans to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile, the U.S. may halt F-35 exports and other military-industrial cooperation, Wess Mitchell, assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told senators Tuesday.
Here’s some background on all that, from Defense One:

The cost of UK interoperability. Britain needs to bump defense spending by nearly $11 billion if it is to continue to properly interoperate with and support U.S. forces, the parliamentary defence committee said in a recent report. That would take the military’s share of GDP from just over 2 percent to about 3 percent — but it’s a tall order: the current defense budget is $37 billion. Defense News has more, here.

Ukraine is bracing for a “massive cyber attack” from Russia, Reuters reported Tuesday from Kiev. Their jump: allegations “Hackers from Russia are infecting Ukrainian companies with malicious software to create ‘back doors’ for a large, coordinated attack.”
Targeted so far: banks and energy infrastructure firms. And Ukraine officials told Reuters they expect something nefarious to happen possibly as soon as “Thursday — Constitution Day — or on Independence Day in August.” More here.

And finally this hump day: The enormous — and China-less — RIMPAC exercises in the Pacific begin today, U.S. Naval Institute News reports.
Involved: “About 25,000 naval personnel and 52 ships and submarines from 26 countries.”
The focus: “disaster relief, amphibious operations, anti-piracy work, missile shots, mine clearance, maritime security, anti-submarine warfare and air defense operations,” the U.S. Navy’s 3rd Fleet said in a statement.
Participating: Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
Timeline and locations: “The exercise spans from June 27 to Aug. 2 in both the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.” Read on, here.

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