Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, courts, Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Thursday evening here in Washington, where GOP leaders were forced to postpone a voteon their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill as they scrambled for votes.
Here's the latest.
THE BIG STORY
The Senate voted Thursday to strike down Obama-era Internet privacy rules.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last October passed the online privacy rules to crack down on the advertising practices of Internet service providers.
This is the latest example of Republican lawmakers turning to the Congressional Review Act to eliminate recently published regulations from the Obama administration. But it marks the first time during the Trump administration that the upper chamber initiated the repeal of a regulation.
The House is expected to pass the disapproval resolution in the coming weeks, and send it to President Trump's desk for final approval.
The rules require Internet service providers such as AT&T and Verizon to obtain customers' permission before using their personal information for advertising purposes.
Critics of the privacy regulations say they are too onerous, and subject service providers to stricter regulations than websites such as Facebook and Google, which also collect consumer data.
The Senate vote immediately drew criticism from privacy and consumer advocates like the ACLU, Public Knowledge and Free Press, while trade groups praised the move.
In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday night, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who introduced the bill, said the FCC regulations were an example of a "bureaucratic power grab."
"Passing this CRA will send a powerful message that federal agencies can't unilaterally restrict constitutional rights and expect to get away with it," Flake said.
But Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Ed Markey (Mass.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) railed against the measure on the Senate floor ahead of the vote, saying it would leave consumers vulnerable.
"President Trump may be outraged by fake violations of his own privacy, but every American should be alarmed by the very real violation of privacy that will result of the Republican rollback of broadband privacy protections," Markey said in a statement after the vote.
You can watch a live stream of the conference at any of the following three locations, courtesy of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. http://www.wrmea.org http://www.IRmep.org http:/www.IsraelLobbyandAmericanPolicy.org
It will also be live streamed on https://youtu.be/7miCSw78btI
The full program of speakers and activities can be found here. Speaker bios may be browsed online here.
To pose questions during Q&A sessions send a tweet to @WRMEA on Twitter! Or use the Twitter hashtag #IsraelLobbyCon. There may be a delay on the live feed, so post those questions early!
To hear Scott Horton interview Grant F. Smith today about conference updates, listen in!
8:00-9:00 AM Registration and "Two Blue Lines": A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge.
9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks
9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunning—but underreported—polls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israeland other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs.
9:40 AM Keynote—Professor John Mearsheimer: What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would not—if not for Israel—and what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests.
10:30 AM Professor Maria Lahood: Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto.
11:00 AM Morning Break
11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA): What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress.
11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues.
12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series "The Lobby." Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings.
1:00 PM Keynote—Hanan Ashrawi: The Israel lobby and the "peace process" from a Palestinian perspective.
1:40 PM Tom Hayes: Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, "Two Blue Lines."
2:10 PM Jack Shaheen: Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on.
2:40 PM Wajahat Ali: The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report "Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America."
4:15 PM Keynote—Professor Ilan Pappé: The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the "conflict" are grounded in reality.
5:00 PM Clayton Swisher: The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from "The Lobby," the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy's covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly "independent" pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC's efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to "take down" UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel.
5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Pappé and Clayton Swisher.
In November of 2002, Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security advisor, asked Bruce Jackson to meet with him in the White House. They met in Hadley's office on the ground floor of the West Wing, not far from the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Hadley had an exterior office with windows, an overt indicator of his importance within the West Wing hierarchy.
This was months before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations to make the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq, touting the subsequently discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But according to Jackson, Hadley told him that "they were going to war and were struggling with a rationale" to justify it. Jackson, recalling the meeting, reports that Hadley said they were "still working out" a cause, too, but asked that he, Jackson, "set up something like the Committee on NATO" to come up with a rationale.
Jackson had launched the U.S. Committee on NATO, a nongovernmental pressure group, in 1996 with Hadley on board. The objective of the committee, originally called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, was to push for membership in the NATO military alliance for former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
What Bruce Jackson came up with for Hadley this time, in 2002, was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. The mission statement of the committee says it was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations." The pressure group began pushing for regime change -- that is, military action to remove Hussein -- in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working the media and throwing money around. The committee's pitch, or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East.
"I didn't see the point about WMDs or an Al Queda connection," Jackson says. In his mind the human rights issue was sufficient to justify a war.
Jackson had long been a proponent of unseating Hussein, and the committee dovetailed with his quite real sense of mission. In addition to his role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the U.S. Committee on NATO, he had also been president of the Project for Transitional Democracies, organized to "accelerate democratic reform" in Eastern Europe.
Still, there is another way to view Jackson's activities. As The New York Times put it in a 1997 article, "at night Bruce Jackson is president of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, giving intimate dinners for senators and foreign officials. By day, he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world's biggest weapons maker."
That's how D.C. works. Many of the people making decisions have been in and out of the same set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think tanks, lobbying firms, law firms and the defense industry. So strong is the bond between lobbyists, defense contractors and the Pentagon that it is known in Washington as "the iron triangle." And this triangle inevitably gets what it wants. Why? Because in the revolving door system, a defense contractor executive can surface as an official in the Department of Defense, from which position he can give lucrative contracts to his former employer, and his prospects for an even better paying job in the private sector brighten. Former aides to members of congress become handsomely paid lobbyists for the companies they were able to help in their position on Capitol Hill. Such lobbyists can spread their corporate-funded largesse to the friendliest members and their aides on the Hill. And so on.
It looks as though the Supreme Court may have to step in and settle a particularly thorny question involving the First Amendment, Second Amendment, national security interests, and 3D-printed weapons. Cody Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed, sued the State Department over its demands he cease distributing instructions for the creation of weapons and weapons parts.
The State Department came along too late to make much of a difference. It claimed Wilson's instructions violated international arms distribution laws, but by the time it noticed what Defense Distributed was doing, the instructions were all over the web. They still are, and no amount of litigation or government orders is going to change that.
What Defense Distributed is doing is perfectly legal in the United States. The State Department says it's illegal to put these instructions in the hands of foreign enemies. Since it can't control internet traffic, it's decided to take down the publisher.