Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Monday, August 14, 2017, 3:02 PM

One person was killed on Saturday after James Fields Jr. drove into a crowd of counter-protesters at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, reports The New York Times. After the rally—organized in protest of the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee—turned violent, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. The city had earlier sought to move the protest away from the statue, according to The Wall Street Journal, but protest organizer Jason Kessler successfully sued to block the move, alleging that the city sought to move the protest because of Kessler’s and others’ political views. On Thursday, a federal judge in the Western District of Virginia ordered Charlottesville to allow the protests to proceed at their initial location. The AP reports that two members of the Virginia State police died in a helicopter crash outside of Charlottesville on Saturday. The helicopter had been monitoring the violence at the protests.

The Washington Post reports that people who know Fields Jr., age 20, said he sympathized with Nazis and white supremacists in high school. Late Saturday night, the Justice Department announced that the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and the Civil Rights Division will conduct an investigation into “the circumstances of the deadly vehicular accident.”

North Korea’s recent success in developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that seem capable of reaching the United States was aided by black-market purchases of rocket engines, likely of Ukrainian origin, reports the Times. Thus far the Trump administration has not yet addressed Ukraine’s alleged involvement: the president has singled out China as the Kim regime’s primary source of assistance, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referenced China and Russia as “primary economic enablers” last month. The state-owned factory, called Yuzhmash, has historical ties to Russia’s missile program, but reports suggested that it had fallen into financial hardship in recent years.

Increasing threats from the Kim regime led Japan to deploy missile defense systems on Saturday, according to the Journal. Japan’s Defense Ministry typically deploys such systems when tensions rise with North Korea. On Monday, General Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to emphasize that the U.S. will prioritize diplomatic and economic pressure over military options, reports the Times.

On Sunday night, Vice President Mike Pence downplayed the president’s comment that the U.S. might consider military options in Venezuela, reports the Journal. The Vice President expressed confidence in the possibility of a peaceful solution to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela in a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Cartagena. On Friday, the president said of the unrest in Venezuela: “A military option, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue.” Colombia is the first stop on Pence’s six-day tour of Latin America.

The Obama administration received reports that the Russian government planned to disrupt the U.S. political system through disinformation and intelligence operations as early as 2014, reports Politico. Those reports were circulated among the NSC, intelligence community, and State Department. One report cited a well-connected Russian source as saying, “in the U.S., Russia has penetrated media organizations, lobbying firms, political parties, governments and militaries.” Current and former officials blamed various agencies for the lack of a more forceful response to the report and mounting evidence of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

U.S. Central Command announced Sunday that two U.S. service members died and five were injured in combat operations in Northern Iraq. The incident was not due to enemy contact. In a tweet on Monday afternoon, CENTCOM elaborated that “an Army artillery section was conducting a counter-fire mission against an ISIS mortar site.”

ICYMI: Last Weekend, on Lawfare

Sarah Grant and Jimmy Chalk posted this week’s Water Wars.

Helen Klein Murillo wrote about the balance of governmental and journalistic interests in leak investigations on Lawfare’s feed at Foreign Policy.

Emmah Wabuke explained the legality of the internal deployment of military forces in Kenya.

Alex Potcovaru published “The Week That Was.”

Benjamin Wittes explained the friendly lawsuit he filed against the Justice Department.

Wittes posted this week’s Lawfare Podcast, featuring Bryan Fogel to discuss “Icarus.”

Quinta Jurecic wrote about the peculiar political dynamic between liberals and the intelligence community.

Sarah Watson analyzed India’s counterinsurgency campaigns for the Foreign Policy Essay.

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