Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 2:46 PM

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York brought five federal terrorism charges against Akayed Ullah, the suspect in Monday’s attempted suicide bombing in New York. The charges are one count of providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, one count of the use of a weapon of mass destruction, one count of bombing a place of public use, one count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, and one count of use of a destructive device during and in the furtherance of a violent crime. NPR has more.

The U.N. warns of an uptick in the trafficking of tramadol in the Sahel, a synthetic opioid often found in the pockets of suicide bombers in the region. The BBC cites a U.N. report that officials have confiscated more than three tons of the drug per year, up from 660 pounds in 2013. Tramadol is believed to calm potential attackers. In 2013, the Guardian reported that witnesses say Boko Haram militants feed children dates stuffed with the drug before sending them to fight.

In election security news, the Alabama Supreme Court granted a request for an emergency stay on Monday to the secretary of state and the state election administrator that halted appellate court order for the state to preserve digital voting records created in today’s special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. says a hearing on Dec. 21 will determine whether the case should be dismissed.

The former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, was released from jail in Ukraine on Monday when a court in Kiev would not authorize his arrest, the New York Times reports. The former president was arrested three days earlier in connection with allegations that that he collaborated with businessmen in Ukraine to execute a coup against President Petro O. Poroshenko. Saakashvili has led a political movement opposing Poroshenko since 2016.

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said Monday that his group would refocus its efforts on fighting for Palestinians, according to the Times. Calling protests that broke out in the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration last Wednesday “a true intifada,” Nasrallah said at a rally in Beirut that the Iran-backed group would “dedicate all its time to resistance.” The Times says that the Trump administration’s new Jerusalem policy may give Hezbollah an opening to win back support after it drew scorn former supporters for its involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Thomas Buergenthal, an Auschwitz survivor and former panelist on the International Court of Justice, and two other jurists say North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity for his use of political prisons, according to the Washoington Post. Says Buergenthal, “I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in … Nazi camps” based on the testimony of experts, former prisoners, and former guards. The International Bar Association, which commissioned the investigation, will release a full report on Tuesday.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jordan Brunner analyzed the FY 2018 NDAA’s climate change provisions.

John Bellinger shared a line of poetry from noted diplomat, lawyer, and writer James Russell Lowell relevant to the current political moment.

Nick Weaver questioned whether Apple is fully complying with lawful court orders.

Jack Goldsmith commented on Russia’s proposal for mutual noninterference in domestic politics with the United States.

Matthew Kahn posted an order from the D.C. federal district court ordering the military to allow prospective transgender servicemembers to enlist beginning Jan. 1.

Vanessa Sauter put up a new charging document in the military commissions trial of the suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings.

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