Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Thursday, March 12, 2020, 2:10 PM

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic, reports the Washington Post. There are now more than 125,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 4,600 deaths. But the W.H.O’s director-general also called attention to the success of China, which has reduced new infections from over 3,500 per day in late January to only 24 in the most recent daily tally, according to the New York Times. South Korea and Singapore have also begun to see cases drop.

President Trump on Wednesday night announced in an address from the Oval Office that he would block most visitors from continental Europe to the United States for 30 days, writes the Times. In the course of his speech, the president said that he was “suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” when in fact the ban applies only to foreigners, and he also said it would “apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo,” when in fact his order affects only people. The European Commission issued a statement condemning the move.

During his televised address, President Trump also said he would take emergency action to provide paid sick leave to Americans impacted by the virus, reports the Wall Street Journal. Trump also said he would instruct the IRS to push back the April 15 tax-payment deadline for certain individuals and businesses.

The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, a measure that officials said restricts information and potentially hampers the U.S. government’s response to the outbreak, according to Reuters. Four Trump administration officials said that dozens of classified discussions about the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held in a high-security meeting room. Staffers without security clearances, including U.S. government experts, were shut out of the interagency meetings.

Iran announced that it has asked the International Monetary Fund for an emergency $5 billion loan to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 10,000 people in the country, reports the Washington Post. Iran’s senior vice president and two additional cabinet members have contracted the virus, writes the Associated Press.

The Pentagon will implement a 60-day travel ban for military members, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families to and from countries whose populations have been highly affected by coronavirus, according to the Hill.

Two Americans and one other coalition member were killed in a rocket attack on the Camp Taji base in Iraq on Wednesday night, reports the Washington Post. At least 12 people were wounded in the attack 17 miles north of Baghdad. Iraq’s military said Thursday that it would open an investigation into the rocket attack, writes the AP.

The House on Wednesday voted to restrict the president’s powers to take military action against Iran, though Trump is certain to veto the resolution, according to Politico. The Senate passed the measure in February.

The House passed a bipartisan measure on Wednesday reauthorizing and adjusting key provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, reports the Times. The bill passed 278-136. Sen. Mike Lee said Wednesday that he’ll do all he can to block the legislation in the Senate and is pushing President Trump to veto it, writes Politico.

Sen. Ron Johnson on Wednesday called off a vote for subpoena related to Republican-led investigation into Hunter Biden after federal authorities shared concerns that a former Ukranian official cooperating with Republican investigators could be spreading Russian disinformation, according to the Times.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Charlotte Butash and Margaret Taylor analyzed the House’s bipartisan FISA reform bill,which was passed yesterday.

Jen Patja Howell shared the most recent episode of Rational Security discussing the U.S. response to the coronavirus spread and recent tumult in Saudi Arabia.

Robert Chesney introduced a series of posts exploring the full report of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which was released yesterday.

Benjamin Jensen outlined layered cyber deterrence, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s new approach to securing American interests in cyberspace.

Robert Morgus, John Costello, Charles Garzoni and Michael Garcia argued that U.S. cyber strategy must deny adversaries the ability to degrade the cyber ecosystem or disrupt it in times of crisis.

Erica Borghard and Mark Montgomery reviewed how the Cyberspace Solarium Commission extends defend forward to encompass multiple instruments of power.

Laura Bate, Phoebe Benich, Val Cofield, Karrie Jefferson, Ainsley Katz and Sang Lee summarized the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s recommendations for strengthening U.S. alliance-building efforts and investing in cyber capacity building.

Elliot Setzer shared a livestream of a House Oversight Committee hearing on the government response to coronavirus.

Doug Stephens, IV summarized the Philippines’ stated intent to depart the U.S. defense pact.

Chesney and Eric Talbot Jensen discussed a speech by Defense Department general counsel Paul Nye defending the legality of the strike the killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani strike.

Stewart Baker shared the most recent episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast discussing the NSA call detail records program and interviewing Travel LeBlanc, a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Setzer shared a livestream of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on national security challenges in North and South America and a livestream of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the crisis in Idlib.

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