Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 12:10 PM

World Health Organization members yesterday decided to conduct an “impartial, independent” examination of the WHO’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, ignoring President Trump’s calls for an overhaul of the organization, reports the New York Times.

A Pentagon memo leaked yesterday revealed that top Defense Department officials have been preparing for the possibility that the military will be dealing with a persistent coronavirus pandemic until the end of 2021, writes the Hill.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada said yesterday they will extend a ban on non-essential cross-border travel by another 30 days in response to COVID-19, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration also extended a public-health order allowing it to block migrants at the U.S. border without giving them access to the asylum system, reports the Wall Street Journal. The order will remain in place until the government determines COVID-19 no longer poses a danger to the public.

The Trump administration declassified an email sent by outgoing national security adviser Susan Rice on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, writes Politico. The email says that then-FBI director James Comey worried about sharing classified information with the Trump team because of Michael Flynn’s frequent conversations with the Russian ambassador, but that Comey had no knowledge of Flynn sharing classified information with the Russian envoy. The email also said Obama wanted to be sure “every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book.’”

In a veiled alert aimed at Iran, the U.S. Navy warned yesterday that mariners in the Persian Gulf should stay 100 meters away from U.S. warships or risk being “subject to lawful defensive measures,” according to Reuters.

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority yesterday declared that Palestine is free of its commitments under the Oslo peace process, as a result of the Israeli government’s push to annex large portions of the West Bank, reports the New York Times. The Oslo commitments include security understandings and recognition of the Palestinian Authority’s political legitimacy.

The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday voted along party lines yesterday to move the nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe to the full Senate, bringing the Texas congressman one step closer to becoming President Trump’s top intelligence adviser, according to the Washington Post.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Jack Goldsmith discusses the firing of inspectors general with Mike Bromwich, who was the inspector general of the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast featuring an interview with Peter Singer.

Jim Dempsey analyzed a recent executive order about foreign equipment in U.S. critical infrastructure.

Alan Rozenshtein argued no one should have the right to opt out of coronavirus surveillance.

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