Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck, Tia Sewell
Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 3:11 PM

In a Thursday letter, government watchdogs expressed their concern to Congress that newly discovered legal analysis from the Treasury Department’s general counsel could hinder oversight of the administration’s COVID-19 spending, reports the Washington Post. The Treasury Department claims that the administration is acting with full transparency.

Vice President Mike Pence recommended on a Monday call that governors tell their citizens that the growing number of COVID-19 cases in certain areas of the country is due to increased testing, according to the New York Times. In a meeting before Pence’s call yesterday, President Trump said, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.”

A new study indicates that an inexpensive steroid drug, dexamethasone, has been proven to significantly decrease coronavirus-related deaths, reports the New York Times. This is the first drug shown to improve the survival rates of Covid-19 patients.

While the overall number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has remained relatively stagnant in recent weeks, there has been a sharp increase in cases in correctional facilities across the country, writes the New York Times. In the past month, the number of prisoners infected with the coronavirus has doubled and death tolls have increased by 75 percent among the prison population.

Amid mounting backlash, the LA County coroner walked back his initial pronouncement that the hanging death of Black man Robert Fuller was a suicide, reports the Hill.

On Monday night, a man in a militia shot someone protesting the Albuquerque, New Mexico statue of a 16th-century Spanish man who killed indigenous Americans, according to the Washington Post. Police have not confirmed whether the alleged shooter has any links to white supremacist militia groups, but videos from the scene depict a group of heavily armed men forming a “protective circle” around the gunman. This act of violence comes amid protests around the country against the presence of Confederate monuments and police violence against Black Americans.

President Trump announced an Executive Order on Tuesday addressing police reform, writes the Hill. The Order focuses on improving policing practices by increasing training and strengthening a national misconduct database but does not recommend changes to qualified immunity, according to the Post. Democrats have criticized the Order as insufficient, with many citing rollbacks of qualified immunity as a necessary reform.

In response to subpoenas from House Democrats, two Justice Department officials, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, and John W. Elias will testify before the House Judiciary Committee about the politicization of the Justice Department under the leadership of Attorney General Barr, reports the New York Times. Zelinsky served as a prosecutor in the case against Roger Stone before stepping down from that case after the Justice Department changed Stone’s sentencing recommendation in February.

An internal report found that the theft of confidential CIA hacking instruments in 2016 by a CIA employee resulted from a lack of focus within the agency on securing the CIA’s own systems, according to the Washington Post. The breach was discovered after WikiLeaks published the stolen information in March 2017.

In response to defectors sending propaganda into the country, North Korea set off an explosion Tuesday that destroyed an office in North Korea built to improve relations with South Korea, reports Reuters. South Korea says it will mount a serious response if North Korea continues to escalate tensions.

According to Indian officials, 20 Indian soldiers are dead after Chinese and Indian forces fought in disputed territory in the Himalayas, writes the Wall Street Journal. This is the first time in decades that border tensions between the two countries turned fatal.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Alex Engler examined the circumstances in which misinformation campaigns like #dcblackout thrive and discussed how social media platforms can prevent opportunistic disinformation from spreading in the future.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Patrick Skinner on Warrior Cops and Neighborhood Policing.

Jonathan Chroden analyzed the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement and argued that a full U.S. withdrawal is not conducive to U.S. interests, nor those of a post-peace Afghan government.

Chimène Keitner and Allison Peters argued that the Homeland and Cyber Threat Act is not a wise approach to countering cybercrime.

Elliot Setzer shared a livestream of the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impact of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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