Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, July 10, 2020, 3:57 PM

On Thursday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley condemned Confederate leaders and expressed his support for a review of the "symbology" of the Civil War at military bases, reports Politico. "The American Civil War … was an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution — and those officers turned their backs on their oath," General Milley told the House Armed Services Committee. "Now, some have a different view of that. Some think it's heritage. Others think it's hate."

The wave to rectify racial injustice following the death of George Floyd has made its way to West Point, according to the Washington Post. Black alums of the U.S. Military Academy have described many racist encounters followed by faculty inaction during their time at the academy. Recently, graduates wrote a letter to administrators detailing the entrenched racism that minority cadets continue to experience at the institution and called for change at West Point.

After prosecutors cleared police Thursday in the fatal shooting of 22-year old Bernando Palacios-Carbajal, protestors vandalized the district attorney’s office in Salt Lake City, Utah, writes the Post. The district attorney found that officers were justified to fire 34 times at Palacios-Carbajal because while fleeing, he repeatedly dropped and picked up a firearm.

The Trump administration has been building a network of contractors to test and supply lethal-injection drugs for federal executions, according to Reuters. If the Justice Department carries out its scheduled execution on Monday, it will be the first federal enforcement of the death penalty since 2003.

Today, Amazon required its employees to remove TikTok from their mobile devices due to unspecified security concerns, writes the Journal. In response, TikTok said it is “fully committed to respecting the privacy of [its] users” and does not understand Amazon’s concerns.

China announced today that it will take "reciprocal measures" against the U.S. imposition of sanctions on senior Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, reportsReuters. The U.S. imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the American government to target foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses. This comes as an escalation of already tense relations between the U.S. and China.

Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, testified Thursday that Attorney General Bill Barr repeatedly pressured him to resign prior to his dismissal, writes Politico. In a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, Berman claimed that Barr suggested the former U.S. attorney consider other jobs in the government and warned that if Berman did not resign from his position, he would be fired.

On Thursday, Russia failed in a second U.N. Security Council bid to cut cross-border aid from Turkey to Syria, according to Reuters. Russia and China argue that many areas in Syria can now be reached with humanitarian help from within the country, while the United Nations claims that cross-border aid delivered from Turkey is a "lifeline" for millions of Syrian civilians. Today, the council will vote on a resolution set forth by Germany and Belgium to authorize two Turkish border crossings for six months. If it is not adopted, the U.N. cross-border aid operation in Syria will end.

An international watchdog gave Syria a 90-day deadline to account for its hidden chemical weapons, reports the Post. On Thursday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons formally accused the Syrian government of violating its commitments by keeping a secret stockpile of sarin, a deadly nerve agent, despite claiming that it had surrendered its entire reserve of chemical weapons to inspectors in 2014. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used sarin in multiple attacks against the civilian population in spring of 2017.

Russell Travers, former head of the U.S. government’s hub for analysis of counterterrorism intelligence, was fired without explanation days after conveying concerns to a government watchdog, writes Politico. Though many of his concerns remain highly classified, Travers publicly expressed worry that the U.S. government isn’t giving the National Counterterrorism Center the resources it needs.

Tropical Storm Fay will land along the coastline of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut today, according to the Post. Fay’s arrival as the sixth named storm of the season comes nearly two months earlier than usual and appears to be a sign that the Atlantic hurricane season is already moving at record pace and will likely worsen in the coming months.

The country recorded another single-day coronavirus case record on Thursday with almost 60,000 positive results, reports the Times. Death tolls in several states have also risen recently, though health experts have cautioned it is too early to predict a continuing trend.

Analysts warn that there has been an uptick in violence across the globe as coronavirus continues to overwhelm governments and strain security forces, writes the Post. The analysts caution that the pandemic has created new opportunities for extremist groups to target weakened local governments as scores of countries face constant challenges from COVID-19. "It is an adverse-force multiplier," said Ben West, a global analyst for Stratfor, a private geopolitical intelligence platform. "If you have a crisis, this is pushing it, making it worse."

A major explosion rocked western Tehran early this morning, according to the Times. This marks the third blast to occur between midnight and 3 a.m. in Iran in the past three weeks. A cause has not been determined, but analysts say there were several military facilities in the area that could have been the target of a sabotage operation.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Congress Thursday that he has launched an investigation into media leaks of sensitive information across the Pentagon, reports Politico. Esper’s comments come amid news reports that Russians paid Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops.

California officials announced Thursday that they will sue the Trump administration to block new restrictions on international student visas, writes the Hill. "Shame on the Trump Administration for risking education possibilities for students who earned the chance to study here, along with their health and wellbeing,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Scott Anderson, Charlotte Butash, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Margaret Talor and Benjamin Wittes discussed the Supreme Court decisions on Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Vance, two cases addressing subpoenas on President Trump’s financial records.

Elliot Setzer posted the two Supreme Court decisions yesterday related to President Trump’s financial records, Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Vance.

Quinta Jurecic shared a livestream of a panel discussion on the Supreme Court rulings on Trump’s financial documents.

Jack Goldsmith and Nathaniel Sobel analyzed U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign’s connections with Russia and argued that Attorney General Bill Barr’s public commentary has already seriously undermined the credibility of Durham’s findings.

Madiha Afzal discussed the role the Afghan peace process plays in Pakistan’s return to relevance on the international stage.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the senior campaign director at the advocacy organization Color of Change, on the spread of COVID-19 misinformation throughout Black communities in the United States.

Matt Gluck shared a petition by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for a rehearing of the petition for emergency relief made by former national security adviser Michael Flynn to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Setzer also shared former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman’s opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee alleging that he was pressured to resign prior to his dismissal.

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