Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Friday, September 11, 2020, 2:57 PM

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of Al-Qaeda's September 11 attacks on the United States, writes The New York Times. Vice President Mike Pence and presidential candidate Joe Biden attended a memorial this morning at Ground Zero for the nearly 3,000 Americans who were murdered that day. The Times notes that there were no speeches at the memorial, a consequence of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed 23,000 people in New York City. 

500,000 Oregonians are under evacuation orders as wildfires sweep the state, reports The Washington Post. In the past few days, rapid-moving fires have incinerated more than 900,000 acres in Oregon and killed at least four people. Governor Kate Brown described the past week as “the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfires in our state’s history,” and her state will soon receive federal aid for temporary housing. California is watching its own catastrophic fires cloud the skies with orange smoke, showing many residents that “climate change is here and is changing our lives.” 

A massive fire also blazed in Beirut, Lebanon this morning, the same city where a chemical explosion killed 190 people last month, notes BBC News. Although no injuries were reported from the fire, analysts note that a warehouse of food parcels and cooking oil for humanitarian aid was destroyed. 

Federal judges held yesterday that President Trump cannot exclude undocumented people from the census count, according to Buzzfeed News. To the three circuit judges on the panel, the fact that the president had violated federal law was “not particularly close or complicated,” because the Census Act requires the Commerce Secretary to give a total count of people living in the U.S.

Buzzfeed News also reports the 11th Circuit’s en banc ruling that Florida can require felons to pay all outstanding fines and fees before being allowed to vote. A group of people convicted of felonies had sued on the grounds that the requirement violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because many of them cannot afford to pay the fines. 

An adviser appointed by Judge Emmet Sullivan to consider aspects of the case involving General Michael Flynn has urged Judge Sullivan to deny the Justice Department’s request to drop the case, reports Kyle Cheney of Politico. The adviser released a thirty-page statement today, writing that “there is clear evidence that [the] motion [from the Justice Department to drop the case] reflects a corrupt and politically unmotivated favor unworthy of our justice system.” The adviser argues that Flynn is clearly guilty, and he urges Judge Sullivan to move forward with sentencing. 

Ethnic Tibetans living in Ladakh, an Indian-controlled region in Kashmir, are helping Indian soldiers in a border dispute with China, writes The South China Morning Post. The two countries accused each other this week of firing shots along the Line of Actual Control, an ill-defined border that ranges from the mountains of Ladakh to forests in the Eastern Himalayas. The Post tells of one family, the Dorjays, who fled Tibet after the Chinese invasion in 1950 and are now transporting supplies to Indian soldiers. 

China is unleashing a “charm offensive” to help out neighbors such as Cambodia and the Philippines with their respective pandemic responses, writes The New York Times. China has pledged to distribute a future Covid-19 vaccine to the countries, as well as its international shipments of masks and ventilators. The Times notes that these moves will “help it project itself as a responsible player as the United States retreats from global leadership.” 

The European Union is preparing to sanction Turkey for its aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to Deutsche Welle. Member states Greece and Cyprus assert that a potentially oil-laden area of the sea lies within their exclusive economic zones; to Turkish President Reccip Erdogan, his neighbors have stolen an unfair share of maritime resources, and he has countered by sending warships and natural gas exploration vessels into the region. 

Formal peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban will begin soon, reports The Washington Post. The warming of relations comes after the Afghan government released five high-value Taliban prisoners and flew them to Qatar. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also travel to Qatar for the talks, with the Trump administration hoping that the negotiations will lead to further withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Stewart Baker released an episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast called, “I’ll Take Hacking Tesla for One Million Dollars, Alex.” He was joined by Nick Weaver, David Kris and Dave Aitel to discuss the impending U.S. ban of WeChat and TikTok, the attempted hack into Tesla and a recent Ninth Circuit decision on warrantless surveillance. 

Since May 9, tens of thousands of Israeli protesters have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yuval Shany examined new official guidelines for prosecuting these protesters. 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast in its Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation. Quinta Jurecic sat down with Ben Nimmo, the director of investigations at Graphika, to discuss a specific campaign linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency’s “troll farm.” 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.