Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos, Tia Sewell
Friday, January 29, 2021, 4:36 PM

President Biden is looking for bipartisan support on his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic aid package, but many Democrat lawmakers have indicated their willingness to unilaterally push the bill forward if Republicans do not cooperate, reports the New York Times. When asked if he would support using the budget reconciliation process to push the package through Congress without Republican support, President Biden said that his priority is ensuring that aid comes quickly, “no ifs, ands or buts.”

Both the Afghan government and the Taliban appear to be preparing for violence amid uncertainty over whether the White House will meet a May 1 deadline for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, writes the Times. U.S. officials have long emphasized that Washington’s withdrawal is conditional—meaning that if the Taliban does not meet the terms of the U.S.-Taliban treaty forged last year, the U.S. could extend its presence past the agreement’s deadline. U.S. officials are currently examining whether the Taliban is in compliance with its promises such as severing ties with terrorist groups and reducing violence in the region.

The White House has confirmed that President Biden called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during the leaders’ phone call this week, according to Reuters. Earlier this week, the White House stated both countries were committed to extending the New START treaty before it expires on Feb. 5. 

Biden has tapped Robert Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Democratic presidents and conflict resolution specialist, to be his special envoy for Iran, writes the Times. Malley’s position does not require Senate confirmation. 

Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China, reports Reuters. Sullivan stated the U.S. should be “prepared to act, as well as impose costs, for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it’s doing in Hong Kong, for the bellicosity and threats it is projecting towards Taiwan.” 

Eleven U.S. soldiers who may have accidentally consumed antifreeze, were hospitalized yesterday, writes the Washington Post. According to an Army spokesperson, the soldiers were on a field training exercise at Fort Bliss in Texas when the incident occurred. All of the servicemen remained in the hospital today, with two in critical condition. The incident is under investigation.

Pakistan filed a review petition of the country’s Supreme Court decision to free the man accused of kidnapping and murdering an American journalist, reports the Associated Press. This is the last remaining legal step, and is unlikely to change the outcome of the case. 

Kevin Clinesmith, the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to doctoring an email that other officials used to justify secret surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, has been sentenced to 12 months of probation, writes the Post. He will not spend time in prison. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Evelyn Douek analyzed the Facebook Oversight Board’s first five decisions, noting that the board has set an ambitious, and perhaps impractical, agenda for itself and Facebook. 

Robert Chesney, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Elliot Setzer and Tia Sewell announced the launch of Lawfare’s FOB Blog—a new site resource covering all things Oversight Board.

Lester Munson shared the latest episode of Fault Lines, titled, “The Intellectual Underpinnings of Biden’s Foreign Policy.”

Brian Frazelle argued that former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s policies enacted during the Trump administration are still unlawful.

Almudena Azcárate Ortega examined the security dynamic created by states’ weaponization of outer space.

Alvaro Marañon shared documents related to international law enforcement’s takedown of NetWalker and Emotnet.

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth miniseries, in which Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, about disinformation and social movements.

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