Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 1:23 PM

The Pentagon delayed the promotions of two top female generals to four star command in 2020 over concerns of how then-President Trump would react, reports the New York Times. Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley withheld recommendations of Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson because they worried the president would accuse the Defense Department of “playing politics” by recommending women to the role. Esper and Milley held off until the presidential election, believing Biden would be more likely to promote the generals. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to send the recommendations to the White House in the next few weeks.

The U.S. Justice Department unsealed charges filed in December against North Korean spies accused of conspiring to steal over $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency, writes the Washington Post. The hackers work for the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean military agency, and allegedly targeted banks and businesses around the world, most recently targeting Malta in 2019.

Former President Trump criticized Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell after McConnell condemned Trump’s actions preceding the Jan. 6 riot, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a statement released by his political action committee, Trump called McConnell “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,” and stated that the “Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm.”

The Biden administration plans to take a cooperative approach in the first meeting of high-level NATO officials since Biden took office, writes the Washington Post. Senior Defense Department officials signaled Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would not offer U.S. decisions on Afghanistan, as the Biden administration continues to review its policy before the May 1 deadline for full troop withdrawal. The virtual two-day meeting begins on Wednesday.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Russia must release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and that his arrest is a breach of the European human rights convention, writes CBS News. Russia is unlikely to comply with the ruling.

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped over 40 students and staff and killed one in the latest high-school abduction, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s the latest in a series of school kidnappings in northern Nigeria, which has become a multimillion-dollar business.

On Wednesday, Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, saw the largest anti-coup protests yet after a second charge was brought against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, reports CNN. The protest was peaceful with no reports of violence, although soldiers from the military’s light infantry divisions have been seen in the past week, prompting concern of the potential for violence.

The trial of Paul Rusesabagina, lauded as a hero for saving lives during the Rwandan genocide, began in front of the Rwandan Supreme Court on Wednesday, writes the Times. He is is accused of nine offenses, including murder, armed robbery and being a member of a terrorist organization, and was mysteriously arrested when his flight intended for Burundi landed in the Rwandan capital. Rusesabagina, who was living abroad, has been critical of President Paul Kagame’s policies, and his trial has drawn robust international condemnation.

The Cyberspace Administration of China will begin requiring bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish content on a variety of subjects, reports the Associated Press. Previous permits were needed to cover political and military affairs, but now the rules expand to topics on health, economics, education and judicial matters. The Cyberspace Administration stated the new policy is meant “to standardize and steer public accounts and information service platforms to be more self aware in keeping the correct direction of public opinion.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a panel discussion hosted by Lawfare’s David Priess with Norman Roule, a 34-year CIA veteran and former national intelligence manager for Iran; Kirsten Fontenrose, former senior director for the Persian Gulf on the National Security Council staff and Amb. Dennis Ross, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, about the U.S.-Iranian relationship under the Biden Administration.

Eric Halliday and Rachael Hanna explained how the federal government can investigate and prosecute domestic terrorists.

Shigeki Sakamoto examined the implications of China’s new Coast Guard Law on maritime security in the East and South China Sea.

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