Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 2:07 PM

Eight people were killed during a string of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday night, reports the New York Times. The police apprehended the gunman while he was allegedly driving to Florida after the shooting on Tuesday night to carry out similar attacks. Six of the eight victims were Asian, although the gunman claimed it was not a racially motivated attack. At this time, police caution it is too early in the investigation to rule out racial bias as a motivation. When speaking about whether the shooting spree would be considered a hate crime, Acting Chief of the Atlanta Police Department Rodney Bryant said, “We are still early in this investigation, so we cannot make that determination at this moment.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the House Homeland Security Committee today, calling the recent migrant flows to the border an “undoubtedly difficult” situation and reaffirming that domestic terrorism is the “most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to the homeland today,” according to the New York Times. The majority of the hearing is expected to focus on the border. In a recent interview with ABC News, Biden dissuaded migrants from coming to the border, saying “don’t come over,” and “don’t leave your town or city or community.”

A group of 40 Republican senators are requesting a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about President Biden’s executive order which froze nearly $1.4 billion in funds allocated for the border wall by Congress, reports the Hill. “An appropriations act is a law like any other; therefore, the president must take care to ensure that appropriations are prudently obligated in the manner they were provided by Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the GAO. In response, one Office of Management and Budget official said, “Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats, but building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution."

The European Union launched an effort to create a joint vaccination passport to allow for travelers who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or who tested negative, to travel more freely, writes the Washington Post. The “digital green certificate,” is expected to be ready by June, although there are concerns about the passport being launched prematurely given the slow vaccination pace among EU countries. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently said the bloc will consider giving member states more power to block vaccine exports, in efforts to make vaccine production and deliveries in the European Union a priority.

President Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin would “pay a price” for directing an influence operation that targeted the 2020 U.S. presidential election, writes the Hill. Biden’s remarks come after a U.S. intelligence community report was released on foreign influence operations targeting the election. The report assessed the Russian president “authorized” and other organizations within in the Russian government “conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”

For the first time in three decades, the European Union agreed to sanction Chinese officials citing human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority, reports Reuters. EU ambassadors approved travel bans and asset freezes against four individuals and one entity; although the sanctions are primarily symbolic, they mark a hardening of EU policy towards China.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bryce Klehm announced an episode of Lawfare Live on March 19, at 10 a.m., during which Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, will join Benjamin Wittes and Alan Rozenshtein to record a live episode of the Lawfare Podcast that will discuss the status of arrests and prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Tia Sewell shared a declassified joint intelligence community assessment on foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. election.

Even Gaumond explained why a Canadian law prohibiting fake news in the run-up to an election was found unconstitutional.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview with Dmitri Alperovitch, executive chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator and co-founder of CrowdStrike, about his recent Lawfare article on SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange.

Sean Quirk analyzed the latest water wars news, including the first-ever official meeting of the four Quad countries and maritime lawfare in the East and South China Seas.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, titled “The Former Lingerie Salesman Who Has Putin’s Knickers in a Twist.”

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