Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos
Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 3:05 PM

Today, President Biden announced complete American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, reports the New York Times. During his speech, Biden argued the U.S. cannot “continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result.” “We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago,” Biden said, “and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since.” Biden has said the withdrawal will not be “conditions based,” but he warned the Taliban that if American forces are attacked during withdrawal, “we’re going to defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal.” 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked European leaders today to begin coordinating a collective withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post. Blinken spoke from the NATO headquarters in Belgium, where he met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “I am here to work closely with our allies, with the secretary general, on the principle that we have established from the start, ‘In together, adapt together and out together,” said Blinken. Most of the 7,000 non-U.S. forces in Afghanistan are from NATO countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Troops from non-NATO countries like Georgia and New Zealand also remain in the country. So far, British and German officials have also signaled they will withdraw from Afghanistan by September. 

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, CIA Director William Burns said the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would limit the agency’s ability to gather intelligence in the country, reports the Hill. “When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact,” said Burns. However, the director also said that while military groups remain intent on attacking U.S. targets, they are unable to do so, as a result of many years of counterterrorism pressure. 

While much of the annual Senate hearing on worldwide threats focused on Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the hearing included testimony from top intelligence officials on China, the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and more, writes the Post. Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, gave an overview of the most significant threats, which were also published earlier this week in the annual threat assessment. Haines warned that China is a “an unparalleled priority for the Intelligence Community,” and that Beijing possesses “substantial cyber capabilities that if deployed, at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure inside the United States.”

Defense lawyers for Derek Chauvin, continued to build their case that George Floyd died from drugs, during the 13th day of the murder trial, writes the Times. Morries Hall, who was in the car with Floyd moments before Floyd was pulled out by police, invoked the Fifth Amendment when called to testify today. Hall risked exposing himself to possession charges, since drugs were found in the car. Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert, testified yesterday that Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd was justified, stating Chauvin “was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd.”  

Kim Potter, the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright over the weekend, will be charged with second-degree manslaughter, reports the Times. Protests over Wright’s death have continued for three days, and protesters have been met by the Minnesota National Guard and State Patrol troopers. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast on the continuing threat of white extremism, featuring a recording of a live discussion by the Lawfare team hosted by the National Security Law Society at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Bryce Klehm shared the U.S. Intelligence Community’s unclassified annual threat assessment. 

Klehm announced an episode of Lawfare Live, on April 16 at 1:00 p.m., during which Benjamin Wittes and Julian Ku, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University’s school of law, will discuss recent Chinese aggression against Taiwan. 

Yuval Shany examined the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to strike down coronavirus regulations that curbed the right to protest. 

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