Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, April 16, 2021, 1:42 PM

Just after 11 p.m. last night, a gunman killed at least eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, reports the New York Times. The city’s police stated that the attacker killed himself minutes after opening fire. According to Deputy Chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Craig McCartt, the gunman got out of his car and began “randomly” shooting in the parking lot before entering the building. Authorities said that it was too early to speculate the shooter’s motive and are currently investigating whether he had any connections to the facility. 

Yesterday, Chicago law enforcement released a distorted video that shows body camera footage of a police officer shooting and killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he turned around to lift his hands, according to the Times. Toledo was Latino and a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School. The shooting occurred on March 29, and prosecutors have stated that Toledo was holding a gun while the police pursued him. During a news conference yesterday, a lawyer representing the Toledo family said that the video shows if Toledo had a gun, “he tossed it,” and was attempting to comply with the officer’s orders.

After former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin declined to testify yesterday in his own murder trial for the death of George Floyd, his defense team rested its case, writes the Washington Post. Judge Peter Cahill said the jury will enter deliberations after each side delivers its closing arguments, which are set to begin when the court reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Monday.

A Hong Kong court has sentenced Jimmy Lai, the 73-year-old founder of a prominent pro-democracy media organization in Hong Kong, to 12 months in prison for his involvement in a 2019 demonstration against Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong autonomy, reports the Times. Lai faces additional charges under Beijing’s sweeping national security law that carry more serious sentences. 

The Times notes that Lai’s sentencing, along with the sentencing of several other prominent opposition figures in Hong Kong, is likely to deter large-scale civil unrest such as the protests against Beijing that occurred in 2019. “It’s very clear that the approach has changed radically, not just by courts and police,” said Sharron Fast, a media law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. “The emphasis is on deterrence; the emphasis is on punishment. And with large-scale assemblies, the risk is very high.”

Iran announced today that it had enriched uranium at 60 percent purity—the highest level yet, which has Western officials worried as Tehran inches closer to the nuclear weapon grade enrichment level of 90 percent purity, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move follows an attack on its main nuclear facility at Natanz on Sunday, which Iran has attributed to Israel. The Natanz blackout has complicated ongoing talks to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear deal that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent.

The Biden administration warned Russia over the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russian intelligence officers may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. But the administration stopped short of inflicting sanctions over the suspicion, writes the Times. The C.I.A. placed moderate confidence in its assessment, while the National Security Agency placed lower confidence in the conclusion. Yesterday, Biden imposed sanctions on Moscow in direct retaliation against the SolarWinds hack and Russia’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.

The Kremlin announced today that it will expel 10 U.S. diplomats from Russia and blacklist eight U.S. officials in response to the U.S.’s sanctions and other measures, reports the Post. The statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin convened a meeting of Russia’s Security Council to discuss retaliatory actions, following Biden announcement yesterday that the U.S. would expel 10 Russian diplomats and impose harsh sanctions on 32 Russia-related individuals and entities. The country’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, also noted that Moscow was still open to consider a summit between Biden and Putin to be held in a European country.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bobby Chesney discussed yesterday’s U.S. sanctions on various Russian entities in express response to SolarWinds and explored whether Russia crossed a normative red line.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth miniseries on our online information ecosystem, featuring Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic’s interview with Jameel Jaffer and Ramya Krishnan of the Knight First Amendment Institute.

Victoria Gallegos shared a livestream of the House Committee on Administration’s hearing on oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police and preparations and response to Jan. 6.

Bryce Klehm announced next week’s Lawfare Live, during which Benjamin Wittes will sit down with Jennifer Daskal, the Department of Homeland Security’s deputy general counsel, and Eric Goldstein, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency’s executive assistant director for cybersecurity.

Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared this week’s episode of the National Security Law Podcast, entitled “Why Is There No SJA Aboard the Starship Enterprise?”

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