Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 2:00 PM

President Biden has announced that he intends to make 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to other countries if the Food and Drug Administration certifies that the doses are safe, reports the New York Times. Yesterday, Biden spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pledged to work with the leader to confront India’s ongoing coronavirus crisis. But global health advocacy organizations have criticized Biden’s announcement as not doing enough. Asia Russell, the executive director of Health GAP, stated that delivering 60 million doses globally is the equivalent of “showing up to a four-alarm fire with an eyedropper full of water.”

India reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, according to the Times. The country’s health ministry also recorded 2,771 deaths on Tuesday, with an overall toll of 198,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

According to a redacted ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that was released yesterday, FBI personnel conducted queries of data troves containing Americans’ communications between mid-2019 and early 2020 in repeated violation of privacy rules, writes the Washington Post. The court’s presiding judge nonetheless ruled that “the Court is willing to again conclude that the … [FBI’s] procedures meet the statutory and Fourth Amendment requirements.” The judge wrote, “While the Court is concerned about the apparent widespread violations … it lacks sufficient information at this time” to assess the FBI’s improvements in its querying processes and training program, which were implemented after the rule breach.

Qin Shuren, a Chinese businessman living in Boston, is expected to plead guilty to charges for allegedly smuggling more than $100,000 in U.S. marine technology to a Chinese military research institute, reports the Wall Street Journal. U.S. officials allege in court documents that The man was assisting Beijing’s effort to develop an undersea drone armada. He is expected to enter into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in which he will admit to counts of conspiring to commit export violations, visa fraud, lying to government agents, money laundering and smuggling.

The U.S. has agreed to train members of Guatemala’s border protection force, according to Politico. Vice President Harris extended the offer—which will include a dispatch of 16 Department of Homeland Security employees to the country—during a video call with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei yesterday. The agreement comes as part of Harris’s diplomatic efforts to address a steep increase in the number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rebel gunmen have killed Indonesia’s top intelligence official in Papua Province, writes the Times. Yesterday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on security forces to hunt down and arrest every member of the group responsible for the ambush—an order that activists have warned could prompt harsh reprisals against Indigenous Papuans.

The Karen National Union (KNU), a prominent ethnic rebel group in Myanmar, has captured a military base in the country’s eastern region, reports France 24. The KNU has vocally opposed the Myanmar military junta’s coup on Feb. 1 and claims that they are sheltering at least 2,000 pro-democracy dissidents. Security forces have killed more than 750 civilians in Myanmar since Feb. 1.

Biden administration officials are working to find and rescue Austin Tice, an American journalist abducted in Syria in 2012, according to the Times. U.S. government officials have pushed for Tice’s release since his detention, to no avail. Tice is believed to be held in a military or intelligence prison near Damascus, though the Syrian government has never acknowledged his detention. He is one of the longest-held American hostages abroad.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared the third episode of Lawfare’s After Trump podcast series, entitled “Obstruction and Pardons.”

Jason Healey argued that U.S. Cyber Command should only take down trickbots and conduct other military operations in cases that meet a five-part test of imminence, severity, overseas focus, nation-state adversary and military as a last-ish resort.

Melissa K. Griffith examined the wide range of strategic and tactical benefits of SolarWinds for Russia and discussed the breach’s implications for cyber espionage policy.

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