Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 12:49 PM

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers that the Justice Department needs more funding to fight domestic extremism, racial inequality, environmental degradation and gender violence, writes the New York Times. Garland appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to discuss his $35.2 billion budget request for the next fiscal year. The request includes a $101 million increase to address domestic terrorism, including $45 million for the FBI and $40 million for federal prosecutors.

The Taliban launched a large offensive against Afghan security forces yesterday in at least six provinces throughout Afghanistan, reports Reuters. The offensive included an attack in Helmand, where U.S. forces handed a base over to Afghan troops two days ago. The Afghan government said that more than 100 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand, though it did not provide details on casualties suffered by its own forces. The Taliban has rejected President Biden’s announcement of a full U.S. withdrawal by Sept. 11, which replaced the prior May 1 deadline for U.S. withdrawal, and violence has surged since the initial deadline passed. On Friday evening, a car bomb in Logar province killed almost 30 people.

India has reported a total of more than 20 million coronavirus cases, though the number is likely higher, according to the Times. India and the U.S. are the only countries in the world to have recorded more than 20 million total COVID-19 infections. On Monday, India recorded 368,000 new infections and 3,417 deaths due to the virus. 

Biden reversed his position on the U.S.’s refugee cap yesterday and stated that he would allow up to 62,500 refugees to enter the U.S. over the next six months, writes the Times. Two weeks ago, the president announced that he would leave former President Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place—a statement that was met with widespread criticism from Democrats and immigration advocates. “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Biden said of the decision. During his campaign, Biden vowed to allow as many as 125,000 refugees to enter the U.S. in his first full year in office.

The Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on the Trump suspension case will mark a new inflection point in the relationship between Facebook and Trump and could alter the way that social media companies treat public figures moving forward, reports the Washington Post. 

“This is just the start of an experiment, but it can’t be where it ends,” said Evelyn Douek, a Lawfare contributor and lecturer at Harvard Law School. “In some sense, we are all playing Facebook’s game by taking the Board seriously as a legitimate institution. On the other hand, no one has a better alternative right now.”

Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller called suspected directed-energy attacks on U.S. government personnel “an act of war” and urged the new administration to stay concerned about the illness sometimes referred to as Havana syndrome, according to Politico. Last month, Pentagon officials briefed lawmakers on the growing threat of suspected directed energy attacks.

Federal authorities shot and wounded a person outside CIA headquarters in Virginia yesterday evening, writes the Washington Post. In a statement, the FBI said that the wounded person had been involved in a “security incident” outside the CIA and “emerged from his vehicle with a weapon” around 6 p.m. Officials familiar with the matter told the Post that the person had arrived at the security gate and began engaging in negotiations hours before the shooting occurred.

At least two rockets hit the Ain al-Asad Iraqi military base, which hosts U.S. and other international forces, reports Reuters. The Iraqi military stated that there were no casualties. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, though the U.S. accuses Iran-backed militia groups of launching rocket attacks regularly against American forces in Iraq.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Kamran Kara-Pabani and Justin Sherman explained how a recent Norwegian government report sheds light on the limits of the ability of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to address data and national security threats from China.

Bryce Klehm announced this week’s Lawfare Live, which will feature Lawfare team members’ discussion on the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on Trump’s suspension from the platform.

Jen Patja Howell shared the fourth episode in Lawfare’s After Trump six-part limited podcast series. This episode explores how and when a president can be prosecuted.

Nicol Turner Lee shared this week’s episode of TechTank, featuring a conversation with MIT Professor Nancy Rose and Brookings Fellows Bill Baer and Tom Wheeler on the Biden administration’s potential approach to antitrust regulation and Big Tech.

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