Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Thursday, June 10, 2021, 2:03 PM

President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a renovated Atlantic Charter at their meeting today, reports the Washington Post. The document broadly reiterates the shared commitment of the United Kingdom and the U.S. to democratic principles, free elections, the NATO alliance and the environment, among other key issues. Biden is also expected to formally announce a plan to purchase and distribute 500 million Pfizer vaccines to developing countries in cooperation with COVAX, writes the Associated Press. The specific details surrounding the timeline of the plan remain unclear, though it is known that 200 million doses will be donated this year and the remainder will be donated at the beginning of next year.

Senior Pentagon officials told the New York Times that the military might seek authorization to conduct airstrikes to assist Afghan security forces against the Taliban. The Biden administration previously implied that aerial support would end with the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, except for counterterrorism purposes. Though officials have been publicly reticent regarding the potential for American intervention in Afghanistan if the Afghan military cannot push back the Taliban, officials speaking with the Times suggested that the fall of Kabul is what would most likely prompt the deployment of armed drones or fighter jets. Such a move would require White House approval.

A federal watchdog found that the United States Park Police had been planning to clear Lafayette Square of protestors before it learned that then-President Trump planned to walk through the square to pose for photographs at St. John’s Episcopal Church during racial justice protests in June 2020, according to the New York Times. The 30-page report from the Interior Department’s inspector general found that “the evidence did not support a finding” that Park Police cleared the area just for the president. The report, however, is not a definitive account of the events of the day, and only reviewed decisions made by the Park Police, not Secret Service or other law enforcement agencies.

In advance of President Vladimir Putin’s June 16 meeting with President Biden, a Russian court designated Aleksei Navalny’s opposition movement as an extremist group yesterday, the New York Times reports. The extremist designation, likely made with Putin’s approval, paves the way for the broad repression of those in Navalny’s camp, with the potential for prison sentences. Anticipating criticism of his handling of political opposition when he meets with Biden, President Putin signaled his disinterest in American denunciations, highlighting “the sad events in the United States where people refused to accept the election results and stormed the Congress.”

European Union leaders, including the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission, announced their support for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, writes the Hill. European Council President Charles Michel stated that “The world has the right to know exactly what happened in order to learn the lessons,” with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asserting that ascertaining the origins of COVID-19 is of the “utmost importance.” The EU will reportedly support the ongoing U.S. investigation into the virus’s origins during the G7 summit that begins tomorrow. Both the U.S. and the EU will call for “progress on a transparent, evidence-based and expert-led WHO-convened phase 2 study on the origins of COVID-19, that is free from interference.”

Chinese authorities arrested more than 1,100 people suspected of using cryptocurrency to launder money from telephone and online scams, reports the Wall Street Journal. The suspects routinely converted assets from one cryptocurrency to another to cover their tracks. The Ministry of Public Security said the crackdown rounded up more than 170 criminal groups. These arrests come after a Chinese regulator promised to “crack down on bitcoin mining and trading behavior” in an effort to protect against financial risk and reduce energy consumption in the country.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Orin Kerr explained what the Supreme Court’s decision in Van Buren v. United States means for the future of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security covering Israel’s new governing coalition, the FBI’s roundup of over 800 suspected criminals using a cellphone app, and the government report on UFOs in American airspace.

Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds argued that the Senate’s report on the events of Jan. 6 is both useful and profoundly incomplete. 

Bryce Klehm shared the transcript of the House Judiciary Committee’s interview with Donald McGahn, former President Trump’s White House Counsel.

Nicholas Weaver discussed ways governments can disrupt Bitcoin mining and the larger cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Michel Paradis sits down with Lawfare Executive Editor Scott Anderson to discuss the Senate’s new proposed reforms to combat sexual assault in the military.

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