Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Thursday, September 2, 2021, 3:34 PM

Storms from Hurricane Ida hit New York City and the surrounding area yesterday, causing severe flooding and killing at least 15 people, according to the New York Times. Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency as the city recorded more rain last night than it normally does in a month, with 3.1 inches of rain falling in Central Park in one hour. The city also issued a travel ban last night and urged all vehicles to stay off roads today. The storm, which made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, is now headed toward southern New England.

The Pentagon said it is considering working with the Taliban against terrorist organizations like ISIS-K, according to the New York Times. Top officials remain wary of the group. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters, “It’s hard to predict where this will go in the future with respect to the Taliban.” As the evacuation effort organized with the cooperation of the Taliban ends and foreign aid runs out, the Taliban will take over as growing economic and humanitarian crises might push more Afghans to seek a way out of the country.

Qatar is working with the Taliban to reopen the Kabul airport, according to Al Jazeera. The country is also seeking technical assistance from Turkey. Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters after meeting with his British counterpart in Doha, “We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible … Hopefully in the next few days we will hear some good news.” The airport was damaged after a chaotic two weeks during which the United States and its allies evacuated more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened companies that comply with the House Jan. 6 investigation’s request for records, according to the Washington Post. The statements come after the select committee requested phone records and other information related to the attack from 35 companies. Several of the companies said they would comply with the requests. McCarthy said that Republicans “would not forget” the companies’ decisions to hand over records and “will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

The Justice Department released a more detailed report of its investigation of the efforts of law enforcement to secretly obtain journalists’ phone records, according to the Washington Post. The report shows the chronologies of the Trump-era department’s efforts to obtain records from New York Times, CNN and Washington Post reporters to advance leak investigations, all of which had the approval of then-Attorney General William Barr. The requests extended into the Biden administration, and officials did not immediately stop the efforts or tell the reporters about the requests. In May President Biden said he would no longer approve his department to seize reporters’ information, and Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo in July saying the department would no longer use “compulsory legal process” to obtain information on journalists.

Russia may treat Google and Apple’s refusal to remove Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s app from their platforms as meddling in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, according to Reuters. Telecommunications regulators say Navalny’s allies plan to use the app to organize a voting campaign against the United Russia ruling party. The plan is the last resort of Navalny’s allies, who have faced a crackdown in recent months after the Kremlin outlawed the movement as “extremist.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Lawfare Managing Editor Jacob Schulz talks to Justin Sherman, fellow at Duke University's Technology Policy Lab, about data brokers and national security.

​​Jonathan Schroden debunked five myths about the Taliban’s new arsenal.

Peter Swire discussed the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit strategy for cross-border data flows.

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