Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Friday, September 10, 2021, 1:27 PM

The Department of Homeland Security flagged 44 Afghan evacuees as potential national security risks in the past two week, according to the Washington Post. More than 60,000 Afghans have arrived in the United States since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Of those, 13 remain in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody awaiting additional screening, and 15 have been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or sent back to Europe or the Middle East. An additional 16 have not yet been cleared to travel to the U.S. The Biden administration announced it aims to resettle 95,000 Afghans, asking Congress for $6.4 billion to aid the effort. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said instances of Afghan evacuees flagged as security threats are “an example of a multilayered screening process working.”

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas over its new law banning abortion after six weeks into pregnancy, according to the Washington Post. The suit, filed in a federal court in Austin, calls on the court to “protect the rights that Texas has violated” by declaring the law unconstitutional. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the ban is “clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent” and that the “bounty hunter” element of the law that relies on private citizens to report violations could become a model for similar areas in other states. A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the department’s suit is politically motivated and that the governor is “confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”

Spain arrested Venezuela’s former intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal for a second time on drug-trafficking charges, according to the New York Times. Carvajal was a prominent member of Nicolás Maduro’s government before breaking with him in 2019, accusing him of running a corrupt dictatorship. He was arrested in Spain in 2019 but escaped extradition to the United States. The U.S. Justice Department says Carvajal coordinated the transport of 5.6 metric tons of cocaine from Mexico to Venezuela, according to charges filed in a federal court in New York. If convicted, he could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

A new government has been announced in Lebanon, over a year after the previous administration quit, according to the BBC. Najib Mikati, the country’s richest man, has become prime minister, a position he has held twice before. The appointment of a prime minister and cabinet members comes as the nation faces several domestic crises, including a steep decline in the value of currency and fuel and medicine shortages. Lebanon has been without a functioning government since the August 2020 blast that destroyed the Beirut port and surrounding areas and triggered nationwide protests against the government, during which then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned.

The United Nations Development Programme said in a report that Afghanistan is at risk of a “total breakdown” if the international community does not continue money flowing into the country, according to Al Jazeera. The report found that 97 percent of Afghanistan’s population could fall below the poverty line unless the country’s crises are addressed. Nearly $10 billion of the country’s central bank assets are frozen overseas over concern for the Taliban takeover, and these funds are considered key leverage over the Taliban’s new government. Foreign donors accounted for 75 percent of the country’s public funds over the past 20 years. President Biden said that his administration is open to providing humanitarian aid but that unfreezing assets is contingent upon the Taliban’s actions.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic speak with David Thiel, chief technical officer of the Stanford Internet Observatory, about social media platforms Parler and Gettr.

Geoffrey Alpert, Jeff Noble and Seth Stoughton evaluated the Jan. 6 police shooting of Ashli Babbitt.

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank in which he talks to Mark Muro, senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy program at Brookings, and Sifan Liu, senior research analyst in the Brookings Metro program, to talk about which cities will drive the economic revolution.

Paul Rosenzweig considered the 2016 Internet Assigned Numbers Authority transition after five years.

Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes remembered the gains of the Afghanistan War.

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