Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 3:45 PM

A new advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stipulates that it is now requiring evacuees from Afghanistan who have arrived in the United States to be vaccinated against measles and undergo a 21-day quarantine, reports the New York Times. As of Monday, 16 cases of measles among Afghanistan evacuees and Americans who fled Afghanistan had been identified, along with four cases of mumps. With only 60 percent of people living in Afghanistan being vaccinated, along with crowded living conditions during the evacuation process, measles infections are expected to spread among evacuees. This poses an ongoing risk to unvaccinated individuals.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Wednesday that Afghanistan could become a magnet for terrorist groups because of the U.S. withdrawal from the country, says the Washington Post. Additionally, Wray mentioned that the retreat could “serve as a catalyst of inspiration for terrorists” around the world. Now that U.S. forces and intelligence operations have been removed from Afghanistan, Wray suggested terrorism groups will be emboldened to mobilize. While the Biden administration has indicated that the U.S. can still conduct reconnaissance over Afghanistan, officials have conceded that their ability to address threats is limited without a presence on the ground.

The Taliban requested a speaking slot this week at the United Nations General Assembly and asked the body to dismiss the current Afghan U.N. Ambassador, reports BBC. The request is being considered by a credentials committee, but a ruling is unlikely to happen during the current session. So far no government has formally recognized the Taliban, but UN acceptance of the group’s nominee for ambassador would signal a shift toward international acceptance.

Lithuanian cybersecurity experts have advised its citizens to discard their Chinese-made smartphones after a government investigation found that some devices have security vulnerabilities and censorship concerns, according to CBS News. Lithuania’s National Cyber Security Center announced that it uncovered four major cybersecurity vulnerabilities in devices made by Huawei and Xiaomi and warned against using these brands. A Huawei representative stated their phones do not send user’s data externally, while a Xiaomi spokesperson assured their devices “has never and will never” censor communications to and from their users.

The chair of the House Appropriations Committee introduced a bill on Wednesday to provide $1 billion for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile-defense system, a day after the funding was pulled from a broader spending bill, reports Politico. Despite a long tradition of bipartisan congressional funding for the defense system to help Israel defend itself against attacks from terrorist groups in Gaza, resistance to these funding efforts has increased among progressives in recent years. The funding had initially been included in a stopgap spending bill aimed at avoiding a government shutdown but was removed amid objections from progressives. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pledged to call a vote on the Iron Dome funding bill later this week.

U.K. banks warn that fraud in the U.K. has risen to a level where it poses a “national security threat” and requires coordinated action across multiple industries to mitigate, according to the Financial Times. UK Finance, which compiles fraud figures from U.K. banks, reported a 71 percent jump in authorized fraud cases in which consumers are tricked into transferring their money or giving sensitive personal information to criminals in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The dramatic rise of certain types of financial fraud can be attributed to the pandemic. Fewer than half of victims of authorized fraud have received any compensation.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Molly Reynolds and Quinta Jurecic join Benjamin Wittes to discuss the issues facing Congress.

Alicia Wanless wrote about the major changes within the field of influence operations and possible remedies to its challenges.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which hosts Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jerecic and Scott R. Anderson sit down with Natalie Orpett to discuss AUKUS, the “Justice for J6 Rally” and Mark Milley’s controversial actions in the final days under Trump.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.