Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Tuesday, January 25, 2022, 1:56 PM

The Department of Defense announced that approximately 8,500 U.S. military personnel have been placed on heightened alert for potential deployment to Eastern Europe, writes Politico. NATO allies have already deployed ships and aircraft to the region amidst heightened Russian aggression along the Ukrainian border. The Pentagon announced that the military personnel will be deployed should NATO activate the NATO response force or in the event of a “deteriorating security environment.” A spokesperson for the Department of Defense also said the U.S. “would be in a position to rapidly deploy additional brigade combat teams, logistics, medical, aviation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, transportation, and additional capabilities into Europe.”

The European Union announced that it will provide Ukraine with 1.2 billion euros, or $1.36 billion, in financial aid, reports the New York Times. The move comes shortly after NATO allies announced they were putting troops on standby and sending ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe. The U.S. and the U.K. have also both begun evacuating the families of diplomats out of Kyiv, citing “the growing threat from Russia.”

U.S. troops have joined Syrian forces in their fight to retake control of a prison in Hasaka, Syria, says the New York Times. The Islamic State attacked the prison in an attempt to free thousands of fellow fighters to replenish their military ranks. The assault on the prison, which houses approximately 3,000 suspected Islamic State fighters and almost 700 boys, has now become a hostage situation. Islamic State fighters remain in control of about a quarter of the prison, and they are reportedly using the children as human shields. A spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that almost 300 Islamic State fighters have already surrendered but the Islamic State threatened to kill the boys if U.S. and SDF troops continued to attack the prison. 

A British court has allowed Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to the United States, writes the Wall Street Journal. The WikiLeaks founder faces espionage charges in the U.S. and is now allowed to take his appeal against extradition to the U.K. Supreme Court. The U.K. High Court previously authorized Assange’s extradition. However, Assange has been allowed to ask the U.K. Supreme Court to consider a legal question regarding a package of U.S. assurances over his treatment if he were extradited. The Supreme Court’s opinion on the question could potentially lead to a full appeal. 

United Arab Emirates and U.S. forces have jointly intercepted two ballistic missiles headed toward Abu Dhabi, according to the Wall Street Journal. The attack was executed by Houthi rebels and is an attempt to threaten the U.A.E.’s reputation as a secure hub for international businesses in the Middle East. The attack scattered shards of missiles across Abu Dhabi, and residents reported hearing explosions and seeing bright lights in the sky. There were no reported casualties. 

North Korea has launched two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth weapons test this month, says the Wall Street Journal. The missiles were launched from an unspecified inland location. Unlike ballistic missile launches, the United Nations Security Council resolutions for Pyongyang’s weapons activity do not cover cruise-missile launches. Cruise missiles are typically propelled by jet-engines and fly at lower altitudes and travel shorter distances than ballistic missiles. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted to sue block arms maker Lockheed Martin over its proposed $4.4 billion purchase of rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., reports Reuters. The FTC is suing over antitrust concerns and reported that if the deal is allowed to move forward, it could enable Lockheed Martin to hurt other defense contractors while simultaneously consolidating the industry. The FTC Bureau of Competition director warned that “without competitive pressure, Lockheed can jack up the price the U.S. government has to pay, while delivering lower quality and less innovation. We cannot afford to allow further concentration in markets critical to our national security and defense.”

A federal judge has ordered Trump ally John Eastman to respond to a subpoena by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, writes Politico. Eastman is the attorney who allegedly led former President Trump’s effort to pressure Mike Pence to single-handedly overturn President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The subpoena was issued last week to Eastman’s former employer, Chapman University. Eastman has been ordered to produce a log of documents that he wanted the university to withhold for “confidentiality restrictions and privileges.”

The federal civil rights trial of three former Minneapolis police officers on the scene for the May 2020 killing of George Floyd began with opening statements, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors are arguing that the three police officers should be held criminally responsible for the death of Floyd. In the opening statements, a prosecutor said that the three defendants ignored their police training and violated their legal responsibility to offer assistance to a dying man in their custody. Defense attorneys said that their clients “did their best” to manage a volatile situation and that “the death of George Floyd is indeed a tragedy. However, a tragedy is not a crime.” All three defendants have pleaded not guilty. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Scott R. Anderson spoke with Ned Foley about the ordinance of the Electoral Count Act, a recent congressional report outlining possible reforms and what limits the Constitution may put on what reform can accomplish.

John Bellinger reflected on the legacy of Guantanamo Bay and the mistakes made at the detention facility so that they are not repeated. 

Bridget Dooling analyzed how the Supreme Court’s rejection of the employer vaccinate-or-test rule affects President Biden’s agenda. 

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank in which he and Amy Zegart discussed how digital technology is transforming espionage and why America needs to move towards more open-source data gathering. 

Claudia Swain announced this week’s Lawfare Live in which Jacob Schulz will be interviewing Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell, to find out more about her background and how she came to be working at Lawfare.

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. Check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.