Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, January 27, 2022, 2:04 PM

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his plans to retire, reports CNN. Breyer joined President Biden at the White House to make the announcement. Biden has confirmed that he stands by his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he is looking at a quick timeline to confirm Biden’s nominee. President Biden will announce his nominee to replace Justice Breyer by the end of February.

President Biden signed an executive order that makes sexual harassment a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the Hill. The order also strengthens the military’s response to domestic violence and the wrongful distribution of intimate visual images. The White House reported that the order honors the memory of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén who reported being sexually harassed by a fellow soldier before being killed, allegedly by another soldier.

The Biden administration introduced new measures to strengthen cybersecurity within federal agencies, writes the Hill. The Office of Management and Budget released a memo stating that following increased cyberattacks on private and public U.S. infrastructure, federal agencies will be transitioning to a “zero trust” approach. The zero trust approach assumes that no actor, system or network operating outside the security perimeter is to be trusted. The memo referred to the new cybersecurity approach as a “dramatic paradigm shift in philosophy of how we secure our infrastructure, networks and data."

A federal magistrate judge ordered the founder of the Oath Keepers to remain in detention while he awaits trial for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, reports Politico. Stewart Rhodes and 10 other members of the right-wing anti government militia face charges of seditious conspiracy for planning the attack on the Capitol. In a 17 page decision, Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson concluded that Rhodes posed too much of a threat to be released pending his trial. Judge Johnson wrote, “It is the totality of the evidence showing Defendant’s leadership and strategic involvement in and advocacy for armed and violent actions against the federal government, combined with Defendant’s preparedness and ready access to weapons sufficient to carry out such violent activities, that presents a significant risk of harm to others.”

The United States issued written proposals to Russia to minimize military competition in Europe, writes the Wall Street Journal. The proposals are intended to lead to discussions about how to avoid confrontations in the Black Sea and are part of a diplomatic effort to avoid a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The proposals, however, do not directly address the Kremlin’s core demands, one of which is to deny Ukraine entry into the NATO alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reported that, “It remains up to Russia to decide how to respond … we’re ready either way.”  

German federal prosecutors have arrested and charged a Russian citizen with space tech espionage, according to Reuters. The prosecutors reported that the defendant provided Russian intelligence with information about Europe’s Ariane space launcher vehicle. 

At least 181 people have been killed since Islamic State forces attacked the Ghwayran prison in Hasaka, Syra, reports BBC News. U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) have regained control of the prison and reported that “all Daesh terrorists”  have surrendered. Those killed include 124 militants and inmates and 50 police officers, SDF fighters and prison guards. The attack on the prison is reportedly the largest Islamic State operation since the group’s military defeat in Syria in 2019. 

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles in its sixth round of missile tests this month, writes Reuters. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff detected the launch from near Hamhung on the East coast of North Korea. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Oona Hathaway and Stephanie Pell discussed some of our classification system’s most corrosive effects on our democratic system of governance and proposals for reforming it.

Bill Baer and Pell discussed how we can protect national security, cybersecurity and privacy while also ensuring competition. 

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he, Peter Martin and Jason Zhou traced the history of China’s post-1949 diplomatic corps and dissected the international diplomacy up to Henry Kissinger’s visit to China.

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