Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, February 3, 2022, 3:19 PM

President Joe Biden announced that U.S. special forces successfully completed a counterterrorism operation that killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State, reports the Associated Press. In his remarks to the American people, Biden reported that al-Qurayshi died by detonating a bomb that killed himself and members of his family as U.S. forces closed in. The operation was the largest U.S. raid in Syria since the 2019 mission that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to CNN.

Multiple Turkish drones and aircrafts attacked Kurdish militant training camps, shelters and ammunition storage areas in Iraq and Syria, writes Reuters. Over 60 warplanes participated in the operations. The strikes are a part of a Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against two groups considered by the Turkish government as terrorist organizations: the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. 

Leaked documents verified by the Department of Defense confirmed the U.S. and NATO rejection of Russian security demands, according to the New York Times. Broad outlines of the written replies to Russian demands were already known, but the publication of the documents provided a deeper insight into the obstacles for a diplomatic resolution for tensions between the West and Russia. The Pentagon’s press secretary reported, “We did not make this document public, but now that it is, it confirms to the entire world what we’ve been saying.” The documents show that the U.S. and NATO refused to comply with Russian demands such as barring Ukraine from NATO membership. 

Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark met with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, reports the Hill. Clark is of interest to the committee because he allegedly suggested that the Justice Department send a letter to multiple states encouraging them to delay the certification of their 2020 election results. Clark previously attempted to avoid meeting with the committee, arguing that his conversations with former President Trump are covered by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege. The committee then voted to censure Clark, which prompted his appearance in front of the panel. 

A newly released memo circulated among Trump allies outlined another strategy for the Trump team to overturn the results of the 2020 election, writes the Washington Post. The memo, dated Dec. 18, 2020, advocated for Trump to direct the National Security Agency and the Defense Department to use raw electronic communications data in an effort to prove that foreign powers interfered with the election to ensure Biden’s victory. According to the memo, proof of foreign intervention would “support next steps to defend the Constitution in a manner superior to current civilian-only judicial remedies.” The document included a plan for Trump to appoint three men to lead the effort: a lawyer involved in a military intelligence unit; a veteran of the military who was fired from his National Security Council job after claiming that Trump was under attack by deep-state forces; and failed Republican congressional candidate, Michael Del Rosso.

The FBI has identified multiple suspects accused of making bomb threats to 14 historically black colleges and universities, according to CNN. The bureau is investigating the threats as hate crimes, and has not yet made any arrests. The FBI released a statement that said the investigation into the bomb threats "is of the highest priority for the Bureau and involves more than 20 FBI field offices across the country.”

At least 60 people were killed during an attack on a camp for displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports the New York Times. Militants used guns and machetes to attack men, women and children while they slept at the Plaine Savo camp in the Ituri province. In addition to the 60 people killed, more than 50 were injured. The attack was one of the largest assaults on the Congo’s restive eastern region in almost a year. 

Over 200,000 people are without power as winter storms move across Midwestern and Southern states, writes the Washington Post. Snow, sleet and freezing rain have caused about 70,000 outages in Texas and 115,000 in Tennessee. The power outages are reminiscent of  Texas’s deadly winter storm last year, where hundreds died because of the failure of the power grid which trapped millions in freezing darkness with no running water, according to Buzzfeed News. Following last year’s storm, Texas updated its grid to meet higher standards. This year’s storm marks the first significant test of the grid. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Jacob Schulz sat down with Paul Mozur and Darren Linvill about profiles on Twitter, YouTube and other social media that promote tourism to China and messages sympathetic to the Chinese government.

Shalini Bhargava Ray discussed the Immigration and Nationality Act and shadow sanctions for immigration violations. 

Victor Cha detailed the long history of the politicization of the Olympics, as well as how China and the International Olympic Committee will try to dodge and counter political pressure.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic, Scott R. Anderson and Roger Parloff discussed topics ranging from the Beijing Olympics to a lawsuit by Madison Cawthorne to stop a state law inquiry into whether he is disqualified from running for re-election.

Stewart Baker discussed flawed claims about bias in facial recognition software. 

Sam Cohen and Alex Vivona analyzed maritime defense strategies by Japan and the United States. 

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