Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Friday, February 4, 2022, 2:32 PM

Sign up to receive these directly to your in-box.

The U.S. has accused Russia of planning a false flag operation to create a pretext for invasion of Ukraine, reports CNN. U.S. officials allege that Russia is preparing to “fabricate a pretext for an invasion” by creating a “very graphic propaganda video.” The video supposedly would depict a fake attack by Ukraine against Russian personnel. The press secretary for the Department of Defense reported that, “as part of this fake attack, we believe that Russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations, as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine or the West, even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was Western supplied ... to Ukraine equipment.” Russian officials have denied the accusation. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Beijing Winter Olympics in a show of solidarity, writes the Washington Post. The meeting comes amidst Russia’s rising tensions with the U.S. and NATO about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. The two leaders released a joint statement that expressed shared views on multiple geopolitical issues and avoided a direct mention of the crisis in Ukraine. However, the statement expressed opposition to extending NATO membership to other countries and subtly called out the U.S. or  “actors representing but the minority on the international scale” who “continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues.” 

The president of Turkey agreed to expand supplies of Turkish-made sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainian army, according to the New York Times. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to supply Ukraine with long-range armed drones signals Turkey’s support of Ukraine in their conflict with Russia. Russian officials were allegedly infuriated by the use of these weapons when the Ukrainian army operated them for the first time last fall. 

A Republican National Committee (RNC) panel advanced a resolution to censure Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their participation in the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Politico. The resolution is likely to be approved by the RNC in full. Members of the RNC cite the defiance of party leadership as the reason for the resolution.  In a statement, Cheney criticized party leadership, saying “I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump … History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what."

Former aides to Mike Pence allegedly refused to discuss any direct conversations with former President Trump during their interview with the House Jan. 6 select committee, writes the Hill. Marc Short and Greg Jacob reportedly declined to answer questions about conversations with Trump, citing executive privilege. 

The House passed the America COMPETES Act Friday. The bill is intended to counter China’s growing influence on manufacturing and research investments, according to CNN. The legislation provides major investments in American manufacturing and scientific research, and also makes changes to U.S. trade policy intended to benefit American businesses. Additionally, the COMPETES Act addresses supply chain disruptions and a global shortage of semiconductor chips, which are essential for the production of cars, medical equipment and smartphones. 

The Biden administration formed a cybersecurity review board to examine events that affect government, business and critical infrastructure, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Cyber Safety Review Board is composed of senior administration officials and private-sector experts tasked with investigating major national cybersecurity failures. The first case the review board will probe is the recently discovered Log4j vulnerability used by hackers to launch malware. 

Right-wing conspiracy groups forced the shutdown of the National Butterfly Center in Texas, according to the Washington Post. Members of these groups allege that the butterfly center is part of an operation that illegally smuggles people into the U.S. and facilitates sex trafficking. The baseless claims stem from a conflict about immigration enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border. There is reportedly an ongoing lawsuit between the butterfly center and the former Trump administration because the administration sought to build part of a border wall on the butterfly center’s property. The center cites “credible threats” from right-wing groups and concern for the safety of visitors and staff as the reasons for the indefinite closure. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Tracy Chou about her work developing Block Party and content moderation problems user-driven tools might help solve–and which they won’t.

Justin Sherman argued that the U.S. government must respond comprehensively to the many vectors of data collection, aggregation, buying, selling and sharing that pose risks to national security.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which he spoke with Ethan Scheiner about the history of the Olympic games, the many political controversies in and around the games since 1896 and the security challenges they present.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast in which they discussed and debated topics including the Biden Administration’s change of position on the availability of coerced statements for use in pre-trial proceedings in military commissions.

Katherine Pompilio posted a livestream of Biden’s remarks on the successful counterterrorism operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. 

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.