Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, April 28, 2022, 4:47 PM

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The U.S. has obtained evidence that Russian forces executed Ukrainians who attempted to surrender in the Donetsk region, reports the Hill. At a meeting at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaak reported that the U.S. gained credible information that the Russian military unit in Donetsk executed Ukrainians trying to surrender instead of taking them into custody. Van Schaak also said that the execution of Ukrainians trying to surrender by Russian forces would be in violation of the “prohibition against the summary execution of civilians and of combatants who are hors de combat by virtue of surrender, injury or other forms of incapacitation,” which she asserts is a core principle of the law of war. 

A newly released report by Microsoft revealed that a Russian state-backed hacker group conducted hundreds of cyberattacks on Ukrainian networks, writes the New York Times. The report also specified that the attacks launched by Russian hackers often coincided with the timing of Russian missile and ground attacks on Ukrainian forces. The report contradicts earlier evaluations which stated that Russia did not prominently use cyberattacks in the invasion.

The House of Representatives passed symbolic legislation encouraging President Biden to sell the frozen luxury assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs and use the proceeds to provide military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to the New York Times. The nonbinding legislation passed with a margin of 417-to-8, and reportedly represents the bipartisan desire in Congress for a more aggressive approach to the war in Ukraine. A day before the legislation was passed, Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators that the Biden administration would support legislation that would expand its authority to confiscate and liquidate Russian assets to send funds “directly to Ukraine.”

A former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates was charged for illegally lobbying on behalf of the Qatari government, reports Axios. The Justice Department accused Richard Olson of making false statements in ethics paperwork and violating the laws that restrict foreign lobbying campaigns by former government officials. According to the Justice Department, Olson received monthly payments of $20,000 for his lobbying efforts from an unnamed Pakistani-American lobbyist. Olsen said in court filings that he plans to plead guilty to the charges. 

The Biden administration has denied approximately 85 percent of processed applications of Afghan citizens seeking entry to the U.S. via the humanitarian parole process, writes the Hill. Since July 1, 2021, more than 43,000 applications were submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Of those applications, 2,600 were processed and only 340 were conditionally approved. The program is reportedly intended to temporarily waive immigration requirements for Afghan refugees abroad looking to come to the United States. 

A member of the Proud Boys pleaded guilty to obstructing police officers during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Reuters. Louis Enrique Coleman admitted to crossing police barricades in front of and climbing a wall of the Capitol building. Once inside the Capitol, Coleman used his hands and a chair to prevent Capitol police from lowering retractable doors that reportedly would have stopped other rioters from entering the building. Coleman faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess sat down with Antti Ruokonen about Finland's experience in the second World War, the imposed restrictions on its sovereignty because of this Finlandization during the Cold War and the dangers of seeing Finlandization as a model for peaceful coexistence with Russia.

Paul Rosenzweig argued that the pharmaceutical industry’s use of artificial intelligence presents the possibility for the creation of new catastrophic biological and chemical weapons.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which Alan Rozenshtein and Scott R. Anderson were joined by Natalie Orpett and Kate Klonick to discuss the week’s big national security news including Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit to Kyiv, and more. 

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which was joined by Michael Weiner, Hoan Ton-That, David Kris and Nick Weaver about Clearview AI, rumors of cyberwar in Ukraine, Russian hackers, and more. 

Daniel M. Gerstein and Douglas Ligor argued that a cease-fire agreement and a U.N. peace enforcement operation in northern Ukraine could be an initial step toward a collective path forward out of the conflict.

Roger Parloff explained why Steve Bannon’s contempt prosecution revolves around his attorney, Robert J. Costello.   

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