Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 3:45 PM

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President Biden referred to the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York as an act of domestic terrorism, reports CNN. In a speech, Biden condemned the racially motivated attack and denounced figures who spread racist rhetoric for “power, political gain and for profit.” The president emphasized that, “White supremacy is a poison…running through our body politic.” Biden also identified the root of racially motivated violence in the U.S. as the radicalization of “angry, alienated, lost and isolated” individuals who falsely believe that they will be “replaced” and disempowered by people of color.

In the wake of the racially motivated May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, House Democrats are planning to arrange a vote on legislation to address the threat of domestic extremist groups, writes NBC News. The House Rules Committee will reportedly hold a hearing this week on whether to send the Domestic Terrorism Prevntion Act to the House floor. The legislation—introduced by Rep. Brad Schneider—would establish domestic terrorism offices within the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The creation of these offices is intended to improve coordination between the three agencies to identify and address risks and threats of domestic terrorism in the U.S. The legislation would also require biannual reporting by the agencies on the status of domestic terrorism threats. 

In the wake of Russia’s alleged targeting of Ukrainian citizens, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come to an agreement over a draft bill that would expand a 1996 war crimes law, according to the New York Times. If passed, the legislation expanding the 1996 War Crimes Act would grant American courts jurisdiction over cases pertaining to alleged war crimes committed abroad, even if the case does not involve a U.S. citizen. According to Sen. Dick Durbin—a co-sponsor of the bill alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley—the legislation would fill an “egregious gap in our laws” to allow the Justice Department to prosecute foreign war criminals on U.S. territory who allegedly committed atrocities abroad.  

The Finnish Parliament voted to pursue membership in NATO, reports Bloomberg News. After hours of debate, Finnish lawmakers voted 188 to eight in favor of the measure. The bill is set to be signed by Finnish President Sauli Niinistom. After the measure is signed, Finland will submit its application to join the defense alliance. 

President Biden approved a plan to authorize the U.S. military to deploy hundreds of special operations troops into Somalia, writes the New York Times. Biden also signed off on a request from the Pentagon for standing authority to target leaders of the Somali terrorist group known as Al Shabab. Biden’s decisions will reportedly reinvigorate an “open-ended” American counterterrorism operation in Somalia, which was paused by former President Trump’s decision to withdraw almost 700 ground troops stationed in the country. According to a spokesperson for the National Security Council, Biden’s decision to deploy American troops to Somalia is intended to “maximize the safety and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more efficient support to our partners.” 

The White House announced that Americans can now request a third round of orders for coronavirus at-home test kits from the U.S. government, according to ABC News. U.S. households are eligible to order up to eight free, at-home tests. To order the at-home tests, visit www.covid.gov/tests.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess spoke with Emily Meierding about the myth of oil wars, about the logic behind why they will not happen and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Michael Stern explained what to make of the House select committee to investigate Jan. 6’s subpoenas to five House Republicans. 

Bryce Klehm announced the release of episodes 1 and 2 of Allies, a Lawfare and Goat Rodeo podcast series that traces the U.S.’s efforts to protect Afghan interpreters, translators and other partners.

A. Dirk Moses explained that the U.N. Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide signatories defined genocide narrowly so that lawyers would find it difficult to determine Russia’s—and their own—mode of warfare as genocidal.

Nicol Turner Lee shared an episode of TechTank which features a conversation with Michael Hansen, Nicholas Zerbino and Kimberly Scott about what is needed to expand computer science education and make sure that all students can participate and succeed in the educational fields and economies of the future. 

Katherine Pompilio announced this week’s Lawfare Live at which Benjamin Wittes will sit down with Klehm and Lead Producer Max Johnston for a question and answer session on the making of Allies

Alvaro Marañon posted an unsealed indictment against Moises Luis Zagalas Gonzalez for his alleged “use and sale of ransomware, as well as his extensive support of, and profit sharing arrangements with, the cybercriminals who use his ransomware programs.”

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