Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Benjamin Pollard
Tuesday, August 2, 2022, 2:54 PM

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, as tensions rise between the United States and China. Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years. "Our congressional delegation's visit to Taiwan honors America's unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan's vibrant democracy," the speaker said after her arrival. Chinese officials have strongly voiced opposition to the trip over the past few weeks since news of the expected visit first broke. China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying it “severely condemned” Pelosi’s visit shortly after she landed.

President Biden announced on Monday night that the United States killed the leader of al Qaeda in a drone strike over the weekend. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden after his death, was a key figure in orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In a televised speech, Biden said he approved the strike, adding that “justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more.”

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” Guterres made these comments during an opening speech at the  meeting to review the half-century old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He referenced the war in Ukraine and growing tensions and nuclear capabilities in Asia and the Middle East while issuing the warning.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that he supports an EU proposal intended to restore the Iran nuclear deal. “A return to compliance on both sides to the JCPOA” would be the ideal result, the Secretary added. Blinken’s comments coincided with new sanctions on the Iranian oil industry from the White House.

Guy Reffitt, the first defendant charged for involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich who handed down the sentence said that Reffitt’s actions were “the antithesis of patriotism.” Friedrich added that Reffitt and other Jan. 6 rioters “are a direct threat to our democracy and will be prosecuted as such.”

WNBA star Brittney Griner returned to Russian court on Tuesday for another hearing in her trial for drug smuggling. Griner’s lawyers predict the trial will end within the month, resulting in a conviction. An expert for the defense raised that the examination of Griner’s vape cartridges at the Moscow airport where she was detained was not in accordance with Russian law.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Quinta Jurecic, Natalie Orpett, and Benjamin Wittes sat down with Peter Strzok to discuss their recent Lawfare piece that outlines benchmarks for what to look for in the Justice Department's ongoing Jan. 6 investigation.

Richard Oscar discussed what the potential future implications will be of current sanctions connected to the war in Ukraine.

Andrew Dwyer and Ciaran Martin argued that the U.K.’s latest position on responsible cyber power lacks ambition and fails to clarify its where the country stands on coercion and non-intervention.

John McLaughlin reflected on the news of the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, concluding that the successful operation was the result of the CIA’s persistent focus on terrorism over the past two decades.

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