Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Monday, March 9, 2020, 3:35 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Two members of the Republican party, Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Ted Cruz, said on Sunday that they would self-quarantine after they were both exposed to an infected personal at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, reports the BBC. Congressional leadership offices said there has been no change in the congressional schedule at this point, despite questions and concerns from numerous lawmakers, according to Politico.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that American passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship currently idling off the coast of San Francisco will be taken to military bases to be tested for the COVID-19 virus and for a 14-day quarantine, writes the Associated Press. There are more than 3,500 passengers and staff onboard the ship, hailing from 54 countries.

The U.S. Army has ordered a halt to the movement of troops and their families into and out of Italy and South Korea in response to the novel coronavirus, according to the Hill.

Saudi Arabia cut its export oil prices by nearly 10 percent on Saturday in a move likely to start a price war aimed at Russia, reports the New York Times. The move came in retaliation for Russia’s refusal on Friday to join OPEC members in a large production cut as the coronavirus continues to slow the global economy and the demand for oil. Analysts noted that the Saudi decision will have significant repercussions for oil production in Venezuela, Iran and the U.S..

North Korea launched multiple projectiles off its east coast today, some flying as far as 124 miles, writes the New York Times. This is the country’s second weapons test in a week.

An attack disrupted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration today, reports the Washington Post. Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah both declared victory after the September presidential contest, and both men held swearing-in ceremonies on Monday after weeks of failed mediation efforts led by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Three U.S. intelligence officials say they believe the Taliban do not intend to honor the recently signed peace deal with the United States, according to NBC News. “They have no intention of abiding by their agreement,” said one official briefed on the intelligence about the situation. Afghanistan’s minister of defense said yesterday that if the Taliban did not stop attacks by the end of the week, the Afghan military would switch from “defense mode” to attacking the militant group “everywhere,” reports Reuters.

Members of Congress and the Taliban have both read two classified annexes to the Afghan peace accord that set the criteria for U.S. force withdrawal, but the Trump administration insists that the documents must remain secret, writes the New York Times. Lawmakers say the details will be critical to judging whether the United States is actually making good on its promise to leave only after securing Taliban compliance.

Saudi officials began releasing officials and royal family members summoned for questioning last week, reports the Wall Street Journal. The release came as the government sought to dispel speculation about the health of 84-year-old King Salman. Observers claimed that the roundup appeared to be an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to consolidate power within the royal family.

President Trump’s re-election campaign sued CNN for libel on Friday, over an opinion piece that said the campaign had left open the possibility of seeking Russian assistance in the 2020 election, reports Reuters. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, is the campaign’s third in 10 days accusing media outlets of libel.

A Dutch court today will begin the trial of four men accused of helping smuggle into Ukraine a Russian missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014, writes the Wall Street Journal. The four suspects, three of whom have ties to the Russian military and security services, are not expected to appear at the trial.

President Trump replaced acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Republican congressman Mark Meadows on Friday night, reports Reuters.

The Trump administration will deploy approximately 160 troops to the southern border as a result of uncertainty over the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, according to CNN. Last week, the Ninth Circuit court blocked the asylum policy, which requires migrants to wait in Mexico until their immigration court date in the U.S..

The Trump administration announced new rules today that, for the first time, will allow people to use apps of their choice to retrieve data such as blood test results directly from their health providers, reports the New York Times. The move will provide Americans with greater control over their medical information. But enabling people to access their medical records via mobile apps may heighten risks to patient privacy, prominent medical organizations have warned.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Elizabeth Threlkeld analyzed the two different deals the United States just made with the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Joseph Nye, professor emeritus and former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, on his recent book “Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump.”

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. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.

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