Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Hadley Baker, Elliot Setzer
Monday, April 20, 2020, 1:19 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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President Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce an additional 20 million coronavirus testing swabs every month, reports Politico. Labs and public health officials have been warning for weeks that shortages of swabs have been hurting efforts to scale up testing.

The Pentagon will extend the travel freeze for service members to June 30, a month past when the stop-movement order was set to end, writes the Hill.

Iran today began opening highways and major shopping centers to stimulate its economy, even as some fear it could lead to a second wave of infections, according to the Associated Press. Iran’s economy—beset by one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world—has struggled under U.S. sanctions, and Iranian officials have defended their response by pointing out the harsh economic impact of continuing a lockdown.

14 pro-democracy activists were arrested in Hong Kong on Saturday on charges of joining massive anti-government protests last year, reports the Washington Post. The U.S. condemned the arrests, saying the police action jeopardizes a high degree of autonomy granted to Hong Kong.

More than a dozen U.S. researchers, doctors and public health experts—many of whom were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—were working full time at the World Health Organization (WHO) as COVID-19 emerged in late 2019, and transmitted real-time information about the outbreak in China to the Trump administration, according to the Washington Post. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services responded that the staff members were not “decision-makers,” and reasserted that the WHO relied too heavily on China for information.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Rogers dismissed Twitter’s lawsuit to reverse the FBI’s classification of statistical reports the company wanted to release to provide a more detailed account of the U.S. government surveillance requests it receives, including FISA warrants and National Security Letters, according to Politico. Rogers dismissed the lawsuit by expressing doubt about the government’s ability to actually prevent Twitter from releasing the reports.

Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Dianne Feinstein sent a letter on Friday to the Justice Department calling for an investigation of Attorney General Barr’s comments on the firing of Inspector General Michael Atkinson, writes the Hill.

A gunman killed at least 16 people, including one police officer, in a 12 hour shooting rampage in Nova Scotia on Saturday, reports the New York Times. The gunman also died.

ICYMI: Last Weekend on Lawfare

Raffaello Pantucci analyzed how the Jamaican preacher Abdullah al-Faisal, who is now facing potential extradition to the United States, rose through the extremist ranks.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a discussion of whether contact tracing and privacy concerns.

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Hadley Baker was an Assistant Editor of Lawfare. She is a recent graduate from the University of St Andrews, studying English literature and Spanish. She was previously an intern at Lawfare.
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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