Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Friday, April 24, 2020, 12:27 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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President Trump yesterday at a White House coronavirus briefing theorized about treatments involving the injection of household disinfectants that would be dangerous if put inside the body, reports the New York Times. In response, doctors and lawmakers have warned against ingesting the chemicals, which are highly toxic, writes the Washington Post.

The Pentagon and the intelligence community are investigating the possibility that hostile actors could use the novel coronavirus as a bioweapon, reports Politico. Officials emphasized that this effort does not mean that the virus was purposefully created by U.S. adversaries.

The chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee said yesterday that she plans to hold hearings into the dismissal of Rick Bright, according to the New York Times. Bright claims he was abruptly removed as head of a federal agency involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine after he pressed for scientific vetting of unproven treatments embraced by President Trump,

The House voted yesterday to establish a new select oversight committee to monitor President Trump’s implementation of almost $3 trillion in coronavirus relief measures, reports Politico.

President Trump has started redirecting the U.S.’s World Health Organization contributions to other health groups, according to the Hill. The move is part of the administration’s effort to punish the U.N. agency for its allegedly delayed response to the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, China has committed an additional $30 million to the World Health Organization one week after President Trump halted U.S. funding to the global body, writes the Washington Post.

In order to contain the spread of COVID-19, Pakistan is using a contact tracing system originally developed by its intelligence services to combat terrorism, reports Al Jazeera. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) service is supporting the government in tracking people who may have been in contact with those who test positive for the coronavirus. Doctors in Pakistan recently warned that the government was prematurely loosening its coronavirus lockdown, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are demanding more concessions from Saudi Arabia, including lifting a five-year blockade, before resuming peace talks, writes the Wall Street Journal. A two-week ceasefire ended yesterday.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

John Bellinger discussed the first year of Helms-Burton lawsuits, actions that capitalize on a rule-change by the Trump administration that allows U.S. nationals to sue persons and companies that “traffic” in property expropriated by the Cuban government.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with New York Times opinion writer Charlie Warzel on the internet during the pandemic.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast discussing the possibility of Justice Department intervention on behalf of plaintiffs in litigation from private parties challenging state lockdown orders.

Peter Margulies argued that Trump’s coronavirus immigration order is a restriction in search of a rationale.

John Lewis, Benjamin Seel and Nitin Shah discussed a federal district judge’s ruling that then-Principal Deputy Director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Elliot Setzer shared Trump’s executive order limiting immigration.

Trey Herr argued that to meaningfully change the software ecosystem, liability policies must establish clear security standards and create incentives for organizations to apply patches quickly.

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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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