Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 12:45 PM

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

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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The Trump administration yesterday released a blueprint for coronavirus testing that lays out where it sees the boundaries between federal and state responsibilities, reports CNN. The testing plan largely places responsibility on states to develop testing plans and contact tracing programs.

U.S. intelligence agencies warned about the novel coronavirus in over a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, writes the Washington Post. The repeated warnings in the President’s Daily Brief traced the virus’s spread, made clear that China was suppressing information about COVID-19’s transmissibility and raised the prospect of severe economic consequences of an outbreak.

California plans to build a team of 10,000 people who will serve as contact tracers to track down the individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19, according to Politico.

Nearly 50 sailors aboard the USS Kidd have tested positive for COVID-19—the second U.S. warship to be struck by the virus while at sea, reports the Hill.

President Trump has pushed his advisors in recent days to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan as the country faces a major coronavirus outbreak, writes NBC. According to three officials, Trump complains almost daily that U.S. troops in Afghanistan are now vulnerable to the pandemic and has grown impatient with the halting progress of his peace deal with the Taliban.

China has begun affixing cameras outside the homes of people under quarantine in some cities, according to CNN. In some rare cases, surveillance cameras have been placed inside people’s apartments.

Violent protests against economic hardship erupted in the Lebanese city of Tripoli today, leaving one demonstrator dead, reports Reuters.

The Commerce Department announced yesterday that it will tighten export controls on technology that could have military uses, writes the Hill. The new controls are aimed at limiting China’s military from obtaining U.S.-made semiconductor production equipment. The change will expand the rules limiting military use of U.S. exports for China, Russia and Venezuela.

Israeli cyber-intelligence firm Cellebrite is pitching its software to governments as a means to break into the cell phones of coronavirus-positive individuals and access the patient’s location data and contacts, according to Reuters. Cellebrite has long sold the same tools to police, and its overtures are part of a wave of efforts by at least eight companies to sell repurposed surveillance tools for the purpose of tracking the virus and enforcing quarantines.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jacob Shulz discussed the iPhone app behind the deceptive gif of Joe Biden that President Trump retweeted yesterday.

Charlotte Butash provided a preview of the en banc oral arguments in Committee on the Judiciary v. McGahn.

Samuel Rebo argued President Trump’s donation of his salary to government agencies poses unique constitutional and statutory questions.

Elliot Setzer shared a Justice Department memo announcing they will monitor state and local pandemic policies for civil rights violations.

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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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