Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Thursday, May 7, 2020, 12:32 PM

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

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President Trump yesterday vetoed a war powers resolution that would limit the president’s ability to take military action against Iran without Congressional approval, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Senate will vote in the coming week on whether override the veto, but the effort is expected to fail.

Afghanistan and Iran yesterday launched a joint investigation into allegations that dozens of Afghan migrants who crossed illegally into Iran were tortured by Iranian border guards and thrown into a river, where at least 16 drowned, according to the Washington Post. The allegations come as coronavirus lockdowns in Afghanistan have crippled the country’s economy and led many to enter Iran in search of work.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that contains step-by-step advice for local authorities on how and when to ease lockdown restrictions has been shelved by the Trump administration, writes the Associated Press. Agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” as the president seeks to put the onus on individual states to handle the response to COVID-19.

President Trump yesterday declared that the White House coronavirus task force will continue “indefinitely,” reversing his suggestion on Tuesday that it might soon be disbanded, reports the Washington Post.

Israel’s highest court ruled yesterday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form and lead a new government despite being under indictment on bribery and corruption charges, according to the Post. The decision clears the way for Netanyahu and his former rival, Benny Gantz, to form a unity government.

According to a Pentagon report released yesterday, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia killed at least 132 civilians in 2019 and injured at least 91, writes the Hill.

The Department of Justice has released a less redacted copy of a memo describing the scope of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Chuck Grassley, reports Politico. The memo was sent to Mueller by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general at the time.

The U.S. Senate yesterday approved William Evanina, President Trump’s nominee for a top counterintelligence position, after some Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation for almost two years to compel the Justice Department to release documents related to the investigation of Russian election interference, writes Reuters.

Iraq’s parliament chose an American-backed former intelligence chief as the new prime minister this morning, ending a five-month political stalemate that left the country without leadership as it faced a series of crises, according to the New York Times. Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the new PM, has promised to take a new approach to the anti-government protests that led to the resignation of the last real prime minister in November 2019.

The Pentagon is considering banning new recruits from joining the military if they have been hospitalized for the coronavirus, reports CNN. According to a recently released memo, a past COVID-19 diagnosis may also be “permanently disqualifying” for entrance into the military, writes Military Times.

Facebook yesterday announced the initial 20 members of its new oversight board, which will have final say over how to handle some controversial content such as hate speech, according to Politico. The board’s members include a former Republican-appointed U.S. federal judge, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Denmark’s first female prime minister.

Residents of a city in India have been ordered to install the Indian government’s controversial coronavirus contact tracing app, reports Buzzfeed. The police order said that “not installing the app will be considered as a violation of lockdown orders,” and could be punished with a fine of 1,000 rupees (around $13) or up to six months in jail.

The Senate is expected to vote next week on House-passed legislation to extend core surveillance powers of the lapsed USA Freedom Act, writes the Hill.

The Commerce Department is close to signing off on a new rule that would allow U.S. companies to work with Huawei on setting standards for 5G networks, according to Reuters.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security discussing the confirmation of Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the next director of national intelligence.

Elena Kagan shared a bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast: a distilled version of the Ratcliffe nomination hearing with meanderings and grandstanding removed.

Elliot Setzer analyzed efforts by U.S. states to develop digital contact-tracing apps.

Peter Margulies summarized a Ninth Circuit ruling denying the government’s request for a stay of a nationwide preliminary injunction against a presidential proclamation barring admission of immigrants without “approved” health insurance.

Scott Anderson and Margaret Taylor warned that a potential partisan split on remote congressional voting could stall progress on the initiative.

Bobby Cheney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast discussing the office of the director of national intelligence’s report on FISA statistics.

Christine Kwon argued the dormant commerce clause can’t override state and local lockdowns.

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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