Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Thursday, May 28, 2020, 12:29 PM

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

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China’s legislature today approved a resolution to impose national security laws on Hong Kong, further limiting the territory’s partial autonomy in an attempt to crush anti-Beijing protests in the city, writes the Wall Street Journal. The vote came at the end of a weeklong session of the National People’s Congress, the country's national legislature that meets only around two weeks a year. 2,878 lawmakers voted for the motion, with only one dissent and six abstentions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that, as a descriptive matter, the State Department no longer considers Hong Kong to have significant autonomy from Chinese rule, according to the New York Times.

House lawmakers cast the first-ever remote congressional floor votes yesterday, reports the Washington Post. But the votes took place amid criticism from Republican congressional leaders, who filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging whether the proxy voting provision is constitutional.

In one of these remote votes, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass a measure that would impose sanctions on top Chinese officials for detaining over a million muslim Uighurs in internment camps, writes the Times. It would also mandate that the director of national intelligence produce a list of Chinese companies involved in the construction and operation of the camps in Xinjiang province. The senate passed the legislation earlier this month.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday announced that the U.S. would end the last remaining sanctions waivers related to the Iran nuclear deal, according to the Hill. The waivers had encouraged Tehran to transition its nuclear technology to civilian use by allowing European, Chinese and Russian companies to do work at Iranian nuclear facilities without those companies risking U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s parliament today elected a former mayor of Tehran tied to the Revolutionary Guard as the legislative body’s next speaker, a move seen as solidifying hard-line control of the body, reports the Associated Press.

Attorney General William Barr has appointed the U.S. attorney in the Western District of Texas to examine the routine practice of “unmasking,” which Republicans have charged was abused by the Obama administration, writes the Washington Post.

President Trump is expected to reveal an executive order about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that has long protected social media platforms from being responsible for the content posted by their users, according to Reuters.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi today canceled a vote on a bill to reauthorize three intelligence programs related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, reports the Hill. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer appeared to acknowledge that the bill would not have enough support to pass, as Republicans who previously supported a previous iteration of the legislationwere now expected to oppose the current version.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security discussing Twitter’s efforts to fact-check President Trump.

Russell Miller analyzed a German Constitutional Court ruling that German espionage activity must conform to the country’s constitution, even if conducted overseas on non-German citizens.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast discussing Beijing’s proposed new national security law for Hong Kong and the ensuing protests.

Elliot Setzer shared a letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone intended to offer a legal rationale for President Trump’s firing of two inspectors general.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast discussing the FBI’s pursuit of Chinese commercial spying with Mara Hvistendahl, investigative journalist at The Intercept.

David Kris discussed the hard national security choices a Biden administration would face.

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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