Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Matt Gluck
Wednesday, July 1, 2020, 6:49 PM

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

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The city of Richmond took down the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday, reports the Washington Post. The mayor’s office says it will take down the four remaining monuments commemorating Confederate figures as soon as possible. Since the beginning of the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s killing, demonstrators in Richmond have gathered to call for the removal of the town’s Confederate monuments.

Seattle police officers cleared the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest zone (CHOP) early Wednesday morning after an alleged surge of recent violent episodes in the area, according to the New York Times. After protests began in Seattle following George Floyd’s killing, the city decided to remove law enforcement officers from the Capitol Hill area and allow individuals to demonstrate freely. President Trump had recently pressured Democratic officials in Seattle to remove the protesters from the area.

Chinese government officers arrested more than 300 individuals in Hong Kong Wednesday as demonstrators participated in pro-democracy marches marking the anniversary of China’s resumption of control over the territory in 1997, writes the Times. On Tuesday, the Communist Party imposed a new extremely restrictive law on Hong Kong and made several arrests Wednesday under the new statute. Fear driven by the new law is reportedly causing activists to delete their social media accounts and request that their pro-democracy articles be taken down from the internet.

The U.S. State Department issued an announcement Wednesday alerting U.S. businesses about potential problems in supply chains that rely on entities involved in Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, writes Politico. Earlier this week, AP reported that the Chinese government had imposed forced sterilization measures on the Uighur population in Xinjiang. This advisory comes after the Senate passed a bill last week that, if approved by President Trump, will place sanctions on Chinese businesses and officials that interfere with Hong Kong’s autonomy.

A federal judge Tuesday rejected the Trump administration’s decision to prevent virtually all migrants from Central America from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, reports the Wall Street Journal. In light of the coronavirus, President Trump is currently relying on a public health statute to prevent noncitizens from applying for asylum that will remain in place irrespective of the court ruling. Thus, the ruling will likely not have an immediate effect.

Bob Menendez, Democratic senator from New Jersey, introduced a proposal Wednesday that would impose sanctions on Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials, according to the Hill. Menendez puts forth this proposal after the New York Times reported Friday that the Russian government offered bounties to Taliban combatants for killing coalition forces in 2019. The Times reported that the United States intelligence community has known about this Russian effort for several months. President Trump says he was never briefed on the matter.

Early results appear to show that a large majority of Russians voted for a bundle of constitutional amendments that will allow Vladimir Putin to remain in power for 16 more years, writes Reuters. The package of changes also includes the protection of pensions and what effectively amounts to a ban on gay marriage.

Germany will dissolve a section of its special-forces operations unit, the KSK, after far-right militants infiltrated its ranks, reports the Journal. The disbanded segment of the military served with U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pfizer, a large American pharmaceutical company, published a study Wednesday showing promising results in an early-stage coronavirus vaccine trial, writes the Post. Peter Jay Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said, “It’s the first positive data I’ve seen coming out of Operation Warp Speed,” the public-private partnership designed to arrive at a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Pfizer is developing the vaccine with BioNTech, a German pharmaceutical firm.

The New York State Supreme Court temporarily restricted the publication of a revealing book written by Mary L. Trump, President Trump’s niece, on Tuesday, according to the Times. There will be a hearing on July 10 to determine whether the publication of the book would violate a confidentiality agreement Ms. Trump had signed. This ruling comes less than two weeks after a federal judge rejected a Trump administration effort to obtain a temporary restraining order on the book written by John Bolton, the President’s former national security adviser.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a discussion about the intelligence concerning the Russian bounties and President Trump’s knowledge of it. The conversation featured Lawfare’s Scott Anderson, Susan Hennessey and David Priess and Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Herb Lin considered the potential impact of the Starlink Internet service on telecommunications.

Sean Mirski discussed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on China and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA).

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of the ChinaTalk Podcast in which Tina Huang and Remco Zwetsloot from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) discuss both the consequences of current U.S. immigration policy and corporate theft.

Preston Lim outlined the latest developments in Canadian security news.

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Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.

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