Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 3:36 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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Police in Richmond, Virginia arrested 23 people over the weekend after protests against police brutality and racial injustice turned violent, according to the Washington Post. The escalation followed more than three weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations, and officials have accused outsiders of stoking the unrest. Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond claimed Sunday, “There were white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter, attempting to undermine an otherwise overwhelmingly peaceful movement towards social justice.”

The Trump administration has announced that it will reject initial requests for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while it reviews the Supreme Court’s June 18 decision to block the president’s attempt to end DACA, reports the Hill. This announcement comes despite a federal judge’s ruling last week that the administration must continue accepting DACA applications. The White House also stated that dreamers whose protections are set to expire will be able to renew their status for one year, instead of the previous two-year renewals.

Maj. Adam DeMarco, an Army National Guard officer, will testify today before a House panel on the June 1 federal crackdown on protests in Lafayette Square, writes the New York Times. DeMarco will tell lawmakers that peaceful protestors were “subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force,” according to a written testimony published before the hearing.

Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today, reports the Times. In his written opening statement, Barr defended the recent federal crackdown on protests in places like Portland, Oregon, where local city officials have since condemned federal law enforcement for fueling a resurgence of unrest. Lawmakers are also expected to question the attorney general on his handling of the Mueller report and politicization of the Justice Department in the criminal cases of various Trump advisers, such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

President Trump’s lawyers have amended a lawsuit filed in federal court to block a grand jury subpoena for his tax records, writes the Post. Trump’s legal team argues that the order from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to produce documents is “wildy overbroad,” and amounts to “harassment.” It follows the Trump v. Vance Supreme court decision earlier this month, which established that presidents are not absolutely immune to investigation by local authorities.

Rite Aid installed facial recognition technology in hundreds of U.S. stores predominantly in poor and non-white areas, according to a Reuters investigation. Rite Aid had been using a system from DeepCam LLC, a company with ties to the Chinese government, for over a year. Since the investigation, Rite Aid has quit using its facial recognition software.

Australian authorities are warning that “virtual kidnapping” scams could be on the rise as Chinese students and their families are targeted for ransoms by anonymous criminals, reports the Times. On Tuesday, police in New South Wales announced that this year over $2 million has been paid in ransom for abductions that never happened.

Israeli Prime Minister said yesterday that the Israel Defense Forces opened fire on four Hezbollah militants who crossed the border into Golan Heights, writes BBC. There are no reports of casualties.

German and U.K. officials have issued warnings about the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave in Europe, according to NPR. Europe’s latest COVID-19 statistics show a slight uptick in coronavirus cases.

Democrats and Republicans remain divided on negotiations for a COVID-19 relief bill, reports Politico. The $600 federal boost in unemployment benefits from the March CARES package is set to expire over the coming weekend, leaving lawmakers anxious to find a solution.

On Monday, the United Nations released a report detailing a concerning rise in Taliban violence against the Afghan civilian population, writes the Times. According to the U.N. report, nearly 1,300 civilians have been killed and about 2,200 others wounded in the Afghan conflict so far this year.

Yesterday, the Commerce Department petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to narrow the liability protections of tech companies, according to Politico. In a May 28 executive order, President Trump called on the Commerce Department to file a petition along these lines as part of what he declared to be a crackdown on anti-conservative bias on the internet.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jon Lewis argued that the U.S. legal framework should be adapted to confront domestic terrorism challenges such as those posed by the “boogaloo” movement.

Peter Dutton discussed recent Vietnamese threats to initiate international legal proceedings against China over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Anne Applebaum on her new book “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.”

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.

Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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