Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Matt Gluck
Monday, August 10, 2020, 3:25 PM

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

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In the wake of a large-scale explosion that killed over 150 individuals in Beirut, Lebanon, many protesters occupied government buildings and confronted security forces Saturday as they called for the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, according to the Washington Post. Under intense pressure from the protests, Diab and his cabinet resigned Monday. Some experts say the dissolution of the current government will bring more instability to Lebanon.

Jimmy Lai, the publisher of a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, Apple Daily, was arrested Monday morning under the new Chinese national security law directed at Hong Kong, reports the Wall Street Journal. Chinese authorities also arrested Lai’s two sons and raided Apple Daily’s office. Lai has publicly criticized the new law and said that it targets pro-democracy media companies like Apple Daily. The United States and the European Union criticized Lai’s arrest and said it is another sign of the erosion of freedom in Hong Kong.

After Lai’s arrest, China announced that it would sanction 11 U.S. lawmakers and other leaders of nongovernmental organizations who have criticized China’s treatment of Hong Kong, according to the Washington Post. For its part, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 11 Chinese officials for their role in the repression of political liberties in Hong Kong.

President Trump signed an executive order Saturday in an attempt to extend several coronavirus relief measures, according to the New York Times. The directive purports to provide $400 per week for unemployed individuals, to ban evictions, to suspend payroll taxes and to grant relief on student loans. This order comes after the White House and Democrats in Congress failed to reach an agreement on relief legislation after two weeks of negotiations. Leading congressional Democrats denounced the order as unlawful and ineffective, while several congressional Republicans commended it as an important placeholder until Congress and the White House agree on a bill, reports NPR.

Bill Evanina, the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, issued a statement Friday describing foreign threats to the integrity of the 2020 election, writes Politico. Evanina said that Russia is attempting to denigrate the campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, while China and Iran prefer that President Trump lose his reelection bid.

Over five million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 160,000 people have died as a result of the virus, according to the New York Times. Infections continue to surge throughout many regions of the United States.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson issued a subpoena to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding all documents related to the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Politico. Johnson announced last week a Senate probe into the involvement of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in a Ukrainian gas company.

After the police shot a man who was firing at officers on Sunday afternoon, hundreds of individuals smashed windows and stole items from stores early Monday morning in downtown Chicago, according to the Associated Press. The police arrested more than 100 people, and 13 police officers and two other individuals were injured. A recent surge of gun violence in Chicago resulted in a significant increase in homicides during the month of July.

Armed militants killed six French humanitarian workers and one Nigerien guide during a tour of a wildlife reserve in Niger on Sunday, writes the Washington Post.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Sarah Sewall and Michael Vickers discussed the national security implications of the shortcomings of technological innovation in the private sector.

Elena Chachko considered the legality of President Trump’s executive orders targeting popular Chinese social media apps TikTok and WeChat.

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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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