Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Matt Gluck
Thursday, August 13, 2020, 5:04 PM

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

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

President Trump said Thursday that without a large increase in funding, the U.S. Postal Service will not be equipped to facilitate mail-in voting, reports The Hill. House Democrats allocated $25 billion to the Postal Service in their coronavirus relief legislation, but the president suggested he will not approve a deal that includes added funding for the Postal Service.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Wednesday to discuss relief legislation, President Trump said that a coronavirus relief agreement with Democrats is “not going to happen,” according to the Washington Post.

Federal agents fired tear gas and non-lethal munitions at demonstrators in Bend, Oregon Wednesday night who had created a blockade around Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicles in protest of ICE’s detention of two Mexican immigrants, according to the Washington Post. The Department of Homeland Security faced significant criticism after federal agents teargassed demonstrators in Portland, Oregon last month to quell protest activities.

Two Indianapolis police officers were charged Wednesday with assaulting two demonstrators during a May 31 protest after the individuals reportedly violated a city curfew, writes the New York Times. Videos reportedly show the officers shoving one woman to the ground and striking the other with their batons.

The U.S. reported its most coronavirus-related deaths in a single day Wednesday since the middle of May, according to the Washington Post.

Chinese technology company ByteDance, which owns the video-sharing app TikTok, reportedly censored what it believed to be anti-Chinese government content on its Indonesian news app, according to Reuters.

Security researchers say that members of North Korea’s hacking unit, the Lazarus Group, penetrated Israeli Defense Ministry computer systems and likely stole a significant amount of classified information, according to the New York Times. Israel asserted Wednesday that it successfully defended against the cyberattack and that the hackers did not breach Defense Ministry data. In 2018, U.S. prosecutors alleged that the Lazarus Group had played a role in three large-scale cyberattacks since 2014.

President Trump announced Thursday that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will establish full diplomatic relations, according to Axios. The UAE would join Egypt and Jordan as the third Arab country to open diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Trump administration filed a motion seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that claims President Trump’s executive order regulating social media platforms violates the First Amendment, according to Reuters. The administration contends the executive order, which President Trump issued in May, only affects government agencies.

Twitter said Wednesday that it is planning to expand its policies prohibiting misinformation about mail-in-voting, according to Politico. Twitter has already added fact-checking labels to several tweets regarding mail-in-voting—some of which are from President Trump’s account—that the platform sees as spreading false information.

A former U.S. Army employee agreed to pay $5,000 to the U.S. Treasury Department to resolve allegations that the Army worker gave gifts to a person the U.S. identified as a drug trafficker, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Wednesday that Republicans on his committee are seeking to prevent Johnson from issuing a subpoena to former intelligence officials who were involved in the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia, according to Politico.

An Air Force helicopter flying over Virginia was forced to make an emergency landing on Monday after the aircraft was hit with a bullet shot from the ground, writes the Washington Post. It is unclear who fired the bullet at the helicopter; FBI and Air Force officials are investigating the incident. One member of the crew reportedly suffered a hand injury but has since been released from the hospital.

Britain launched a new coronavirus contact-tracing app on Thursday, reports Reuters. The new app, which was developed by Google and Apple, uses a decentralized system, which means users’ data is not stored in a remote database.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared a conversation on Rational Security about the intelligence report outlining foreign threats to the integrity of the 2020 election as well as Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris’s national security perspectives, among other topics.

Rachael Hanna summarized a circuit court decision regarding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) policies concerning the disclosure of information during government litigation.

Howell also shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a discussion covering the Trump administration’s executive orders directed at Chinese tech companies TikTok and WeChat. Bobby Chesney, co-founder of Lawfare and professor in law at University of Texas School of Law; Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin; and Dr. Ronald Deibert, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, spoke about the bans and what they mean for U.S.-China tech competition.

Ashley Deeks discussed how the U.S. could justify legally controversial cyber activities in its new Defend Forward cyber strategy.

Justin Sherman argued that the United States is not primarily responsible for the international community’s increasing opposition to Huawei.

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.

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

Subscribe to Lawfare