Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Matt Gluck, Tia Sewell
Monday, August 17, 2020, 2:59 PM

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

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Protests in multiple American cities erupted into violence this weekend as far-right extremists clashed with Black Lives Matter demonstrators and police, according to the Washington Post. In Portland, Ore., two shots were fired on Saturday night as a far-right crowd was met by counterprotesters. No injuries were reported. For some cities, this marks the 80th consecutive day of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25.

Initially peaceful demonstrations in Chicago also ended violently on Saturday, reports the Wall Street Journal. At one rally, 17 police officers were injured and 24 people were arrested.

The U.S. Postal Service warned 46 states and the District of Columbia in late July that some mail-in-ballots for the upcoming presidential election may not be counted due to the pace of mail delivery, according to the Washington Post. The Postal Service said electoral deadlines in 40 states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida, do not leave adequate time for the mail service to deliver or collect mail-in-ballots that Americans request or cast close to the deadlines.

Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives will call back the House this week to discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to disrupt Postal Service operations ahead of the November election, according to Politico. And several state attorneys general are discussing potential lawsuits over the Trump administration’s actions regarding the Postal Service.

Today, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko announced he is prepared to hold new elections amid increasing pressure from protests demanding that he step down, writes Reuters. Some demonstrators claim that his re-election victory last week was rigged. In response to a violent crackdown on the mass protests, Lukashenko is facing the threat of sanctions from the European Union. Russia has offered the Belarusian leader military help in the event of an external threat.

The Trump administration has reportedly been using hotels to hold individual children and families who were detained at the southern border, according to the New York Times. Government data obtained by the Times show that a private security company oversees the hotel detentions. In March, the administration cited concerns over the coronavirus as it instituted new policies concerning immigration. These policies have since allowed border patrol officers to expedite the removal of migrants from the United States.

An investigative unit within Google regularly forwarded detailed personal information on the company’s users to counterterrorism officials, according to a recent investigation by the Guardian. But some of the reported users were not banned from using Google products and still hold accounts on Youtube and Gmail. The users were often associated with far-right extremism and sometimes threatened violence.

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith is expected to plead guilty to making a false statement after being accused of adding words to an email regarding former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, according to the Associated Press. This is the first criminal case resulting from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into the investigation into links between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly told Justice Department officials last year that they believed several high-profile individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign, including White House adviser Jared Kushner and former lead strategist Steve Bannon, may have presented misleading information to the committee during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to The Hill.

Fewer people have been tested for the coronavirus per day in August than were tested per day in July, according to the New York Times. Public health experts say that increased testing is critical and necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Amid a surge in coronavirus infections, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed the country’s general election by one month, reports the BBC.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Iran paid bounties to Taliban militants to target U.S. troops, according to the Hill. A Pentagon briefing document said that a foreign government paid a Taliban-led network to attack the Bagram Air Base last December. Sources familiar with the intelligence noted that the government in the memo was Iran. Four U.S. personnel and over 75 others were injured in the December attack on the base.

On Saturday, President Trump announced the U.S. will unilaterally reinstate U.N. sanctions on Tehran this week, writes France 24. The president’s promise relies on the contested argument that the U.S. remains a participant in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty in 2018. According to the administration’s argument, because the U.S. remains a participant, it can force a return of sanctions because Iran has since violated terms of the agreement.

The Islamist militant group al Shabaab has launched two attacks in Somalia in as many days, killing five soldiers and at least 16 other individuals, according to Reuters.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Kurt M. Campbell and Ali Wyne discussed the possible logic motivating China’s behavior in the Asia-Pacific and analyzed the growing potential for a confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

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.
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.

Subscribe to Lawfare