Todays Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Friday, August 21, 2020, 3:28 PM

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

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In an interview last night, President Trump claimed that he will use law enforcement officials to monitor the election, according to the Washington Post. Legal experts have noted that federal law expressly prohibits such a move. This comes amid mounting concerns over interference in the 2020 presidential election, and follows criticisms against the Trump administration's deployment of federal law enforcement to American cities where protests were taking place.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today, reports the Post. Lawmakers posed questions on cost-cutting policies that have recently raised alarm about the delivery of ballots for the November election, particularly because the policies have coincided with the president’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting. DeJoy affirmed that the Postal Service will continue to prioritize ballots over other mail.

Facebook is preparing contingency plans in the event that President Trump uses the platform to delegitimize the results of the election after the fact, writes the New York Times. Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook, said that Facebook, Twitter and Youtube face a situation in which they “have to potentially treat the president as a bad actor” who could threaten the integrity of the election.

A new report has identified 600 Chinese talent-recruitment stations across the world as part of an expanding effort on behalf of Beijing to target advanced technology and scientific expertise, according to the Wall Street Journal. Of the 600, more are located in the U.S. than any other country, with at least 146 stations in the States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has initiated a campaign to bolster discipline and loyalty among Beijing’s police officers, judges, prosecutors and state security agents, writes the New York Times. Experts say that China’s leaders appear most concerned with the loyalty of lower and mid-level officials.

Russian doctors permitted the evacuation of Aleksei A. Navalny, a prominent political opposition figure, to receive medical treatment in Germany for a suspected poisoning, reports the Times. This follows a daylong refusal by Russian authorities to allow Navanly’s transfer.

Some Rohingya are hoping for resettlement as over one million members of the Muslim minority from Myanmar remain in refugee camps, according to Reuters. Following the failures of two separate attempts at repatriation to Myanmar in 2018 and 2019, many Rohingya took perilous routes towards countries in Southeast Asia in search of a safe place to live. The situation has worsened amid the pandemic, as countries like Malaysia have shut their borders to enforce lockdowns.

On Thursday, President Trump repeated his plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq “shortly,” writes the Hill. The president gave no specific date of timeline for removal of the roughly 5000 U.S. military personnel currently stationed in Iraq.

An artificially-intelligent machine just beat a human F-16 fighter jet pilot in an air combat exercise, reports Defense One. The contest was part of the U.S. military’s AlphaDogfight challenge, an effort to “demonstrate the feasibility of developing effective, intelligence autonomous agents capable of defeating adversary aircraft in a dogfight.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

David Priess shared a Lawfare live event with the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University covering the historical challenges of constructing the president’s daily intelligence brief.

Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman argued that while the new Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act may seem like a wise idea in the current moment, it would prove dangerous for the future of American politics.

Arthur Traldi explained the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s long-awaited judgement against alleged Hezbollah members for the terror bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hairiri in 2005.

Elliot Setzer shared yesterday’s ruling by a U.S. district judge compelling President Trump to turn over his financial records to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Paul Rosenzweig assessed prospects for client-side scanning (CSS) and argued that while an attractive idea in theory, CSS requires much more legal analysis than it has yet been given.

Darrel West and Nicol Turner Lee shared the second episode of TechTank featuring a conversation on how COVID-19 is impacting employment, healthcare and education.

Ashley Deeks discussed how “law tech,” or AI tools designed to support legal work, might play out in the international law setting.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest episode of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation featuring an interview with Alec Stamos, current director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, on fighting election disinformation in real time.

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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