Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Monday, August 24, 2020, 3:20 PM

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

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Facing widespread concerns about cost-cutting at the U.S. Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified this morning before the House Oversight Committee, reports NPR. DeJoy also testified last week before a Senate committee, where he vowed to postpone further cuts so that mail-in voting can proceed smoothly in November. DeJoy did not double-back on that promise in today’s testimony, but he did insist that changes will resume after the general election.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday from Jerusalem, according to The New York Times. Pompeo’s announcement comes shortly after the Trump administration brokered a partnership between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. But Pompeo’s planned appearance comes with some controversy. The Times explains that it is rare, and perhaps unprecedented, for the Secretary of State to speak at a party convention.

Scientists at Hong Kong University report that a young man has twice contracted Covid-19, writes The Independent. Their discovery shows that people infected with the virus may only have immunity for three to four months, and that “patients with previous Covid-19 infection should also comply with…universal masking and social distancing.”

TikTok, a wildly popular social media app based in China, is suing the Trump administration for its decision to ban the app in the United States, reports Techcrunch. President Trump argues that TikTok is a national security threat, because the app’s parent company may be obligated to give user’s information to the Chinese government upon request. TikTok is taking other steps in addition to the lawsuit, like launching a “public-facing information hub,” to attempt to reassure users of their information’s security.

The Wisconsin state Department of Justice is investigating the police shooting of an unarmed Black man named Jacob Blake, writes Kenosha News. Video of Sunday’s incident shows Blake walking away from officers, starting to enter his car, and then officers shooting several bullets at Blake’s back. Blake is in serious condition, and according to ABC-4, hundreds of Wisconsinites gathered last night to protest against police brutality.

Russian groups are helping spread debunked theories linked to the Qanon conspiracy, reports Reuters. Government-backed media such as RT and Sputnik have amplified Qanon’s grievances about child trafficking, the novel coronavirus and Hillary Clinton. In recent weeks, Facebook and Twitter terminated many accounts linked to the conspiracy, but the amplification efforts of the Russian outlets have expanded in that time. The messages amplified by the outlets fit a broader narrative that, according to former CIA analyst Cindy Otis, “The U.S. is falling apart, look how much division there is.”

China claims that its citizens began using a Covid-19 vaccine late last month, writes The Washington Post. The vaccine has not yet passed standard clinical trials. Out of concern about potential adverse side-effects of the vaccine, neighboring countries like the Philippines have banned certain Chinese miners from entering the country. Nevertheless, China’s announcement compelled President Trump to criticize “deep state” officials at the Food and Drug Administration on Twitter for delaying America’s progress on a vaccine.

The New York Times profiles the Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, whose country is roiled with street protests after a disputed presidential election on August 9. Protestors and many analysts argue that Lukashenko, who has been in office for 26 years, rigged the election in his favor and then exiled to Lithuania his democratic opponent, Svetlana Tikhovskaya.

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned, according to CNN and to the German doctors treating him in Berlin. “His state of health is serious, but there is currently no acute danger to his life,” the hospital said on Monday. Navalny has been jailed several times already for his vocal opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Eric Trump was ordered today by the New York state attorney general’s office to give testimony and records about four Trump properties under scrutiny, reports The New York Times. This order comes after Trump canceled a meeting with the office last month, as well as after the Trump Organization insisted it will not comply with several subpoenas from the office.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Todd Carney, Samantha Fry Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Tia Sewell, Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes updated their “Collusion Reading Diary” of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their new section analyzes the report’s discussion of a June 19, 2016 meeting about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.

David Sullivan suggested five ways in which telecommunications companies can comply with shutdown orders while limiting any negative effects on human rights.

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Anna Salvatore is a rising freshman at Princeton University. She previously served as the editor in chief of High School SCOTUS, a legal blog written by teenagers. She is now a fall intern at Lawfare.

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