Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 2:59 PM

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

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Israel established formal ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain today, reports The Washington Post. Until today’s signing of the Abrahamic Accords at the White House, both countries had officially considered Israel illegitimate; now the three Middle Eastern nations will be able to publicly coordinate on economic, social and political issues. 

In his upcoming book, veteran journalist Bob Woodward alleges that Trump considered assassinating Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad after his 2017 chemical attack on civilians, reports Politico. “I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump said in an interview with Fox & Friends this morning, but “[Defense Secretary] Mattis didn’t want to do it.” Analysts note that assassinating Assad would have violated domestic and international law. 

A former ICE employee has alleged that detainees in a Georgia facility were coerced into undergoing mass hysterectomies, according to CNN. The whistleblower, Dawn Wooten, says in her complaint that "these immigrant women, I don't think they really, totally, all the way understand this is what's going to happen.” Wooten also details medical neglect in ICE facilities, with officials refusing to test symptomatic detainees for COVID-19 and hiding information about people who tested positive.  

A memo from a recently fired Facebook employee describes the company’s inaction in responding to fake information about elections, reports BuzzFeed News. Whistleblower Sophie Zhang gives several examples of what she argues were foreign governments using Facebook to mislead their citizens, including an allegation that Facebook took nine months to address a coordinated troll campaign to boost the Honduran president. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held yesterday that the Trump administration can strip legal status from 400,000 immigrant workers, writes The New York Times. Under a Bush-era program, the United States had previously offered temporary permanent status to workers from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan due to instability in their home countries. The Times notes that the plaintiffs will likely ask the full Ninth Circuit to re-hear the case. 

The State Department warned Americans yesterday to reconsider traveling to Hong Kong, reports The Times. The advisory says that the territory’s new security law threatens Americans with arbitrary detention, arrest and prosecution “without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime.” 

Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas to former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s publisher and literary agent yesterday, reports The Wall Street Journal. The subpoenas seek information about whether Bolton violated government protocol by publishing his tell-all memoir without approval from national security reviewers. 


ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Tia Sewell shared the recent opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court detailing limited circumstances under which the government may retain information that was collected illegally. 

Anne Joseph O’Connell examined the Government Accountability Office’s holding that certain personnel moves at the Department of Homeland Security were unlawful. 

Rachael Hanna analyzed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Moalin that evidence collected through the NSA’s bulk surveillance program was usable in court. 

David Kris also wrote about Moalin. He clarified that just because the NSA’s evidence was admissible in court does not mean that the evidence contributed to the investigation of Moalin. 

Jordan Schneider released an episode of the ChinaTalk podcast entitled “The Mulan Debacle.” He spoke with Rui Zhong of the Wilson Center and Xiran Jay Zhao, an author and Twitter personality, about the controversy surrounding Disney’s latest movie. 

Nathaniel Sobel noted that both the Senate Intelligence report on Russian election interference and New York Times reporter Mike Schmidt’s new book shed light on U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing probe. 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast featuring a conversation between Benjamin Wittes and Mike Schmidt about Schmidt’s new book, “Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President.”

Mihoko Matsubara argued that Japan’s approach to developing 5G cell networks sets the standard for global cooperation. 

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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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