Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Thursday, October 1, 2020, 4:31 PM

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

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The European Union will sue the United Kingdom for breaching both international law and last year’s withdrawal agreement, writes the New York Times. The EU’s announcement comes weeks after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled legislation allowing Northern Ireland to remain in Britain’s customs territory, a decision which violates the EU’s protocol on business subsidies. Yesterday the UK’s top government lawyer resigned in protest of Johnson’s decision, sending what a former Irish ambassador to Britain called an “extraordinary signal” about the government’s downward spiral in credibility on the issue. 

A year after a repression of pro-democracy protests roiled Hong Kong on China’s National Day, city residents demonstrating against the same holiday were quashed by police today, reports the Times. This year’s protests were banned under the auspices of COVID-19 concerns, and thousands of police officers conducted mass arrests in the public squares. Some demonstrators skirted government policy by standing in the streets of Causeway Bay, a shopping district, and holding issues of a pro-democracy newspaper called Apple Daily as if they were casually reading them. 

Taiwan signed a deal with the U.S. today to cooperate on market development in Asia and Latin America, reports the South China Morning Post. Analysts say the deal has upsides for both Washington and Taipei, as both countries can reduce their reliance on Chinese exports and create relationships with other countries. The U.S.’s string of pro-Taiwan policies is “basically aimed at countering Beijing’s Belt and Road [Initiative],” noted University of Taipei Professor Charles Chong-han Wu. 

The Times writes that Pope Francis refused to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to Rome yesterday, weeks after Pompeo tweeted his disagreement about the Vatican accepting bishops appointed by Beijing. The Pope claimed that he decided not to meet with Pompeo because he was trying to avoid the appearance of endorsing candidates before an election. 

Newly released from a German hospital, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of poisoning him last month, writes BBC News. Asked by Der Spiegel why Putin would target him, Navalny responded, “The Kremlin realized they had to take extreme measures to prevent a ‘Belarusian scenario.’” Navalny, who attempted to challenge Putin in Russia’s 2018 presidential election, fell ill last month while flying over Siberia and recovered in Berlin. 

The New York Times has profiled the tremendous efforts the Russian government takes to safeguard President Putin from the novel coronavirus. Though Putin is ensconced in a virus-free bubble and walks through hallways clouded by disinfectant, he still participates in public events that project a sense of normalcy to the Russian people. 

The Trump administration plans to slash refugee admissions next year, according to NBC News. The government has set a cap for 18,000 refugees to enter the U.S. in 2021, which is 3,000 fewer people than this year and the lowest number since the beginning of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program four decades ago. The president’s plan allocates spots to victims of religious persecution, refugees from certain Latin American countries and people fleeing Hong Kong, Cuba and Venezuela. 

The leaders of the U.S., France and Russia have called for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region that’s ethnically Armenian but located inside Azerbaijan. Deutsche Welle reports that in remarks yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the recent war was initiated by Azerbaijan without Armenian provocation. Turkey, a staunch ally of Azerbaijan, decried the Western leaders’ involvement in the conflict and vowed to “do what is necessary” to support Azeri fighters. 

A new Human Rights Watch report accuses the Egyptian government of systematically detaining and torturing LGBT citizens, according to the Washington Post. The report alleges that when Egyptian police are entrapping LGBT people on gay dating sites, arresting them on the streets, illegally searching their phones and then jailing them in “inhuman conditions” without access to a lawyer. The Post writes that although homosexuality is not illegal under President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s dictatorial regime, Egyptian courts have interpreted a 1960s anti-prostitution law to target gays and lesbians for supposed debauchery. 

A district court judge in Washington struck down yesterday the Trump administration’s new national commission on policing, citing a lack of both the diversity and transparency required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, writes the Post. The 18-member commission only included members of law enforcement, excluding people in the civil rights, criminal defense and social work fields. The commission also failed to announce its meetings to the general public. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security entitled “The Sh*t Show Edition” featuring Benjamin Wittes’s discussion with a group of experts on the threat President Trump poses to democracy. 

Tia Sewell shared yesterday’s bipartisan House report on the readiness of the U.S. intelligence community to confront China. 

Lester Munson released the latest episode of Fault Lines featuring an interview with Jung Pak, a senior fellow in Korea studies at Brookings, about what is happening in North Korea. 

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast, in which they discussed everything from the TikTok injunction to the Ninth Circuit’s opinion on bulk data collection. 

Elaine Kamarck, Chris Meserole and Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank called “Will Disinformation and Voter Suppression Help Trump Win Reelection?”

Stewart Baker released an episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast entitled, “U.S.-China Tech Divide—Where Will it End?” Baker spoke with a group of experts to discuss the Commerce Department’s efforts to ban TikTok and WeChat from U.S. markets. 

Pia Deshpande explained how Ohio’s handling of mail ballots in the primaries bodes for the November election. 

Tia Sewell shared a livestream of yesterday’s House Armed Services hearing on the U.S.’s. defense posture in Europe. 

Chas Kissick and Paul Rosenzweig recommended how the Bureau of Statistics should be organized. 

Sewell also shared yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. 

Jen Patja Howell released an episode of The Lawfare Podcast called “Trump’s Money and National Security.” Lawfare’s Susan Hennessesy and Margaret Taylor spoke with Daniel Drezner, a professor at Tufts University, and Adam Davidson, a contributor to The New Yorker, about President Trump’s tax returns and whether his debts are a national security risk. 

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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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