Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Friday, October 23, 2020, 3:05 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup national security news and opinion.

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The United Nations announced today that Libya agreed to a permanent ceasefire agreement between its UN-backed Tripoli government and armed rivals. According to Deutsche Welle, the North African country has struggled with civil violence since NATO ousted and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, “This news is the first ray of hope for the people of Libya in a long time."

Russia granted permanent residency to Edward Snowden yesterday, writes the New York Times. Snowden has lived in exile in Moscow since 2013 after leaking classified material to journalists about U.S. government surveillance. His lawyer wrote on Facebook that he is not sure whether Snowden wants Russian citizenship, though his client “describes his end goal as being a return to the United States… if he is guaranteed a fair trial.”

Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize relations today in a deal brokered by the United States. Haaretz observes that Sudan is the third Arab country to recognize Israel in the past two months, joining Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. As part of the agreement, President Trump promised to remove Sudan from a U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The Trump administration is pressuring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve sending migrant children to hotels before deporting them, reports the Washington Post. Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the government last month to stop using hotels for this purpose, arguing that there was no public health justification for putting children in hotels rather than licensed shelters. But now officials from the Department of Health and Human Services are requesting the CDC to declare that hotels are the best possible way of protecting migrants from the coronavirus.

A teenager made a serious attempt in the spring to assassinate Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Post also reports. The 19 year-old drove about four miles from Biden’s home in May with a van full of rifles, ammunition and night-vision goggles. He was indicted in September on child pornography charges and is currently in government custody.

According to Reuters, the Louisiana National Guard intervened in recent weeks to stop cyberattacks on government offices in the state. Experts investigating the incidents noted that the hacking group was sophisticated and potentially tied to the North Korean government. Nevertheless, people familiar with the investigation say that the cyberattacks were halted in their early phases.

The U.S. Mission in Turkey issued a warning to American citizens in Istanbul about threats of terrorist violence and kidnappings, reports CNN. Americans are advised to be cautious in shopping malls or large office buildings, which are known as gathering places for foreigners.

Responding to threats of legal action for its role in filling opioid prescriptions, Walmart filed an aggressive suit against the government this morning to clear its name. According to the Wall Street Journal, the government has accused Walmart of fueling the opioid crisis by filling questionable prescriptions for Oxycodone. In its complaint, Walmart says that the federal government “tried to use the threat of criminal indictment to pressure the company into paying a massive civil penalty.”

D.C. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered Justice Department lawyers to review their filings and certify any manipulations in the criminal case against Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser. Politico observes that the order is “a signal of intense distrust between the judge… and the department,” one that comes after department lawyers acknowledged changing the dates on handwritten notes by FBI officials.

Politico also reports that the New York State Supreme Court overturned Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s 16-count indictment against Paul Manafort, the president’s embattled former campaign chair. The court wrote that the state’s double-jeopardy law prevented Vance from seeking indictments which Special Counsel Robert Mueller already prosecuted.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

In the second installation of a three-part series, Scott R. Anderson discussed how Congress might count electoral votes during a contested presidential election.

Bryce Klehm shared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s minority report on the president’s foreign policy.

Alexandra Popke, Haley Schwab and Christopher Wan reviewed state rules on third-party ballot collection, which is sometimes referred to as “ballot harvesting.”

William Ford explored whether American law can hold a Libyan warlord accountable for torture and extrajudicial killing.

Jen Patja Howell released the latest episode of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series. Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Janine Zacharia, a lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Communication, and Andrew Grotto, director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance at Stanford, about how to report on hacks and disinformation without spreading false narratives.

Rohini Kurup shared intelligence leaders’ press conference on foreign election interference, featuring statements by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

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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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