Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Thursday, November 19, 2020, 11:47 AM

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

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More than a quarter million Americans have died of the coronavirus, reports the New York Times. Iowa announced its first-ever statewide mask mandate on Tuesday; Pennsylvania is requiring all incoming travelers to test negative for the virus; and public schools in New York City are closing in-person classes starting today. Dr. Hans Kluge, the W.H.O. the regional director for Europe, said in a news conference on Thursday that someone is dying from coronavirus in Europe “every 17 seconds.”

According to BBC News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited an Israeli settlement in the West Bank and will soon visit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Pompeo’s trip comes a year after he said that Israel's settlements didn’t violate international law, reversing a longstanding U.S. position. At a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo also announced that the State Department would label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic. The movement pushes for a global boycott of Israel until the country softens its policies towards Palestine. 

Elite Australian soldiers allegedly killed 39 Afghani civilians and prisoners as part of a special forces culture where “blood lust” and “competition killings” were prized, according to an official report by the Inspector General of the Australian Defense Forces. CNN writes that some accused members of the special forces are still in the military.The soldiers reportedly planted weapons on murdered civilians and shot prisoners to record their first kill. The report refers to one heavily redacted incident as “possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history.” 

The Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google could potentially commence in December, according to the Wall Street Journal. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta announced in a hearing yesterday that he would like the discovery process to begin before the holidays, which will allow both sides to exchange information and gather evidence for trial. The Justice Department is accusing Google of using anti-competitive tactics to create a monopoly on search engines.  The government has indicated that it has more than 100 potential witnesses in the case A group of state attorneys general, who are considering filing their own bipartisan suit against Google,  could consolidate their case with the government’s lawsuit. 

The intelligence-sharing group known as the Five Eyes urged China yesterday to stop disqualifying Hong Kong legislators on supposed national security grounds. Reuters reports that foreign ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. called China’s recent expellings of four legislators a “clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.” In response, the Chinese foreign ministry attacked what it sees as an  infringement on its sovereignty, warning members of the alliance not to “get their eyes poked out.” 

UNICEF said today that a generation of children are at risk of  “irreversible harm” from the coronavirus pandemic, writes Deutsche Welle. The organization called for immediate international action in a new report, citing evidence that hundreds of millions of children are missing regular meals, sinking further into poverty and falling behind wealthier families in educational preparedness. 

 ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security called “‘The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves’ Edition.” Benjamin Wittes, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Susan Hennessey and Shane Harris discussed President Trump’s firing of CISA director Christopher Krebs. 

Stephanie Kelemen discussed why the president invoked the Defense Production Act to allow continued meat production during the pandemic. 

Tia Sewell wrote about the U.S.’s strategy (or lack thereof) for countering the drug trade in Afghanistan. 

Howell also shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “Is Trump Creating a Deep State?” Benjamin Wittes sat down with Susan Hennessey, who recently wrote an article about the NSA General Counsel appointment; Scott Anderson, Lawfare senior editor; and Rudy Mehrbani, a senior advisor at Democracy Fund Voice and a  senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, about the president installing loyalists in the civil service. 

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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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