Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 4:31 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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The Facebook Oversight Board has upheld the platform’s suspension of former President Donald Trump’s account, reports the New York Times. The board held that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible,” stating that Facebook was “justified” in acting to remove him after the Capitol attack—but the board didn’t resolve the issue of whether Trump can be allowed back on the platform. As Evelyn Douek explained on Lawfare today, the board’s decision effectively kicked the case back to Facebook to determine the future of Trump’s access on the site within the next six months. The decision states that Facebook’s indefinite suspension was “not appropriate” because it was not a standard punishment codified in Facebook’s policies. For more information on the Facebook Oversight Board, you can visit Lawfare’s FOB Blog.

President Biden has announced that the U.S. will support an intellectual property waiver on vaccine patents that is currently under negotiation at the World Trade Organization, writes Axios. Such a waiver would enable foreign manufacturers to produce their own supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. Proponents of the proposal say it's a necessary step to help developing nations more swiftly gain access to and distribute vaccines to their populations, while critics argue that such a measure would set a dangerous precedent and could result in consequences such as shortages in the supplies needed to produce vaccines.

The man shot by federal authorities outside of CIA headquarters on Monday evening has died, according to the Washington Post. He has been identified as Roy Gordon Cole. An administrator for the Northern District of the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner stated that an autopsy revealed Cole had died of gunshot wounds to the “torso and upper extremities.” The administrator stated she could not release how many times he had been shot. The FBI has yet to provide further details on the incident, as its investigation is ongoing.

An extremism task force at the Pentagon is reviewing rules governing U.S. troops’ affiliations with anti-government and white supremacist movements, reports the Post. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the review in the aftermath of Jan. 6, after a few dozen veterans and several current service members took part in the storming of the Capitol building to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory. Pentagon policy currently prohibits “active” participation in extremist organizations (such as fundraising and distributing propaganda) but permits so-called “passive” membership, which could include possessing an organization’s materials. The task force is considering further regulation to tighten the military’s rules on extremism, though some critics warn that such new restrictions could violate service members’ First Amendment rights.

Senior White House officials said that close to 80,000 Russian troops remain near the country’s border with Ukraine, despite Moscow’s signals in April that it was pulling back its forces, writes the Times. “They have retained a rather lethal force in the region and have only pulled back some forces,” said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, NATO’s special operations adviser to Ukraine. “That tells me they may want to come back later when timing and circumstances are more advantageous to Russia.”

Biden has stated that he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his planned trip to Europe in June, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Since Biden announced his intention to hold a bilateral summit with Russia in April, a top Kremlin aide has signaled that the two governments are undergoing discussions to plan an in-person meeting.

Israel’s president has announced his decision to give Yair Lapid a 28-day mandate to form a new government, reports France 24. The move comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to pull together a governing coalition by the midnight deadline. If Lapid succeeds, he will end Netanyahu’s reign as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes argued that the Facebook Oversight Board should not overturn the platform’s decision to suspend Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol attack.

Stewart Baker shared this week’s edition of the Cyberlaw Podcast, entitled “The Robot Apocalypse and You.”

Jordan Brunner and Emily Weinstein examined Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2021 and discussed its implications for U.S.-China relations.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess sat down with Niall Ferguson, senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, to discuss his latest book on the politics of catastrophes.

Tia Sewell shared a livestream of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearing on the crisis in Myanmar. 

Sewell also posted a livestream of the House Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the Defense Department’s strategy, policy and programs for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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