Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Emily Dai
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 2:26 PM

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

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Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to block the disclosure of White House records from his tenure to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, reports NBC News. The suit alleges that the requested material is protected by executive privilege and that the committee has no power of investigation. President Biden’s refusal to assert executive privilege to prevent the handover of the documents was described in the lawsuit as “a myopic, political maneuver designed to maintain the support of its political rivals.”

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 185 television stations in 86 markets, was the target of a ransomware attack over the weekend, reports the Washington Post. The company discovered that hackers encrypted several of its key operational servers with ransomware and stole unspecified data. The U.S. government has stepped up efforts to combat cyberattacks in response to two major ransomware attacks that had occurred this year.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing today to consider the nomination of Tuscon Police Chief Chris Magnus, Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), according to the Washington Post. The hearing comes as the number of CBP arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border has increased to the highest level in two decades and as the Biden administration faces scrutiny for its planned restart of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy. 

The gang that kidnapped a group of 17 American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti demanded a ransom for $1 million each for their release, or $17 million total, says the Wall Street Journal. The gang, 400 Mawozo, has increasingly conducted kidnappings for ransom as Haiti suffers from political instability and severe poverty. The FBI is working with Haitian officials to investigate the kidnapping and negotiating for their release. Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quintel said the FBI and Haitian authorities are reluctant to pay the ransom, as “[w]hen we give them that money, that money is going to be used for more guns and more munitions.”

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Russia would stop its diplomatic engagement with NATO, says the New York Times. The move was made in response to the NATO’s expulsion of eight Russian diplomats that the alliance alleges were undeclared intelligence officers. Lavrov announced that staff at NATO’s main military envoy in Russia would have to leave around Nov. 1. This dispute marks the most recent deterioration of relations between NATO and Russia, which have been subject to diplomatic and military frictions in recent years.

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to authorize the mixing and matching of coronavirus booster shots in an effort to provide more flexibility, according to AP News. The move could make the process of getting a booster shot simpler and allow individuals who had negative reactions to their initial dose to try a different vaccine. The announcement is expected to be a part of the authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

The Chinese government denied a report that said it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, saying it was instead a routine space vehicle test, says Bloomberg. The Financial Times reported that the missile technology could carry nuclear warheads and bypass U.S. anti-missile systems.

The Biden administration informed the Supreme Court last Friday that Abu Zubaydah will be permitted to provide information to Polish investigators about his torture at a CIA black site in connection to a case before the Supreme Court, reports AP News. Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo Bay detainee allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda, was subject to extreme interrogation techniques, which are now the subject of a separate criminal investigation in Poland. The government cited national security concerns to oppose the disclosure of information regarding Abu Zubaydah’s torture.


ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Rohini Kurup sat down with Liza Goitein and Bob Loeb to discuss how the state secrets privilege works, the controversy surrounding its use and the two Supreme Court cases involving the privilege.

Emily Kilcrease wrote about U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s speech outlining the Biden administration’s strategy to manage China’s “zero-sum” approach to global trade.

Darrell West posted a TechTank episode in which Nicole Scott discusses her new book “Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet – And Our Mission to Protect It.”

Jonathan Shaub discussed the challenges of prosecuting Steve Bannon and how the committee could eliminate any potential claim of executive privilege to facilitate their investigation.

Bryce Klehm shared the complaint filed by Trump asking the court to stop the delivery of requested documents to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

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Emily Dai is a junior at New York University studying Politics and Economics. She is an intern at Lawfare.

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