Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Friday, January 21, 2022, 2:25 PM

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

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Rudolph Giuliani and other members of former President Trump’s 2020 campaign team allegedly oversaw efforts to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states Trump lost, reports Reuters. There were reportedly multiple phone calls between campaign officials and state-level Republican Party officials in an effort to overturn President Biden’s victory.  

A Texas man was arrested for threatening election and government officials in Georgia, writes the Washington Post. The Justice Department issued an indictment against Chad Christopher Stark, who prosecutors allege posted a message on Craigslist that said it was “time to kill” an unnamed election official. According to the indictment, Stark also wrote, “Georgia Patriots it’s time for us to take back our state from these Lawless treasonous traitors. It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment right it’s time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [Official A]. Then we work our way down to [Official B] the local and federal corrupt judges.”

One member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has been ordered detained pending trial, says Politico. A federal magistrate judge in Arizona determined that Edward Vallejo presented an ongoing danger to society. Vallejo allegedly oversaw a stockpile of firearms and other weaponry for the Oath Keepers and was prepared to bring the cache of weapons to the U.S. Capitol for the attack.

The Supreme Court has rejected another attempt to block Texas’ six-week abortion ban, reports the Wall Street Journal. The court’s order was unsigned and provided no explanation. Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor dissented and argued that the rejection undermines the court’s previous decision that narrowly provides a path for abortion providers to challenge the Texas law.  

The C.I.A. has found no campaign by any foreign power that would explain the mysterious “Havana syndrome,” writes the Washington Post. “Havana syndrome” was first reported at the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2016. Over 1,000 intelligence, diplomatic and military personnel on every continent except Antarctica have reported symptoms which include: dizziness, headaches and ringing in the ears. Though many cases have been reported to be caused by pre-existing conditions, the “toughest” cases recorded have no medical explanation.  For many years, U.S. intelligence officials believed that Russia may have had something to do with the onset of the symptoms in U.S. personnel. The C.I.A. is continuing to pursue this investigation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Russian foreign minister once again in Geneva at what officials say was a “critical moment” for potentially reducing diplomatic tensions, according to the Associated Press. Russia has demanded that NATO promise that Ukraine will never be added as a member of the alliance, that no NATO weapons will be deployed near Russian borders and that the alliance will reduce its forces in Central and Eastern Europe. The U.S. and its allies remain firm in their rejection of these demands. 

Four Belarusian government officials have been charged with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy, reports the New York Times. According to the indictment, the four Belarusian officials orchestrated the diversion and forced landing of the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 in Minsk, to detain a passenger that is a prominent dissident journalist. The defendants are based in Belarus. 

Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes killed at least 70 people and wounded 138 at a prison in Yemen, writes the New York Times. The damage from the airstrikes also temporarily disabled the country’s internet services. Local media linked to the Iran-backed Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition that they have been fighting against for years. The deadly airstrikes came just days after Houthis in Yemen attacked a major airport with missiles and drones in the United Arab Emirates, which is Saudi Arabia’s chief partner in the coalition. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic and Substack’s general counsel, Tim Hwang, discussed the debate about the online advertising industry: does it work? 

Heidi Tworek and Alicia Wanless discussed transparency reporting as a way to regulate digital platforms. 

Peter Margulies explored how a grant of certiorari from the Supreme Court would set the stage for clarification of the uncertainty caused by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s rejection of the Biden administration’s latest attempt to end the “Remain in Mexico” program.

Tanner Larkin analyzed the D.C. Circuit Opinion in Atchley v. AstraZeneca.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which he spoke with multi-media artist Laurie Anderson about the ways that her art and storytelling have intersected with national security.

Chuck Rosenberg reflected on the not-so-peaceful transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden and the implications it had on our democracy. 

Elizabeth McElvein and Benjamin Wittes analyzed the Supreme Court’s denial of a motion by former President Trump to block the National Archives from turning classified White House materials to the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Katherine Pompilio posted the indictment of four Belarusian government officials charged with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy. 

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Katherine Pompilio is an associate editor of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Skidmore College.

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