Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, April 7, 2022, 4:19 PM

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John B. Bellinger III and Christopher J. Dodd argue in the Washington Post that the Biden administration should work to help the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine by relying on exceptions to the Rome Statute treaty. The Rome Statute created the ICC in 1998. The Clinton administration voted against the creation of the ICC, citing fears from the Defense Department that ICC prosecutors could prosecute U.S. service members for political reasons. Later on, Congress passed the American Service Members’ Protection Act (APSA) which bars U.S. agencies from providing the ICC with financial, intelligence or other support. A provision of the APSA allows for the U.S. to assist in international efforts to prosecute “foreign nationals” who commit war crimes and other crimes against humanity. Another provision to the APSA prohibits that the law interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to assist the court with specific cases. Bellinger and Dodd argue that aforementioned provisions to the APSA can be used as vehicles for the U.S. to support the court in its investigation of Russia, while simultaneously not contradicting the United States’ position of opposing ICC investigations that do not meet the high threshold requirements for international crimes. The two provisions—the authors claim—allow for the U.S. to offer intelligence, diplomatic and other support in the court’s investigation of Russia’s alleged crimes. 

The U.S. reported that it secretly removed malware from computer networks around the world in anticipation of Russian cyberattacks, reports the New York Times. The malware installed by Russian hackers was used to create “botnets” which are networks of private computers tapped with malware controlled by G.R.U., the Russian intelligence organization. While intelligence analysts are not entirely sure if the malware was installed for surveillance or destruction purposes, officials suspect that hackers were planning to target American critical infrastructure such as financial firms, pipelines and the electric grid. 

The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States, according to CNN. The vote to confirm Judge Jackson was 53-47, with three Republicans voting in favor of Jackson’s confirmation alongside every Democratic senator. Justice Jackson is the first Black woman confirmed to the high court. 

The Senate unanimously passed legislation to enable President Biden to more efficiently and effectively send weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, writes Politico. The revived Lend-Lease legislation is a World War II era program that was used by the U.S. to dismiss time-consuming procedures that would have delayed the approval and delivery of lethal and humanitarian aid to U.S. allies. 

The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the body’s Human Rights Council, according to Reuters. Russia’s membership on the council was up for debate because of allegations of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by Russian forces throughout their invasion of Ukraine. To suspend a country from the 47-member council, two-thirds of the majority of voting members must vote in favor of the suspension resolution.  

A Turkish court ruled in favor of transferring the trial in the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggi to Saudi Arabian jurisdiction, reports the New York Times. The decision caused outrage among human rights activists who had previously hoped that the trial in Turkey would publicize evidence of who was involved in the murder and dismemberment of Kashoggi in Istanbul. A lawyer for Kashoggi’s former fiancée said of the decision, “Let’s not entrust the lamb to the wolf. Let’s protect the dignity and honor of the Turkish nation, and let’s not make such a decision.”

The FBI arrested two men who were charged with impersonating federal agents, writes the Washington Post. Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali reportedly were in possession of handguns, rifles and other materials that they used to pose as employees of the Homeland Security Department. Taherzadeh and Haider allegedly used their fake status to establish relationships with federal law enforcement officers and members of the defense community—including one U.S. Secret Service agent on First Lady Jill Biden’s security team. According to an FBI affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in D.C., Taherzadeh gifted Secret Service members and one Homeland Security employee with items such as “rent-free apartments … , iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia.” 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Trump allies Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro in contempt of Congress for their failure to cooperate with subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to the Wall Street Journal. The House voted 220-to-203 in favor of the resolution to refer Scavino and Navarro to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. Scavino and Navarro now may face a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to $100,000.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Natalie Orpett sat down with Erin Sikorsky to discuss how the events in Ukraine are both exposing and exacerbating threats to energy security and climate security.

William Marks and David Nemer explained why Telegram is so different from and more successful than other self proclaimed free speech apps. 

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic and Scott R. Anderson were joined by Molly Reynolds to discuss the week’s big national security news including alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine and Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety—the first case to test the limits of congressional war powers in decades. 

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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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