Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Benjamin Pollard
Thursday, August 4, 2022, 4:13 PM

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

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WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court. Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling. Her attorneys said they plan to file an appeal to the decision. In response to the verdict, President Joe Biden said, “today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.”

The Senate voted 95 to 1 to accept Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO. The United States is now the 23rd NATO member-nation to approve the inclusion of the two northern European countries in the alliance. “Finland’s and Sweden’s membership will strengthen NATO even further, and is all the more urgent given Russian aggression, given Putin’s immoral and unjustified war in Ukraine,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Switzerland, a leader in gold refining, announced that it has banned Russian gold imports. The Swiss government council—known as the Federal Council—that made the decision said it was in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. The Federal Council also said they had frozen assets from Sberbank, a Russian bank that is majority owned by the state. The United States and the European Union have also banned gold imports from Russia.

The House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol  asked Mark Bankson, the attorney for the parents of a child killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for Alex Jones’s text messages and emails. The request comes after Jones’s lawyers inadvertently sent Bankston two-years worth of text message records amid an ongoing defamation lawsuit. The Infowars host was subpoenaed by the select committee in November 2021 for records and a deposition.

The United States and Iran have resumed negotiations in another attempt to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The talks began after Iranian officials claimed that the country is now capable of building a nuclear warhead. A successful agreement between the two countries is not expected, according to analysts.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to the island. “We and countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one's interests,” said Blinken at an ASEAN meeting in Cambodia. China fired 11 missiles near Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit, according to officials. Japan also said that Chinese missiles had entered their waters.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Lennart Maschmeyer responded to a Lawfare post critiquing his theory on the “subversive trilemma” of cyber operations.

Robert Chesney analyzed the legal questions behind the U.S. drone strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Chesney also shared a call for papers from the AALS National Security Law Section for their 2023 annual meeting.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security in which Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, and Alan Rozenshtein sat down to discuss this week’s national security news, including the drone strike that killed al-Zawahiri, the Justice Department indictment of Russian agent Aleksander Viktorovich Ionov, and Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

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. Check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Benjamin Pollard is a student at Brown University studying history and political science. He is a former intern at Lawfare.

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