Sunday, September 26

Today’s D Brief: GOPers vs. the election; Post-Trump NATO; China’s gray-zone war on Taiwan; COVID deaths top WWII’s; And a bit more.

Today’s D Brief: GOPers vs. the election; Post-Trump NATO; China’s gray-zone war on Taiwan; COVID deaths top WWII’s; And a bit more.

106 GOP lawmakers join Trump in trying to overturn the election. A majority of the 196-member House Republican caucus have added their names to an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general that asks the Supreme Court — apparently for the first time in American history — to nullify millions of votes cast in other states, ones won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Among the GOPers: Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

What’s new in this lawsuit: Unlike dozens of other (unsuccessful) lawsuits filed on Trump’s behalf, the Texas suit abandons the pretense of having found evidence of fraud, and instead alleges — again without evidence — that various legal maneuvers have made fraud undetectable, writes the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.

Trump applied his own pressure to SCOTUS via Twitter, obliquely asking the justices to keep him in power despite losing the election. 

Too soon to talk about Rome’s fall? No, suggests NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

But not so fast, democracy obit writers. Election law experts say the lawsuit “is highly problematic from a legal perspective and is riddled with procedural and substantive shortcomings,” the New York Times reports. 

And here are three prominent Texas lawmakers who have spoken out against the Texas lawsuit, according to recent statements gathered by CNN’s Kaitlin Collins:

  • Sen. John Cornyn: “I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it.”
  • Rep. Kay Granger: “I’m not supporting it…It’s a distraction.”
  • Rep. Chip Roy: “I believe the case itself represents a dangerous violation of federalism.”

Also: YouTube doesn’t want your election fraud videos, and if anyone uploads new videos claiming there was fraud in the November U.S. election, the company announced Wednesday that it will automatically take them down.

That includes videos about “widespread software glitches or counting errors,” for example. And YouTube says it “will ramp up [this effort] in the weeks to come.” 

Why begin only this week? Because Tuesday “was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect,” the company said in its statement. “Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.” Yahoo News has more, here.

What’s next? University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck expects the Supreme Court to issue some kind of statement blocking or dismissing the Texas suit today. Then:

  • Dec. 14: Electoral College votes for Biden. Without faithless electors, the vote would be 306-232.
  • Jan. 6: Congress tallies the Electoral College votes, then both chambers confirm Biden as president-elect.
  • Jan. 20: Biden becomes president.

From Defense One

NATO Gears Up for Biden, Big Decisions on Afghanistan, China // Kevin Baron: “We are faced with a very hard and difficult dilemma,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an exclusive interview.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: M&A market heats up; 30-year shipbuilding plan; UAE sale avoids Senate block; and more.

Confirm Austin, But Retire Milley // Douglas Ollivant: We’ve seen the harm that comes when the Pentagon’s civilian and military chiefs are too closely aligned.

ICBM Advocates Say US Missile Subs Are Vulnerable. It Isn’t True // Matt Korda: Recent technological advances still favor the sea-based leg of America’s nuclear triad.

Biden’s First Move on Nuclear Weapons // James Kitfield and Glenn Nye: When Putin calls to congratulate the new U.S. president, Biden should seize the opportunity.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Ben Watson. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1917, the British military entered Jerusalem (view colorized photo here) after eventually pushing out troops of the Ottoman Empire. 


At least 2,923 more people died in the U.S. of COVID on Thursday, according to the New York Times, moving the country’s death toll past 292,700. That’s more Americans than died in combat in World War II, several news outlets noted.
Among the dead: the newly elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House, a Republican who flouted public-health warnings to wear masks and avoid indoor gatherings.

ICYMI: The Senate failed to block the $23 billion UAE arms deal the Trump administration is pushing before it leaves in January, Reuters reported Wednesday. 

One of the world’s top cybersecurity firms says it was hacked by a nation state, and that nation state “was almost certainly Russia,” the New York Times reported Tuesday. “It was a stunning theft, akin to bank robbers who, having cleaned out local vaults, then turned around and stole the F.B.I.’s investigative tools.”
Of particular note, the hackers “used a novel combination of techniques not witnessed by us or our partners in the past,” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said. More from the Washington Post and Reuters. 

Denmark just charged a Russian citizen with spying after he allegedly shared “information about, among other things, Danish energy technology to a Russian intelligence service” in exchange for money, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service said Wednesday. Russia’s foreign ministry called the allegations a “witch-hunt.” More from Reuters, here.
And Dutch intelligence said this week that it uncovered two Russian spies, AP reported Thursday from the Hague. One of the Russians was looking into information on artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and nanotechnology, Dutch investigators said. More here. 

Get to better know China’s “gray-zone” strategy for subduing Taiwan, according to a special report published this week by Reuters.
Long story short: “PLA aircraft are flying menacingly towards airspace around Taiwan almost daily, sometimes launching multiple sorties on the same day. Since mid-September, Chinese warplanes have flown more than 100 of these missions, according to a Reuters compilation of flight data drawn from official statements by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. The data shows that in periods when political tension across the Taiwan Strait peaks, China sends more aircraft, including some of its most potent fighters and bombers.” Lots of great info and charts to this report; definitely worth a weekend read, here. 

Chinese tech titan Huawei created AI software to pick out Uighurs and report them to police, the Washington Post reported Tuesday off internal documents.
Why this matters: “Artificial-intelligence researchers and human rights advocates said they worry the technology’s development and normalization could lead to its spread around the world, as government authorities elsewhere push for a fast and automated way to detect members of ethnic groups they’ve deemed undesirable or a danger to their political control.” Read on, here.  

And finally this week: Take several good, long looks at Afghanistan thanks to the work of LA Times photographer Marcus Yam, who recently travelled to the country with fellow LATs’ journalists David Cloud and Stefanie Glinski. Together, they turned in this great feature story on Monday.
Yam spent years turning in Pulitzer-winning work on, e.g., California’s forest fires. Now he turns his eye to the ordinary Afghans across Kandahar province who — just as they did 10 years ago, and 20 years before that — are still trying to make ends meet while one of the world’s most powerful militaries comes to terms with the limits of military coercion in southern Afghanistan. Begin, here.
The UN is wishing Afghanistan well, with 131 nations voting today in the General Assembly to effectively endorse the current so-called intra-Afghan peace talks between officials from Kabul and the Taliban militant group. The UN resolution “support[s] an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and call[s] on all Afghan actors to make sustained efforts to reduce and end violence in the country,” Afghanistan’s Tolo News reports.
A framework for an exit: Former NATO commander ret. U.S. Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis has a four-point plan for leaving Afghanistan, writing in Time on Wednesday:

  1. “we want Afghanistan to be a democratic nation with some level of power-sharing that will have to include representation from the Taliban”
  2. “we must show the Taliban that a credible NATO force will remain”
  3. keep “Trump-appointed Ambassador Zal Kalizad as the envoy for Afghanistan”
  4. “push the international community for a long-term financial commitment to Afghanistan.” Read the full argument, here. 

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!

Published at Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:22:49 +0000