Fdd's overnight brief

December 3, 2020

In The News


Iran responded Wednesday to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist by enacting a law ordering an immediate ramping up of its enrichment of uranium to levels closer to weapons-grade fuel. – New York Times

A senior US administration official said Israel was behind the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist but declined to give details about whether the Trump administration knew about the attack before it was carried out or provided support. – CNN

Iran has successfully identified those responsible for the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a spokesperson of the government of Iran, Ali Rabiei, said on Wednesday according to Israel Hayom. – Jerusalem Post

A senior figure in the Israeli security establishment has told Reuters that “Iran is planning to attack key installations such as gas rigs.” – Arutz Sheva

Iranian President claims that significant progress has been made in uranium enrichment and the development of the nuclear program. – Arutz Sheva

President-elect Joe Biden has signaled he will return the United States to a nuclear accord with Iran before quickly launching talks on other concerns, reviving diplomacy to ease soaring tensions. – Agence France-Presse

Accounts of the killing of a top Iranian nuclear scientist have devolved into finger-pointing and shifting narratives. – Washington Examiner

The wife of an Iranian-Swedish medical doctor sentenced to death in Iran for alleged espionage says senior officials have delayed her husband’s transfer to a prison where he could have faced imminent execution, following a wave of international appeals to spare his life. – VOA News

Noah Rothman writes: The JCPOA was never designed to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear-nation status. It was only aimed at dragging that process out while reshuffling the region’s geopolitical deck in Iran’s favor and ultimately providing a patina of legitimacy to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Any talk about exhuming and reanimating this agreement that glosses over its weak verification regime suggests that the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, will settle for any deal—even a bad one. When Iran is on the ropes, it’s Joe Biden who is committed to negotiating from a position of weakness. – Commentary Magazine

Ray Takeh writes: History does not always repeat itself. The Islamic Republic may endure as its leaders are made of tougher stuff than the shah and his generals. But the misjudgments of the clerical elite and the persistent failure of their Pretorian Guards to protect the system is all too reminiscent of the monarch they deposed to be ignored. The death of a famed scientist may not just be another successful operation by an Israel devoted to targeted killings, but the harbinger of greater dangers that are lurking below the surface. – New York Daily News

Douglas Bloomfield writes: Iran is unsure how to respond to the Fakhrizadeh assassination, ranging from threats to blow up Israel’s oil refineries and the Port of Haifa, to random attacks by proxies, to holding their fire in the hope the new Biden administration will move to repair relations and ease or even remove sanctions that have crippled its economy. The Iranians have been the matchmaker for Israeli and Arab peacemakers. Now they must learn to repair relations with a new American administration. No one expects peace but stability would be in the interest of all. – Jerusalem Post


Israel faced the prospect of political chaos once again Wednesday when lawmakers approved a preliminary measure that would dissolve the turbulent coalition government, putting the country on a path to its fourth election in two years. – Washington Post

Israel received its most advanced warship on Wednesday, describing the German-made vessel dubbed “Shield” as a bulwark for vulnerable Mediterranean gas rigs as tensions with Tehran soar over the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist. – Reuters

A children’s program called “A Child and a Refugee Camp” on Palestinian Authority television interviewed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who described wanting to “return” to Lod, an Israeli city, in a broadcast in November, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). – Jerusalem Post

The US government is planning to open an “outreach building” in east Jerusalem to improve relations with Palestinians and east Jerusalem Arabs. – Jerusalem Post

The Czech Republic plans to boost the status of its mission in Jerusalem without moving its embassy, Prague announced on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

The INS Magen, Israel’s first Sa’ar 6 warship and the newest addition to the Navy, arrived in Haifa from Germany Wednesday evening, an event marked by a welcoming ceremony. – Jerusalem Post

The government of Israel did not deduct the amount the Palestinian Authority paid terrorists and their families from the taxes and tariffs collected for the PA and transferred to Ramallah on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

A free trade agreement between Israel and Ukraine is set to go into effect when the clocks strike midnight on the New Year’s Eve, eliminating import taxes on food products coming in from the Eastern European country. – Jerusalem Post

Senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces have met in recent days with their counterparts at U.S. Central Command, aiming to tighten the links between the two militaries in case Iran retaliates after last week’s assassination of its top nuclear scientist, sources say. – Haaretz

A short while ago, IDF soldiers apprehended two people attempting to cross the security barrier separating northern Gaza from Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Haviv Rettig Gur writes: Netanyahu sees in Cohen not merely a protégé, but the daring strategist Israel will need to safely weather the coming crisis. His patronage is as much a statement about where Netanyahu believes the Middle East is headed as it is about whom he deems a worthy successor to himself. Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, if indeed it is Cohen’s handiwork, is only the beginning. – Times of Israel


The U.S. government has decided to withdraw some staff from its embassy in Baghdad through the final weeks of the Trump administration, officials say, as tensions rise throughout the region. – Washington Post

The Revolutionary Guards grew a military-business empire in Iran, then expanded their influence across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They created a corridor to support militia allies across the region and dominate land borders, overground trade, and expand their presence at Shi’ite holy places. But now the Islamic Republic’s attempts to expand influence in Iraq are facing new challenges. – Reuters

Samya Kullab writes: President-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to return to the agreement while also addressing Iran’s military involvement in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. A significant drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq — while popular at home — could reduce his leverage. – Associated Press


The Trump administration is worried that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime is working to undermine neighboring Lebanon by driving up exchange rates for its weakened currency and ratcheting up influence on the fragile government through Iran-backed Hezbollah, according to a State Department finding shared with Congress this summer and obtained by Foreign Policy. – Foreign Policy

Lebanon’s president said Wednesday he wants maritime border talks with Israel to succeed and that disagreements during the last round of negotiations can be resolved based on international law. – Associated Press

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah plans to move to Iran and may have already made the move, an informed source told the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida newspaper on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Shaul Chorev writes: Moreover, from a diplomatic standpoint, an agreement could demonstrate to Israel’s new friends in the region—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan—that it is acting in good faith by speaking with its neighbors […]. Furthermore, once an agreement is in place, and the Lebanese people see a marked improvement in their economy, we may see decreased tension between the two countries and maybe even—one day—some sort of peace. – The National Interest

Michael Rubin writes:  By that standard, locals no longer consider Hezbollah a thoroughbred racehorse, but rather a lame pony. The question moving forward is whether the Biden administration, in its animosity to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by pumping resources into the Islamic Republic of Iran, a gravy train which will benefit not ordinary Iranians or the citizens of southern Lebanese towns like Nabatieh, but rather groups like Hezbollah who locals say are a shadow of their former selves.  – The National Interest

Arabian Peninsula

The United Nations made an 11th-hour appeal to the Trump administration this week about the potential for humanitarian disaster in Yemen ahead of an expected decision to name Houthi rebels there as a terrorist organization, as U.S. officials prepared to potentially halt a $700 million aid program for the country. – Washington Post

A recent phone call from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came as a pleasant surprise to Palestinian officials in Ramallah, who say it is a sign of a thaw in their relations with the Gulf state. – Jerusalem Post

The United Arab Emirates values the warm peace that is emerging with Israel. It also expects to see progress in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. – Jerusalem Post

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are nearing an agreement to end a dispute that has diplomatically and economically isolated the small Gulf state from its neighbors for three years, Qatar’s state broadcaster Al Jazeera reported Wednesday. – Haaretz

Israel will open an embassy in Bahrain by the end of the year, Axios correspondent Barak Ravid reported. – Arutz Sheva

Eli Epstein and Mike Holtzman write: The president-elect’s team should hold its collective tongue and wish the outgoing president well. It is Mr. Trump’s prerogative to make new diplomatic overtures as a lame duck. A strong, unified Gulf Cooperation Council would be a good thing for America and people of goodwill everywhere. It would also be – thanks to Mr. Trump’s go-for-broke diplomacy – the first time in modern history that Arab unity is a good thing for Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Ari Heistein: But it is worth remembering that there are no silver bullets or elegant solutions to this very messy conflict. Supporting the STC will not deliver a quick fix for Yemen because no such quick fix exists. Yet Israel might consider how it could support South Yemen’s aspirations as a means to ensure its interests in a strategic location at a time of great uncertainty. – The National Interest

Middle East & North Africa

In one of its final attempts at Middle East diplomacy, the Trump administration is pushing for an agreement that would ease a blockade against Qatar. But the mission may be more about delivering a last blow to Iran’s economy before President Trump leaves office. – New York Times

The top U.N. official for Libya said Wednesday there are at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in the war-torn nation, and warned of a “serious crisis” as weapons continue pouring into the North African country. – Associated Press

Time is running out for Libyans to find a binding solution to end almost a decade of conflict, the United Nations acting envoy said, warning against the continued presence of foreign fighters only there for “their interests.” – Bloomberg

Amnesty International has condemned a sharp rise in the use of the death penalty in Egypt, accusing authorities of a “horrifying execution spree”. – BBC

Israel must maintain the status quo at the Jerusalem’s al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, a Jordanian representative told the UN General Assembly in advance of the plenum’s vote on five pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel resolutions. – Jerusalem Post

Anchal Vohra writes: Nine years on, Obama’s vice president, President-elect Joe Biden, confronts a different challenge: how to stop starvation in Syria and help people resurrect their lives while not benefiting Assad. The guilty feelings of his former colleagues in the Obama administration, who watched the Syrian war devolve into chaos, would urge him to take a keen interest. How far up the incoming president’s list of priorities Syria will be is another matter. – Foreign Policy

Daniel J. Abress writes: Secretary of State-designee Anthony Blinken and his team are about to inherit the strongest foundation in decades for achieving enduring peace in the volatile Middle East. This has come about as America’s closest and only market democratic ally in the region, the State of Israel, is establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with its Arab neighbors. This is a regional realignment that offers new possibilities for U.S. security interests if the next administration is prepared to meet them with appropriately original policies. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

The incoming U.S. administration will have to make an early decision on what approach it will take with North Korea and not repeat the delay of the Obama era, a former U.S. official who has advised President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday. – Reuters

President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy team will soon have access to the letters President Donald Trump exchanged with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, correspondence that belongs to the US government — not Trump — and could provide insight into one of the world’s most enigmatic leaders. – CNN

Jason Bartlett writes: Regardless of its disputed credibility, this documentary accurately represented the elaborate and innovative methods North Korea uses to evade U.S. and UN sanctions abroad. No other documentary has captured the international breadth of North Korea’s illicit arms and drug trade. When imposing economic sanctions against North Korea, U.S. policymakers should consider the plausibility of enforcing these measures abroad in regions where corruption and weak legal framework give room for continued illicit activity. – The National Interest


Following an FBI investigation this summer, more than 1,000 researchers who had hidden their affiliation with the Chinese military fled the United States, the Justice Department said Wednesday. – Washington Post

The Trump administration banned imports of cotton products from China’s Xinjiang region, saying evidence suggests the products are made with the forced labor of Uighurs. – Wall Street Journal

The broader U.S. business world also has soured on engagement with China. Wall Street, however, is going all in. – Wall Street Journal

The House unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday that threatens a trading ban of shares of Chinese companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA -1.02% over concerns that their audits aren’t sufficiently regulated. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued new rules to curtail travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party and their immediate families, a move certain to further exacerbate tensions between the two countries. – New York Times

Chinese social media app WeChat has censored a post by Australia’s prime minister in the midst of a deepening diplomatic feud, raising concerns about Beijing’s ability to export censorship overseas through technology groups. – Financial Times

The widespread test shortages and problems at a time when the virus could have been slowed were caused largely by secrecy and cronyism at China’s top disease control agency, an Associated Press investigation has found. – Associated Press

The United States on Wednesday claimed a United Nations meeting of world leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic was being designed to allow Beijing to spread “propaganda,” stoking months of bickering at the world body between the superpowers. – Reuters

China will keep temporary anti-dumping duties on wine imports from Australia for up to four months, but could extend them to nine months in special circumstances, the commerce ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

China said Thursday its latest lunar probe has finished taking samples of the moon’s surface and sealed them within the spacecraft for return to Earth, the first time such a mission has been attempted by any country in more than 40 years. – Associated Press

China’s landing of its third probe on the moon is part of an increasingly ambitious space program that has a robot rover en route to Mars, is developing a reusable space plane and is planning to put humans back on the lunar surface. – Associated Press

China will mass produce its new J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter, H-20 stealth bomber and new Type 055 large destroyer as part of a stated goal to modernize its military in the coming years and carve a path toward global supremacy.  – The National Interest

China’s state investment funds can’t keep their hands off US tech. Despite restrictions from Washington, the FT found state run funds are continuing to buy up stakes in US semiconductor companies. – Financial Times

Chinese agents have stepped up their efforts to influence President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, a US intelligence official has said. – BBC

The limited tolerance China had toward dissent has all but dissipated, while ostensibly autonomous regions (geographically as well as culturally), including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Hong Kong, have seen their freedoms curtailed. – Defense One

Philip Stephens writes: Global issues such as pandemics and climate change necessarily require partnership with China. There is nothing to be gained from a headlong rush into a new “cold war”. But collaboration cannot be at the expense of a clear-eyed understanding of Beijing’s ambitions and methods. Europe will have to take sides. – Financial Times


The Taliban and Afghan government teams negotiating peace reached an agreement on a set of rules and procedures Wednesday, a small but important step that will allow the two sides to move forward after months of inaction in their pursuit of a political settlement to end two decades of war. – Washington Post

The Pentagon has approved drawdown plans in Afghanistan that will still keep two larger bases in the country as officials carry out President Donald Trump’s orders to slash troop levels to 2,500 by Jan. 15, the top U.S. general said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday the U.S. military has achieved “a modicum of success” with its nearly 20-year presence in Afghanistan. – The Hill

Rufus Phillips writes: There are national security implications of a Taliban takeover in return for an unenforceable commitment against reinstituting the country as a jihadist base, and there will be adverse effects from fostering the Taliban’s cousins, the Pakistani Taliban. […]All this for an unwillingness to explain to the American public that a continuing commitment is required to force the Taliban to accept a compromise that protects us while ensuring a reasonable degree of human rights along with a decent peace for the Afghan people, not the peace of the fleeing and the dying. – Washington Post


Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon and longtime backer of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, was denied bail on Thursday for allegedly flouting the terms of an office lease, as a campaign continues to lock up the ruling Communist Party’s most prominent critics. – Washington Post

A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. – Associated Press

Thailand’s highest court on Wednesday acquitted Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of breaching ethics clauses in the country’s constitution, allowing him to stay in his job at a time he’s fending off calls for his resignation from student-led pro-democracy protesters. – Associated Press

Zafarullah Khan Jamali, a veteran Pakistani politician who served as the country’s prime minister from 2002 to 2004 died on Wednesday at a hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, days after he suffered a heart attack at the age of 76. – Associated Press

Australia’s parliament on Thursday passed legislation giving the federal government power to veto any agreement struck with foreign states, a move likely to anger China and intensify a bitter diplomatic spat between the two countries. – Reuters

U.S. and U.K. leaders have denounced Hong Kong’s decision to sentence three prominent activists to prison over charges related to an illegal pro-democracy rally. – CNBC

A network of North Korean money launderers and weapons program suppliers operates in China with the tacit approval of Chinese authorities, according to a senior State Department official. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: China is now claiming that Jimmy Lai, Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam are criminals for taking a stand for democracy. Insisting on the truth may not immediately set them free. But the lack of moral credibility is the regime’s biggest vulnerability, and refusing to accept its lies must be the starting point of any U.S. China policy. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: President-elect Joe Biden has a golden opportunity when he takes office in January to show China that in the multiple channels of its relationship with the United States, democracy and human rights will remain central, not just be trotted out for an election year. Whether Mr. Xi likes it or not, Mr. Biden should repeat the names — Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam — from the very start of his engagement with China. – Washington Post

Kris Osborn writes: The issue of U.S. technological help seems quite significant, as while the new submarines are not likely to fully mirror the U.S. Virginia-class attack boats, Taiwan could benefit substantially from U.S. technological sophistication when it comes to attack submarine technologies. […]None of this is to say that new Taiwanese submarines will incorporate all of these systems, as much of that likely remains to be seen, but rather to point out that, with U.S. input, new Taiwanese subs may have a range of advanced and highly impactful technologies to evaluate. – The National Interest


The Russian military on Monday received its first batch of Terminator tank support vehicles for testing. – Defense News

A prominent US human rights activist faces expulsion from Russia as it ratchets up pressure on non-governmental organisations fighting abuses, particularly those who receive financial support from abroad. – The Guardian

Operations have started on the middle portion of the China-Russia East natural gas pipeline, allowing natural gas from the Power of Siberia system in Russia to be transmitted to the smog-prone Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in northern China. – Reuters

The Navy has promised greater visibility along its Alaska coastline after an incident earlier this year that saw Russian warships and aircraft take part in military exercises off the coastline. – Washington Examiner

South Caucasus

Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Armenia’s capital Wednesday to continue to pressure the ex-Soviet nation’s prime minister to resign over a peace deal with neighboring Azerbaijan that domestic critics see as a betrayal of national interests. – Associated Press

Construction work has started on a joint Turkish-Russian centre to monitor a ceasefire in the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Moscow is hailing the deal as proof that Russia remains an influential force in the South Caucasus. But the recent six-week war has also revealed limits to Russia’s reach in its former empire. – BBC


Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president who worked for three decades to modernize his country’s institutions and create a centralized government for Europe — only to be voted out of office by a resentful nation and disappointed by the weaker European Union that emerged from his efforts — died Dec. 2 at his home in Authon, in central France. He was 94. – Washington Post

The rift between the European Union and its two budget holdouts is getting wider, with Poland and Hungary rejecting appeals to lift their veto and the rest of the bloc plotting to carve out a stimulus plan that excludes them. – Bloomberg

The U.S. and European Union’s top trade officials have stepped up work to settle a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies before President Donald Trump leaves office in January, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

The German government ordered a raid of homes occupied by members of a far-Right group, where it seized materials that could expand the influence of neo-Nazism. – Washington Examiner

Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, has announced a crackdown on 76 mosques “suspected of separatism” that will be investigated and then closed if the government’s suspicions are confirmed. – Financial Times

Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House in January will give the EU and the US the chance to push for international carbon taxes and face down opposition to the idea from China, according to French environment minister Barbara Pompili. – Financial Times

The United Nations ran the territory for nine years before Kosovo in 2008 declared independence, which Serbia doesn’t recognize. Relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain tense. – Associated Press

The Council of the European Union, a key legislative body in the EU, adopted a declaration on Wednesday expressing concern over the prevalence of antisemitism in Europe and calling on member states to adopt a series of policies to combat the phenomenon. – Jerusalem Post

Constanze Stelzenmüller writes: Americans, Canadians and Europeans must now help each other think through how their own democracies can be made fit for purpose in an age of great power competition and deepening global networks.  […]In short, we must live up to our own principles again. Then, and only then, can we offer others advice about democracy. – Financial Times

Nicholas Nelson writes: Europe has the population, defense spending, research, and talent capabilities to develop a flourishing defense innovation ecosystem in order to develop key new defense capabilities and secure itself. Driven by the external pressures of an aggressive Russia and unsettled alliances, it is increasingly important that Europe can develop and rapidly field new capabilities. And while structural changes like these do not come easily, the current approach pioneered by the United States provides a way to accelerate this process. – Center for European Policy Analysis


In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations on Wednesday said it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend. – Associated Press

Three Pygmies and a soldier were killed in clashes near DR Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, military sources and local officials said Wednesday, as calls grow for protection of the country’s indigenous peoples. – Agence France-Presse

A BBC reporter writes about a relative forced to flee Ethiopia’s Tigray region following the outbreak of conflict between federal and regional troops. – BBC

Jeffrey Smith writes: It is long past due for the United States and the World Bank to cease subsidizing repression in Uganda and fueling the instability that it inevitably produces. Until then, the Museveni regime will no doubt continue persecuting political opponents — like Bobi Wine — while American taxpayers keep footing the bill. – Washington Post

The Americas

President-elect Joe Biden could face a difficult test at the border as soon as he takes office. He has pledged to revoke the Migration Protection Protocols that Trump used to bounce border-crossers back into Mexico, but Biden has not indicated how he might handle a new influx of tens of thousands of migrants trying to enter the country. – Washington Post

The man who rammed a white rental van into unsuspecting pedestrians on a busy Toronto thoroughfare in 2018, killing 10 people, admits to planning and carrying out the attack. – Washington Post

Canadian prosecutors will ask a court to disregard a former U.S. government lawyer’s affidavit submitted by Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s legal team in her U.S. extradition case, arguing it is “irrelevant” and “unnecessary,” documents released on Wednesday showed. – Reuters

Latin America

The Organization of American States on Wednesday called on the International Criminal Court to formally investigate human rights abuses in Venezuela, alleging The Hague’s failure to make progress in an examination of the turmoil in the country launched nearly three years ago has emboldened the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. – Washington Post

Iran has sent arms and dispatched paramilitary operatives to help Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro maintain his hold on power, the top U.S. military commander for Central and South America said Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

China, already competing for influence in this hemisphere through a multibillion-dollar network of investment and infrastructure deals, is likely to beat the United States in its own backyard with vaccine diplomacy, according to the military’s top commander for Central and South America. – New York Times

Venezuela’s opposition is discussing scaling back the interim government of opposition leader Juan Guaido that has won diplomatic recognition by dozens of countries that disavowed President Nicolas Maduro, nine legislators told Reuters. – Reuters

United States

A prominent law enforcement training group is promoting a lengthy research document riddled with falsehoods and conspiracies that urges local police to treat Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists plotting a violent revolution. – Associated Press

Two women have been arrested and charged with an act of terrorism for allegedly placing a device on a train track meant to cause disruption.. – Washington Examiner

Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen government ministers are scheduled to speak at the U.N. General Assembly’s special session that opens Thursday to discuss the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic, which has claimed 1.5 million lives and shattered economies in both rich and poor countries. – Associated Press

Alexandra Papadopoulou’s arrival in D.C. was historic even before the coronavirus pandemic upended international relations. – The Hill


The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog said it would open an investigation into the use of mobile-phone surveillance technologies to track Americans without a warrant, the latest salvo in a debate within the U.S. government over the legality of such techniques. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union plans to introduce in coming weeks new proposals aimed at changing behavior—and, in some cases, business models—at large online platforms, reasserting the bloc’s role as global tech cop. – Wall Street Journal

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said Wednesday she will be introducing a bill in January that aims to hold tech companies accountable for their terms of service and would limit the reach of the liability shield that protects tech companies over third-party content posted on their sites. – The Hill

The data we give tech companies when we buy online or like a tweet will soon fuel disinformation campaigns intended to divide Americans or even provoke destructive behavior — and data-privacy legislation isn’t keeping up with the threat, intelligence community veterans, disinformation scholars, and academics warn. – Defense One


Senate Republicans signaled opposition to stripping social-media companies of liability protections as part of an annual defense-policy bill, pushing forward with the legislation despite President Trump’s threat to veto it unless they take that step. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump is headed toward a veto showdown with Congress, as the White House doubles down on Trump’s promise to scuttle a $740 billion defense bill unless it opens the door for new, unrelated sanctions against Silicon Valley — his second threat to kill the must-pass legislation. – Washington Post

With an increasingly expanding attack surface – exacerbated by droves of employees now working remotely – officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency say the organization’s new cloud-based browsing tool boasts stronger security for the Department of Defense networks. – C4ISRNET

For more than a year the Defense Department has been preparing industry for the day it would begin to hold contractors to a higher cybersecurity standard, while posing the threat of being locked out of future DoD contracts if they don’t meet it—a process known as Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). Today is the day CMMC takes effect. Contractors that don’t eventually comply will have to find a new line of work. – Breaking Defense

DoD and Congress must find new ways to work together on acquisition of capabilities for future All-Domain Operations, says Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, the Air Force’s requirements guru. – Breaking Defense

Defense experts were weary Wednesday of the repercussions of failure to pass the National Defense Authorization Act after President Trump mounted another veto threat late Tuesday to the must-pass legislation that guarantees everything from soldier pay raises to defense modernization programs. – Washington Examiner

The highest-ranking military official says the Pentagon needs a “reality check” in crafting the next several defense budgets as other needs facing the U.S. like tackling the coronavirus pandemic take center stage. – The Hill

The Army wants its Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) Gray Eagles to have synthetic aperture radars, moving target indicators, electronic intelligence and communications intelligence capability as well as air-launched effects and radar warning receivers, according to a new market survey. – Defense News

Citing a changing geopolitical world, Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite said Wednesday that U.S. Fleet Forces Command will be renamed as U.S. Atlantic Fleet, a nod toward the increasing concern Navy leaders have about Russian ships operating off the East Coast. – Navy Times

The Marine Corps’ first carrier-capable squadron of F-35C Lightning II jets reached initial operational capability on Tuesday, a key certification ahead of its first deployment on an aircraft carrier, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing officials announced. – USNI News

The Navy and Marine Corps need to grow their capacity to move people and supplies to and around a contested sea space – using both manned and unmanned ships and aircraft – and the service leaders asked lawmakers today for help in creating a supply chain that can stand up to a peer competitor. – USNI News

The final of three CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter trainers has been declared “ready for training,” and an industry/government team next month will begin training the squadron that will conduct the new helo’s initial operational test and evaluation. – USNI News

Should enemy helicopters, surveillance planes or armed drones be maneuvering to attack while circling above a U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship at seemingly unreachable ranges for the ship’s deck-mounted guns, commanders might be challenged to identify the best, fastest and most effective method to counterattack. – Fox News

The Marine Corps’ first F-35C carrier-variant Joint Strike Fighter squadron has officially been declared ready for combat. – Military.com