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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
AFGHANISTAN – ACCESS TO KABUL AIRPORT
Witnesses are reporting that Taliban guards are beating Afghans who make their way to Kabul’s airport, including Afghans who have been approved to be evacuated with the U.S. BBC News reports.
A total of twelve people have been killed in and around Kabul airport since the Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday, Taliban and NATO officials have said. “The deaths were caused either by gun shots or in stampedes, the Taliban official said on Thursday, and he urged people still crowded at the gates of the facility to go home if they did not have the legal right to travel,” Reuters reports.
As reports of harassment and beatings at Taliban checkpoints continued to surface yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned that it could not ensure safe passage for Americans to Kabul airport. The alert from the U.S. Embassy, which has been relocated to Kabul airport, “stood in contrast to statements made by White House and Pentagon officials about the ability of civilians to access the airport to board evacuation flights out of the country,” Jennifer Hansler, Ellie Kaufman, Nicole Gaouette, Oren Liebermann and Kylie Atwood report for CNN.
The Taliban have continued to block access to Kabul’s international airport, despite the U.S. saying that group had agreed to allow evacuations. “Afghans and Westerners stranded in Kabul trickled into the city’s U.S.-controlled airport for evacuation flights. But entry remained extremely difficult, with Taliban checkpoints pushing Afghans back and no clear system to bring people in,” Yaroslav Trofimov, William Mauldin and Gordon Lubold report for the Wall Street Journal.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman yesterday said the U.S. is aware of reports that the Taliban are blocking Afghans from reaching Kabul international airport, and that it contradicts public promises made by the group to allow safe passage for those wishing to leave the country. “Our team in Doha, and our military partners on the ground in Kabul, are engaging directly with the Taliban to make clear that we expect them to allow all American citizens, all third country nationals and all Afghans who wish to leave, to do so safely and without harassment,” Sherman told reporters. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
Pentagon officials yesterday said that the U.S. military does not “have the capability” to retrieve all Americans who have been unable to reach the U.S.-secured airfield in Kabul as the State Department continues to negotiate safe passage with the Taliban. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted that the U.S. is “going to get everyone that we can possibly evacuate, evacuated. And I’ll do that as long as we possibly can until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.” However, when pressed on the capabilities of the forces on the ground, Austin said the U.S. does not “have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.” Dartunorro Clark reports for NBC News.
A report from CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward shows the chaos in Kabul, where she says that Taliban fighters have taken control outside the city’s airport and there is “no way” for Afghans to get to the airport. CNN reports.
AFGHANISTAN – EVACUATING U.S. AND ALLY CITIZENS AND AFGHANS
A confidential U.N. document has said that the Taliban is intensifying its hunt for all people who worked and collaborated with NATO and U.S. forces. The confidential paper said that “the Taliban are arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.” “The Taliban have been conducting advance mapping of individuals prior to take take-over of all major cities,” it said. The document added that the Taliban are recruiting new informer networks and are screening for individuals while permitting some evacuation of foreign personnel from Kabul airport but the situation there remained “chaotic.” BBC News reports.
President Biden has said that the U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans who want to leave can do so. It is the first time that Biden has talked about what was previously a hard deadline of Aug. 31 for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The statement was made during an interview with ABC News, “we’re going to do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out,” Biden said. He added that if the U.S. could ramp up evacuation numbers to 5,000 or 7,000 a day, it would successfully meet his timeline, Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
Biden said yesterday the U.S. estimates between 50,000 to 65,000 Afghan partners and their families are trying to get out of the country. A summary of the statements from some of the main countries, including the U.K., E.U. and Germany, trying to evacuate nationals and Afghan partners from the country are provided by CNN.
Biden insisted during the interview with ABC News that the chaos and turmoil in Kabul was unavoidable and refused to acknowledge any mistakes in the withdrawal. “The idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said. BBC News reports.
Biden insisted that the Taliban were “cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out,” but recognized that the U.S. “having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there.” Sarah Kolinovsky reports for ABC News.
The U.S. Military evacuated about 2,000 people in previous 24 hours, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said yesterday. “Officials will shortly invite more than 800 Afghan special immigrant visa holders to get on flights to the U.S., she added. A White House official said the U.S. military has evacuated nearly 6,000 people since Aug. 14,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Afghans desperate to leave country are remaining stuck outside Kabul airport, as the Taliban seek to disperse the large crowds that have gathered, including firing into the air. There are also reports that thieves and looters are taking advantage of the chaos and insecurity around the airport. Ali M Latifi reports for Al Jazeera.
U.K. government officials and security sources are concerned that the U.S. troops will pull out of Kabul airport within days, forcing the U.K. to end its emergency evacuations. The sources that “they could not guarantee how long the U.S. would keep its contingent of 6,000 troops on the ground and cautioned that the U.K. could not continue the rescue without their presence. They also indicated Britain was not engaging with the Taliban directly over security or other issues after the militant group seized the Afghan capital,” Dan Sabbagh, Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot report for the Guardian.
AFGHANISTAN – PROTESTS AND RESISTANCE
Afghan protesters waving the flag of the Afghan republic have been seen in several cities today, marking the 102nd anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence, with reports of further deaths. There have been reports from witnesses that several people may have been killed in such a flag-waving protest today in Asadabad – either by gunfire or in stampedes the firing triggered. BBC News reports.
The Taliban have met the first political protests against their rule with gunfire, killing at least two people and injuring several others as they dispersed demonstrators who waved the flag of the fallen Afghan republic. Yesterday protesters gathered in several parts of the eastern cities of Jalalabad, Khost and Asadabad, taking down the Taliban’s white flag and to hoist the black-red-green banner of the Republic. Reports have emerged of the Taliban firing into the protests, with the violence at its worst in Jalalabad. Saeed Shah and Sune Engel Rasmussen report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Taliban is celebrating Afghanistan’s Independence Day by declaring it has beaten “the arrogant of power of the world” in the U.S., but opposition to their rule remains. In particular, “opposition figures gathering in the last area of the country not under Taliban rule talked of launching an armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance, which allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion. Still, it was not clear how serious a threat they posed given that the militants overran nearly the entire country in a matter of days with little resistance from Afghan forces,” Ahmad Seir, Rahim Faiez, Kathy Gannon And Jon Gambrell report for AP.
An old bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment is preparing for a new fight against the Taliban, as a group of Afghan leaders try to rally forces. Leaders of a resistance movement in Panjshir Valley however insist that for now their goal is to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban on behalf of the now-defunct Afghan government. Matthew Rosenberg, Andrew E. Kramer and Farnaz Fassihi report for the New York Times.
Video footage from Jalalabad showed the Taliban firing into the air and attacking people with batons to disperse the crowd that had gathered yesterday to raise the tricolor national flag of Afghanistan. “There has been no armed opposition to the Taliban. But videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering there. That area is in the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban,” Ahmad Seir, Tameem Akhgar, Kathy Gannon and Jon Gambrell report for the Washington Post.
Images of the Taliban cracking down on a protest and bloodied images of women and children beaten by Taliban fighters are contradicting the more moderate image that the Taliban has been trying to project as it consolidates power in Afghanistan. Reports from the protest in Jalalabad have provided different numbers of deaths, with a former police official telling Reuters that four people were killed in the protest and that 13 others were injured. Meanwhile, there are several reports of the Taliban beating women and children trying to get to Kabul airport, demanding to see documents and forcibly turning some people away at checkpoints. Yuliya Talmazan and Mushtaq Yusufzai report for NBC News.
The Taliban have imposed a curfew in the eastern Afghan city of Khost, following protests there and in two other cities in which demonstrators carried the flag of the fallen republic. “Locals in Khost said the Taliban had feared that Afghanistan’s Independence Day, the 102nd anniversary of freeing the country of British occupation, would be marked Thursday by more flag-waving protests in the city,” Saeed Shah reports for the Wall Street Journal.
AFGHANISTAN – INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS
Intelligence reports presented to President Biden in the final days before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, failed to predict the imminence of the Afghan government’s collapse, senior U.S. intelligence and defense officials have said. Intelligence agencies had been stepping up their warnings about the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan throughout the summer. However, “senior administration officials acknowledged that as the pace of White House meetings on Afghanistan grew more frenzied in August and in the days leading up to the Taliban takeover this weekend, the intelligence agencies did not say the collapse was imminent. ‘As the president indicated, this unfolded more quickly than we anticipated, including in the intelligence community,’ Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement to the New York Times,” Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials, struggling with the fallout from the rapid collapse of the Afghanistan’s government and armed forces, are sparring over the accuracy of earlier intelligence assessments regarding the Afghanistan’s stability. Officials have said that intelligence reports increasingly warned of the risks of a rapid collapse of the Afghan government and forces, with one senior intelligence official saying “this was less an issue of Afghan military capabilities and more a reflection of Afghan leadership, cohesion and willpower. That said, the Afghan government unraveled even more quickly than we anticipated.” However, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, has disagreed that assessments predicted such a quick collapse. “The time frame of rapid collapse that was widely estimated … ranged from weeks to months to even years following our departure,” Milley said. “There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.” Warren P. Strobel reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The unfolding disaster in Afghanistan has put the spotlight on the intelligence community, with Milley saying yesterday that officials underestimated the pace at which Taliban insurgents would overrun the Afghan government. At least four congressional committees are expected to hold hearings on Afghanistan, which will bring the broader administration under heavy scrutiny and will likely question the failures in U.S. intelligence. In announcing a hearing. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the developments as the “horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.” Morgan Chalfant and Rebecca Beitsch report for The Hill.
AFGHANISTAN –TALIBAN DEVELOPMENTS
Afghanistan is to be ruled under sharia law, a Taliban commander has confirmed, and explicitly ruling out a democracy in Afghanistan. Afghanistan may be governed by a ruling council, while the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, would likely remain in overall charge, a senior member of the Taliban has told Reuters. “The Taliban would also reach out to former pilots and soldiers from the Afghan armed forces to join its ranks, Waheedullah Hashimi, who has access to the group’s decision-making, added in an interview,” Reuters reporting.
The Taliban are going door-to-door in Kabul telling Afghan residents to return to work, witnesses have said. Some witnesses have also told Reuters that they felt the checks were designed to intimidate and instill fear of the new leadership. Reuters reporting.
The Taliban is ramping up its social media presence, denying longtime bans by the platform. The Taliban’s renewed presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is part of an effort by the Taliban to establish their authority and legitimize their rule across Afghanistan, and it has put the platforms in a difficult position, “with governments around the world trying to figure out whether to officially recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s rulers, the companies have no easy answers as to whether to continue barring the group online,” Sheera Frenkel and Ben Decker report for the New York Times.
The Taliban has shifted its focus to governing Afghanistan but it is inheriting a country with a myriad challenges. Rumbles of protests and resistance, with officials from the ousted government having pledged to start a campaign of “resistance” to Taliban rule, along with empty coffers, frozen overseas funds and aid being suspending will be posing challenges to the Taliban. Foreign governments have also hedged on whether they will offer the Taliban official recognition. Ezzatullah Mehrdad and Kareem Fahim report for the Washington Post.
Following the Taliban’s victory over Afghan security forces, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s current second-in-command, and the Taliban’s Supreme Commander Haibatullah Akhundzada are poised to become Afghanistan’s new rulers. Analysis of what is known of the two men is provided by Scott Neuman for NPR.
AFGHANISTAN – BIDEN AND HIS ADMINISTRATION
President Biden’s administration is to face a grilling from both the House and Senate over the U.S. exit from Afghanistan. It is expected that Congress could begin its efforts to question the Biden administration as soon as next week when the House will briefly return from its weeks-long summer recess for a few days. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent Biden a letter yesterday requesting a briefing or call next week for the “Gang of Eight”—the top four congressional leaders and top four members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has requested three briefings: one unclassified briefing via telephone for all House members on Friday, an in-person classified briefing for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and a ‘Gang of Eight” briefing, that is in the works but still being finalized, according to a Pelosi aide,” Jordain Carney reports for The Hill.
Biden yesterday spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and efforts to evacuate vulnerable Afghans. Biden and Merkel “discussed the need for close coordination on the provision of humanitarian aid for vulnerable Afghans in country as well as support for neighboring states, and agreed to continue planning for this work in the upcoming virtual meeting of [Group of Seven] G7 partners,” the White House said in a readout of the call. Brett Samuels reports for The Hill.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has led world leaders and U.S. allies to question the execution of the U.S. withdrawal. Biden has also faced criticism for not communicating with foreign leaders and allies, having only spoke to the U.K.’s prime minister on Tuesday afternoon and the German Chancellor yesterday. Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins report for CNN.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) yesterday called for Biden administration officials to resign over the U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan. “This is the worst foreign policy debacle since Vietnam, due to Joe Biden. He has lost the confidence of the American people and the ability to lead. Biden’s entire defense and foreign policy team must resign,” Hawley tweeted. Jordain Carney reports for The Hill.
AFGHANISTAN – FINANCE
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Afghanistan will no longer be able to access the IMF’s resources. An IMF spokesperson said it was due to “lack of clarity within the international community” over recognizing a government in Afghanistan. Resources of over $370m, which were part of a global IMF response to the economic crisis, had been set to arrive later this month. Access to the IMF’s reserves in Special Drawing Rights assets, which can be converted to government-backed money, have also been blocked. Beth Timmins reports for BBC News.
The Taliban’s access to funds is being limited by the U.S. and IMF. The combination of the U.S. freezing of the Afghan Central Bank’s foreign reserves, held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the IMF blocking Afghanistan’s access to about $460 million in emergency reserves, along with statements from Germany and the E.U. that they would not provide grants to Afghanistan without clarity on the situation regarding Shariah law are going to squeeze the Taliban’s economic resources. “The central bank money and international aid, essential to a poor country where three-quarters of public spending is financed by grants, are powerful leverage for Washington as world leaders consider if and when to recognize the Taliban takeover,” Eshe Nelson and Alan Rappeport report for the New York Times.
Despite being denied foreign aid and access to critical overseas finance, officials are warning that the Taliban will continue to have access to its significant income from the drugs trade and other illicit activities which threaten to undermine Washington’s last-resort pressure campaign. Ian Talley, Kate Davidson and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
AFGHANISTAN – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Afghanistan’s deposed President Ashraf Ghani has resurfaced in the United Arab Emirates and has defended his decision to leave Afghanistan as the Taliban seized power and has said that he is in talks to return to the country. In a video posted on Facebook last night, Ghani said that he “had to leave Afghanistan in order to prevent bloodshed, in order to make sure that a huge disaster is prevented,” and that he is “in consultation with others to return so that I can continue my efforts for justice.” Benjamin Parkin reports for the Financial Times.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is working to organize a summit of the Group of 20 major economies on the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover at the weekend, newspapers La Repubblica and Il Messaggero have said today. Reuters reporting.
The U.S. and 20 other nations are calling for the protection of freedoms for women and girls in Afghanistan. The joint statement, which does not identify the Taliban by name in an effort to withhold international recognition of the group, states that the nations “are deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement,” and “call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection.” Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
Nations that sent troops to Afghanistan are grappling with Kabul’s fall and questioning whether the war in Afghanistan was worth it. The U.K. parliament returned from holiday yesterday in a one-day session to debate the security situation in Afghanistan. “The British were not alone in such painful debate, as other allies sounded off about the stunning events in Kabul. In countries that sent troops to Afghanistan — from Europe, Canada and Australia — politicians and veterans of the war tried to tally what was gained and what was lost,” William Booth, Rick Noack and Amanda Coletta report for the Washington Post.
The E.U.’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has branded developments in Afghanistan as a “catastrophe” and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban’s rapid return to power. Reuters reporting.
Pakistan has fenced off its border with Afghanistan, with the border now being guarded by Taliban fighters standing alongside Pakistani soldiers. The border crossings into Pakistan are heavily manned, making it impossible for Afghan refugees to enter without government consent. Sarah Atiq reports for BBC News.
Iran closed its border to Afghanistan yesterday, as thousands of Afghan nationals sought to flee the country following the Taliban’s takeover. “Hossein Qasemi, the director of the Iranian interior ministry’s office for border affairs, told the state-run Mizan news agency that authorities instructed Iran’s three provinces that border Afghanistan to deny Afghan nationals entry into Iran because of recent developments in the country and “coronavirus restrictions,’” Mychael Schnell reports for The Hill.
Live updates on Afghanistan and Kabul are provided by BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
An Iranian fuel tanker will be setting sail towards Lebanon “within hours,” the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group has said today, warning Israel and the United States not to intercept the shipment. “Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday that further ships would follow to help the Lebanese people who are enduring crippling fuel shortages as a result of the country’s two-year-long financial meltdown,” Al Jazeera reports.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, has questioned the U.S.’s commitment to Ukraine in light of the U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan, saying that the U.S. would one day abandon its Ukrainian allies in a similarly abrupt fashion. The remarks “are likely to fan fears among some Western politicians that nation state adversaries like Russia and China will be emboldened by what they see as the West’s spectacular defeat in Afghanistan to test its resolve elsewhere,” Andrew Osborn reports for Reuters.
The U.S. has reiterated its support for Taiwan and other allies such as Israel amid concerns raised following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Chinese state media had begun saying, based on the situation in Afghanistan, the U.S. would not fight if China decided to take over Taiwan. “We believe that our commitments to our allies and partners are sacrosanct and always have been,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday during a press conference. “We believe our commitment to Taiwan and to Israel remains as strong as it’s ever been,” he added. Kari Soo Lindberg reports for Bloomberg.
Israeli Prime Minister Bennett is to meet with President Biden at the White House on Aug. 26, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said. The two leaders are to discuss Iran as well as discussing “efforts to advance peace, security and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians and the importance of working towards a more peaceful and secure future for the region,” Psaki said. Andrew Restuccia reports for the Wall Street Journal.
At least two American workers stationed in Germany sought medical treatment after developing symptoms of the mysterious illness known as Havana Syndrome, U.S. diplomats have said. “The symptoms, which included nausea, severe headaches, ear pain, fatigue, insomnia and sluggishness, began to emerge in recent months and some victims were left unable to work, the diplomats said. They are the first cases to be reported in a NATO country that hosts U.S. troops and nuclear weapons,” Bojan Pancevski reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Suspected Islamic extremists have ambushed a convoy in the Sahel region in northern Burkina Faso on Wednesday, killing at least 30 civilians along with 17 soldiers and volunteer defense fighters, the government has said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are increasingly targeting security forces in the West African country. Arsene Kabore and Sam Mednick report for AP.
Turkey-backed Syrian forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters shelled one another’s positions in northern Syria yesterday, resulting in the deaths of at least five people dead and wounding more than a dozen. “According to the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Turkish troops and Syrian fighters backed by Ankara shelled the area of Abu Rassine, killing a woman and a child and wounding 15 people. Kurdish fighters later shelled the northern town of Afrin, killing three people. That’s according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group. Turkish media reported that four were also wounded in Afrin,” AP reports.
New satellite images appear to show that Russia may be preparing another test of its nuclear-powered cruise missile, known as “Skyfall,” a controversial weapon that is designed to defeat U.S. defense systems. “The photos, which were captured on August 16 by the commercial satellite imaging company Capella Space, offer ‘strong indications Russia was preparing to test a nuclear-powered cruise missile’ at a known launch site located near the Arctic Circle, experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies who analyzed the photos told CNN,” Zachary Cohen reports for CNN.
Tensions have been growing in Haiti over the slow pace of aid reaching victims following the earthquake over the weekend that killed more than 2,100 people, destroyed more than 7,000 homes and damaged more than 12,000, leaving about 30,000 families homeless. “International aid workers on the ground said hospitals in the worst-hit areas are mostly incapacitated and that there is a desperate need for medical equipment. But the government told at least one foreign organization that has been operating in the country for nearly three decades that it did not need assistance from hundreds of its medical volunteers,” AP reports.
E.U. ministers are holding emergency talks over allegations that Belarus is deliberately sending migrants to Lithuania as part of a “hybrid warfare” campaign. The E.U. yesterday “condemned what it called Belarus’s ‘aggressive behavior’ in organizing illegal border crossings with migrants into Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with the aim of destabilizing the 27-nation bloc,” Lorne Cook and Liudas Dapkus report for AP.
Algeria has decided to review its relations with Morocco, accusing its neighbor of hostile acts. Algeria accuses Morocco of “backing” a separatist group suspected of being involved in criminal activity in the Kabylie region, including the killing of a man falsely accused of starting forest fires. “The repeated hostile acts committed by Morocco against Algeria require a review of our relations and the intensification of border controls,” the Algerian president’s office said in a statement. BBC News reports.
A new lawsuit is demanding that Congress release Capitol riot surveillance videos currently the subject of legal tussles involving judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and the press. “The new legal fight has the potential to set a new precedent for what kinds of information Congress must disclose, and when — and is squarely aimed at upending decades of law that shielded the institution from public scrutiny,” Josh Gerstein reports for POLITICO.
The U.S. Capitol Police official, Yogananda Pittman, who was in charge of intel on Jan. 6 before briefly becoming acting chief has returned to her previous role despite criticism over security breakdowns during the Jan. 6 attack. Whitney Wild reports for CNN.
The U.S. Census Bureau computer servers were targeted during a cyberattack in January 2020, but the hackers’ attempts to retain access to the system were unsuccessful, according to a watchdog report released yesterday. “According to the Office of Inspector General, the Census Bureau missed opportunities to limit its vulnerability to the attack and didn’t discover and report the attack in a timely manner. The statistical agency also failed to keep sufficient system logs, which hindered the investigation, and was using operating system no longer supported by the vendor, the watchdog report said. The bureau’s firewalls stopped the attacker’s attempts to maintain access to the system through a backdoor, but unauthorized changes were still made, including the creation of user accounts, the report said,” Mike Schneider reports for AP.
The coronavirus has infected over 37.1 million and has now killed over 624,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 209.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.39 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.