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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Five people were killed and more than 40 injured after a driver in an SUV sped into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, yesterday evening. Authorities have taken one “person of interest” into custody, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said at a news conference yesterday evening, adding that police fired shots at the driver. Thompson did not comment on a possible motive. Reis Thebault, Andrea Salcedo and Bryan Pietsch report for the Washington Post.
The incident does not appear “at this time” to be an act of terrorism, a law enforcement official has said. The suspect also appeared to have been fleeing another scene, possibly a knife fight, when he ran into people at the parade, the official said. Jordan Freiman and Brian Dakss report for CBS News.
President Biden has been briefed about the incident in Waukesha, a White House official has said. “The White House is closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident…We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed,” the official said. Paul LeBlanc reports for CNN.
A summary of what is known so far about the attack is provided by the Guardian.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
A federal judge on Friday blamed the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on former President Trump. Judge Amit Mehta, when delivering a 14-day jail sentence to a Capitol attack defendant, suggested Trump’s role in seeding lies about the 2020 election and the effect it had on his followers has been underappreciated. Mehta said he had reduced the sentence in part to reflect the fact that the defendant was responding to Trump’s call. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a member of the House Jan. 6 select committee, has said that many of the more than 200 witnesses interviewed by the committee so far are former officials from the Trump administration who came forward voluntarily. Lofgren made the comments during a CNN interview, where she explained that some officials have also volunteered testimony but needed a subpoena for “cover.” Lofgren would not say whether any of the officials were members of the Trump White House, the Trump campaign, or former Vice President Pence’s staff. Sarah Fortinsky reports for CNN.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who fatally shot two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., and wounded a third, of all criminal charges on Friday, including intentional homicide. Harper Neidig reports for The Hill.
Protestors gathered in Chicago and other U.S. cities on Saturday to express frustration and anger over the jury’s acquittal of Rittenhouse. Douglas Belkin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A conservative dark money group, Donors Trust, has been giving large amounts of funds to white supremacist groups, the Jan. 6 organizers, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and more than a dozen private and public universities, according to the group’s latest Internal Revenue Service filing. Roger Sollenberger reports for The Daily Beast.
Police are searching for a felon who fled Atlanta airport after a loaded gun in his bag discharged on Saturday. Valerie Bauerlein reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The House has approved more than $500 million in cybersecurity funding as part of its version of President Biden’s roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better package. “The social and climate spending bill, passed by a narrow vote of 220-213, would mostly funnel those funds to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to help address issues including cybersecurity workforce training as well as state and local government cybersecurity,” Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.
The FBI and state investigators are investigating an attempted hacking of an Ohio election network that occurred in May. The attempt bears similarities to an incident in Colorado earlier this year, when government officials helped an outsider gain access to the county voting system in an effort to find fraud. State and county officials said no sensitive data were obtained in Ohio, but that a private laptop was plugged into the Ohio country network in the office of John Hamercheck (R), chair of the Lake County Board of Commissioners. Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Devlin Barrett report for the Washington Post.
Two of the 17 American and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti last month have been released. The two hostages who were released “are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. The Haitian authorities confirmed the release but provided no further details. Widlore Mérancourt, Miriam Berger and Claire Parker report for the Washington Post.
The FBI and the CIA secretly arranged for nine FBI agents to temporarily become CIA operatives in the overseas “black sites” network where the CIA used to torture and interrogate its prisoners. The information, which undermines the FBI narrative of not being involved in the torture at the prisons, emerged during an evidentiary hearing to prepare for an upcoming Sept. 11 trial at Guantánamo Bay. Carol Rosenberg reports for the New York Times.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that talks with the opposition will not restart until the U.S. releases the Venezuelan government envoy Alex Saab. Saab was extradited to the U.S. over accusations of money laundering, following which the Venezuelan government withdrew from negotiations with the U.S. backed opposition in Venezuela. Reuters reports.
The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has pushed back against the Republican party’s block of President Biden’s picks for diplomatic posts. With more than 50 diplomatic nominations currently pending in the Senate, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) said that he has been “as energetic as I can about getting these [nominations] through.” Risch said he had “been a critic” since he started on the Foreign Relations Committee of moves from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) to slow-walk the confirmation of Biden’s nominees as a protest to the Biden administration’s national security decisions. Andrew Desiderio reports for POLITICO.
U.S. allies have expressed concerns to Senators that Congress will not pass the annual defense bill in time, breaking a 60-year streak, a bipartisan group of senators have said. Several Republicans have delayed the passing of the defense bill in the Senate as they push for votes on their amendments, and Democratic leaders did not begin the floor process until last week – much later than in previous years. Andrew Desiderio reports for POLITICO.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for the Senate Armed Services Committee to “immediately launch” a formal inquiry into a 2019 U.S. airstrike in Baghuz, Syria, that killed 80 people, including dozens of women and children. In a letter to the committee’s chair, Warren, who is also a committee member, said that the committee “must seek answers about this strike and its aftermath and hold anyone found to be in violation of law or established procedures to account.” Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
Kurdish-led forces in charge of prisons in north-east Syria housing about 10,000 men with alleged links to ISIS are releasing prisoners in exchange for money under a “reconciliation” scheme. According to interviews with two freed men and official documents, Syrian men imprisoned without trial can pay an $8,000 fine to be freed. As part of the deal, the released prisoners sign a declaration promising not to rejoin any armed organizations and to leave the parts of north and east Syria under control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Bethan McKernan and Hussam Hammoud report for the Guardian.
A Palesitnian man opened fire in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, killing one Israeli and wounding four others. In Gaza, Hamas praised the attack as a “heroic operation” and said the man was one of its members. However, the group stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack. Ilan Ben Zion reports for AP.
Iran-backed Houthi fighters have gained new ground in the civil war in Yemen. Yemini forces supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates abruptly withdrew last week from key positions near the western port city of Hodeidah. Saudi Arabia has also been struggling to defend the oil rich city of Marib, with the Houthis methodically gaining territory in the surrounding region. Dion Nissenbaum and Stephen Kalin report for the Wall Street Journal.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has sought to reassure allies in the Middle East that the U.S. remains committed to security in the region, amid concerns arising from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Addressing a security forum Saturday in Bahrain, the Pentagon chief said the U.S. maintains tens of thousands of troops in the region and would move in more if needed, but didn’t indicate any imminent force deployments amid a string of recent attacks by Iran-linked groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” Stephen Kalin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Differences between President Biden’s administration and the Israeli government on the nuclear talks with Iran were on display at an international conference in Bahrain on Sunday. Despite trying to present a united front, Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata and Biden’s senior Middle East adviser Brett McGurk struck different tones at the closing session of the annual Manama Dialogue. While McGurk focused on diplomacy and the talks in Vienna, Hulata stressed the need for a credible military threat to deter Iran from advancing its nuclear program. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said that Israel “respects” Biden and his administration. Shaked made the comments during an interview with The Hill, where she stated that “there are specific issues in which we don’t think the same, but in general, we are working [well] together.” Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
The U.N. has repeatedly ignored requests from bereaved families to provide information to help the official investigation into the Beirut port blast which killed 219 people last year. The U.N. failed to reply to requests from bereaved families for “all available satellite photos taken on the day of the blast by member states. And secondly, whether Unifil (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) checked the MV Rhosus – the ship that carried the explosive material which caused the explosion – back in 2013, before it arrived at Beirut port,” BBC News reports.
A deal has been brokered in Sudan to reinstate the ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, following last month’s military coup when Hamdok was put under house arrest. Hamdok appeared on TV yesterday to sign a new power-sharing agreement with the military coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Under the agreement all political detainees from the Sudanese military coup would be freed, and limitations on Hamdok’s movement have also been cleared by the Sudanese military. However, the civilian coalition that nominated Hamdok as prime minister two years ago refused to acknowledge any new deal, with a spokesperson saying that the pact had been struck by Hamdok with a gun to his head. BBC News reports.
The deal was met with a wave of anger in Sudan’s capital city Khartoum, as well as in Omdurman and Bahri. Critics slammed the agreement as an unacceptable concession to the military and said it would severely hamper efforts to move Sudan towards democracy. Police fired tear gas and live bullets at the protesters. Declan Walsh reports for the New York Times.
A 16 year old was killed after being shot by security forces in the Sudanese city of Omdurman during protests against the new deal. Al Jazeera reports.
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
The U.S. has shared intelligence with its European allies that shows the build up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine. The intelligence lays out a scenario where Russian troops would enter Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border and via Belarus, with potentially 100,000 soldiers deployed in rough terrain and freezing conditions, people familiar with the conversations have said. Alberto Nardelli and Jennifer Jacobs report for Bloomberg.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that he asked the Pentagon for assistance to help defend Ukraine, amid increasing tensions over Russia’s military build-up near the Ukrainian border. Speaking to reporters Reznikov said that Ukraine needs to “cover our sky and our seas.” Peter Martin reports for Bloomberg.
China’s hypersonic weapons test from July included technological advances that allowed it to fire a missile mid-flight over the South China Sea as it approached its target, travelling at least five times the speed of sound. No country has previously demonstrated this technology, with China’s test catching Pentagon scientists and U.S. intelligence agencies off guard. Demetri Sevastopulo reports for the Financial Times.
American hypersonic missile capabilities are “not as advanced” as those of China or Russia, Space Force General David Thompson has said. During an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Thompson admitted that the U.S. is lagging behind the other two countries. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
The White House is calling for an investigation into missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared after publishing a post on Nov. 2 alleging that a former Chinese Communist Party official sexually assaulted her. Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that called for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to provide “independent and verifiable proof of [Peng’s] whereabouts.” “Any report of sexual assault should be investigated, and we support a woman’s ability to speak out and seek accountability, whether here or around the world,” Psaki said. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
Peng Shuai said she was safe and well in a video call on Sunday with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, the IOC has said. “She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time,” a statement from the IOC said. “She prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now…Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis,” the statement added. BBC News reports.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told world leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit today that Beijing will not “bully” its smaller regional neighbors. Xi said that “China would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of its size to coerce smaller countries, and would work with ASEAN to eliminate ‘interference,’” a veiled reference to the United States. Reuters reports.
The U.K. has invited south-east Asian nations to attend a Group of Seven (G7) summit of foreign ministers in Liverpool, U.K., next month. The invite comes amid tensions arising from the AUKUS pact between the U.K., U.S. and Australia, which ASEAN states are divided on. Patrick Wintour reports for the Guardian.
The Taliban have banned women from appearing in television dramas in Afghanistan. Female journalists and presenters also have been ordered to wear headscarves on screen, although the guidelines do not say which type of covering to use. BBC News reports.
One of Afghanistan’s most prominent psychiatrists, who was abducted by armed men in September, has been found dead, his family has confirmed. Haroon Janjua reports for the Guardian.
Thousands of Afghans who were evacuated after the collapse of the government in August could be stranded in other countries for years because of backlogs in the U.S. refugee system, according to officials and the groups that helped them escape. Jessica Donati reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
A team investigating the disappearance and subsequent death of a female Somali spy agent, Ikran Tahlil, has “found no evidence” that senior officials in Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (Nisa) were culpable. Tahlil, who worked in the cyber-security department of the Nisa, went missing in June, and senior officials at Nisa were accused of being involved. The spy agency reported in September that Tahil had been killed by al-Shabab, however, the group has denied all involvement. BBC News reports.
José Antonio Kast, a far-right populist, is on course for a significant victory against former protest leader Gabriel Boric in the first round of Chile’s presidential election. The two will meet in a runoff next month. John Bartlett reports for the Guardian.
Although 94% of Marine Corps have met the Covid-19 vaccine requirement or are on the path to do so, up to 10,000 active-duty Marines will not be able to comply with the vaccine mandate by the Nov. 28 deadline. The holdouts will join approximately 9,600 Air Force personnel who have outright refused the vaccine, did not report their status, or sought an exemption on medical or religious grounds. Alex Horton reports for the Washington Post.
Austria has returned to a full national lockdown in an effort to curb rising Covid-19 infections. Tens of thousands of people protested in the capital Vienna over the weekend ahead of the lockdown. BBC News reports.
Belgium and the Netherlands both saw protests turn violent over the weekend in response to tougher Covid-19 restrictions. In Belgium’s capital, Brussels, demonstrators clashed with police after tens of thousands of people marched through the city center, while in the Netherlands, rioting took place for the third night in a row. DW News reports.
The coronavirus has infected over 47.73 million people and has now killed over 771,100 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 257.68 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.15 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.