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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.
Stephen Bannon is expected to surrender to New York authorities on Thursday to face a new criminal indictment, people familiar with the matter have said. The precise details of the state case could not be confirmed but people familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sealed indictment, suggested the prosecution will likely mirror aspects of the 2020 federal fraud case in which Bannon was pardoned. In that indictment, prosecutors alleged that Bannon and several others defrauded contributors to a private, $25 million fundraising effort, called “We Build the Wall,” taking funds that donors were told would support the construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which handles state-level prosecutions, has been evaluating Bannon’s alleged involvement in that scheme since shortly after then-President Trump pardoned him. Presidential pardons only apply to federal charges and cannot prohibit state prosecutions. Shayna Jacobs, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
In the wake of the Uvalde elementary school massacre, the Texas Department of Public Safety quietly adopted a new more aggressive protocol for handling school shootings, a July email obtained by the New York Times has revealed. The department has also referred five of its officers to the state inspector general for a formal investigation following an internal inquiry into the actions and inaction of state police officers at the shooting. Taken together, the moves amount to an acknowledgement that while the director of the state police, Steven McCraw, has publicly laid blame for the failed police response on the former Uvalde schools police chief, Pete Arredondo, other officers at the scene have also been found to share responsibility. J. David Goodman reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. military will hold a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) today, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson has said. Air Force Global Strike Command will hold an “operational test launch” of an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM in the early morning of Sept. 7 from Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. “This launch is a routine test which was scheduled far in advance and consistent with previous tests. This ICBM launch will validate and verify effectiveness and readiness of the system,” Ryder said. In the past year, test launches of the Minuteman III have been pushed back several times thanks to U.S. tensions with Russia over Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, as well as tensions between Washington and Beijing in relation to Taiwan. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was among the documents seized by the FBI from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last month. Some of the seized documents also detailed top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Records that deal with such programs are normally kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location. However, such documents were stored at Mar-a-Lago, with uncertain security, more than 18 months after Trump left the White House. Devlin Barrett and Carol D. Leonnig report for the Washington Post.
Former Attorney General William Barr has called the decision by a Florida judge to grant Trump’s request for a special master “deeply flawed” and has urged the Justice Department to appeal it. “The opinion, I think, was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it. It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways,” Barr said. “I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up — but even if it does, I don’t see it fundamentally changing the trajectory,” he added. Barr, who was a Trump loyalist during his time as attorney general, has previously called Trump’s request for a special master to review the documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence a “red herring” and a “waste of time.” Shawna Mizelle reports for CNN.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
A number of pro-Trump activists paid visits during Jan. 2021 to Coffee County, Georgia’s elections office, where technicians hired by a pro-Trump lawyer copied sensitive election system software, newly released surveillance footage shows. The video footage reflects just how many activists descended on the county in an effort to find anomalies that would help them challenge Trump’s narrow loss in Georgia. It also raises new questions about how many individuals and groups gained access to the county’s voting software, a data breach that is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and is one of a number of similar incidents coordinated by Trump allies in various swing states. Richard Fausset and Sean Keenan report for the New York Times.
A judge in New Mexico has ordered a county commissioner convicted of participating in the Jan. 6 attack removed from office under the 14th Amendment. The ruling made Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in New Mexico, the first official in more than 100 years to be removed under the Constitution’s bar on insurrectionists holding office. The order has grabbed the attention of advocates across the country who have been pushing to use the 14th Amendment to disqualify former President Trump and elected officials who worked with him in seeking to overturn the 2020 election from holding office in the future. Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials and military members have appeared on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism. The Oath Keepers is a far-right extremist group that has been accused of playing a key role in the Jan. 6 attack. The data raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions. “Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report says. Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzelman report for AP.
The U.S. military command responsible for the Middle East and Iran is developing plans to open a new military testing facility in Saudi Arabia, according to three U.S. defense officials. The facility will test new technologies to combat the growing threat from unmanned drones, and will develop and test integrated air and missile defense capabilities. While the location has not yet been finalized, the officials said Saudi Arabia makes the most sense because it has large open spaces owned by the government and the ability to test various methods of electronic warfare without interfering with nearby population centers. Expanding U.S. military cooperation with Saudi Arabia will likely prompt criticism from human rights groups and some lawmakers in Washington. Courtney Kube reports for NBC News.
At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council yesterday, top officials called for immediate demilitarization of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Russian forces, which have occupied the plant since shortly after the invasion, should withdraw from the facility and Ukraine’s army should commit to not entering the plant, U.N. officials said. The meeting came after the council received the report of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), whose inspectors gained access to the site last week for the first time since the conflict began. Rafael Grossi, the I.A.E.A. chief who led the team of inspectors, told the council that the hits the plant had received were “simply unacceptable,” and warned that “something very, very catastrophic could take place.” The New York Times reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to revise the terms of the U.N.-brokered deal that allows Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea, after accusing Kyiv and the West of using it to cheat developing countries and Russia. “What we see is a brazen deception … a deception by the international community of our partners in Africa, and other countries that are in dire need of food. It’s just a scam,” Putin said, speaking at an economic forum in the city of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. Putin warned of a global food crisis if the situation was not addressed and said he would contact Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss amending the deal to restrict which countries can receive shipments. Reuters reports.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet next week at a summit in Uzbekistan, a Russian official has said. The two leaders will meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, held in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Sept. 15-16, Russian Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov told reporters.“Less than 10 days from now another meeting of our leaders will take place at the SCO summit in Samarkand. We are actively preparing for it,” Denisov was quoted by Russia’s state news agency Tass as saying. AP reports.
The Pentagon is preparing a detailed analysis and working out how to support Ukraine’s military in the medium and long term, including after the war with Russia has ended, according to three defense officials. The efforts are being led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and would build on the billions of dollars in military aid the U.S. has given to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. The analysis is being conducted in conjunction with the Ukrainians and if approved by President Biden it could lead to years of future arms sales and the establishment of a long-term military training program by the U.S.. Barbara Starr reports for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
A German court has sentenced an Islamic State member to 10 years in prison for war crimes and murder committed in Syria. The man, who was not named, traveled to Syria from Germany and joined Islamic State in March 2014, according to a statement from the Duesseldorf court after the verdict. Reuters reports.
The Solomon Islands’ prime minister has accused Australia of interference over its offer to help fund an election he controversially wants to delay. Manasseh Sogavare is seeking to defer the vote – due in mid-2023 – by seven months, a move critics say represents a turn towards authoritarianism. Australia says there is nothing unusual about its offer of assistance – Australia regularly offers financial and logistical support to Pacific countries for elections, including in previous polls in the Solomon Islands. Relations between the two countries have soured recently as Sogavare’s government grows closer with China. Tiffanie Turnbull reports for BBC News.
COVID-19 has infected over 94.89 million people and has now killed over 1.05 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 606.392million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.51 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout 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.