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Early Edition: February 1, 2023

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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.

JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES

The Jan. 6 committee concluded that federal security agencies could have prevented the Jan. 6 attack had they acted on intel collected beforehand, the committee’s chief investigator has revealed. Former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy said that his probe found that whilst former President Trump was the “proximate cause,” of the attack law enforcement failures were also a significant contributory factor. This conclusion was not presented in any of the committee’s televised hearings, and an abbreviated version was included in an appendix to the written report, which ultimately said that law enforcement could not have anticipated the attack. Ken Dilanian and Ryan J. Reilly report for NBC News

Bias and human error played a role in the FBI’s failure to anticipate the Jan. 6 attack, a draft document written by the Jan. 6 committee and reviewed by the New York Times suggests. The document, which was never published, suggests that when attempting to analyze the potential outcomes of a disputed election the FBI appeared to be blinded by a narrow focus on “lone wolf” offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right. Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times. 

A federal appeals court panel has put a hold on the Justice Department’s effort to access the phone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA). The Justice Department sought the phone records as part of a broader investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election. However, in a sealed order issued earlier this month, the three-judge panel temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling that granted prosecutors access to Perry’s communications. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.

CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS PROBES

Two people who found classified documents in former President Trump’s Florida storage facility testified before a federal grand jury in Washington last week, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The two individuals were each interviewed for about three hours in separate appearances. The grand jury is investigating the former president’s handling of national security records at his properties. Kaitlin Collins and Katelyn Polantz report for CNN

The FBI searched President Biden’s former private office for classified documents in November, shortly after his aids found such materials and surrendered them to the National Archives. The search came after Biden’s lawyers agreed to let agents search his former office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, where aides discovered roughly a dozen documents marked classified. It couldn’t be determined whether investigators found any additional items in the search. Adriana Diaz and Arden Farhi report for CBS News

U.S. RELATIONS 

The State Department has declared Russia in non-compliance with the only nuclear arms control treaty remaining between Russia and the U.S.. The agency told Congress yesterday that Russia has refused to allow American inspectors into nuclear weapons facilities, an obligation under the treaty known as New START. Russia’s refusal to facilitate the inspections “threatens the viability of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control” the department said in a statement. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times. 

Three Haitian Americans and a Colombia national have been charged in the U.S. for their role in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. The decision to charge the four men, who are considered to be some of the ringleaders in the assassination plot, in the U.S. is an indication of the chronic dysfunction of the Haitian justice system. The defendants will make their first appearance in court in Miami today, after being transferred into U.S. custody yesterday. Chris Cameron reports for the New York Times

The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East and North Africa have announced that they are broadening the Abraham Accords to include cybersecurity. The expansion of the 2020 agreement to normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and other countries in the region will involve, among other things, increased sharing of information on cybersecurity threats. Tim Starks and Ellen Nakashima report for the Washington Post

A plan to build of Chinese-owned corn mill in North Dakota “presents a significant threat to national security,” an assistant secretary of the Air Force has said. The letter from Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter, released publicly yesterday by North Dakota’s senators, noted the proximity of Grand Forks Air Force Base to the proposed mill and said the project raised “near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area.” His comments follow more than a year of debate about whether the plan was an economic boon or a geopolitical risk. Mitch Smith reports for the New York Times. 

RUSSIA, UKRAINE

The three lead officials carrying out oversight of U.S. military and economic assistance to Ukraine concluded a joint trip to Kyiv last week, according to a joint statement. The leaders from the offices of inspector general for the department of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials as part of oversight efforts on billions of dollars of U.S. assistance. The visit came as lawmakers from both sides expressed the need to be vigilant in tracking American tax dollars going to Ukraine. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill

Zelenskyy said that his administration is preparing to introduce changes ahead of talks between Kyiv and the E.U. scheduled for Friday. The reforms would “change the social, legal and political reality in many ways, making it more human, transparency and effective,” he added. Hours after this announcement Ukrainian authorities conducted a series of anti-corruption searches across the country, according to the country’s parliamentary majority leader. Yulia Kesaieva reports for CNN

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that China is “watching closely” and “learning lessons” from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, adding that “if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force.” Olafimihan Oshin reports for The Hill

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Mercenaries from the Russian-linked paramilitary organization Wagner Group may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Mali along with the country’s military, U.N. experts have said. Calling for an independent investigation, the group of experts enlisted by the U.N. Human Rights Council said that since 2021 they had “received persistence and alarming accounts” of atrocities being committed by Malian armed forces and the group. Elian Peltier reports for the New York Times. 

Several suspects have been arrested in connection with Monday’s suicide bombing at a mosque in northwestern Pakistan. More arrests should be expected as the police continue to investigate the attack that killed over 100 people, Police Chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan said. Sophia Saifi reports for CNN

French special forces have seized a boatload of Iranian-supplied weapons and ammunition bound for militants in Yemen, according to officials familiar with the operation. The French operation, which was coordinated with the U.S. military, is the latest in a series of seizures that suggest Iran continues to supply its Houthi allies in Yemen with firepower, despite an unofficial nine-month-old cease-fire. Dion Nissenbaum and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal. 

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 102.347 million people and has now killed over 1.11 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 670.817 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.83 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

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

The post Early Edition: February 1, 2023 appeared first on Just Security.


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