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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the NSA in the Southern District of New York challenging the constitutionality of the program that collects phone metadata. The ACLU statement says:

This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens. . . .It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.

The Washington Post, PoliticoNew York Times, and the Associated Press all have more details on the suit.

NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice has released a fact sheet about the surveillance programs: “Are They Allowed to Do that? A Breakdown of Selected Government Surveillance Programs.”

Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center argues in Time that our classification laws are insufficient to deal with the reality—and that “we need fundamental reform of the classification system, so that leaks are no longer the only way to provide the public with information it has a right to know.”

The well-intentioned advice for Edward Snowden just keeps pouring in. Thomas Drake, also a former NSA employee who was accused of revealing classified NSA information, says Snowden should: “Be lawyered up to the max and find a place where it’s going to be that much more difficult for the United States to make arrangements for his return. . . . And always check six, as we said when I used to be a flyer in the Air Force. Always make sure you know what’s behind you.” Reuters has more.

The Economist distills the “real problem” behind the leak controversy: not that the government is spying on us, but that the government is asking Google to turn over what it knows about us.

Paul R. Pillar, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, put things in perspective in the National Interest, pointing out that when he was involved in a Department of Defense study in 1997 about data collection, everyone was excited about it:

The resulting report recommended aggressive exploitation of the then-new World Wide Web and data-handling technology available in the private sector to perform such collection and exploitation. The report talked about the importance of exploiting “meta-information” on use of the Internet as well as substantive information possibly pertinent to terrorist threats. The term “data mining” was used, not as a dirty word but instead as a descriptor of the kind of technology that the government ought to employ more extensively. Perhaps as a reflection of the fact that it was mainly scientists and engineers and not lawyers who wrote this part of the report, there was no mention of drawing fine lines or indeed any lines between collection abroad and within the United States.

Snowden may have overstated the authority he—and the NSA—had to wiretap individuals, according to experts interviewed on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

Greg Miller describes the parallels between Snowden and Bradley Manning in the Post.

The AP has the latest on concerns from lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the surveillance programs. Members of the House received a full briefing on the programs from NSA, Department of Justice, and FBI officials this morning—and are saying they remain unsatisfied with the information they received. The Hill reports.

In other news, as Bobby noted this morning, the White House has threatened to veto the House version of the NDAA. Jeremy Herb of the Hill explains.

Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland write in CNN about Ayman al-Zawahiri’s letter banning the merger of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Syrian Al Nusra Front—demonstrating that “Zawahiri considers himself and the al Qaeda core to be still relevant and very much in charge of the global jihadist movement.”

CNN also reports that jury selection for Maj. Nidal Hasan’s court martial has been stalled after Hasan fired his lawyers. He is accused of killing thirteen people and injuring dozens in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

According to Agence France Presse, NATO’s military chief Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that the alliance lacks readiness to respond to threats and is suffering from capacity shortfalls because its members aren’t doing enough.

Rod Nordland of the Times has more on yesterday’s Taliban attack near the Kabul Supreme Court.

Four Lebanese citizens have been sanctioned by the Treasury Department for allegedly fundraising and recruiting for Hezbollah, says Reuters.

Bagram prison may now be in Afghan hands—but the U.S. continues to maintain control of the approximately sixty non-Afghan detainees that are still held there. AFP has the details.

And, forget tipping the pizza delivery guy—”DomiCopter” is here. From Fox News, it’s today’s Moment of Drone Zen.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief,  Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll and blog, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.

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