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Posts by Robert Chesney

Bobby Chesney is the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, as well as a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution. His scholarship encompasses a wide range of issues relating to national security and the law, including detention, targeting, prosecution, covert action, and the state secrets privilege; most of it is posted here.

The Christmas Truce of 1914

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Since it has some 14 million views already, I’m guessing most of you have already seen this. But if not, take a few minutes to watch and appreciate it. Sainsbury’s partnered with the British Foreign Legion to produce this very fine short that is, yes, a Sainsbury’s ad but also a very lovely depiction of . . .
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Rules of Engagement for the War in Afghanistan in 2015

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 10:44 AM

As reported in an article in the New York Times back on November 21, President Obama recently decided to expand the set of circumstances in which the U.S. military might use force in Afghanistan during 2015. What is the precise nature of that expansion, so far as we can tell from that story? Or put . . .
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A Draft AUMF to Get the Discussion Going

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Monday, November 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

President Obama said last week that he wants an AUMF for the ISIL conflict, and he further stated that he wants to “right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights.” So we thought we would draft a notional AUMF along those lines to get a discussion going. What . . .
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Obama Declares Intent to Seek an ISIS AUMF…Will the 2001 AUMF Be Amended Along the Way?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 7:02 PM

It…is…on. At a press briefing today, President Obama declared three legislative priorities for the lame-duck Congress in the weeks ahead. One is to get an AUMF for ISIS: Second, I’m going to begin engaging Congress over a new Authorization to Use Military Force against ISIL. The world needs to know we are united behind this . . .
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DIA Scales Back Plans for Expanded Defense Clandestine Service…Sort Of

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Those of you interested in the organization of the Intelligence Community may recall a major initiative launched by the Defense Intelligence Agency, in 2012, to expand the size and focus of its HUMINT collection activities (rebranding that aspect of its operation as the Defense Clandestine Service). The basic idea: ramp up the number of spies . . .
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Detainee Transferred from Afghanistan to US for Trial: A Model for GTMO Closure?

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:28 PM

A very interesting development today with respect to the ongoing effort to complete the shut-down of US-administered military detention in Afghanistan: As you may recall, we have long since ceased holding any Afghans in military detention in Afghanistan, but we have maintained a rump population of non-Afghan detainees in our control. It has been clear . . .
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Audio of Last Week’s ODNI Conference at the University of Texas

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 6:56 AM

I am happy to report that we now have the audio from last week’s conference at the University of Texas exploring the lessons learned from the past ten years’ experience under the ODNI and NCTC.  The event was sponsored by UT’s Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, which I direct, as well as UT’s Clements . . .
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UT-Austin Conference on ODNI and NCTC at the 1-Decade Mark: “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?”

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Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Happening between now and Saturday: an important conference at the University of Texas at Austin (sponsored by UT’s Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, which I direct, as well as UT’s Clements Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft (directed by Will Inboden) and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance). The conference is entitled “Intelligence Reform . . .
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Dropping “Khorasan” for “al Qaeda”

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Friday, October 3, 2014 at 6:15 PM

There has been much talk about the “Khorasan Group” over the past several weeks, including occasional sharp questions regarding its nature and provenance. On that subject, Dina Temple Raston has a good piece on NPR this evening, underscoring the fundamental point that “Khorasan” is a term of convenience describing no more and no less than . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Verdirame on Theory, Human Rights, and Conflict

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:20 PM

The newest installment in the Transatlantic Dialogue series is now posted at ICRC’s Intercross blog. It is from Professor Guglielmo Verdirame, and it addresses the larger implications of IHRL’s expansion into the armed conflict setting, including implications for matters of theory. A preview: The relationship between theory and practice in international law eludes easy explanations. . . .
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Too Soon to Assess the President’s Invocation of the 2001 AUMF as to ISIS?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Over the past week there has been much talk about the President’s invocation of the 2001 AUMF in connection with ISIS. Many (including me) expressed considerable surprise, and doubt, about the merits of that argument. Which raises the question: will anything come of objections? One view is that this ship has sailed. Writing today at . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Geoff Corn on Battlefield Regulation and Crime

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Continuing our coverage of the Transatlantic Dialogue on International Law and Armed Conflict, Lawfare is pleased to publish the discussion paper for the conference that Geoff Corn (South Texas) produced on the topic of how criminal responsibility relates to battlefield regulation. Squaring the Circle: The Intersection of Battlefield Regulation and Criminal Responsibility During our conference, . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne Responds to Sarah Cleveland

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 1:49 PM

The newest installment in the Transatlantic Dialogue series (see here) has gone live at EJIL:Talk!. It is from Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (U. of Reading), and it responds to Sarah Cleveland’s earlier post on the Project on Harmonizing Standards for Armed Conflict. A taste:

The 2001 AUMF: From Associated Forces to (Disassociated) Successor Forces

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Like my colleagues Ben and Wells, I’m astonished to learn this evening that the Obama administration, having previously justified 140+ airstrikes against IS in Iraq on Article II grounds alone (at least insofar as the stream of WPR reports indicated), has discovered that IS all along was covered by an AUMF…and not the 2002 AUMF . . .
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The Proliferation Security Initiative: Interdiction on the High Seas to Prevent Proliferation

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Interested in the legal and policy architecture relating to the high seas interdiction of ships possibly bearing WMD material? Me too! The Proliferation Security Initiative, was a somewhat hot topic about a decade ago, but has not gotten much attention lately. But I learned today that DOD has a nifty new website on the program, . . .
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CIA, Drone Strikes, and Public Authority: Responding to Kevin Heller

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Kevin Heller and I have been debating whether the CIA drone strike targeting Anwar al-Aulaqi violated 18 USC 1119, which makes it a felony to kill American citizens overseas (to be clear, our exchange has not extended to Due Process Clause questions or to international law questions such as whether that attack related to a . . .
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A White House Trial Balloon Trying Out the 2002 Iraq AUMF?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10:59 PM

According to this story in the Post, an unidentified administration official–maybe the President, maybe not–has raised the possibility that the plans for a ramped-up campaign against IS will not need fresh congressional authorization because…wait for it…the 2002 Iraq AUMF remains on the books: The president “thinks he has the legal authority he needs” to increase . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Sarah Cleveland on Harmonizing Standards

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Monday, September 8, 2014 at 11:31 PM

The newest installment in the Transatlantic Dialogue series (see here) has gone live at EJIL:Talk!. It is from Sarah Cleveland, and it explains the Project on Harmonizing Standards for Armed Conflict. A taste: One of the consequences of the non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) of recent years has been widespread recognition that the current international humanitarian . . .
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More on Iraq’s Implications for the Continuing Relevance of the 2001 AUMF

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Monday, September 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Yesterday I posed the question whether the 2001 AUMF has any continuing significance, legally-speaking, for counterterrorism activities (especially drone strikes) in Pakistan, Yemen, etc., given that the President is “confident that [he] has the authorization that [he] need[s]” to do what has been done in Iraq and also to support the expanded role that he . . .
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If We Don’t Need an AUMF for Iraq, Why Would Repeal of the 2001 AUMF Matter?

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 6:59 PM

This coming Wednesday evening, President Obama will address the country on the topic of Iraq and the Islamic State, describing his strategy and making the case to the public to support an approach that not only will involve a continuation of the ongoing pattern of airstrikes (see here for a description of the latest set . . .
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