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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.

Judicial Review for POWs During Armed Conflict?

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 6:58 PM

Interested in the ongoing debate over the relationship between LOAC and Human Rights Law in general, or the intersection of those bodies of law in relation to non-criminal detention in particular? You won’t want to miss this. In 2012, the UN Human Rights Council asked the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to produce a . . .
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Waiving the “Imminent Threat” Test for CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan?

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Monday, April 27, 2015 at 12:49 AM

[Update: Ryan Goodman has an excellent post here noting that a January 2013 WaPo article anticipated that CIA would get a waiver for Pakistan ops, albeit not necessarily a waiver specific only to the imminent-threat-to-US-persons rule.] Adam Entous has an important story in the Wall Street Journal tonight, one that I suspect will get a . . .
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Drone Strike Errors and the Hostage Tragedy: Mapping the Issues in the Newly-Catalyzed Debate?

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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The use of lethal force (whether via armed drone, manned aircraft, cruise missile, helicopter assault, etc.) has been a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism policy for many years, both in places where we have ground combat deployments and places where we do not. Throughout this period, the legality, efficacy, wisdom, and morality of this practice has . . .
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Is the GTMO Endgame Approaching?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 8:21 PM

The Washington Post has the latest here. Key points: 1. Lightning Round for Transfers Anticipating NDAA language leveraging the power of the purse to further constrain the ability of the government to transfer GTMO detainees to third countries, “the Pentagon is racing” to complete the transfer 57 detainees who already have been approved for that . . .
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More Arrests of Americans Attempting to Fight for ISIL in Syria

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Six Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area have been arrested on material support charges, based on allegations that they were attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIL. The complaint and corresponding FBI affidavit are posted here. Note that the complaint is a handy case study in the variety of investigative techniques that FBI might . . .
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Indictment of US Citizen Who Trained with al Nusrah and Returned to Attack

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 5:42 PM

A grand jury in Ohio has indicted Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a recently-naturalized US citizen and resident of Columbus, with two material support counts (and one false statement count) based on allegations that he traveled to Syria to fight, that he received military-style training from al Nusrah, and that he came back to the United States . . .
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U.S. Support for the Saudi Air Campaign in Yemen: The Legal Issues

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 3:02 PM

For the past couple of weeks, a Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in a substantial air campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen. The United States is not conducting its own air strikes against the Houthis, but it is providing various forms of material and intelligence support to the coalition, including armaments, air-to-air refueling services, satellite . . .
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Steve Preston’s Speech: On Associated Forces, Self-Defense, and AUMF Refinement

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Friday, April 10, 2015 at 6:30 PM

The speech DOD General Counsel Stephen Preston delivered today at ASIL was quite interesting on many scores, including the scope of the “associated forces” concept, the nature of America’s self-defense claim as to force in Syria, and as to AUMF reform. Associated Forces under the 2001 AUMF: Preston emphasized two things about the statutory concept . . .
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Introducing “The Intelligence Studies Essay”

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 10:00 AM

We are excited to announce the launch of a new feature here at Lawfare: “The Intelligence Studies Essay,” an occasional series curated by the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas. The Intelligence Studies Project is a research-and-teaching initiative at UT directed by Professor Stephen Slick, and jointly sponsored by UT’s Strauss Center (directed . . .
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Call for Participants: The 8th Annual National Security Law Workshop

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Friday, February 27, 2015 at 1:00 PM

I’m very happy to announce the call for proposals and attendees for the 8th Annual National Security Law Workshop, which will take place in Houston on May 14th and 15th this spring. Geoff Corn and I are co-hosting once more, and as in the past the event is co-sponsored by the International Committee of the . . .
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HASC Testimony: Towards a Better AUMF

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Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Prepared Testimony of Robert Chesney Charles I. Francis Professor in Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Director, Strauss Center for International Security & Law The University of Texas at Austin Before the House Armed Services Committee  February 26, 2015 “Outside Perspectives on the President’s Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic . . .
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The Ongoing Shift from Global War to Global Self-Defense Against Terrorism: Afghanistan Edition

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Friday, February 13, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Have you been pondering the meaning of the ban on “enduring offensive” ground combat operations included in the administration’s draft ISIS AUMF? Wondering what it means in practice for the US military to have a ground presence contemplating some SOF activity targeting high-value enemies and front-line support to host-state forces, while not crossing the “enduring . . .
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Welcome to Brooklyn: 2 AQ members who attacked US forces abroad brought to US for civilian trial

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 12:27 PM

An interesting development in the ongoing debate regarding the optimal disposition for captured al Qaeda members: The Justice Department has just announced that two al Qaeda members (both citizens of Yemen) were captured in Saudi Arabia (and have now been “lawfully expelled” to the United States to face a civilian criminal trial in the Eastern . . .
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Did the FBI Just Prevent an Attack in DC from a Homegrown ISIS Supporter?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

A very, very big arrest in Cincinnati today, involving allegations that a man named Christopher Cornell (online alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah) had planned to travel to DC in order to carry out an attack (via assault rifle) at the Capitol. It appears Cornell was arrested today after he purchased two ArmaLite M-15s. How did the . . .
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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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