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Posts by Sean Mirski

Sean Mirski is a third-year student at Harvard Law School, where he is Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review. While at law school, he has interned in the International Affairs division of the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, as well as the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State (in the Office of East Asia and Pacific Affairs and the Office of Consular Affairs). Prior to law school, he served as a Junior Fellow in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 with an M.A. in International Relations and a B.A. in Political Science and Economics.

The Rahmatullah Saga Goes On

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Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Last week, a British court allowed civil tort claims against the British government to proceed. In Rahmatullah v. Ministry of Defence, the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) held that a former Pakistani detainee—captured by the United Kingdom but then transferred to American custody—was not barred from suing by either the state immunity or the foreign act . . .
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A Primer on Japan’s Constitutional Reinterpretation and Right to Collective Self-Defense

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Friday, November 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

By the end of the year, the United States and Japan are expected to release revised Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. For the first time in seventeen years, the two nations will modernize the framework that governs the U.S.-Japan alliance in times of both peace and war. While the revised Guidelines will encompass many areas of . . .
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Litigation Tactics from the China-Philippine South China Sea Arbitration

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 8:00 AM

In the last month, the South China Sea dispute has heated up again – China has parked an oil rig off Vietnam’s coast, prompting anti-Chinese riots across Vietnam; a Vietnamese ship sank after being rammed by (or ramming, depending on which version of this Rashomon story you credit) a Chinese vessel; the Philippines has arrested . . .
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Abdullah Files His Reply-Brief Before the D.C. Circuit

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Monday, December 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM

As Raffaela previously noted, the case of Abdullah v. Obama is an exercise in “heel dragging and losing arguments.” A brief refresher on the case: the legal saga started when Guantanamo detainee Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah filed a habeas petition. The petition went unanswered. Accordingly, Abdullah switched tactics and instead moved for a preliminary injunction against his . . .
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Al Laithi Reply Brief Before the D.C. Circuit: Defining the Scope of Employment

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Friday, December 27, 2013 at 7:54 AM

In response to the government’s brief, counsel for the Plaintiffs in Al Laithi v. Rumsfeld et. al.  filed a reply brief on Dec. 18th.  (The Plaintiffs—all former Guantanamo detainees—allege various abuses at the hands of U.S. government officials, and seek, among other things, civil damages from the officials in their individual capacities.) For the most part, the Plaintiffs chose . . .
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The November NSA Trove IV: The Internet Metadata Collection Story Develops

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Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Your latest dispatch from the November NSA Trove: a trio of judicial opinions on internet metadata acquired, in bulk, by means of pen register and trap-and-trace (“PR/TT”) devices.  (Recall that, in 2004, the FISC initially approved this, in an opinion by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.) The  rulings are apparently divided by considerable time, with the first . . .
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The November NSA Trove III: More Details on the Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

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Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Next in the November NSA Trove: the filling in of some additional detail, and in five different FISC-related documents, regarding the collection and handling, by the NSA, of telephony metadata on a mass scale. In the first, a July 17, 2006 letter, the NSA advises that it is providing—pursuant to a prior order of the . . .
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An Analysis of the Military Balance in East Asia

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Over at The National Interest, I just published a short piece about the military balance in East Asia. In particular, I analyze the context, conduct, and consequences of an American blockade of China in the (thankfully) unlikely event of a Sino-American war, ultimately concluding that “[w]hile a blockade is not a priori impossible or irrelevant in . . .
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The Latest NSA Documents: A Summary

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The latest cache of documents released by the DNI does not contain any explosive new revelations. Unlike previous releases, it does not show big problems under either Section 215 or Section 702 that produced FISC litigations over months to resolve. They are, to put it mildly, pretty weedy. That said, there is important information in . . .
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American Paralysis and Troubles in the South China Sea: A Primer on the Philippines-China Arbitration

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Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 4:06 PM

In response to the government shutdown at home, President Obama decided last week to cancel his planned participation in a series of Asian and Pacific summits. Unsurprisingly, the decision has provoked considerable consternation abroad as the United States’ allies fret about American dependability, particularly in the shadow of a rising and increasingly assertive China. Perhaps the . . .
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Unearthed Documents Show that NSA Illegally Spied on Senators, Civil Rights Leaders, and the Media*

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Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:34 PM

* – Or, at least, it did over forty years ago. In a new piece at Foreign Policy, Matthew M. Aid and William Burr report on a recently declassified NSA history that discloses the targets of NSA surveillance during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including sitting Senators and Martin Luther King, Jr. In these documents, . . .
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The NSA Documents, Part VI: The 2011 Minimization Procedures

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Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Two months ago, we ran a post explaining the NSA’s minimization procedures based on a copy of the procedures (dating from June 2009) that had been leaked to the Guardian. In light of the mass declassification that occurred this week, however, we now have access to a more recent version of the minimization procedures (dating from . . .
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The NSA Documents, Part IV: The September 2012 FISC Opinion

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Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 10:12 AM

The one major remaining issue after Judge Bates’s November 2011 opinion involved what to with communications transactions acquired under the old minimization procedures, which Judge Bates had struck down the previous month. This is the subject of Judge Bates’s final opinion in the cache of documents released yesterday, an opinion dated September 25, 2012. Or, . . .
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Washington Post on Privacy Violations and Illegal Surveillance by the NSA

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 10:56 PM

Over at the Washington Post, Barton Gellman has a Snowden-sourced piece revealing that the NSA “has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008.” According to an internal audit from May 2012, the violations typically come in the form of . . .
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The Government Responds to Al Warafi’s Petition for En Banc Review

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Friday, August 9, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Earlier today, the government filed its response to Guantanamo detainee Mukhtar Yahia Naji al Warafi’s petition for rehearing en banc before the D.C. Circuit. A panel affirmed al Warafi’s detention in May. In his petition, Al Warafi argued that the D.C. Circuit panel’s May decision conflicts with an earlier Circuit panel’s opinion that “possession of an identity card and . . .
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