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Posts by Wells Bennett

Wells C. Bennett is managing editor of Lawfare and a Fellow in National Security Law at the Brookings Institution. His position is supported with a grant from the Markle Foundation. Before coming to Brookings, he was an Associate at Arnold & Porter LLP. Full bio »

On This Week’s Scheduled Mini-Hearing in the 9/11 Case

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Monday, December 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Day one of the two-day hearing was apparently cancelled yesterday evening.  We await the final word on tomorrow’s planned session, though the odds of further in-court proceedings strike us as slim. At any rate, the Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo had this to say. His statement addresses, among other things, the impact of the SSCI report on . . .
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9/11 Defense Counsel on the CIA’s Response to the SSCI Study

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 2:08 PM

James Connell III, lawyer for 9/11 accused Ammar al-Baluchi, had this to say today: “The CIA and its defenders are using Mr. al Baluchi as a scapegoat for its illegal and reprehensible use of torture,” said James Connell, civilian attorney for Mr. al Baluchi.  “The United States spent incredible amounts of money, energy, and American . . .
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Findings, Conclusions and Areas of Dispute Between the SSCI Report, the Minority, and the CIA: Part Four

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:25 PM

In this post, we proceed with Lawfare’s ongoing, side-by-side comparison of the SSCI Study’s key findings, and responses to them by both the SSCI Minority as well as the CIA. By way of reminder, the SSCI’s Study made twenty findings and conclusions about the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices after 9/11—twelve of which the blog has summarized so . . .
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CIA Director Brennan Delivers a Statement on SSCI Report

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 1:28 PM

At approximately 1:40 p.m., John Brennan, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will make a statement on the SSCI’s detention and interrogation study.  Here’s the CSPAN video: Here is the text of Brennan’s remarks: It was 8:46 a.m. on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when the North Tower of the World Trade Center . . .
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This Morning’s SFRC Business Meeting

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM

There are many subjects under discussion right now, including recent proposals to authorize force against ISIS. Update: it appears the Committee approved a draft authorization authored by the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Robert Menendez, by a vote of 10-8.

USG Closes Bagram Detention Facility

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The news comes from Time:  The United States Department of Defense said Thursday that it had shuttered the last American detention facility in Afghanistan, bringing to an end a controversial practice of holding prisoners in the country without trial. The U.S. said it no longer had custody of detainees in Afghanistan following the transfer on Wednesday of remaining . . .
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Findings, Conclusions and Areas of Dispute Between the SSCI Report, the Minority and the CIA: Part 3

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Below you will find the third in our running comparison of broad areas of agreement and disagreement as between the Executive Summary to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, the report by the Committee’s Minority, and the response by the CIA itself.   The Study, you’ll recall, sets forth . . .
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Senator Mark Udall Now Speaking on the Senate Floor

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 11:13 AM

We only have a C-Span link thus far, but will embed video, and post a transcript, when and if one or the other becomes available. The outgoing Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is addressing the Committee’s Study, released yesterday; and, among other things, the search of Committee staffers’ computers by the CIA. . . .
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Findings, Conclusions and Areas of Dispute Between the SSCI Report, the Minority and the CIA: Part 1

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 5:31 PM

We’re going to start processing this voluminous release of material by comparing the top-line conclusions reached by the three major entities: The SSCI majority, the SSCI minority, and the CIA, each of which issued its own document today. The two committee documents both follow the same basic trajectory. The committee made twenty separate findings and . . .
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Released: SSCI Detention and Interrogation Study, Along With Minority Views and the CIA’s Response

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Here is the long-awaited Executive Summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  The latter includes in a single file a foreword authored by Senator Feinstein, as well as the Study’s findings and conclusions.  Additionally, the Committee also has published these materials: Senator Feinstein’s statement;  a history of key dates in in . . .
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Senator Feinstein to Speak on the Senate Floor Regarding the SSCI Report and Torture

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:01 AM

We expect the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman to address the chamber, and to discuss her Committee’s long-anticipated study, sometime between 11 and 11:15. A link to C-SPAN’s coverage is here;  the Washington Post’s live feed is below.  We will publish Senator Feinstein’s remarks, if and when we see them in print. Update: we have removed the . . .
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Smith v. Obama Oral Argument

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Monday, December 8, 2014 at 11:57 AM

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has live-streaming video of this morning’s oral argument, in a challenge to the NSA’s call records program. The live stream will get underway at 9:00 a.m. PST.  [Update: Smith is but one of six cases set before argument today before Circuit Judges Michael Hawkins, Margaret McKeown and Richard . . .
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Senator Menendez’s Draft ISIL AUMF

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Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Last Thursday, Bloomberg View’s Josh Rogin had a piece on a draft ISIL authorization put forth by Senator Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Based on Rogin’s report, it seems Menendez’s legislation was offered as an alternative to a bill authored by Senator Rand Paul. But as Rogin notes, of the pair, . . .
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The 2015 NDAA, As Negotiated by SASC and HASC

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Here is the text of the critical defense legislation, which passed the House earlier this week.  

WaPo: Ashton Carter to be Nominated As Next SecDef

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The Washington Post reports: President Obama will nominate Ashton B. Carter, a physicist with long experience in national security circles and at the Pentagon, as his new secretary of defense, according to a person familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Carter would succeed Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator who is being pushed aside . . .
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Senators Leahy and Cornyn on CIA’s Proposed E-Mail Destruction Policy

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Senators Patrick Leahy and John Cornyn  yesterday joined other Senators in expressing concern over a CIA proposal regarding the destruction of agency E-mail. Their letter to the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”)—which evaluates federal bureaucracies’ records preservation policies—says, in pertinent part: We write to express concern about a recent proposal to allow the destruction . . .
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White House Proposes Funds for Police Body Cameras

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Monday, December 1, 2014 at 3:22 PM

The privacy- and oversight-relevant news comes to us via this Associated Press story. It begins as follows: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to see more police wearing cameras to help build trust between the public and police by recording events like the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, but is not seeking to pull back federal . . .
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WSJ on the FAA’s Draft Rules for Commercial Use of Small Drones

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Monday, November 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM

I missed yesterday’s intriguing little report from Jack Nicas and Andy Pasztor, which opens: Highly anticipated federal rules on commercial drones are expected to require operators to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls, according to people familiar with the rule-making . . .
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SSCI Leadership on Proposed Changes to CIA E-Mail Destruction Policy

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:55 PM

A while back I noted certain 9/11 defense counsel’s objections to a proposed change to the CIA’s policy, regarding the destruction of CIA e-mails. In August, a federal bureaucracy charged with appraising such things—the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”)—had endorsed the change. But civil liberties groups, including Open the Government, later disagreed vigorously (and thus, I . . .
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NTSB Overturns ALJ Ruling in Pirker Drone Case

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Robot-inclined folk probably already know the story of Rafael Pirker.  In 2011 he flew his Ritewing Zephyr powered glider over the University of Virginia, while taking aerial photos; allegedly the aircraft also performed some dangerous, low-altitude maneuvers.  This brought on Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) enforcement and a $10,000 fine. It was therefore quite a big . . .
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