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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 »

Senator Feinstein on the CIA Accountability Review Board

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 1:04 PM

To the long-running story of the CIA-SSCI dispute–and to its most recent chapter, regarding the conclusions of a CIA Accountability Review Board—we can add today’s statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein. It reads as follows: Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released a list of 15 factual errors and omissions in the December . . .
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Harvard Event with Bruce Schneier and Edward Snowden

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Monday, January 26, 2015 at 12:20 PM

On Friday, the former spoke by videolink with the latter, about (unsurprisingly enough) surveillance, privacy and data security. Youtube has a video of their discussion:

Chief Prosecutor Statement on Opening of This Week’s Al-Hadi Hearing

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Monday, January 26, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Here it is.  Last night’s statement from Brigadier General Mark Martins opens: Good evening. This week the Military Commission convened to try the charges against Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi will hold its third series of sessions without panel members present since he was arraigned on 18 June 2014. On that date, Abd al Hadi was . . .
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Al-Hadi Case: January 25 Session

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Monday, January 26, 2015 at 9:18 AM

Today marks the first in a week-long hearing in the military commission case of United States v. Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi.  But unfortunately this week, Lawfare won’t be able to view—and blog about—the Guantanamo proceedings in nearly-live fashion, from a CCTV facility in Fort Meade, Maryland. Accordingly, as per our usual “backup” practice, we will review transcripts of each . . .
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A Return of the Executive Branch Ban on GTMO Transfers to Yemen?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 9:51 AM

From this ABC/Associated Press piece: In another challenge to President Barack Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, a ban on transferring detainees to Yemen has been effectively pushed back into place because of security concerns in the volatile Middle Eastern nation, administration officials say. While Obama approved sending detainees back to Yemen nearly two . . .
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You Are a Lawyer in the Executive Branch

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 8:24 PM

Correspondence finds its way into your inbox, bearing the signature of the newly-installed Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Richard Burr. His letter (per today’s New York Times) last week was sent to the White House, and sets forth an unusual request: In it Senator Burr allegedly asks “the executive branch” to return all copies of . . .
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NRC Study on (The Lack of) Software-Based Replacements for Bulk Collection

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:34 AM

Scientific Computing had this news yesterday, about the important DNI-ordered study from the National Research Council: WASHINGTON, DC — No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report from the National . . .
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Five More Transfers From GTMO

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Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 9:09 AM

The five detainees are Yemeni; four went to Oman, and one to Estonia, apparently. Here’s Helene Cooper, of the New York Times:  WASHINGTON — The United States transferred five more detainees — all of them Yemenis — from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday, the Defense Department announced. Their release intensified the dispute . . .
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CIA Review: CIA Didn’t Snoop Improperly on SSCI Staff

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 4:47 PM

That’s the gist of Jason Leopold’s extraordinary article this afternoon for Vice, which in turn cites this report by a CIA Accountability Review Board.  (The latter document, as I can now see thumbing through it, says the Board was “directed to limit its investigation only to the conduct of Agency officers, [sic] not to investigate the conduct . . .
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Text of Senator Ayotte’s GTMO Transfers Bill

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:20 PM

As promised, here it is. The rather unfortunate-seeming proposal provides, in full: 114TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION S.__ To extend and enhance prohibitions and limitations with respect to the transfer or release of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and for other purposes. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES Ms. AYOTTE (for herself, Mr. GRAHAM, . . .
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A New Bid to Restrict GTMO Transfers

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 12:58 PM

The  proposal, put forth today by Senator Kelly Ayotte and others, comes as no real surprise. The Hill reports: Republican senators unveiled a new bill Tuesday to stop President Obama from releasing more detainees from Guantanamo Bay. “Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who introduced the bill. The president is . . .
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On War and Crime

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Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Yesterday at Lawfare, Bryan Cunningham sought to breathe new life into the “military versus law enforcement” debate over terrorism, along the way deeming the horrific assaults in Paris to be “consequences” of France’s police-centric strategy. He thus finds fault with the current counterterrorism regime generally, and invites others to join in a broader discussion about . . .
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Convening Authority Invalidates Military Commission Conviction

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Friday, January 9, 2015 at 9:19 PM

It seems the D.C. Circuit’s commission jurisprudence is kicking in. Here’s the news from The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg: A retired Marine general responsible for the Guantánamo war court has overturned the terror conviction through plea bargain of a Sudanese man who was sent home a little over a year ago as a war criminal, the Pentagon . . .
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Help An Elementary School Find Its Lost Drone

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 2:39 PM

It seems Chesterbrook Elementary, of Fairfax County, Virginia, has lost its drone—and now wishes to enlist the help of the community in locating it. Such is the gist of the below email, sent by a school official earlier today. (I have embedded the video and pictures, which are linked in the original.)  Chesterbrook isn’t that far . . .
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Cliff Sloan on Closing Guantanamo

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 12:12 PM

Worth flagging: yesterday’s New York Times opinion piece, which was published in the wake of Sloan’s departure from the State Department last month.  The op-ed begins: WASHINGTON — WHEN I began as the State Department’s envoy for closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, many people advised me that progress was impossible. They were wrong. In the . . .
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Senator Feinstein on Anti-Torture Reforms

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Monday, January 5, 2015 at 2:43 PM

On December 30, the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter to the White House. The document—which was released earlier today—overviews a number of proposed reforms to U.S. interrogation, detention and other practices, the idea being to give effect to recommendations made in the SSCI’s torture report. . . .
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Al-Nashiri’s Reply on the Appointments Clause

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Friday, January 2, 2015 at 11:11 AM

In December, attorneys for the Guantanamo detainee filed their reply brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  (The pleading is dated December 15, but a cleared version was not approved for public release until New Year’s Eve, evidently.) The issue, as readers know, is whether two judges of the Court of Military Commission . . .
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Five More GTMO Transfers

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 9:57 AM

The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg has the scoop; apparently the five men are headed for Kazakhstan. The Pentagon freed five Guantánamo prisoners to resettlement in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, a day after they left on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane that had to circle back to the base in Cuba with a mechanical problem. The transfers of . . .
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DDC Won’t Halt Al-Nashiri’s Military Commission at GTMO

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Such is the gist of Judge Richard Roberts’ order, issued yesterday in the context of the high-value Guantanamo detainee’s habeas case in D.C. district court. The opinion opens: Guantánamo detainee Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri submitted an amended petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the respondents’ attempts to try him by . . .
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Federalist Society Podcast on “America In Retreat”

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Last week a Lawfare reader brought this item to our attention: Earlier this month, the Federalist Society’s International and National Security Law Practice Group hosted a Podcast with The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens.  The latter discussed his recent book, “America In Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder.”