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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 »

NPR: AG Holder Will Step Down

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Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

That’s the word from this piece by NPR’s Carrie Johnson.  It begins: Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans . . .
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DCCA: USG Must Respond to Detainees’ Petition for En Banc Rehearing in Hatim

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Now this is interesting. Last week, detainees Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim, Abdurrahman al-Shubati and Fadel Hentif together sought en banc rehearing in Hatim v. Obama, the so-called “counsel access” case. Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit ordered the United States to respond to the detainees’ arguments supporting rehearing—a summary of which can be found here—within 15 days. Stay tuned.

Al-Nashiri: USG Appeals Dismissal of French Oil Tanker Charges

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Friday, September 19, 2014 at 2:48 PM

The United States today appealed an adverse ruling in the capital military commission case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The Guantanamo detainee stands accused, among other things, of orchestrating the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole—and in playing a role in another attack against the M/V Limburg, a French oil tanker. Only legally controversial counts regarding the latter are it issue for . . .
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Monday’s Hearing in al-Hadi

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 9:19 AM

This week’s hearing in the military commission case of United States v. Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi turned out to be a quick one.  Monday afternoon was evidently sufficient time for court and counsel to debate the government’s motion for an order to protect national security information; the proceedings were recessed thereafter. You can read all about it over in . . .
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Al-Hadi Case: September 15 Session

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

 A note to readers: business back at Brookings will keep your correspondent away from Fort Meade, and from observing, almost live and via CCTV broadcast,  a two-day pre-trial hearing in the military commission case of United States v. Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi.  The session commences today at 1 p.m., and could continue through tomorrow.   Nearly-live . . .
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Chief Prosecutor Statement on This Week’s Hearing in Al-Hadi

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM

On the docket today and tomorrow at Guantanamo: argument on the government’s motion to protect national security information in United States v. Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi. The Chief Prosecutor issued a statement in advance of the pre-trial hearing, which commences this afternoon at 1 p.m.  The statement opens: Good evening. Since we last met, there . . .
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In Re Directives Documents Released

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 8:48 PM

As we noted earlier today, documents bearing on the In Re Directives litigation have now been declassified. The voluminous materials—including briefs and an apparently less redacted version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review’s 2008 opinion—indeed can now be found at the DNI’s Tumblr site, and below. We’ll likely have more to say on this; stay . . .
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FISCR: Stay Tuned for Declassified Version of 2008 Directives Opinion

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 2:57 PM

The Foreign Intelligence Court of Review (“FISCR”) issued this order today. It concerns the FISC’s 2008 opinion in In Re Directives, an appeal brought by Yahoo! and regarding directives for warrantless electronic surveillance of some of the company’s customers.  In a heavily classified ruling, the appeals court had affirmed a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) order requiring . . .
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The 2001 AUMF Covers 2014 Counterterrorism Operations Against ISIS?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:05 PM

What Ben said. I certainly can see why the executive branch would want to adopt a reading as aggressive as this one: it nips some War Powers Resolution questions in the bud, and helps to make it more likely that, going forward, talk of any additional congressional authorization can be held in best practices terms rather than legal ones. . . .
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“The Legal Basis for Striking ISIS”

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

That’s the title of an hour-long panel discussion which will be held at noon on September 25, and hosted  by the Heritage Foundation’s Cully Stimson.  He’ll be joined by Dechert’s Steve Bradbury, and our own Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck.  More details can be found here; the event’s description is below. As the Obama Administration . . .
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CA2 Affirms SDNY Denial of FOIA Suit for Al-Qahtani Photos

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:41 AM

That seems to be the sum and substance of the Second Circuit’s ruling today.  The 3-judge panel’s decision opens: Appellant Center for Constitutional Rights seeks disclosure by the government, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), of certain videos and photographs of a high profile Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mohammed al‐Qahtani, who is believed to be the so‐called “20th hijacker” . . .
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Fence-Sitting and War Powers Reforms

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Friday, August 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Mention of politics, war powers, and legislative authorization to use further force in Iraq, reminds me: whatever happened with the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014 (“WPCA”), put forth by Senators Kaine, McCain, and King? Not much, it seems. After introduction in January, the bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it has seen no . . .
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GAO: Defense Department Violated Law In Bergdahl-GTMO Detainee Swap

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 4:05 PM

So concludes this report from the Government Accountability Office, which apparently was written in response to a request by various Senators.  The document opens: This responds to your June 13, 2014, request for our opinion on whether the Department of Defense (DOD) incurred obligations in violation of section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 . . .
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The Internet Metadata Memo: A Summary

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Monday, August 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM

There is much to pore over in last week’s release by the Director National Intelligence. Responding to FOIA litigation, the DNI’s office posted more than thirty legal filings and related documents bearing on NSA’s historical, bulk collection of certain internet metadata—the addressing, routing, and header information in e-mails. Some of this stuff is old, including the . . .
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February 2010 OLC Opinion on the Al-Aulaqi Strike and the CIA

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Friday, August 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Here it is. The seven-page, heavily redacted legal analysis was apparently released earlier today, as a consequence of the FOIA action brought by the New York Times and the ACLU.  

9/11 Case Motions Hearing: 8/14 Session

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Friday, August 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Working off transripts, Lawfare’s Matt Danzer has a rundown of yesterday’s pre-trial proceedings in the 9/11 case.  We’ll post his dispatches in our “Events Coverage” section, while linking to them as they come in throughout the day.  Keep your eye on this space. 8/14 Motions Session #1: Conflicts, Conflicts Everywhere 8/14 Session #2: On Severing Al-Hawsawi . . .
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9/11 Case Motions Hearing: August 13 Session

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM

A reminder: Lawfare won’t be traveling to Fort Meade to take in, almost live and via CCTV broadcast, the rest of this week’s pretrial hearing in the 9/11 case.  We will thus resort to our backup coverage format, by posting digests of each prior day’s events in our “Events Coverage” section. We thus commence with Matt . . .
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Al-Nashiri Order Dismissing Charges Relating to French Oil Tanker

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 10:50 AM

We flagged news coverage of this important military commissions ruling earlier, when the item in question was not yet available.  You’ll now find the real thing here (and here). The military judge’s order seemingly came down to this: the prosecution had asserted—but ultimately did not submit proof of—facts that, in its view, supported military commission jurisdiction over charges regarding . . .
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This Afternoon’s Hearing in the 9/11 Case

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

A reminder, and a little coverage note: this afternoon will see a pre-trial hearing in the case against Ramzi Binalshibh—one of five men charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately Lawfare won’t be able to take in those proceedings via Fort Meade’s Closed Circuit TV facility—but we will post a digest of the afternoon’s most significant events, once . . .
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Vice News Coverage of The Islamic State

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM

We have flagged this remarkable, five-part Vice series before, in our news roundup; to be sure it came to readers’ attention, we opted to note report Medyan Dairieh’s up-close examination of the Islamic State in a standalone post.  Have a look.