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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 »

9/11 Case Motions Hearing: April 17 Session

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Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM

There’s a small band of us here at Fort Meade’s Smallwood Hall—the venue where we’ll take in, via slightly-delayed, Closed Circuit Television, more of a pre-trial motions session in the 9/11 military commission case. It’s been an odd little week at Guantanamo.  To recap, the defense has claimed that the FBI, while investigating the leak . . .
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4/15 Motions Session #3: What Sorts of Evidence, Part Two (And a Recess)

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Break being over, Cheryl Bormann picks up her thread: the conflict between absurdly strict secrecy controls and her own obligations to her client. Bin Attash is angry these days, she says, because he must (among other things) needlessly wait for counsel to return pieces that Bin Attash himself has written to him, pending security scrubs. . . .
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4/15 Motions Session #2: What Sorts of Evidence, Part One

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Our recess concludes; the action resumes. KSM lawyer David Nevin begins the defense’s remarks on possible evidence it might offer to support of AE292—a motion alleging inappropriate FBI contacts with a defense security officer (“DSO”) assigned to Ramzi Binalshibh’s team, and seeking an abatement of procedings.  (By way of reminder, the FBI inquiry apparently arose . . .
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9/11 Defense Counsel on the FBI’s Contacts with Defense Team Members

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Defense lawyers for 9/11 accused Ammar al-Baluchi had this to say yesterday, about an emergency defense filing in the 9/11 case concerning alleged FBI contacts with a member of another accused’s defense team: GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA Today, defense attorneys in the 9/11 military commission revealed that the FBI had interrogated a Defense Security Officer, and . . .
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4/15 Motions Session #1: Housekeeping, and FBI Things

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM

It’s Tuesday, 9:12 a.m., when our Fort Meade screen comes to life: down at Guantanamo, the military judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, calls proceedings to order. Who’s here? Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh only, of the five accused.  This means a voluntariness colloquy. As per usual, the government calls a pseudonymous witness, a . . .
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9/11 Case Motions Hearing: April 15 Session

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Tax day is upon us; so is day two in a four-day, pre-trial motions hearing in United States v. Mohammed et al.  (You can find coverage of yesterday’s quite brief open session here.) As always, Lawfare will file mini-updates on the hearing throughout the day, in our “Events Coverage” section—and link to those updates here. 4/15 Session #1: . . .
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4/14 Motions Hearing #1: Ex Parte Hearings, FBI Investigations, and a Recess

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Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It’s game time, y’all. The military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, ascends the bench and resumes pretrial proceedings in the 9/11 case.  All five accused are present, along with their lawyers and a few other folks. We begin with the advice of rights regarding presence at a pre-trial session—and the possible consequences that might follow . . .
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9/11 Case Motions Hearing: April 14 Session

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Monday, April 14, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Today marks the beginning of a four-day hearing in the 9/11 case, a.k.a. United States v. Mohammed et al.   Lawfare will cover the session, with almost-live updates from a Closed Circuit TV viewing facility located at Maryland’s Fort Meade. Throughout the day, we’ll publish each post over at our Events Coverage page, and link to them below.  We expect the . . .
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Statement of the Chief Prosecutor on This Week’s Hearing in the 9/11 Case

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Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 9:19 PM

You’ll find it here. And that’s as good a reminder as any that, tomorrow, Lawfare will resume coverage of pretrial motions hearings in United States v. Mohammed et. al.  This week’s four-day session will feature (among other things) litigation over the competence of accused 9/11 co-conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh to take part in the proceedings. In his written remarks, . . .
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Lawfare Podcast, Episode #69: A Conversation with Former NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis

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Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 2:00 PM

“The National Security Agency at the Crossroads” was a two-day conference organized by Lawfare’s Bobby Chesney, and held earlier this week at the University of Texas’ Strauss Center for International Security and Law.  At the conference, recently retired NSA Deputy Director John “Chris” Inglis gave an address; Ben Wittes caught up with Inglis afterwards, for . . .
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SSCI Votes to Release Parts of Detention and Interrogation Report

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Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Likely you know by now of this afternoon’s 11-3 vote.  The Washington Post reports here, and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein’s statement can be found here.  The latter opens: “The Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon voted to declassify the 480-page executive summary as well as 20 findings and conclusions of the majority’s five-year study of the CIA . . .
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John Carlin Confirmed as AAG for National Security

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The vote was 99-1, according to the Main Justice blog.  The lone “nay” was Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).

Exclusive: NSA Program Can Target Thoughts of Millions of Targets, Thousands of Americans

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 12:01 AM

The National Security Agency has developed the capability to mine the thought patterns of millions of people simultaneously, collection that may involve thousands of Americans, according to the latest disclosure from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. An NSA Powerpoint slide refers to the classified program, code-named “MINDPRISM,” as “The Ultimate in Upstream Collection.” A combination . . .
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More FISC Materials Released

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Friday brought us three newly declassified FISC rulings.  The release was prompted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s FOIA action against the NSA. Interestingly, one of the documents apparently is an “updated”—according to the DNI release—version of a previously released, March 2, 2009 FISC order, which had blasted NSA for non-compliance with certain minimization rules. At . . .
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Joint DNI/AG Statement on Bulk Telephone Records Collection, Pending Legislative Changes

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

The document was released late yesterday afternoon.  Here ’tis: Earlier this year in a speech at the Department of Justice, President Obama announced a transition that would end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it existed, and that the government would establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government . . .
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The Terrorism Trial Debate and Abu Ghaith

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Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:16 AM

In yesterday’s New York Times, Ben Weiser reported that Abu Ghaith’s case has renewed the “debate” over civilian terrorism trials. To my ear, this sounds a bit like today’s debates over New Coke, or the Dukakis Campaign. I haven’t had much to say about Abu Ghaith’s prosecution, because whole thing struck me as straightforward and . . .
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White House Fact Sheet on Metadata Proposal

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Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Here it is, in full; an excerpt containing a sketch of the White House’s proposed legislation is below. Consistent with this directive, DOJ and the IC developed options designed to meet the criteria the President laid out in his speech — to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this metadata. The Administration . . .
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On the White House and HPSCI Proposals for Surveillance Reform

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 2:57 PM

By now you’ve likely heard: the President will back a legislative proposal to end the NSA’s bulk collection of telephony metadata.  And Congressmen Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersburger, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, respectively, likewise unveiled their own NSA reform proposal this morning at a press conference.  You can add . . .
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White House Will Back Legislation Ending NSA’s Bulk Collection of Phone Metadata

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Monday, March 24, 2014 at 9:41 PM

That’s the gist of this quite important story, from Charlie Savage at the New York Times:  WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal to drastically overhaul the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program. Under the proposal, data about Americans’ calling habits would be kept in the hands of phone companies, . . .
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More from the FISC on Preservation Orders in Civil Cases Against NSA and Metadata Destruction

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Friday, March 21, 2014 at 3:08 PM

This just in from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—in the person of its Presiding Judge, Reggie Walton, and regarding data retention issues. These have arisen, of course, in light of the FISC-crafted “five-year rule” for metadata destruction, on the one hand, and recent civil litigation regarding the metadata program, on the other.  The latter naturally implicates the government’s obligation . . .
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