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Category Archives: Unfiled

Breaking News: Government Agency Bulk Collecting Twitter Data

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Friday, September 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM

I was at the National Security Agency yesterday giving a Constitution Day speech and I learned details of a shocking collection program: The government is bulk collecting all traffic on Twitter. Under a program menacingly called “Bulk Data in Social Media” and abbreviated—appropriately enough—as BDSM, Twitter has been providing all public traffic since 2010 for a . . .
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Honorable Mention: Sen. Tim Kaine

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Friday, September 19, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I have spent a lot of time over the past several years—as have many Americans—marveling at the horribleness of the United States Congress. And like many people of a romantically historical bent, I have often wondered how political institutions created and once occupied by such intellectual giants as were ours came to be dominated by . . .
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At Last, a Legal Adviser Nominee!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 11:01 PM

This afternoon, President Obama finally nominated a new State Department Legal Adviser — Brian Egan, who currently serves as Deputy Counsel to the President and NSC Legal Adviser.  Here is Brian’s bio: Brian James Egan is Legal Adviser to the National Security Council and Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President at . . .
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Senator Udall Discusses Covert Action in Syria to Train 2-3K Moderate Rebels

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM

From yesterday’s Senate Arms Services Committee Hearing (at about the 2:23 mark): Senator UDALL (NM):  And my question to you has to do with – and this is all public information, but everybody’s well aware there’s been a covert operation, operating in the region to train forces, moderate forces, to go into Syria and to . . .
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The FBI’s Facial Recognition Program

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Earlier this week, the FBI announced the completion of its “next generation” facial recognition program.  The system, now “fully operational” will house more than 52 million faces, which (assuming no duplication) is roughly 1 in 6 Americans.  The system is said to be only moderately effective — it will typically return 50 possible matches for . . .
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The Draft AUMFs for the Islamic State Do Not Limit Congressional Authorization on Ground Troops, or Geography, or Associated Forces

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8:12 AM

The two most promising Islamic State AUMFs I have seen are the one sponsored by Representative Schiff and the one sponsored by Senator Kaine.  Both drafts, in different ways, purport to limit the authorization for the President to use force against the Islamic State in at least three respects: (1) They authorize force only in . . .
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Government Files Response in Al Bahlul v. United States

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 6:57 AM

Last month Guantanamo detainee Ali al Bahlul filed his opening brief in Al Bahlul v. United States, in a bid to overturn his conviction for conspiracy to commit war crimes, the single military commission conviction against Bahlul that the D.C. Circuit left standing in its July 14, 2014 en banc ruling (the court vacated his convictions for material support and . . .
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Too Soon to Assess the President’s Invocation of the 2001 AUMF as to ISIS?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Over the past week there has been much talk about the President’s invocation of the 2001 AUMF in connection with ISIS. Many (including me) expressed considerable surprise, and doubt, about the merits of that argument. Which raises the question: will anything come of objections? One view is that this ship has sailed. Writing today at . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Geoff Corn on Battlefield Regulation and Crime

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Continuing our coverage of the Transatlantic Dialogue on International Law and Armed Conflict, Lawfare is pleased to publish the discussion paper for the conference that Geoff Corn (South Texas) produced on the topic of how criminal responsibility relates to battlefield regulation. Squaring the Circle: The Intersection of Battlefield Regulation and Criminal Responsibility During our conference, . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne Responds to Sarah Cleveland

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 1:49 PM

The newest installment in the Transatlantic Dialogue series (see here) has gone live at EJIL:Talk!. It is from Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (U. of Reading), and it responds to Sarah Cleveland’s earlier post on the Project on Harmonizing Standards for Armed Conflict. A taste:

Happening Now: The Future of Civilian Robotics

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 1:43 PM

At the top of the hour, Ben will host a conversation at the Brookings Institution with Wells Bennett, John Villasenor, and Gregory McNeal on The Future of Civilian Robotics. We hope you will join us for a lively discussion of the many civil liberties, privacy, legal, and regulatory issues rapid advances in robotics present. You may also find . . .
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Draft U.N. Security Council Resolution on Foreign Terrorist Fighters

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Recently circulated by the United States in New York, in conjunction with the larger campaign against ISIS: a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution aiming to reduce the rising threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs)—or, as the resolution defines them, “individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality . . .
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Drones and Democracy: A Response to Firmin DeBrabander

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Monday, September 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

The New York Times has an oped this morning by a philosophy professor named Firmin DeBrabander worrying that drone warfare heralds the end of democracy in America. No, I am not making that up or even exaggerating. Here’s its conclusion: Most American citizens are quick to let someone or something else bear the brunt of our . . .
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The Administration Should Explain Its International Legal Basis to Attack ISIL in Syria

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Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Over the last several days, Administration officials have tried valiantly to explain the Administration’s surprising 11th hour discovery that the 2001 AUMF and indeed the 2002 AUMF provide a domestic law basis for the U.S. use of force in Iraq and Syria. The abrupt volte-face in the Administration’s domestic legal position has been the subject of . . .
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Obama Administration Claims that 2002 Iraq Resolution is a Legal Basis for Air Strikes Against the Islamic State [UPDATED]

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Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 6:57 AM

I always thought the 2002 AUMF was an obvious basis for air strikes against the Islamic State, easily in Iraq and possibly (given the right circumstances) in Syria.  Today Charlie Savage reports that “the White House believes that Congress’s 2002 authorization of the Iraq war — and not just the 2001 authorization to fight Al Qaeda . . .
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Narrowing Down the U.S. International Legal Theory for ISIS Strikes in Syria

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM

In late August, I suggested several possible theories the Administration might invoke to argue that the use of force against ISIS in Syria is consistent with international law. In the wake of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night and supplemental Administration statements, do we know anything more about which theory or theories the Administration has picked? . . .
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We are (or Will Soon Be) at War With the Islamic State

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Secretary of State Kerry said yesterday: We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation [against the Islamic State], and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation.  I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy . . . . Though the Secretary was not thinking in legal terms, it is worth noting that his statement is . . .
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Further Reflections on the Legal Rationale For Using Force Against the Islamic State

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 7:47 AM

I had a pretty harsh reaction to the administration’s claim that Congress in the 2001 AUMF authorized force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  (For a different view, see Marty Lederman’s post.)  While I think the administration’s interpretation of the 2001 AUMF is unconvincing, I do not believe (as Bruce Ackerman appears to say today . . .
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Deteriorating U.S.-Russian Relations and Treaty Compliance

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Proceeding in lockstep with a general chill in relations brought about by the Ukraine crisis, the United States and the Russian Federation are currently at odds over compliance with international arms treaties, most notably the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement (INF). Reuters reported that American and Russian officials will meet in Moscow today to discuss allegations . . .
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President Obama’s Astonishing War Powers Legacy

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM

That is the topic of my essay at Time.com in reaction to the announcement yesterday that the Obama administration believes the 2001 AUMF authorizes force against the Islamic State today.  The essay begins: Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) . . .
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