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ISIS and Sexual Slavery

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Editor’s Note: This is the third of four excerpts from the new book, ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. In case you missed them, here are Part I, and Part II.

Slavery was abolished in most countries by the end of the nineteenth century, although it is still practiced in some countries, illegally. In a report issued in early October, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported that hundreds of women and girls were abducted from Yazidi and Christian villages in August 2014.

By the end of August, UN officials reported that some 2,500 civilians from these villages had been abducted and held in a prison. Teenage children, both males and females, were sexually assaulted, according to villagers who managed to speak with the UN officials. Groups of children were taken away. Women and children who refused to convert to Islam were sold as sex slaves or given to fighters. Married women who agreed to convert were told that Islamic law did not recognize their previous marriages. They were thus given to ISIS fighters to marry, as were the single women who agreed to convert.

The Yazidis are a mostly Kurdish speaking population whose syncretic religion pulls from both Islam and Christianity. ISIS views the Yazidis as devil worshippers. The Yazidis and other religious-minority groups are not “people of the book,” and are therefore required to convert or die, according to ISIS’s interpretation of Shariah law.

Matthew Barber, a scholar of Yazidi history at the University of Chicago estimates that as many as 7,000 women were taken captive in August 2014. According to ISIS, the practice of forcing the Yazidis and other religious minorities into sexual slavery is a way to prevent the sin of premarital sex or adultery, as well as a sign that the Final Battle will soon occur. In the fourth issue of Dabiq, an article entitled “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour” explains that polytheist and pagan women can and should be enslaved. Indeed, their enslavement is one of the “signs of the hour as well as one of the causes of al Malhalah al Kubra,” the Final Battle that will take place in Dabiq. Further, the article says, “a number of contemporary scholars have mentioned that the desertion of slavery had led to an increase in fa¯hishah (sexual sins such as adultery or fornication), because the shar’ı¯a alternative to marriage is not available, so a man who cannot afford marriage to a free woman finds himself surrounded by temptation towards sin. . . . May Allah bless this Islamic State with the revival of further aspects of the religion occurring at its hands.”

Below are some of ISIS’s answers about its theological justifications for sexual slaves and how to keep them:

“There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus. . . .”

“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5–6].’ . . .”

“If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]. . . .”

“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.”

“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”

According to esteemed political psychologist Vamik Volkan, collective historical trauma can predispose a society toward violence, identity politics (in the form of hatred of an out-group), and the rise of paranoid leadership and ideologies. The memories of this collective trauma become part of a shared myth, and what Volkan calls a “chosen trauma.” Volkan also sees a role for societal humiliation and cultural group psychology in the Middle East as contributors to paths of mass radicalization.

Within Iraq and Syria, ISIS has a rich vein of collective historical traumas on which to draw in consolidating its position and certainly the outcomes Volkan describes (violence, paranoia, and identity politics) correspond closely to the reality of ISIS today. Such traumas can lead to the selection of values, sacred or otherwise, that justify “purification” of the world. Once such paranoid leaders arise, they can neutralize “individual moral constraints against personal perpetration of suffering, torturing and murder,” psychiatrist Otto Kernberg explains.

In addition to whatever benefits ISIS can extract from the traumas suffered by Iraqis and Syrians (some of which were instigated by ISIS and its predecessors), it is also inflicting an ongoing collective trauma of nearly apocalyptic proportions on those same populations. The longer that ISIS rules its domain, the deeper and more catastrophic those traumas will become. While ISIS may not articulate its reasons in this manner, we believe it is deliberately engaged in a process of blunting empathy, attracting individuals already inclined toward violence, frightening victims into compliance, and projecting this activity out to the wider world. The long-term effects of its calculated brutality are likely to be severe, with higher rates of various forms of PTSD, increased rates of secondary psychopathy, and, sadly, still more violence.

Jessica Stern is a lecturer on terrorism at Harvard University, and a member of Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and law. J.M. Berger is a non-resident scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Episode #59: An Interview with Richard Bejtlich

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 4:03 PM

Podcast 59 -1Richard Bejtlich is our guest for episode 59 of the Cyberlaw Podcast. Richard is the Chief Security Strategist at FireEye, an adviser to Threat Stack, Sqrrl, and Critical Stack, and a fellow at Brookings. We explore the significance of China’s recently publicized acknowledgment that it has a cyberwar strategy, FireEye’s disclosure of a gang using hacking to support insider trading, and NSA director Rogers’s recent statement that the US may need to use its offensive cyber capabilities in ways that will deter cyberattacks.

In the news roundup, class action defense litigator Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov explains why major automakers are facing cybersecurity lawsuits now, before car-hacking has caused any identifiable damage.  I explain how to keep your aging car and swap out its twelve-year-old car radio for a cool new Bluetooth enabled sound system.  Michael Vatis disassembles the “$10 million” Target settlement and casts doubt on how much victims will recover.

Michael also covers the Podcast 59 -2approval by a Judicial Conference advisory committee of a rule allowing warrants to extend past judicial district lines, explaining why it may not be such a big deal.  Maury Shenk, former head of Steptoe’s London office and now a lawyer and a private equity investor and adviser, jumps in to discuss the Chinese cyberwar strategy document as well as China’s effort to exclude US technology companies from its market.

As always, send your questions and suggestions for interview candidates to [email protected] or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in Washington today to meet with President Obama and American military and diplomatic leaders. The New York Times examines the White House’s relationship with both the Afghan leader and his predecessor. According to War on the Rocks, “Ghani is in many ways the anti-Karzai. As someone who was educated in the West, worked on development issues at the World Bank, and served as the minister of finance in the Afghan transitional government from 2002-2004, he represents everything Karzai is not – a practical Western technocrat with deep ties to the United States and international institutions.”

Indeed, Ghani began his trip by thanking the U.S. for its support of his country. At the Pentagon, he paid “tribute” to the American military personnel, who served in Afghanistan, saying, “Each one of you has left a legacy, but I also understand that Afghanistan has marked you… thank you.” He noted, “You built schools, you built dams, you build roads, and while the physical infrastructure is great and it’s changed lives, it is the attitude that you brought with it. An attitude of caring, and attitude of discipline and sacrifice, and the Afghan people, but particularly the Afghan security forces honor that attitude.” Defense One shares more on the Ghani’s statements.

Ghani is using such praise and gratitude to push for increased American security and development support for his country. This plan appears to be working: Yesterday, U.S. officials vowed “to seek billions of dollars in new support for Afghan security forces.” Furthermore, President Obama is expected to announce a revised troop withdrawal plan today. Per the Wall Street Journal, the new proposal would leave American military forces in Afghanistan for longer than originally outlined.

Ghani and Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah have an op-ed in the Washington Post, covering their country’s partnership with the U.S. and efforts toward “transformation.”

The Associated Press informs us that hundreds of protesters in Kabul yesterday sought justice “for a woman beaten to death … by a mob over false allegations she had burned a Quran. The mob of men beat the woman, a religious scholar named Farkhunda, 27, threw her body off a roof, ran over it with a car, set it on fire and threw it into the Kabul River.”

An American drone strike in Afghanistan today killed nine members of the Pakistani Taliban. Reuters reports the story.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State appears to be extending its reach to Afghanistan. CNN shares an exclusive report on the group’s recruitment efforts there.

The AP informs us that today, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce a one-year extension of his country’s efforts to fight the Islamic State. Since September, Canadian troops have been training Kurdish forces in Iraq. During an announcement in Parliament, however, Prime Minister Harper will announce an extension of this mission “to include air strikes on targets in Syria.”

After battling for four weeks to take complete control of Tikrit, Iraqi military leaders have decided on a new course of action: They will seal off the part of the city still held by Islamic State militants and consolidate their forces in preparation for securing Anbar and Ninevah provinces. The Times details the plan.

The Wall Street Journal informs us that the Islamic State is “skimming tens of millions of dollars a month from salaries paid to Iraqi government employees in occupied areas such as Mosul.” The practice has put U.S. officials in an uncomfortable position: Should it encourage Baghdad to stop paying these employees, leaving them without any income or means of subsistence, or allow the Islamic State to continue funding operations using Iraqi government funds?

Over the weekend, the Islamic State Hacking Division shared a video on YouTube, which provided the names, pictures, and alleged addresses of over a hundred American military personnel. The group urged its followers to attack the individuals listed, saying “Now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step, so what are you waiting for?” Defense One describes the practice, known as doxxing, which involves “revealing personal, private, or identifying information about people online,” and notes that it has actually been around for a while.

The Times examines how Abdi Nur, a 20-year-old man from Minneapolis, became a radicalized foreign fighter for the Islamic State. According to the Times, Nur’s rather prolific Twitter feed evidences an obvious-in-hindsight progression from community college to the Syrian battlefield. Meanwhile, given the lack of “pattern among recruits,” American law enforcement personnel still struggle “to identify people attracted to the terror group in time to intervene.”

The Post highlights the Twitter campaign being waged by female Islamic State recruits, whose “propaganda messages… often have a positive theme, showing the benefits and normality of day-to-day life within the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Israel has been spying on “the closed-door” P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran. According to Obama administration officials, “The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program.” The episode has allegedly further weakened already strained ties between President Obama and Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lee Kuan Yew, the “founder of modern Singapore,” died yesterday. The Post examines the legacy of the man, who served as the country’s first Prime Minister and held office for over thirty years.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shares an op-ed in the Post, honoring and eulogizing Lee.

Jeff Robbins, a former U.S. delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Council, has an op-ed in the Boston Herald, detailing the Kurdish people’s fight to establish an independent state.

Last week, the Defense Health Board released a report on ethical guidelines for American military medical personnel. The “new policy proposals [contained therein] advise the Pentagon against punishing doctors and nurses who choose to opt out of medical procedures if they believe the practices are unethical or immoral.” Vice News notes that, if enacted, this policy would allow U.S. military doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in Guantanamo Bay’s controversial force-feeding program without having to worry about being dishonorably discharged.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Jack outlined U.S. engagement in economic espionage and shared two thoughts on it.

Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger shared the first of four excerpts from their recently released book, ISIS: The State of Terror. In this initial installation, they discussed some of the innovations that the Islamic State has brought to its administration of government.

Marko Milanovic analyzed recently published survey data from Amnesty International, focusing on how citizenship bias affects public perceptions of the acceptability of government surveillance of foreigners.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

The Race to Caliphate

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Editor’s Note: This is the second of four excerpts from the new book, ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. In case you missed it, here is Part I.

The quality of ISIS video releases fluctuated as the organization gained momentum, but overall, the group’s media team improved steadily over time, even as the quantity of its output increased. The growing focus on the packaging of the message corresponded to a new emphasis on its content. While ISIS made gains on the ground in Iraq, it was also expanding the definition of both the war and the organization itself. The media efforts fertilized the ground where ISIS would plant its next bold claim to religious authority: the declaration of the caliphate.

The precise composition of the ISIS media team was unknown (or more accurately, it was the subject of conflicting reports with uncertain sourcing), but some elements became clear over time. Many regional hubs where ISIS operated had their own media departments, including Raqqa and Deir Ez-zoor in Syria, and Diyala, Saladin, Mosul, and Kirkuk in Iraq. Their Twitter accounts routinely published photos, videos, and text updates about ISIS activities, creating a remarkably robust (if carefully manipulated) record of ISIS’s activities.

A number of Westerners were involved in the media project. In May 2014, ISIS debuted an outlet dedicated to disseminating material in English and European languages. The Al Hayat (Arabic for “Life”) Media Center ramped up at a critical time for ISIS, just weeks before the dramatic military offensive and caliphate proclamation that would put it on the front pages. Al Hayat translated ISIS’s Arabic propaganda into English, including The Clanging of the Swords Part 4, but it also produced original content that revealed the complexity of the organization’s media strategy.

In May and June, Al Hayat rolled out multiple English-language magazines, some of which recycled content from social media, and others that included original reporting from areas ISIS controlled. The stories included coverage of battles but also devoted many pages to ISIS’s efforts to govern, such as the execution of a “sorcerer” and religious training for imams. One issue spotlighted ISIS’s consumer protection bureau in Raqqa, which held merchants responsible for the quality of goods they sold. Read more »

The Power of Citizenship Bias

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Following up on my post from last week on the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the UK Parliament, which inter alia recommended that British law for the first time introduce distinctions between citizens and non-citizens for the purpose of regulating electronic surveillance, I’d like to briefly comment on another relevant development. Amnesty International last week also published the results of a major public opinion poll conducted in 13 countries, in which 15,000 respondents were surveyed on a number of questions regarding surveillance. The upshot of the poll is that there is strong opposition to US mass surveillance programs in all of the countries surveyed, and this is also how Amnesty chose to present the results (Amnesty’s press release is available here; the full results are available here; an analytical piece by Chris Chambers, one of the researchers on the project, is available in The Guardian).

What I found most interesting about the poll are the responses regarding the question whether the permissibility of surveillance should depend on the citizenship of the target. As Chris Chambers explains:

Are people more tolerant of the government monitoring foreign nationals than its own citizens?

Yes. In all surveyed countries, more people were in favour of their government monitoring foreign nationals (45%) than citizens (26%). In some countries the rate of agreement for monitoring foreign nationals was more than double that of citizens. For instance, in Canada only 23% believed their government should monitor citizens compared with 48% for foreign nationals. In the US, 20% believed their government should monitor citizens compared with 50% for foreign nationals. These results suggest the presence of a social ingroup bias: surveillance is more acceptable when applied to “them” but not to “us”.graph 1

In every country, people were more tolerant of surveillance directed toward foreign nationals than toward citizens. Illustration: Chris Chambers

 

We can also look at this ingroup bias in a different way – by specifically counting the number of people who disagreed with government surveillance of citizens while at the same time agreeing with surveillance of foreign nationals. In most countries, fewer than 1 in 4 people showed such a bias, with Sweden showing the least favouritism toward citizens (approximately 1 in 9). However, the US stands apart as having the highest ingroup bias – nearly 1 in 3 US respondents believed their government should monitor foreign nationals while leaving citizens alone.

graph 3

The US stood out as particularly prone to ingroup bias: favouring surveillance of foreign nationals over citizens. Illustration: Chris Chambers

 

We can also look at this in-group bias in a different way – by specifically counting the number of people who disagreed with government surveillance of citizens while at the same time agreeing with surveillance of foreign nationals. In most countries, fewer than 1 in 4 people showed such a bias, with Sweden showing the least favouritism toward citizens (approximately 1 in 9). However, the US stands apart as having the highest ingroup bias – nearly 1 in 3 US respondents believed their government should monitor foreign nationals while leaving citizens alone.

The US stood out as particularly prone to ingroup bias: favouring surveillance of foreign nationals over citizens. Illustration: Chris Chambers

Read more »

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 9:40 AM

American troops are evacuating Yemen. The AP reports that the evacuation came as Al Qaeda militants seized the southern city of al-Houta, near the American al-Annad air base, where around 100 American soldiers were stationed. The New York Times describes the evacuation as the “latest blow in the Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign.” The Wall Street Journal also covers the developments in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports, the winding down of American involvement in Afghanistan may move slower than originally anticipated by the Obama administration. The final end date—January 2017, President Obama’s last month in office—is not up for discussion, but the president is expected to announce that he plans to keep up to 5,000 more troops in Afghanistan for the next year than what he had previously planned.

A group associated with ISIS, the Islamic State Hacking Division, published a list that allegedly contains personal and contact information of American military members; the group also called for their beheadings. The group says it obtained the information by hacking U.S. military servers—a claim that the Pentagon has not yet confirmed. The Washington Times has the details.

CIA Director John Brennan has attributed some of the chaos and destabilization in Iraq to General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s most elite military wing, the Quds Force. The AP explains that Brennan said on “Fox News Sunday” that the Iranian forces had interfered with the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Iraq, and that the U.S. did not build as close ties with the Shiite-led Iraqi government as a result.

Salon has an in-depth review of a book Jack featured least week, ISIS: The State of Terror. The article outlines the basic proposition of the book: that the U.S. offensive in Iraq directly led to the resurgence of extremism in the country and to the growth of ISIS.  Look for excerpts from the book—which was authored by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger—this week on Lawfare. 

Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted to walk back his apparent denunciation of the idea of an independent Palestinian state, President Obama has publicly and strongly condemned Netanyahu’s campaign message. The Times explains that President Obama said in a statement that he had spoken with Netanyahu after the election and told him that his tactics would actively hurt the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The Times calls the public critique the beginning of a “public feud with the Israeli prime minister.”

Mohammed Umer Daudzai has penned an opinion piece for the Times, in which he argues that a true reconciliation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is unlikely, and that their “fundamental” difference will prove too much to overcome in any reconciliation process.

The Military Times reports that the U.S. Marines could lead the effort in defeating Boko Haram in Nigeria. According to a study commissioned by the U.S. military, the U.S. Marines are apparently well positioned to push back and potentially ultimately destroy Boko Haram, working alongside Nigeria’s neighboring countries. The fraught relationship between the U.S. and Nigerian governments, however, may present a roadblock to American involvement.

The Huffington Post features an edited excerpt Bruce’s new book, Data and Goliath, in which readers can learn how to protect themselves from digital surveillance.

Bruce’s tips are not an isolated phenomenon. According to a new Pew study, more than one third of Americans have changed their online habits in an attempt to protect themselves against government surveillance, and just under one fourth described those changes as significant. Digital Trends covers that story.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Ingrid asked and answered an important question: does the Supreme Court follow the recommendation of the Solicitor General in foreign relations cases in which the Court has issued a call for the view of the Solicitor General (CVSG)?

In this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, Jennifer Williams and Daniel compare ISIS and Al Qaeda and ask which of the two groups is winning “the soul” of the jihadist movement.

Herb followed up on a post from earlier in the week, commenting on the “Nobody-But-Us” (NOBUS) view of the world.

In our most recent podcast episode, Cody interviews Major General Micahel Lehnert (Ret.), the first commander of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

 

Smart Mobs, Ultraviolence, and Civil Society: ISIS Innovations

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 8:49 AM

Editor’s Note: This is the first of four excerpts from the new book, ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger.

Offline, ISIS has followed the model of a functional—if limited—government. Online, it has played a different game. It has amassed and empowered a “smart mob” of supporters—thousands of individuals who share its ideology and cheer its success, all the while organizing themselves into a powerful tool to deploy against the world, harassing ISIS’s enemies and enticing new recruits.The concept was defined by Howard Rheingold, a technologist who has written extensively about how virtual communities affect human behavior, in his 2002 book, Smart Mobs:

Smart mobs consist of people who are able to act in concert even if they don’t know each other. The people who make up smart mobs cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing abilities. Their mobile devices connect them with other information devices in the environment as well as other people’s telephones.

The smart mob paradigm kicks in when a large group of people spontaneously begins to act in synchronized ways because of the density of connections in their technology-assisted social network, where it is possible to connect with more people at different levels of intimacy than allowed by simple physical proximity.

Although ISIS has methodically shaped and manipulated its social media networks, it has also benefited from this sort of self-organization. Small blended groups of ISIS members and supporters take jobs upon themselves, including translating communiqués and propaganda into multiple languages and crafting armies of Twitter “bots—scraps of code that mindlessly distribute the group’s content and amplify its reach. In some ways, it was the realization of the concept of leaderless jihad, except that activity that appeared spontaneous could often be traced back to the organization’s social media team, which in turn coordinated with its leadership.

At the same time as it was pioneering these approaches, back on the ground, ISIS was routing Iraqi government forces and seizing a significant swath of northern Iraq. It pushed its message out on social media with similar aggression.

By mid-2014, its messaging machine was well oiled and effective. The differentiation from Al Qaeda was sharp. Despite the occasional dud, the overall storytelling and production quality of ISIS video was often incredible, the likes of which had been rarely seen in propaganda of any kind, and certainly leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor’s often-sophisticated attempts.

ISIS benefited from the constant, lethal pressure on Al Qaeda Central, which was forced to abandon its more ambitious media efforts in favor of sporadic talking-head releases. Ayman al Zawahiri was not a particularly strong orator to start with. His charms were not enhanced by a format that boiled down to him lecturing tediously while staring straight at a fixed camera for forty-five minutes.

But the change in content was even more striking. ISIS was offering something novel, dispensing with religious argumentation and generalized exhortation and emphasizing two seemingly disparate themes—ultraviolence and civil society. They were unexpectedly potent when combined and alternated. The ultraviolence served multiple purposes. In addition to intimidating its enemies on the ground (Iraqi troops who fled before the IS advance had reportedly been terrified by footage of mass execution of prisoners), ultraviolence sold well with the target demographic for foreign fighters—angry, maladjusted young men whose blood stirred at images of grisly beheadings and the crucifixion of so-called apostates.

But the emphasis on civil society, in videos and print productions, provided a valuable counterpoint and validation of the violence, offsetting its repulsion. ISIS would not shy away from whatever needed to be done, but its goal was to create a Muslim society with all the trappings—food aplenty, industry, banks, schools, health care, social services, pothole repair—even a nursing home with the insurgents’ unmistakable black flag draped over the walls.

The narrative tracks ultimately advanced the same message—come to the Islamic State and be part of something.

Throughout its long history, Al Qaeda had never put forward such an open invitation. Following the model of a secret society, Al Qaeda had created significant obstacles for would-be members, from the difficulty of even finding it to months of religious training that preceded battle. The ISIS message was exactly the opposite—you have a place here, if you want it, and we’ll put you to work on this exciting project just as soon as you show up (although in reality, some less radical recruits were quietly subjected to indoctrination anyway).

It was yet another lesson from Abu Bakr al Naji’s The Management of Savagery. The media campaign’s “specific target is to (motivate) crowds drawn from the masses to fly to the regions which we manage,” Al Naji wrote, as well as to demotivate or create apathy and inertia among who might oppose the establishment of the selfstyled Islamic State.

The vanguard was dead. The idea of a popular revolution had begun.

In the end, Al Qaeda’s failure was the ironic failure of all vanguard movements—an assumption that the masses, once awakened, will not require close supervision, specific guidance, and a vision that extends beyond fighting.

Al Qaeda’s vision is—often explicitly—nihilistic. ISIS, for all its barbarity, is both more pragmatic and more utopian. Hand in hand with its tremendous capacity for destruction, it also seeks to build.

Most vanguard extremist movements paradoxically believe that ordinary people are afflicted with deep ignorance, yet such movements also expect that once their eyes have been opened, the masses will instinctively know what to do next.

ISIS does not take the masses for granted; its chain of influence extends beyond the elite, beyond its strategists and loyal fighting force, out into the world. Its propaganda is not simply a call to arms, it is also a call for noncombatants, men and women alike, to build a nation-state alongside the warriors, with a role for engineers, doctors, filmmakers, sysadmins, and even traffic cops.

It’s the opening act on a brave new world. It’s too soon to know how the invitation to the masses will be received, or even if ISIS will last long enough to find out. But win or lose, extremism will likely never be the same again.

Jessica Stern is a lecturer on terrorism at Harvard University, and a member of Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and law. J.M. Berger is a non-resident scholar at the Brookings Institution.

 

 

The Precise (and Narrow) Limits On U.S. Economic Espionage

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 7:09 AM

This Intercept story on New Zealand’s surveillance of candidates for director general of the World Trade Organization sparked a related conversation yesterday on twitter about the exact scope of U.S. economic espionage.  There is a lot of confusion about this, I think.  Here is the U.S. position as I understand it, followed by a few comments:

The United States engages in economic espionage and doesn’t deny it.  As former CIA Director Stansfield Turner stated in 1991, “as we increase emphasis on securing economic intelligence, . . . we will have to spy on the more developed countries—our allies and friends with whom we compete economically.”  Former CIA Director James Woolsey acknowledged in 2000 that the United States steals economic secrets from foreign firms and their governments “with espionage, with communications, with reconnaissance satellites.” Woolsey listed three “main areas” (sanctions, bribery, dual-use technologies) where the United States “target[s] foreign corporations and the government assistance to them.”  But is no reason to think these areas are exclusive.

The United States’ limits itself in one very narrow context.  After acknowledging that the United States engages in economic espionage, DNI Clapper said in 2013: “What we do not do . . . is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”  This very carefully worded statement is the only admitted  U.S. limit on economic espionage.  Note what it permits.  It permits economic espionage of foreign governments and institutions.  It even permits theft of trade secrets from foreign firms.   It just doesn’t allow such theft “on behalf of” U.S. firms, and it doesn’t permit the government to give the stolen information to U.S. firms.  Even this limitation is qualified yet further.  The USG says it does not steal trade secrets on behalf of U.S. firms (or give stolen trade secrets to U.S. firms) in order “to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”  But it would be consistent with this statement for the USG to steal trade secrets on behalf of U.S. firms, or to give the stolen trade secrets to U.S. firms, for some other purpose.

Even though the United States does not steal trade secrets to give to U.S. firms to enhance their competitiveness, its economic espionage benefits U.S. firms in the aggregate.  A 1996 NRC Report (p.99) says: “According to the National Security Agency (NSA), the economic benefits of SIGINT contributions to U.S. industry taken as a whole have totaled tens of billions of dollars over the last several years.”  And that was in 1996.         

Two comments:

First, it should not be surprising that the United States engages in economic espionage.  Nor should it be surprising that New Zealand, or the United States, would spy on candidates for Director General of the WTO.  I am confident that many nations tried to get intelligence about those candidates, for the Director General plays a consequential role in global trade and economic policy.  Gathering intelligence from public actors about global economic policy is a very old aim of national intelligence.

Second, Glenn Greenwald asks on Twitter: “why is giving to corps radically diff than advantage in econ negotiations?”  I interpret this question to mean: Why is it acceptable to steal economic secrets to gain advantage in trade negotiations or in global economic affairs more generally, but not acceptable to steal economic secrets from foreign firms to aid particular U.S. firms?  I don’t know the answer for sure.  But I think the answer is simply that the narrow carve-out best serves U.S. interests.

As Woolsey noted:

American industry is technologically the world leader.  It is not universally true.  There are some areas of technology where American industry is behind those companies in other countries, but by and large, American companies have no need nor interest in stealing foreign technology in order to stay ahead.

On the whole the United States doesn’t gain much from stealing trade secrets from foreign firms to give to U.S. firms.  But the United States and its firms have a lot to lose when other nations engage in this discrete form of economic espionage against U.S. firms.  Thus the best rule for the United States is one that tries to limit this form of economic espionage.  However, economic espionage outside this narrow context – not in order to benefit discrete U.S. firms, but rather to advantage the United States economy and U.S. firms generally on the global scale (in trade negotiations, e.g.) – serves U.S. interests, especially since the USG has the most powerful capabilities in this context.  And so the USG thinks this form of economic espionage is acceptable.

It is not surprising that the United States would seek to craft a nuanced rule about economic espionage that serves its interests.  This happens all the time in international affairs.  Nor is it surprising that so many nations are unimpressed with the United States’ attempt to limit the one form of economic espionage (theft of foreign corporate trade secrets to give to a local firm) that so obviously harms U.S. interests, especially since the United States engages in other forms of economic espionage.

The Week That Will Be

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Event Announcements (More details on the Events Calendar)

Monday, March 23rd at 12 pm: The Wilson Center will host a conversation with Mark Katz on Russian-Iranian Relations in the Shadow of Ukraine. As Russian-Western ties deteriorate, how will Moscow and Tehran negotiate their relationship? RSVP here.

Monday, March 23rd at 2 pm: The Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host a discussion examining Strained Alliances: Israel, Turkey, and the United States. What role can the United States play in uniting its traditional regional allies? How can the three work together to advance regional security? Kemal Kirsci will moderate a conversation with Dan Arbell, Nimrod Goren, and Sylvia Tiryaki. More details here.

Monday, March 23rd at 3:30 pm: At the United States Institute of Peace, Illan Goldenberg, William B. Quandt, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen will outline what lessons we can draw from previous peace talks for the future of Israeli-Palestinian Diplomacy. Register here.

Tuesday, March 24th at 2 pm: Join the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings for the launch of Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger’s new book, ISIS: The State of TerrorWill McCants will moderate a discussion on the threat posed by ISIS and how the government can respond. Brookings has more information.

Wednesday, March 25th at 12 pm: In a region succumbing to terror, Lebanon has succeeded in keeping a lid on the sources of tension and extremism in the country. A key figure in this fight, Nouhad Machnouk, Minster of Interior and Municipalities for the Government of Lebanon, will deliver an address at the Wilson Center on his government’s approach entitled Facing Terrorism: A Lebanese Perspective. RSVP.

Thursday, March 26th at 8:30 am: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Administration’s Strategy to Confront ISIS. General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and General Michael Fantini, Middle East Principal Director for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, will testify. More information on the committee’s website.

Thursday, March 26th at 2 pm: The Brookings Institution will host Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah for a discussion on the domestic and security challenges facing his country, the future of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership, and the future of Afghanistan after the eventual departure of American forces. Michael O’Hanlon will provide introductory remarks and Bruce Riedel will moderate the discussion. RSVP or register for the webcast here.

 

Employment Announcements (More details on the Job Board)

Lawfare Intern

Internship Summary

This summer internship, beginning in June 2015, is a paid opportunity for undergraduate students, recent college graduates or graduate students with an interest in national security.  Interns will be responsible for helping to run and maintain Lawfare, a website devoted to serious, non-ideological discussion of national security legal and policy issues.

Lawfare has emerged as the internet’s indispensable resource for information and analysis on the law of national security. Devoted to “Hard National Security Choices,” the site features top-quality writing and analysis from experts on developing stories in the national security arena, relevant legislation, and judicial opinions. It is a digital magazine that includes a podcast, a book review, research tools, a daily news roundup, an events calendar, and exhaustive coverage of events other media touch only glancingly.

This internship pays an hourly rate of $10.50, and ideally applicants will work full-time (40 hours per week) but no less than 28- 32 hours per week, during regular business hours (dependent on the applicant’s school schedule), with some flexibility around an academic course schedule. The internship is based in Washington, DC and will last approximately 10- 12 weeks (depending on the start date).

Primary Responsibilities

The Lawfare intern’s responsibilities fall into three categories:

Writing:

  • Work with Associate Editor to monitor national security and foreign policy developments, and 2-3 times per week, co-write “Today’s Headlines and Commentary.”
  • Work with Associate Editor to co-write “The Week that Will Be,” a weekly feature that outlines upcoming events, academic announcements, and employment announcements.
  • Work with the Associate Editor to co-write a regular deep-dive analytical piece on a relevant national security law and policy issue.
  • Sole-author “The Week that Was,” a weekly piece that provides a guide to the week’s Lawfare

Research:

  • Provide research support to the Lawfare editorial team as needed. Current projects include a book manuscript on data and technology proliferation and their implications for security; a paper on technology and privacy; and a paper on military justice.
  • Work to develop the Lawfare Wiki by taking a deep research dive into one or two areas of national security law. The intern will identify key primary source materials, summarize relevant documents, and create and develop the topic page on Lawfare.

Maintaining the blog:

  • Tag and categorize all Lawfare posts
  • Track relevant Congressional hearings
  • Track and add relevant events to the Events Calendar

In addition to providing support to the Lawfare directly, interns will have the opportunity to attend internal meetings, hearings on Capitol Hill, local think tank events, professional development workshops, and public Brookings events as well as participate on Brookings sports teams and network with other interns throughout the Institution.

Education/Skills/ Experience

Graduate or undergraduate students (who has completed their sophomore year) working towards a degree in government, political science and law are encouraged to apply.  Recent college graduates are also eligible to apply.  Our most successful interns have very strong writing, analytical, and research skills, as well as excellent verbal and organizational skills—preferably demonstrated through prior independent research or previous experience as a research assistant.

Application Procedure

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. To be considered, applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

 A complete application will include the following items:

  • Cover letter highlighting your educational experience and skills, along with an explanation of how this internship will contribute to your professional career goals.
  • Resume
  • Names and contact information for three academic or professional references
  • Original writing sample ( no more than two pages)

Please email a complete application with “Your Name — Lawfare” in the subject line to Cody Poplin at [email protected] 

Brookings is an equal-opportunity employer that is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. We welcome applications from all qualified individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, or other factors protected by law.

Successful completion of a background investigation is required for employment at Brookings. No phone calls please.

For examples of previous intern projects, see the author pages below:

Sebastian Brady

Benjamin Bissell

Tara Hofbauer

Read more »

Does the Supreme Court Follow the Recommendation of the Solicitor General in Foreign Relations Cases in which the Court has issued a CVSG?

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Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Sometimes when making a decision whether to grant a petition for a writ of certiorari in a case to which the United States is not a party, the Supreme Court formally issues a “call for the view of the Solicitor General” (CVSG).   The Solicitor General responds with a brief arguing that certiorari be granted (or not), in whole or in part. But does the Court follow the SG’s recommendation?  An empirical analysis based on data from OT ’98 through OT ’04 concluded that “of the 83 cases in which the SG recommended a straight grant, deny, or GVR, the Court followed the recommendation 79.5% of the time (66 cases).” It also found that “the likelihood that the Court will follow the suggestion of the SG does not appear to depend on what the SG recommends.”

That data is a decade or more old, however, and it does not consider foreign relations cases specifically. I have argued that on merits questions in foreign relations cases, the Court seems increasingly skeptical of the views of the Executive Branch, and I have also noted some foreign relations cases in which the Court ignored the views of the Solicitor General on whether or not to grant certiorari, even after calling for those views by issuing a CVSG.

To update the CVSG data with a contemporary snapshot of the Court’s work, I had research assistants gather all cases from October 2012 through the present which were CVSG’d, and in which the Court has either granted or denied certiorari. We excluded CVSGs in other contexts, such as motions for leave to file a complaint under the Court’s original jurisdiction, and we consolidated petitions and recommendations in cases which were later consolidated by the Court. That left a total of 44 cases. In 30 cases, the Court followed the views of the SG, in 14 cases it did not follow the views of the SG, giving the SG a win rate of 68%. There were a total of 9 foreign relations, national security, or international law cases. Of those, the Court followed the SG in 6 cases for a win rate of 67%.

These numbers appear to show a modest decline in the SG’s win rate, but the total number of cases is obviously small. There was one case in which the SG recommended denying certiorari, but if certiorari was granted, it wanted an additional question added. The Court granted cert and added the additional question. We count this as a win for the SG, which arguably means 68% slightly overstates the win rate. Nevertheless, it is possible that the Court issues more CVSGs in the first place, meaning that even with a decreased win rate, the SG’s views might hold sway in a larger absolute number of cases. Finally, cases in which the SG recommended denying certiorari on two questions in the petition, and Court granted cert on one question, were characterized as a loss for the government.

Our data did not show a difference between foreign relations and other cases in terms of how likely the Court was to follow the views of the SG after issuing a CVSG. Thus it appears that the Court does not treat foreign relations cases as presenting an exceptional need to follow the views of the SG on whether to grant or deny certiorari. Again, however, this analysis includes only a very small number of cases, and it also does not consider whether the Court is more or less likely to CVSG foreign relations cases at all.

I am happy to share our spreadsheet with interested readers.

The Foreign Policy Essay: AQ vs. IS and the Battle for the Soul of Jihad

By and
Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Editor’s Note: This piece is based on a longer article I co-authored with my Brookings colleague Jennifer R. Williams, which ran in The National Interest

***

Almost overnight, the Islamic State sent its enemies reeling—and turned U.S. policy in the Middle East upside down. As troubling as the Islamic State’s successes are for U.S. officials, there is one person for whom they are even more troubling: Ayman al-Zawahiri. Although the Al Qaeda leader might be expected to rejoice at the emergence of a strong jihadist group that delights in beheading Americans (among other horrors), in reality the Islamic State’s rise risks Al Qaeda’s demise. When Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected Al Qaeda’s authority and later declared a ca­liphate, he split the fractious jihadist move­ment.

The two are now competing for more than the leadership of the jihadist move­ment: they are competing for its soul.

Who will emerge triumphant is not clear. But the implications of one side’s vic­tory or of continuing division are profound for the Middle East and for the United States, shaping the likely targets of the jihad­ist movement, its ability to achieve its goals, and the overall stability of the Middle East. The United States can exploit this split, both to decrease the threat and to weaken the movement as a whole.

The Islamic State and Al Qaeda fundamentally differ on whom they see as their main enemy, which strategies and tactics to use in attacking that enemy, and which social issues and other concerns to emphasize.

Although the ultimate goal of Al Qaeda is to overthrow the corrupt “apostate” regimes in the Middle East and replace them with “true” Islamic governments, Al Qaeda’s pri­mary enemy is the United States, which it sees as the root cause of the Middle East’s problems. The logic behind this “far enemy” strategy is based on the idea that U.S. mili­tary and economic support for corrupt dic­tators in the Middle East—such as the lead­ers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia—is what has enabled these regimes to withstand attempts to overthrow them. By targeting the United States, Al Qaeda believes it will eventually force the United States to withdraw its sup­port for these regimes and pull out of the region altogether, thus leaving the regimes vulnerable to attack from within.

The Islamic State does not follow Al Qa­eda’s “far enemy” strategy, preferring instead the “near enemy” strategy, albeit on a re­gional level. As such, the primary target of the Islamic State has not been the United States, but rather apostate regimes in the Arab world—namely, the Asad regime in Syria and the Abadi regime in Iraq. Baghdadi favors first purifying the Islamic community by at­tacking Shi’a and other religious minorities as well as rival jihadist groups. The Islamic State’s long list of enemies includes the Iraqi Shi’a, Hizballah, the Yazidis (a Kurdish eth­noreligious minority located predominantly in Iraq), the wider Kurdish community in Iraq, the Kurds in Syria and rival opposition groups in Syria (including Jabhat al-Nusra). And (surprise!) the Jews. Read more »

Further Reflections on NOBUS (and an Approach for Balancing the Twin Needs for Offensive Capability and Better Defensive Security in Deployed Systems)

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 8:14 PM

In a previous post, I commented on the Nobody-But-Us (NOBUS) view of the world. My original post says that the real technical question raised by NOBUS is how long nobody-but-us access can be kept for a given proposed system.

Since then, I’ve received comments from a number of people who have cited one example or another that NOBUS is fundamentally flawed as a technical concept. No, it isn’t. All the examples prove is that particular instantiations of NOBUS have been flawed. They don’t prove the general case in any way.

Still, apart from refusal to deal with the substance of the technical question regarding NOBUS, these comments raise other issues, and this note is a response.

To me, the technical argument against NOBUS has three distinct parts.

Part 1 is that if NSA finds a vulnerability and uses it, others can find it and exploit it as well. There is some evidence to support this part. An emergency patch issued by a vendor (e.g., http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/02/emergency_microsoft_update/), and there have been many over the years, at least suggests that a found vulnerability can be exploited on a short time scale. We don’t know if the NSA was previously aware of the vulnerability in any given case, but it may have been. Further, a strong logical case for Part 1 can be made as well—use of a vulnerability potentially (usually?) reveals it, and then others can exploit it because its use reveals its existence.

Part 2 is that if NSA finds a vulnerability and stockpiles it (and does not use it—that’s what stockpiling means), others can still find it and exploit it as well. That’s true in principle, but I have never seen evidence to support it. Of course, what is actually in the NSA stockpile is secret, so it’s unlikely that we would know one way or another if such evidence exists. In any case, if Part 2 is operative, NSA is acting as a no-op with respect to the security of deployed systems—the outcome of Part 2 is the same as if NSA did nothing at all, or indeed if the vulnerability finders at NSA did not exist.

There’s one caveat to my Part 2 analysis I’ve occasionally heard discussed but I haven’t seen in writing. The vulnerability stockpile is going to be kept secret—but it too has some likelihood of being compromised. In the long run (i.e., given infinite time), every vulnerability in the stockpile will be revealed. This point suggests the need for another risk analysis—how long does it take for a given vulnerability (kept secret in the stockpile) to be revealed? Knowing that number may provide useful information for NSA’s knowing when to reveal it to the vendor—keeping a vulnerability in the stockpile indefinitely makes no sense, but keeping for a time that is short compared to the expected time of compromise but long enough to be potentially useful for offensive operations might be a reasonable operative rule that balanced the need for maintaining offensive capabilities against the need for improving security.

Part 3 is that if NSA implants a vulnerability—i.e., puts in a vulnerability that is not already present–others can find it and exploit it. Part 3 has a more serious implication than Part 2—here NSA is affirmatively weakening the security of a system to some degree. The degree by which it is weakening the security is a function of the risk analysis I proposed in my original note. My original note argued that if the expected time for disclosure of the secret knowledge required to gain access is long, then that weakening of security may be acceptable. But there’s no question that insertion of a vulnerability does weaken security.

On the other hand, I would argue that a deliberately implanted NSA vulnerability intended to grant NOBUS access would be specifically designed with features to protect the NOBUS aspect of it, and thus others would find it more difficult to exploit as compared to the usual vulnerabilities in question, since these vulnerabilities are generally introduced by accident and thus aren’t deliberately made hard to exploit. Of course, this is an empirical question, but in any case, no one has submitted any evidence that this has happened.

As in my original post, this post does not take a position on the policy desirability of NOBUS access—it merely tries to separate the relevant technical dimensions of NOBUS from the value judgments about its desirability.

The Lawfare Podcast: General Michael Lehnert on Closing GITMO

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 1:55 PM

This week, we invited Major General Michael Lehnert (Ret.), the first commander of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to chat on the show. In January 2002, General Lehnert deployed to Guantanamo Bay as Commander of Joint Task Force 160 with the mission to construct and operate the detention facilities for Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees. He is now one of the more prominent voices calling for the closure of the prison facility. In the interview, General Lehnert describes those early days of uncertainty before GITMO became “GITMO,” how, while facing a policy vacuum in Washington, he built and managed the facility, and what he thinks should be done with the remaining detainees now. In the end, he offers advice for how future policymakers can avoid  mistakes when conducting critical missions and making hard national security choices.

You can read General Lehnert’s most recent piece calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay detention facility at Politico

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 9:55 AM

Israelis went to the polls on Tuesday and gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party a decisive victory. Making almost as much news as the election results themselves were the tactics Netanyahu employed to help secure his third consecutive term. After previewing the elections in this week’s Rational Security podcast, Ben noted three of Netanyahu’s more controversial tactics: his intensely partisan speech before the U.S Congress, his race-baiting on election day, and his last-minute statement in an interview that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. Ben accepted that, if taken individually, these actions could perhaps be explained away, but asserted that, when taken collectively, Netanyahu’s tactics may have profound deleterious effects on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

While Yishai Schwartz agreed with Ben’s conclusion that Netanyahu’s tactics may well harm Israel, he took issue with the widespread characterization of Netanyahu’s statement regarding Palestine as a “reversal.” Yishai argued that Netanyahu’s support for a Palestinian state has always been largely theoretical, contingent upon concessions that no Palestinian partner is likely to make. Consequently, Netanyahu’s “reversal” was more of a prediction—he doesn’t think Palestinian leaders will accept his conditions, so he doubts there will be a Palestinian state under his rule—than a change of policy.

So, when Netanyahu asserted (after all votes had been cast, of course) that he had not, in fact, changed his position on Palestinian statehood, Yishai did not join in the chorus of commentators criticizing Netanyahu’s disingenuous pandering. Rather, he reiterated his earlier argument and pointed out that claims that Netanyahu isn’t serious about a two-state solution are problematic because of the vagueness of the “two-state solution” concept. Netanyahu may be just as committed to a two-state solution as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas; the problem is that the two leaders take “two-state solution” to mean two mutually-exclusive things.

Another controversy coloring the Israeli election was the emerging Iranian nuclear deal. Stephen Haggard detailed how lessons drawn from the failed North Korean Agreed Framework can be applied to the arguments made in Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and the 47 senators’ open letter to Iran. The efficacy of both the speech and the letter depend on the assumption that intentionally torpedoing whatever supposedly unacceptable deal is being reached will help produce a better one. However, the lessons of North Korea, Haggard argued, do not support this assumption.

Elsewhere in his piece, he noted that Netanyahu’s speech failed to mention some of the progress already made in limiting the Iranian nuclear program through the Joint Plan of Action. Yishai added that it’s crucial to note the ways in which Iran remains out of step with international norms regarding nuclear programs. While Iran’s failure to implement the Additional Protocol may not constitute a formal violation of international law, it does represent an attempt to avoid scrutiny of its nuclear program. Moreover, by attempting to revert to a laxer version of Code 3.1—a regulation governing reporting requirements—Iran appears to be in direct violation of its international responsibilities.

These issues aside, the P5+1 and Iran do appear to be within striking distance of a deal. And while the brouhaha over the Senate’s letter to Iran may be subsiding, domestic wrangling in the United States continues. Last Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough sent a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) responding to a letter from Corker asking if the Obama administration plans to take a deal to the United Nations before it takes it to Congress. Jack gave us his thoughts on the letter, which he read as answering Corker with a qualified “Yes”. Jack noted that, while McDonough’s response seems reasonable in that it asks Congress for no more room to negotiate than a Republican Congress could be reasonably expected to give a Republican president, it did not definitively answer whether a U.N. Security Council resolution would impose legal restrictions on the United States.

Jack added that the Supreme Court may indirectly affect the outcome of this executive-legislative wrestling match. In its forthcoming decision in the Zivotofsky case, the Court will deal with how the various powers exercised in the conduct of foreign affairs should be divided between the executive and legislative branches. While the issues at play in the case are distinct from those in the Iran dispute, Jack noted that whichever branch is victorious in the Zivotofsky case will, at the very least, see its case for or against the deal (as the case may be) get a significant political boost.

Disagreement between the Obama administration and Congress is not, of course, limited to the Iran talks. The AUMF against ISIS (a group detailed in a new book by J.M. Berger and Jessica Stern that Jack recommended) proposed weeks ago by the Obama administration has gone nowhere. Jack provided some reasons for the lack of progress that go beyond partisan gridlock. For one, as Lawfare writers have said since its publication, the AUMF doesn’t really change anything; the current operations against ISIS are supposedly already authorized by the 2001 AUMF, which this AUMF doesn’t touch. Because the proposal changes almost nothing, there’s no urgency for Congress to do anything about it. Finally, because there’s no urgency to do anything about the AUMF, Congress is free to play politics with it.

And while members of Congress take this opportunity to grandstand, the Syrian civil war, to which ISIS is party, rages on. Tamara Cofman Wittes wrote about her recent visit to a Jordanian refugee camp housing Syrians displaced by the war. She described the heroic labors of humanitarian organizations working in the camps but noted that the camp’s young Syrians, the population on which a peaceful, stable Syria must be built, need education and opportunities far beyond those which the camp can provide. Wittes quotes one young refugee: “We live in a virtual world … you eat, sleep, wake, go to work, but you are not alive. If you have no chance to advance your hopes, it’s like you are dead.” By providing such educational opportunities, the logic goes, these young, displaced individuals can be dissuaded from joining the violent, radical militias wreaking havoc in Syria.

But an education alone is not enough to keep someone from being radicalized. As Western governments have increasingly found in their attempts to stop the radicalization of their citizens, countering violent extremism is a difficult process with no clear best practices. While there may not be a golden bullet to counter violent extremism, Anastasia Norton, Alysha Bedig, and Harriera Siddiq argued in this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, government efforts can nonetheless be improved. By shifting the focus from combatting ideology, which currently receives the lion’s share of attention, to countering behavior, radicalization can be more effectively checked.

Wells broke the news that Paul Oostburg Sanz, the Navy’s General Counsel, has been designated as interim Convening Authority for the Guantanamo military commissions, a post he will fill for the second time. As the commissions limp along, another terrorist was recently convicted in a Brooklyn federal court. Diane Webber told the story of how Abid Nasser, a Pakistani man arrested in the United Kingdom while planning a terrorist attack on the United Kingdom, ended up being tried and convicted before a court in Brooklyn.

The Brennan Center released a report this week entitled “What Went Wrong with the FISA Court.” Wells linked us to the report, which includes a foreword by former FISA Court judge James Robertson, and summarized its key findings.

Marko Milanovic highlighted some interesting aspects of a new report issued by the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the body tasked with overseeing the GCHQ, a British intelligence and surveillance agency. While he notes that the report unsurprisingly clears the agency of any serious legal violations—the Guardian recently called the ISC the “slumbering scrutineer,” he notes—the report does provide a valuable overview of the current legal regime governing surveillance by British intelligence agencies.

The report was commissioned as a result of the Snowden revelations, and this week Ben discovered that, in what was undoubtedly a typographical error, that the Washington Post had fingered outgoing NSA General Counsel Raj De as the man behind those same revelations. All kidding aside, Mr. De has stepped down after three years as the NSA’s top lawyer and Lawfare wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Ben also subjected the New York Times to that same close reading and found that, in an editorial criticizing the extremely light plea deal David Petraeus recently received, the Times appeared to, without providing any proof, accuse Petraeus of routinely divulging classified information to journalists and think tank analysts alike. This imputation of criminality is all the more problematic given that, as Ben hints, the Times may have benefited from the very looseness with classified material that it decries.

Speaking of taking liberties with classified information, Ben told us about Samuel Loring Morrison, a man who now has the distinct honor of being the only Espionage Act convict to be convicted of stealing government documents twice.

On Thursday, the chairmen and ranking members of both the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations Committees sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The letter, which Jack tipped us off to, describes China’s growing aggression and hegemony in the South China Sea and expresses an interest in working with the administration to develop a strategy for the region.

Last week, Ben headlined a Brookings event with Gabriella Blum on the future of violence, a topic which the two discuss in their newly-released book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones——Confronting A New Age of Threat. Audio from the event, which also featured Brookings scholar Bill Galston and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner, comprised this week’s Lawfare Podcast.

This week’s Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast featured an interview with Andy Ozment, who manages the unit of the Department of Homeland Security tasked with improving the cyber security of both the private sector and the civilian agencies within the federal government.

One of the administration’s initiatives to improve cyber security, the proposed Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), received further clarification with a recent White House memo and fact sheet. Steve Slick, who wrote on the CTIIC earlier in March, described the import of the publications.

Cody let us know that Lawfare is looking for a paid intern for this summer.

And that was the week that was.

Letter from Heads of SFRC and SASC to Kerry and Carter on South China Sea

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Friday, March 20, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Yesterday the Chairmen and Ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (McCain and Reed) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Corker and Menendez) sent a noteworthy letter to Secretaries Kerry and Carter about growing Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea.  It begins:

We are writing in regard to Chinese strategy in the Indo-Pacific maritime domains, and the alarming scope and pace of the land reclamation now being conducted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the Spratly island chain of the South China Sea. At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the extent of the activities “aggressive,” and described it as an effort by China to expand its presence and further consolidate its sovereignty claims. Without a comprehensive strategy for addressing the PRC’s broader policy and conduct to assert its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea, including land-reclamation and construction activities, long-standing interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk.

The letter then outlines the growing threat from China in the South China Sea as the Senators see it, and concludes:

The slow, calculated competition for sovereignty and influence in the Indo-Pacific region is not currently a crisis that garners international headlines. Yet the impact of this competition will likely reverberate for years to come.  The Congress stands ready to support a renewed effort to address this challenge.  More specifically, we look forward to working with you on the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy for the maritime commons of the Indo-Pacific region, and to your thoughts on how the Administration and Congress can best work together on these issues.

The letter is a strong signal to the Administration, and to China.

Summer 2015 Lawfare Internship

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Friday, March 20, 2015 at 3:13 PM

We are currently accepting applications for a paid summer intern. A description of responsibilities and information on how to apply is below:

Internship Summary

This summer internship, beginning in June 2015, is a paid opportunity for undergraduate students, recent college graduates or graduate students with an interest in national security.  Interns will be responsible for helping to run and maintain Lawfare, a website devoted to serious, non-ideological discussion of national security legal and policy issues.

Lawfare has emerged as the internet’s indispensable resource for information and analysis on the law of national security. Devoted to “Hard National Security Choices,” the site features top-quality writing and analysis from experts on developing stories in the national security arena, relevant legislation, and judicial opinions. It is a digital magazine that includes a podcast, a book review, research tools, a daily news roundup, an events calendar, and exhaustive coverage of events other media touch only glancingly.

This internship pays an hourly rate of $10.50, and ideally applicants will work full-time (40 hours per week) but no less than 28- 32 hours per week, during regular business hours (dependent on the applicant’s school schedule), with some flexibility around an academic course schedule. The internship is based in Washington, DC and will last approximately 10- 12 weeks (depending on the start date).

Primary Responsibilities

The Lawfare intern’s responsibilities fall into three categories:

Writing:

  • Work with Associate Editor to monitor national security and foreign policy developments, and 2-3 times per week, co-write “Today’s Headlines and Commentary.”
  • Work with Associate Editor to co-write “The Week that Will Be,” a weekly feature that outlines upcoming events, academic announcements, and employment announcements.
  • Work with the Associate Editor to co-write a regular deep-dive analytical piece on a relevant national security law and policy issue.
  • Sole-author “The Week that Was,” a weekly piece that provides a guide to the week’s Lawfare

Research:

  • Provide research support to the Lawfare editorial team as needed. Current projects include a book manuscript on data and technology proliferation and their implications for security; a paper on technology and privacy; and a paper on military justice.
  • Work to develop the Lawfare Wiki by taking a deep research dive into one or two areas of national security law. The intern will identify key primary source materials, summarize relevant documents, and create and develop the topic page on Lawfare.

Maintaining the blog:

  • Tag and categorize all Lawfare posts
  • Track relevant Congressional hearings
  • Track and add relevant events to the Events Calendar

In addition to providing support to the Lawfare directly, interns will have the opportunity to attend internal meetings, hearings on Capitol Hill, local think tank events, professional development workshops, and public Brookings events as well as participate on Brookings sports teams and network with other interns throughout the Institution.

Education/Skills/ Experience

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By
Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:44 AM

The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have stalled. The Times tells us that the parties—Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany —haven’t made much headway when it comes to the number of operational centrifuges Iran would be able to retain.  One unnamed European diplomat is quoted as saying that the parties “aren’t close to an agreement.” The Wall Street Journal adds that there has been disagreement about when international sanctions against Iran would be lifted.

Vice has obtained a copy of a mostly un-redacted version of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate that eventually led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The newly released version of the report (previously released in 2004, but with major redactions) highlights the disparities between the intelligence community’s assessment of the Iraqi threat with what the Bush administration told the public. Vice explains:

According to the newly declassified NIE, the intelligence community concluded that Iraq “probably has renovated a [vaccine] production plant” to manufacture biological weapons “but we are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed.” The NIE also said Hussein did not have “sufficient material” to manufacture any nuclear weapons. But in an October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, then-President George W. Bush simply said Iraq, “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons” and “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.”

General David H. Petraeus, former head of the CIA, spoke to the Washington Post, about the current state of Iraq and how the rise of the Islamic State. Among other things, Petraeus posits that had the U.S. pushed for a stronger alternative to Maliki to head up a revitalized Iraq, things may have been different.

The United States has, for the first time, shot down a drone operated by the Islamic State. RT reports on the story, noting that details are very slim.

A new CNN poll reveals that Americans are becoming increasingly worried about the Islamic State: 80% of respondents said that they thought the Islamic State poses a “serious threat” to the United States, a marked increase from September 2014, when 63% of respondents said the same.

The United States allegedly threatened to withhold crucial intelligence from Germany if the country offered help to Edward Snowden when he was seeking asylum. The threat not only applied to offering Snowden asylum in Germany, but also to helping him arrange travel plans and coordinating with other countries that might have taken him in. The Verge has the details.

Amazon has made a little bit of progress in its drone delivery program. Forbes explains that Thursday the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed the company to begin testing its delivery service. But that permission comes with a string of restrictions and regulations; it may be a while before the program gets off the ground.

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has proposed legislation that would reintroduce the draft and impose “war tax” on Americans. The Hill reports that Rangel’s draft would apply to women, and during times of declared war, as well as when an AUMF is effect.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Yishai Schwartz took a deeper look at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s apparent flip-flopping on the issue of an independent Palestinian state.

Ben, meanwhile, addressed the wider implications of the recent Israeli election.

Jack highlighted a new book on the Islamic state, ISIS: The State of Terror. Buy it here!

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Why the AUMF for the Islamic State Has Stalled

By
Friday, March 20, 2015 at 9:36 AM

“Congress is stalled in its effort to pass a separate resolution authorizing military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” write Austin Wright and Bryan Bender in a good Politico story two days ago.  The conventional explanation for the stall is, as Wright and Bender note, that “congressional action has gotten bogged down in partisan rancor and divergent viewpoints over what the war should try to accomplish, how long the administration should be authorized to wage it, and what level of force will be required.”  But their story pushes beyond this conventional wisdom and points to deeper explanations.

First, absolutely nothing of substance turns on the new AUMF.  The President has been using force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since last August, and he has justified these actions since last September under the 2001 AUMF (among other sources).  This interpretation of the 2001 AUMF was controversial.  But it was made openly in public and it has not caused a national outcry or congressional backlash.  One might say that the nation has effectively acquiesced in the President’s actions – politically, if not legally.  As a result, as a practical matter, the President has all the authorities he needs to conduct the fight against IS.  “We don’t need a new AUMF to do our jobs,” a “defense official” told the Daily Beast last month.

Second, because the Executive branch doesn’t need the AUMF, neither Congress nor the President feels any pressure to enact it.  The Obama administration has long taken a passive attitude toward getting a new AUMF for ISIL.  Even since the President sent up his AUMF proposal to Congress, the administration has not exactly rushed Congress to pressure it for enactment (and has been especially feckless in getting members of the President’s party on board.  Obama administration officials “have invested no political capital in this whatsoever,” Representative Salmon said in Politico.   (This contrasts sharply with other AUMFs that Presidents really needed, politically or legally, to support a use of force.)  Because no concrete national security issue is at stake in the passage of the AUMF, and because the President is not pushing hard for it, Congress feels no compulsion to act.  The “biggest obstacle” to enacting the new AUMF, said Representative Schiff in the Politico story, is the administration position “that they don’t need” the new AUMF.  “That has given Congress an excuse to shirk its responsibility,” he added.

Third, when members of Congress feel no compulsion to act on national security grounds, they are free to play politics.  For many Democrats, this means avoiding a vote in support of a new authorization of force at all costs, even one that by its terms expires in three years.  For many Republicans, that means complaining that the President’s draft AUMF places too many restraints on the presidency – when in fact, if passed as drafted, the AUMF would expand, not contract, presidential power.

For all of these reasons, Representative Schiff is right to be “increasingly concerned that Congress will take the path of least resistance and least responsibility and let the resolution die.”

Netanyahu’s Latest “Reversal” on Palestinian Statehood

By
Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 6:26 PM

Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and explained that he hadn’t changed his policy on the creation of a Palestinian state. “I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution,” he insisted. For the second time in three days, the American media went into conniptions. The Wall Street Journal’s lead headline announcing “Netanyahu reverses vow to oppose Palestinian statehood” is representative of top stories in the Times, Post and pretty much every other major outlet.

Together, these headlines weave a narrative of flip-flopping that is quickly becoming conventional wisdom: Three days ago, in a last-minute bid to win voters right-wing voter, Netanyahu publicly “repudiated” the two-state vision to which he committed himself in a 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University. (At the time, the speech was a landmark event: the first time a Likud Prime Minister had publicly embraced Palestinian statehood.) And now, just days after winning those votes (and reelection) he publicly reverts back to his Bar Ilan vision. The zigzag narrative is a convenient one for those who loathe Netanyahu. The loathing may be understandable, but the narrative happens to be wrong.

As I explained two days ago, on the morning of the elections, Netanyahu’s statement on Palestinian statehood was carefully crafted as an evaluation of current conditions, not a “vow” or a statement of policy. Asked whether he could say that if elected, “a Palestinian state will not be established,” Netanyahu responded by warning that current security realities made the creation of a Palestinian state “today” unrealistic. Pushed again to answer directly on whether “if you are elected Prime Minister, a Palestinian state will not be established,” he considered for a moment, before tentatively answering “right.” As you watch the interview, you can almost see the wheels turning in his mind as he reasons to himself: “I wasn’t asked whether I want, or will work toward, a Palestinian state; I was asked for a prediction–and my prediction is it won’t happen.”  As I wrote then:

Netanyahu is not saying he opposes the creation of a Palestinian state as a matter of principle, but as a matter of prudence. His opposition is contingent, linked to concrete and current security realities. Presumably, if these realities changed, so would Netanyahu’s position on practical statehood. For Netanyahu, this has always been the case. His vision of a Palestinian state has always been highly theoretical, requiring “rock solid” security arrangements that any conceivable Palestinian partner would have a very hard time accepting… Netanyahu’s statement therefore represents no change at all, and so most Israelis are simply not surprised. Netanyahu was simply making explicit what has been his implicit (but obvious) position for some time: Islamic radicalism affects (and severely decreases) the practical possibility of imminent Palestinian statehood.

There is no question that Netanyahu was speaking in two different registers to two different audiences. To arouse the Israeli far-right, he emphasized the current dangers of a hasty rush toward Palestinian statehood, and predicted that such a state would not be established imminently. And to placate an international audience, he emphasized that his goal and policy remains working toward a Palestinian state. These statements are not mutually exclusive.

But technical consistency aside, Netanyahu’s pre-election statement still deserves a busload of criticism (though not as much criticism as his egregious election-day dog-whistle): it was highly cynical, self-centered and deeply damaging to Israel. He knew his words would be interpreted (or used) as a reversal by the international media, but decided the price in international condemnation of Israel was worth his own possible electoral gain. That’s inexcusable. Nevertheless, neither that statement nor today’s constitutes a “reversal” of the fundamental Bar Ilan approach.

Of course, it remains possible that Netanyahu’s (consistent) position on Palestinian statehood is entirely disingenuous. Perhaps, deep down, Netanyahu actually opposes the creation of a state of Palestine and merely adopts the rhetorical position of favoring such a state for diplomatic reasons. This belief, no doubt, is what drives so much of the invective currently being hurled at Netanyahu, including State Department’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s ongoing insistence that “we believe he changed his position three days ago.” After all, if you believe Netanyahu has never been “serious” about Palestinian statehood, then characterizing his statement from a few days ago as a “reversal” is highly convenient.

Debates of this sort—over whether Netanyahu or the Palestinian Authority is “truly” committed to a two-state solution–are unresolvable. But they are also misleadingly simplistic. “Two states for two peoples” is such a broad and nebulous vision that it allows for vastly different “true” commitments. Netanyahu is “truly” committed to the vision—assuming the vision includes a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule, Israeli retention of sizeable blocks over the ‘49 armistice lines, robust Israeli security measures and a credible cessation of Palestinian violence, incitement and claims on Israel. Similarly, Abbas is just as “truly” committed—but to a vastly different vision that likely includes none of these factors. Each is “serious;” they are just serious about different visions.

So when a commentator labels one side “unserious” or “lacking commitment,” what she really means is that she prefers the other’s side’s vision. That preference, of course, is the commentator’s right. But inventing inconsistency and alleging dishonesty to bolster that caricature of unseriousness is a bridge too far.

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By
Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 3:39 PM

More news today out of Tunisia regarding the stunning militant attack on a museum in Tunis that left 23 people dead and wounded dozens more. According to the Associated Press, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement that called the assault a “blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice.” The claim has not yet been verified, but most experts believe that it is credible.

Agence France Presse shares that Tunisian security forces have arrested nine suspects, while Reuters reports that Tunisian troops also arrested two family members of an Islamist militant involved in the attack. Throughout the country, the attack has prompted calls for unity, with hundreds of people gathering late on Wednesday in the capital to sing the national anthem. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has vowed to fight the extremists “without mercy to our last breath.”

The second day press pack story on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive victory examines exactly what it will mean for U.S.-Israeli relations. The New York Times writes that the long “poisonous relationship” between U.S. President Barack Obama and Mr. Netanyahu has only been exacerbated by the manner in which Mr. Netanyahu won. While Mr. Netanyahu has since tried to walk back his campaign statements, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that his campaign rhetoric, in which he railed against Israeli Arabs for voting and abandoned his commitment to a two-state solution, was “deeply concerning and it is divisive.”

Indeed, it now seems that President Obama may not attempt to repair relations, with Administration officials raising the possibility that the United States will consider a United National Security Council resolution outlining the principles of a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps. Even so, there is almost no chance that the United States will curtail its financial or military support for Israel.

Some U.S. allies may be prepared to send ground forces to Syria to fight alongside moderate rebels, according to U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno. However, when pressed as to how Syrian leader Bashar al Assad would respond to such a ground force opposition, General Odierno suggested it would be necessary to carefully select their insertion points. Those statements come as Reuters reports that the Syrian government has downed a U.S. drone. According to a Syrian army source, the aircraft was shot down over government-held territory where there are no ISIS militants.

The AP shares that the U.S. military has destroyed an Islamic State drone used for battlefield surveillance. The small drone was most likely purchased commercially. Even so, the exchange prompted Nancy A. Youssef of the Daily Beast to ask, “Is ISIS building a drone army?” The answer, of course, is “no,” but that doesn’t mean the militant group is not preparing to turn small, commercial drones into flying IEDs, according to Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

In a sign of the coming battle, Iraqi security forces dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets over the ISIS-held city of Mosul overnight Wednesday. The leaflets reportedly urged civilians to collaborate against the Islamic State in light of the coming military offensive, telling them that the Iraqi armed forces are “very close to you.” The notes may have been meant to quell fears of sectarian violence in the local population; however, the New York Times has collected a series of satellite photos that reinforce concerns of sectarian reprisals. In dozens of villages evidence of Shiite retaliation mounts.

In Geneva, the United Nations called for the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Islamic State for committing genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq as well as for war crimes against other civilians. The report also noted that Iraqi security forces and affiliated militias “may have committed some war crimes.” Reuters has more on the United Nations report.

As the war in Iraq and Syria rages on, the authorization for that conflict has stalled in Congress. According to Politico, the measure hardly came up at all in yesterday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing. In reference to the president’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS, Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chair of the committee, told reporters “we’re kind of moving beyond that.”

In Yemen, an unidentified warplane attacked the presidential palace in Aden yesterday. The air attack followed a ground operation by the embattled president’s forces, which stormed Aden’s international airport and captured a nearby military base from a former officer who had refused to relinquish command. Reuters notes that Houthis rebels removed the commander of the air force earlier this week for refusing to provide them air support, replacing him with a general who is closer to the group.

The Associated Press brings us news of progress in Nigeria, where soldiers from Niger and Chad have liberated another Nigerian town from the grip of Boko Haram. The fighting appears to have been brutal, with a spokesman from Niger’s army stating that 228 militants were killed and one soldier from Niger died. A photographer from the AP said that the town was largely deserted.

The Pentagon has confirmed that Adan Garar, a leader of the Somalia-based militant group al Shabaab, was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week. According to the Department of Defense, Garar was a key organizer of the 2013 shopping mall attack in Kenya that resulted in 67 deaths and wounded over 175 others.

Reuters reports that, according to an anonymous senior U.S. official, two U.S. military bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad are likely to remain open even after the official drawdown at the end of 2015. The likely slowdown of the U.S. withdrawal reflects both renewed optimism in the effectiveness of the Ghani government and a desire to avoid a collapse of security forces similar to what occurred in Iraq. Reuters notes that the official announcement could come as early as next week when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visits Washington.

Even as relations with the government in Afghanistan improve, a new report from Yale researchers has found a new wrinkle in the effort to win hearts and mind of the Afghan people. According to political scientist Jason Yyall, villages in Afghanistan with the most pro-U.S. sentiment were also the most likely to draw “punishment attacks” from the Taliban. While that corresponds to expectations, Yyall also found that U.S. forces were no more likely to receive tips from the local population as to the location of improvised explosive devices, suggesting that U.S. efforts had been successful enough to make certain villages targets but not successful enough convince them to assist the United States. DefenseOne has a full review of the controversial findings.

According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, a U.S. drone strike killed Khawrey Mehsud, a commander of the Pakistani Taliban, yesterday. The strike, which occurred on the Afghan side of the border, also killed two other suspected members of the TTP.

A year after annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his success in two big ways. In Moscow, Mr. Putin led a rally and appeared at a concert, warning that the ceasefire in Ukraine was at risk of failing due to a disagreement over the degree of political autonomy granted to regions in the war zone. Mr. Putin told the crowd that Crimea was not about “land,” but about the “sources of our history, our spirituality, and our statehood.” The New York Times makes note that the rally occurred just outside the Kremlin and only a few blocks away from where opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered last month.

In another form of celebration, Mr. Putin also signed a treaty with South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia. According to the Wall Street Journal, the agreement “seals almost full integration.” The European Union issued a statement saying that the move “clearly violated Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Will the NSA’s Section 215 program continue even if Congress lets its authority expire in June? That’s the question raised by Dustin Volz in the National Journal. According to Volz, a newly declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order leaves open the possibility that the government could indefinitely continue any ongoing investigation that began before the bill’s expiration. However, former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker concluded that while there is an argument for the measure, he suspects “that the administration won’t be willing to make that argument.” The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer called the interpretation “such a stretch” that he would be surprised “if even the government adopts it.”

Foreign Policy raises another question on the government’s approach to secrecy: “Could Petraeus’s plea deal boost Edward Snowden and other leakers?” Lawyers for other government employees accused of leaking classified information have already seized on the perceived double standard, advancing an argument that their clients should also receive such leniency.

Saeed Saram Jarabh, a 36-year-old “forever prisoner” at Guantanamo Bay has been cleared for release. The review board called Jarabh, who has been at Guantanamo since February 2002, a “low-level fighter” who “lacked a leadership position in al-Qaida or the Taliban.” 56 of the remaining 122 detainees have now been cleared for release. Yet, the review board denied the release of another “forever prisoner” Khalid Qasim due to “extremist and anti-American sentiments” and behavior while at Guantanamo. The Miami Herald carries the story.

In more Guantanamo news, the senior Pentagon official behind the controversial order that would have required judges to relocate to Guantanamo Bay for the entirety of their military commission trials has resigned. According to the Pentagon, Vaughn Ary, who was appointed as the convening authority for the military commissions only last fall, will resign effective Saturday. The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has selected Paul L. Oostburg Sanz, general counsel for the Department of the Navy, to hold the role on an interim basis.

In response to a seventh grader’s question in Cleveland yesterday, President Barack Obama told a crowd that he wishes he had moved more immediately to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. “I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day,” the president said. Politico has more on Mr. Obama’s remarks.

Finally, Lawfare’s Amy Zegart writes in the Wall Street Journal of the coming revolution in drone warfare that “will allow many states–and nonstate actors–to make low-cost but highly credible threats.”

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Wells flagged the news that the Navy’s General Counsel Paul Oostburg Sanz will serve as the interim Convening Authority for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions.

Wells also alerted us to a new report from the Brennan Center on “What Went Wrong with the FISA Court.”

Brookings Senior Fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes brought us a report from her recent trip to Jordan, where Syrian refugees remain in search for a future.

Ben shared that a typographical error in the Washington Post posited former NSA General Counsel Raj De as the man behind the Snowden disclosures.

Yishai Schwarts outlined two further notes on Iranian legal arguments and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Finally, this week’s Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast features Andy Ozment, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.