Early Friday morning, the Trump administration executed a targeted drone strike resulting in the killing of Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani. Scott Anderson evaluated the situation, specifically focusing on the legality of President Trump’s actions—and Jack Goldsmith examined how lax the legal constraints have become on the president's use of force. Michael O'Hanlon took a look at what the United States should do now that Soleimani is dead, and Tanvi Madan studied India's response to his killing. Benjamin Wittes shared a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast on the drone strike, including discussions of the legality of the strike and the potential repercussions for U.S.-Iranian relations.
Earlier this week, Jen Patja Howell shared the latest edition of Rational Security focused on the late December airstrikes on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Anderson also interpreted the potential consequences of those attacks, and the U.S. military’s subsequent airstrikes, on the U.S.-Iraq relationship. Daniel Byman addressed the unrest in Iraq, asking whether or not U.S. influence would have any meaningful impact on the Iraqi power structure. Patja Howell shared the Lawfare Podcast in which the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on the current unrest in Iran from December 18.
And Jacob Schulz focused on the President’s war powers, posting Sen. Tim Kaine’s resolution under the War Powers Resolution asserting that neither the 2001 nor the 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force authorize engaging in war against Iran and directing President Trump to “remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military." Matthew Waxman addressed the history of presidential war powers, as he explained the history and context of the Tyler Doctrine of 1842 protecting the Hawaiian islands from European control and how this relates to current issues of war powers.
Wittes reflected on the many events, podcasts, and publications of Lawfare throughout 2019, asking readers to consider donating to continue to support Lawfare and asked readers to submit any national security questions for contributors to answer in a special year-end edition of the Lawfare Podcast.
Lester Munson shared the latest edition of Fault Lines in which contributors spoke with Elisa Catalano, former Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council and former Senior Policy Advisor at the State Department, about the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and the Washington Post’s series on the war in Afghanistan.
Paul Rosenzweig also evaluated the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act in terms of its cybersecurity metrics.
In election news, Patja Howell shared the Lawfare Podcast in which Wittes spoke with Amanda Sloat on Britain’s recent election and what that means for the future of Brexit and the country as a whole.
Vishnu Kannan focused on American elections, sharing the national security-related exchanges from the December 19 Democratic debate.
Kenneth Propp analyzed the European Court of Justice’s opinion regarding whether U.S. surveillance laws violate the rights of individuals whose data is transferred internationally for commercial purposes. Peter Swire also analyzed the CJEU’s opinion, offering background on the “Schrems II” litigation and addressed how the EU might look at foreign intelligence surveillance going forward.
Madiha Afzal explained the recent sentencing of former Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf, for his suspension of the constitution when he imposed a state of emergency in 2007, and the controversy surrounding the decision.
David Kris offered his thoughts on the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report and the FBI’s FISA applications. Wittes analyzed the Inspector General’s report on the FBI Crossfire Hurricane investigation and public reactions to the report in part one of a series on the report. The second part addressed the conspiracy theories and allegations of political bias within the investigation.
In impeachment news, Schulz shared an opinion from a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissing a suit on whether former Deputy National Security Advisor Charles Kupperman should comply with a congressional subpoena to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Patja Howell shared the Lawfare Podcast in which the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies program organised a panel discussing all things related to impeachment.
Schulz posted the unsealed federal criminal complaint charging Grafton Thomas with federal hate crimes after Thomas stabbed five people at a Chanukkah celebration in Rockland County, New York.
Eric Halliday explored recent initiatives targeting global organized crime networks, including the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control’s sanctions on organized crime and trafficking networks and the Justice Department’s pursuit of corrupt foreign officials enabling drug cartels.
Patja Howell shared the Lawfare Podcast episode from the #NatSecGirlSquad Conference on December 12 in which Wittes spoke with Danielle Citron, professor of law at Boston University and VP of the Civil Rights Initiative, on issues relating to feminism and national security.
Tom Wheeler analyzed the U.S.’s position in the race to 5G and why we are falling behind other nations.
Rosenzweig, as is his annual custom, shared the song “Christmas in the Trenches” to thank those serving in the armed forces.
Richard Altieri and Benjamin Della Rocca posted the latest of SinoTech, this edition focused on “Phase One” of the U.S.-China trade deal and State Department efforts to restrict Chinese tech imports to American companies.