As longtime Lawfare readers know, I often take a moment around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to reflect on some current issue of national security law and policy significance. I do this, in part, to mark the anniversary itself.
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Last week, the military commission in United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al. reconvened for pretrial proceedings, meeting in open session on July 23 and 25, and in closed sessions on July 24 and 26. The commission covered a wide range of topics, including motions relating to unlawful influence by CIA director Gina Haspel, FBI influence in CIA interrogations, denial of a public trial, errors regarding classification determinations, and competing theories of "hostilities" under the law of war.
Even before the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban, trust in law enforcement was eroding—and reaching a nadir—among American Muslims. Many view this administration’s policies as a source of Islamophobia and generalized suspicion of American Muslims.
I thought it would be interesting, even amidst all the pressing immediacy of day-to-day emergency, to step back and ask where we now are in the post-9/11 struggles over America’s national security and surveillance state.
As I noted around this time last year, the 9/11 Commission Report is on the syllabus for my seminar at Georgetown Law, Intelligence Reform and the Modern Intelligence Community. One of the main themes of the report is that, pre-9/11, the Intelligence Community was structured for the Cold War. But, the report cautioned, the 21st Century is and will continue to be one dominated by asymmetric and non-traditional threats; the U.S.
Editor's Note: What if most terrorism isn’t really terrorism? In past decades, much of what we call terrorism today would have been seen as insurgent violence, revolutionary war, or civil war: a group like the Islamic State, which uses tanks as well as suicide bombing, is a prime example of an organization that is wrongly classified as a terrorist group. John Mueller of Ohio State University and Mark Stewart of the University of Newcastle in Australia unpack this definitional confusion and argue that it leads to a gross misunderstanding of the true threat we face.
In the aftermath of September 11th, Sikh-Americans – marked by turbans, beards, and brown skin – were killed, stabbed, assaulted, and harassed, among other things. The frequency of this mistreatment ebbed in the ensuing years, but has resurged following the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
Fourteen years ago this coming weekend, I was standing on top of the World Trade Center. It had been a long summer at work. The Justice Department office I worked in at the time was operating at a heightened pace. A couple law school friends and I drove up to New York for Labor Day weekend 2001 on a whim, and one of our group had never seen the view. I said it was a once-in-a-lifetime must, and up we went.
Once in a lifetime, indeed.