Congress has been building a domestic legal framework for gray zone competition in the cyber domain. Now it is extending that effort to the broader context of information operations. This warrants close attention.
Latest in covert action
In the aftermath of the successful operation against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the fact that the Trump administration gave advance notice to the Russian government and possibly also to some Republican lawmakers—but not to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff or other Democratic lawmakers—is attracting criticism. Is the criticism warranted? Not from a legal perspective. But it’s complicated from there.
I recently was a guest lecturer on covert action in a law school seminar. For anyone interested, my instructional approach (fictional scenario, issues for consideration, operational proposals) is available here —feel free to use it (or, better yet, improve on it). In this post I offer a few practitioner-focused thoughts on the “why,” “what” and “how” that informed my planning for this class. I hope this background description and approach are useful to others teaching about covert action.
Greg Miller has an interesting and seemingly quite well-sourced article in the Washington Post today documenting (and offering explanations for) a significant decline in CIA drone strikes. To be clear, the claim is not that drone strikes on the whole are in decline.
Back on June 15, the White House issued a SAP (statement of administration policy) spelling out objections to H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY'16. The SAP concludes that the President will veto the bill if presented as-is.
A little-noticed provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 might expand Congressional oversight of kill/capture operations conducted by the U.S. military. The change arguably reflects the ongoing process whereby U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is coming to resemble our involvement in Yemen and Somalia (and we now might add Libya), and constitutes the latest development in the long-running process whereby we are evolving a legal architecture for kinetic operations in situations that are not obviously full-fledged combat operations.