The official position of the Department of Justice—according to a legal brief filed in February—is that association with a terrorism charge is so stigmatizing that defendants should not be publicly identified, even after conviction. Doing so would lead to “harassment, embarrassment, barriers to reintegration and renewed public attention.” It might even expose defendants to “the potential for violence or renewed contact” by extremist groups “plotting future terrorist attacks or intimidating witnesses.”
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It isn’t every day that the Department of Justice acknowledges formally that the president of the United States lied in a speech to Congress. But that’s how I read a letter I received a few days ago from the department.
Editor’s Note: Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and other countries that have faced a persistent terrorism threat have found that putting terrorists in jail does not solve the problem. In jail, terrorists network and proselytize, making the problem worse. Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes of George Washington University's Program on Extremism warn that released jihadists in the United States may pose a similar problem and call for a more comprehensive approach that recognizes and counters the risks of prison.
A review of Arundhati Roy's novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Knopf, 2017).
Editor’s Note: Non-proliferation has been an imperfect but real policy success in the modern era. However, the emergence of the North Korean program and continued problems with other nuclear weapons states raise the risk of additional proliferation, including to non-state actors. Robert Litwak of the Wilson Center breaks down how we should think about non-proliferation, explaining the different categories of states and policy responses and arguing that an Iran-like deal is a powerful approach that deserves emulation in several other cases.
Over the past few years the idea of countering violent extremism (CVE) has become part of the lexicon when discussing issues related to terrorism. But contrary to popular misunderstanding, CVE is neither a replacement to counterterrorism (CT) efforts nor a way for the US government to spy on citizens. Rather, CVE is a complement to CT and has become all the more relevant in the aftermath of the Boston bombings and the Islamic State and other jihadi groups’ recruitment of unprecedented numbers of Americans to fight abroad.
Bloomberg economics commentator Justin Fox is tired of being told that his chances of getting killed in a terrorist attack are (much) lower than his chances of slipping, falling, and dying in a bathtub. Implication being—suck it up, people, and quit being such irrational babies when it comes to assessing risks from terrorism.
Police in New Jersey have located and arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami, the prime suspect in the Chelsea and New Jersey bombings. Rahami fired on the officers who found him, striking two of them and then being shot himself (in the shoulder, possibly). He is now in custody and receiving medical care at a hospital in Newark. And now officials face an important—and potentially quite controversial—set of decisions regarding how to go about interrogating Rahami.
A review of Charles Lister's The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency (Oxford, 2015).
Editor's Note: Although the presidential candidates, our media, and most importantly, Lawfare, tend to focus on the danger from Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, right-wing groups have been a more lethal terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland since 9/11 than have jihadists. Michele St-Amant of GWU's Program on Extremism looks at this trend. She focuses on the notorious Ku Klux Klan, perhaps the worst group America has ever produced, and assesses the troubling reasons that explain its resurgence today.