Latest in Covert Action: Legal Framework

Secrecy: FOIA

NYU School of Law Event: "'The Snowden Operation': A Victory for Privacy Rights or for Russia?"

NYU School of Law hosted a debate yesterday between Edward Lucas, Senior Editor of The Economist and author of The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster---which Ben reviewed last month---and Stephen Holmes, Professor at NYU Law.

Covert Action: Legal Framework

Lederman on Secrecy, Nonacknowledgement, and Yemen

Marty Lederman has a long post picking apart the errors in last week’s AP story on last December’s drone strike in Yemen.  Along the way he carefully parses the covert action statute, and has interesting things to say about the relationship between secrecy and non-acknowledgment, and how those concepts apply to CIA and DOD.  A flavor:

What follows from this understanding of section 413b and the definition of “covert

War Powers

What is the Domestic Legal Basis for Planned Cyberattacks in Syria?

David Sanger reports that the Pentagon and the NSA planned a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at “the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad’s command structure” that “would essentially turn the lights out for Assad.” He also reports that President Obama declined to go forward with the attacks then or since because of uncertainty about the proper role of offensive cyber weapons and worries about retaliation.

Interrogation: CIA Program

Congressional Control of Intelligence Programs (sometimes)

In the last ten days, an interesting controversy has bubbled up over congressional control of the drone program.  The quarrel, which has been both internal to the Senate and between the Congress and the Executive, raises some important issues regarding Congress’s ability to control controversial but classified programs (such as the current drone program and CIA's previous interrogation program).

The latest controversy became public when the Washington Post’s Greg Miller


Most Snowden Documents Concern Current U.S. Military Operations

One hears that the worst of the Snowden documents (from the perspective of the USG) have not yet been released, and one wonders what that might mean.  Yesterday’s story that “most of the documents he took concerned current military operations” might provide the beginning of an answer (though I expect that another part of the answer is that Snowden took documents concerning even more sensitive and surprising intelligence relationships than have yet been disclosed).  Representatives Rogers and Ruppersber

Executive Power

The Remarkably Open Syrian Covert Action

There are at least three noteworthy elements in the WP’s story this morning about intelligence committee “approval” of “CIA weapons shipments to opposition fighters in Syria.”

First is the fact that the intelligence committees “voted on the administration’s plan” last week.  An intelligence committee vote is not typically a prerequisite to a covert action.  Under the

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