The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Yishai Schwartz
Saturday, February 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

As the week began, Ben and Jane critiqued a New York Times story rich with ominous warnings and innuendo that basically amounted to the Australians having spied on Indonesian government officials, including on their conversations with their American attorneys. Ben and Jane pointed out that NSA seems to have acted precisely the way it was supposed to and they urged NSA to speak out and say so clearly. As an aside, Ben noted the unusual relationship between Snowden document recipient Laura Poitras, and the New York Times. After a firestorm ensued on Twitter on this point, Ben clarified precisely what he meant.

This week was a packed one at the military commissions: Wells let us know when the government added conspiracy to the charges against Guantanamo detainee Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, and Steve explained why the move was a potentially precedent-setting test case. Wells then posted a statement from the chief prosecutor pursuing the case against Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri for his role in the bombing of the USS Cole, and reported on the case’s motions hearings in real time. Wells supplemented the motions updates with live coverage of the arraignment of al Nashiri’s accomplice, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi, who pled guilty this week. He also posted Al Darbi's plea bargain materials. In his plea, al Darbi agreed to cooperate with authorities, likely in relation to the al Nashiri prosecution.

Ritika brought us this week’s podcast, a debate between Ben and the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf on the ethics of drone strikes. And Ben followed it up with another Fridersdorf debate---this one between Friedersdorf and the Economist’s Edward Lucas and dealing with Mr. Snowden.

Snowden, by the way, took a bit of a thwacking in a recent British court case. Matt Danzer noted and analyzed the UK Royal Court’s dismissal of David Miranda’s application for judicial review after his lengthy stop and interrogation at Heathrow. Miranda is Glenn Greenwald’s partner and was carrying Snowden-related documents for Greenwald and Poitras when he was stopped and searched under a counterterrorism statute.

Ben linked to a New America Foundation event on “the ever-falling cost of surveillance.”

He also gave us a security update in the aftermath of our cyberattacks and thanked everyone for their support.

Speaking of cybersecurity, in the week’s first installment of Bits and Bytes, Paul linked to CTO Vision’s Bob Gourley’s assessment of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, a Citizen’s Lab report warning that capabilities for secondary source surveillance are increasing, and a New York Times article explaining what the point of Google+ is. In his second installment, Paul told us about the challenges that hacking and regulation present for the future of Bitcoin, drew our attention to a Citizen Lab report tracing government usage of Hacking Team surveillance software in 21 countries, and flagged an interview with the Center for Democracy and Technology’s new President and CEO, Nuala O’Connor.

In this week’s foreign policy essay, former State Department counterterrorism official and current AU Professor Tricia Bacon analyzed the recent breakdown in relations between ISIS and Al Qaeda central. She concludes that Al Qaeda’s influence and assets are decreasing in value and suggests that the US focus its efforts on groups that share al Qaeda’s ideology, rather than its affiliation.

Paul also posted a critique of European visa imperialism as the EU tries to insist that the US grant visa waivers to Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia. Nevertheless, he suggests that the European position may have merit on the substance of the matter. Also on the subject of Eastern Europe, Ashley asked whether the violence in Ukraine may have already reached the level of a Non-International Armed Conflict. She walked through some of the determining criteria and discusses the implications of her answer.

Jane gave us a preview to Friday’s Al Laithi oral arguments. A summary of the argument itself, which I attended, is forthcoming. The case asks what kind of treatment of Guantanamo non-combatant detainees is no longer considered to be within the officials’ scope of employment.

And speaking of notable Guantanamo detainees, Ben noted U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s order that attorneys for terrorism defendant Sulaiman Abu Gayth be granted access, under controlled circumstances, to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

And that was the week that was.