This week saw Donald Trump finally reach a decision as to who will serve as his Secretary of State, following an unusually public and drawn-out selection process: Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Chris Mirasola reviewed what we know about Tillerson’s qualifications for the job and his controversial ties to the Kremlin, and Ellen Scholl considered the Tillerson appointment from an energy perspective in this week’s edition of Hot Commodities. Tillerson also featured prominently in this week’s episode of Rational Security, in which the crew brought on special guest Thomas Rid to talk about the DNC hack:
Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes argued that, given Tillerson’s close connections with Russia, his nomination is deeply disturbing in context of Trump’s unwillingness to take seriously the intelligence community’s reports of Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Timothy Edgar threw his support behind the ongoing campaign to brief the members of the Electoral College on intelligence reports of Russian interference. Paul Rosenzweig suggested that the Attorney General should call into session a special grand jury to investigate Russian hacking and leaking.
Rebecca Ingber asked whether executive branch bureaucracy will save us from our incoming President’s worst impulses, while Quinta Jurecic considered whether a Trump presidency will manifest the instincts toward authoritarianism which many on the left feared under George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Ben weighed how one can ethically serve in government under a Trump administration.
From a policy angle, Luca Marzorati examined how Trump might make good on his promise to cut federal funding to sanctuary jurisdictions sheltering undocumented immigrants. Chris Meserole asked how practitioners of countering violent extremism should proceed under an administration that has made hostility to Muslims and Islam one of its defining characteristics. And Richard Nephew wrote that Trump’s proposal to renegotiate the nuclear deal with Iran will be much harder than it sounds.
J. Dana Stuster updated the Middle East Ticker with news on the fall of Aleppo, the bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Cairo, and what Rex Tillerson’s appointment means for the Middle East. Federica Saina Fasanotti argued that the crisis in Libya can’t be solved by international meetings alone.
Elena Chachko examined proposed legislation in the Israeli Knesset that would “legalize” many settlements in the West Bank, flagging the many domestic and international legal challenges that would face the new law.
Julian Ku and James Kraska and Raul “Pete” Pedrozo reviewed the many ways that China’s seizure of a U.S. underwater drone in international waters on Friday violated international law. Chris provided us with an updated edition of Water Wars, noting a new report on Chinese military buildup in the Spratly Islands. Zac Copeland considered what’s next for restrictions on Chinese state-owned enterprises acquiring enterprises affecting U.S. national security under a Trump administration.
Peter Margulies provided his thoughts on a new report on the future of surveillance released this week by the Center for a New American Security. Michael Linhorst reviewed an ACLU motion to compel release of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court documents on First Amendment grounds.
Two new Aegis Series Papers on encryption were released: one by Adam Segal, on China’s encryption policy and international influence, and one by Jennifer Daskal on the international spillover effects of encryption.
On the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker interviewed Kiersten Todt, executive director of the Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Security, on the commission’s report on enhancing cybersecurity under the next administration:
In the 200th episode of the Lawfare Podcast, Jack Goldsmith interviewed Christopher Moran on Moran’s new book, Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs, and the CIA:
Ken Watkin reviewed Necessity in International Law, a study of one of the foundational principles of international law by Jens David Ohlin and Larry May.
Pretrial hearings continued this week at Guantanamo Bay in the USS Cole case. Quinta Jurecic brought us Chief Prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins’ statement on the week’s hearings. She also covered Monday and Tuesday’s hearings, notably featuring a defense motion to dismiss Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri’s case entirely in the absence of further discovery on a 2015 drone strike.
And that was the week that was.