The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Jordan Brunner
Saturday, January 21, 2017, 10:00 AM

Yesterday saw the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Quinta Jurecic highlighted some national security excerpts from Trump's inaugural address, and she also listed the new administration's national security-related "Briefing Issues," as pulled from WhiteHouse.gov. Daniel Bynam identified and critiqued seven of Trump's foreign policy assumptions.

As we hurtled towards Trump's inauguration, Chelsea Manning grabbed some unexpected attention. As Friday neared, President Obama chose as one of his last acts the commutation of her sentence, which Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey praised, and from which Paul Rosenzweig dissented.

Manning and Trump’s incoming national security team were the topics of discussion for the Rational Security gang, with Ben and Susan discussing their now-fulfilled calls for Manning’s sentence to be commuted.

Lawfare also saw a number of defenses this week. Stewart Baker and Michael Vatis defended Donald Trump’s idea of giving DOD a bigger role in cybersecurity against charges that it would violate the Posse Comitatus Act on the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.

Ben defended the honor of FBI Director James Comey with six thoughts countering common attacks against the law enforcement chief, while Ryan Hagemann also defended the intelligence community and its election hacking report from two lines of common attack. John Bellinger rounded things off with a defense of Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s decision during his confirmation hearing not to label Vladimir Putin a war criminal before reviewing the facts and the law.

In matters related to the control and dissemination of sensitive information, Jack Goldsmith posed the question of whether mainstream news organizations were really that different from Wikileaks, and Jane Chong suggested that we live in a world of informational asymmetry which favors President Trump. Andrew Mark Bennett examined how Trump's propensity to bullshit might affect the judicial supervision of the exercise of national security powers. Paul flagged a case study of the operations of the Active Measures Working Group the U.S. started to counteract Soviet disinformation, and he also flagged Brian Krebs’ report on who created the Mirai botnet.

Jack interviewed Jameel Jaffer about his new book, The Drone Memos: Targeted Killing, Secrecy, and the Law on this week’s Lawfare Podcast.

Paul flagged NextGov’s summary article on President Obama’s cybersecurity legacy.

Jane informed us that the CIA had released its new, unclassified procedures on handling U.S. person information collected under E.O. 12333.

On the terrorism front, in this week's Foreign Policy Essay, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Jacob Zenn separated “violent non-state actors” into different categories along a spectrum relative to each actor’s relationship to the state, while Nora Ellingsen provided some history and commentary on the case of Noor Zahi Salman, the wife of the Orlando shooter. J. Dana Stuster provided us with the “Middle East Ticker,” and argued that defunding the U.N. over Resolution 2334 would be a huge mistake.

Cameron F. Kerry and Alan Raul made the economic case that the new administration should preserve PPD-28 and the Privacy Shield framework.

Shannon Togawa Mercer highlighted the challenges that UK Prime Minister Theresa May will face in trying to live up to her promise of a “hard” Brexit.

Julian Ku concluded that President Trump can legally end the “One China” policy and station U.S. troops in Taiwan.

Christopher Mirasola recounted how Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe embarked on a South China Sea charm offensive with Washington in mind in “Water Wars.”

Paul celebrated the Memorandum of Understanding reached between Congressional committees that helps to move bills authorizing the operations of DHS towards passage.

Brian Wilson reviewed his article in the Stanford Journal of International Law on balancing human rights and security interests within a maritime context.

And Geoffrey Corn wrote a review essay of Jean Renoir’s film La Grande Illusion.

And that was the week that was.