The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Jordan Brunner
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 10:00 AM

Before President Donald Trump decided to launch airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after Assad, Ammar Abdulhamid examined the president’s Syria conundrum. After the strike, Daniel Byman asked what effect Trump’s airstrikes against Syria will really have. John Bellinger examined the legal basis for the airstrikes. Jack Goldsmith assessed the constitutionality of the airstrikes through the eyes of the OLC and the Obama administration.

Andrew Kent provided an addendum to Jack’s post, and Ashley Deeks examined how the Syria situation stacked up against the “factors” that justified intervention in Kosovo. Julian Ku discussed China's surprising refusal to criticize the legality of the airstrikes, while Michael Adams examined the legal vs. moral aspects of justifying the strikes under international law.

Meanwhile, on the home front, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes decided to recuse himself from the Committee’s Russian active measures investigation, which Quinta Jurecic flagged. Jane Chong discussed whether Nunes thinks he really “recused” himself from HPSCI’s Russian investigation.

Benjamin Wittes, Jordan Brunner, and Quinta demonstrated that there has indeed been collaboration between Trump and Russian intelligence. Jack Goldsmith and Ben examined in detail the danger presented by the Russia Connection and its attendant politics to the “Grand Bargain” between the intelligence community and the American people.

Meanwhile, Ben explained why being incidentally surveilled (as he appears to have been) is often a good thing. Robert Chesney provided a primer on the issues, rules, and possible reforms of the unmasking of U.S. person information. Susan Hennessey and April Doss explained what intelligence officials really mean when they talk about "unmasking."

Quinta posted an emergency edition of the Lawfare Podcast, condensing the testimony of experts in the first hearing about Russian active measures by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Quinta Jurecic flagged the revised National Security Presidential Memorandum organizing the National Security Council, while Jordan Brunner summarized the relevant provisions of NSPM-4 dealing with Steve Bannon’s removal from the NSC Principals Committee and Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert’s new status.

John Bellinger added that NPSM-4 also adds Dina Powell, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, to the Principals and Deputies Committees. And Paul Rosenzweig analyzed whether homeland security is a subset of national security in evaluating whether the homeland security adviser should be subordinate to the national security adviser.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring an Interview with Joshua Corman and Justine Bone.

Bobby Chesney provided an update on his earlier piece on Myron Cramer’s 1945 memo on surveillance legal issues in what would become Operation Shamrock. Jordan Brunner summarized Twitter’s complaint against DHS in response to a summons to reveal the account information of one of its users, and Twitter’s later withdrawal of that complaint. Caroline Lynch discussed Capitol Hill’s love-hate relationship with FISA.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Charlie Winter described what he learned about the Islamic State’s three-pronged media strategy after he unearthed the terrorist organization’s media guide for its own operatives. Daniel Byman provided nine questions to ask after a terrorist attack.

Quinta posted the latest episode of The Lawfare Podcast, in which Samuel Tadros of the Hoover Institution and the Hudson Institute interviews Graeme Wood on his new book about the Islamic State.

Jordan Brunner covered the final session of the week’s military commissions hearings in the 9/11 case.

Bruce Ackerman flagged a new brief in Captain Nathan Smith’s challenge to presidential war-making.

Steve Vladeck highlighted the Court of Military Commissions Review’s peculiar request in the al-Qosi litigation.

David Kimball-Stanley considered the implications of the three separate opinions in the force-feeding video case brought by Abu Wa’el Dhiab in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

David Bosco noted that Spanish prosecutors have challenged the jurisdiction of Spain to try an alleged Syrian torturer on the grounds that the victim was not a Spanish national.

J. Dana Stuster provided the “Middle East Ticker,” while Frederica Saini Fasanotti and Karim Mezran argued that Italy is not guilty of neocolonialism in Libya.

Julian Ku showed how even a minor mistranslation can threaten to roil the fragile yet indispensable relationship between Washington and China, and Jimmy Chalk and Sarah Grant detailed how the Mar-a-Lago summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could impact the South China Sea for years to come in this week’s “Water Wars.”

Michael O’Hanlon outlined how the United States can work with both the Kurds and Turkey in Syria.

Andrew Kent offered a guide regarding how we should interpret news that Michael Flynn is seeking immunity from the congressional committees. Paul followed up with his own analysis on the Flynn imbroglio, and gave his thoughts on a civil lawsuit that has been leveled against President Donald Trump in Kentucky.

Ganesh Sitaraman examined the national security consequences of deregulation. Devin Pendas reviewed Kim Christian Priemel’s The Betrayal: The Nuremberg Trials and German Divergence.

The Lawfare team broke from its April Fools tradition last Saturday on the grounds that, in this political climate, it’s hard to know what’s implausible.

And Benjamin Wittes wrote an essay about what he believes in memory of former Atlantic editor and Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly.

And that was the week that was.