The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Vanessa Sauter
Saturday, December 16, 2017, 7:55 AM

Jordan Brunner commenced the week by reviewing the climate change provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018. President Donald Trump signed the act on Tuesday. I posted his signing statement and speech.

On Wednesday, Rod Rosenstein testified before the House Judiciary Committee in an oversight hearing for the Department of Justice. Matthew Kahn posted the livestream of the hearing. Benjamin Wittes provided his thoughts on Rosenstein's testimony, highlighting the disturbing attempt by congressional Republicans to delegitimize Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Mieke Eoyang, Benjamin Freeman, and Wittes analyzed the latest Lawfare poll results on public confidence in the FBI and the Russia investigations—confidence that his higher than you might think from President Trump's comments. Stewart Baker discussed what Peter Strzok’s text messages might say about the FBI’s culture. Carrie Cordero also reflected on Rosenstein’s testimony, focusing on what the exchange between Rosenstein and Rep. Darrell Issa suggests about the truth underlying these investigations.

On the topic of truth, John Bellinger shared a resonant poem with Lawfare readers that some in Congress may want to read.

The military commissions are still in full gear. David Houck provided an update on United States v. al-Nashiri, where an ethics expert testified on the defense team’s withdrawal. After several weeks, United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al. convened again. Chris Mirasola walked us through the legal proceedings. I also noted the new military commission charges against Riduan bin Isomuddin in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Matthew Kahn posted the criminal complaint against Akayed Ullah for the attempted suicide bombing in New York on Monday.

The U.S. District Court in Washington DC heard arguments this week in ACLU v. Mattis concerning whether the unnamed U.S. citizen, who has been held in custody as an enemy combatant for three months, should be represented in the case by counsel from the ACLU. Benjamin Wittes conceded that the detention of John Doe is, in contrast to his earlier argument, alarming. Amanda Tyler wrestled with the habeas corpus issues coming to the fore in the case.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck discussed these issues, and more, on the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast:

How should governments handle children indoctrinated by the Islamic State who are now returning home? Robin Simcox evaluated the thorny issue in the latest Foreign Policy Essay.

Saria Samakie, a Syrian refugee and Georgetown freshman, joined Arne Duncan for an event at Brookings where he recounted his experience growing up in Syria. We shared the event audio on the Lawfare Podcast:

In an episode earlier in the week, Brookings scholar Alina Polyakova talked to Mikhail Zygar, a Russian independent journalist, filmmaker, and author of two books on the Kremlin’s elite circle:

Jack Goldsmith contended that mutual forbearance between the United States and Russia in domestic politics might not be such a bad idea. Meanwhile, Mieke Eoyang and Laura Holgate explained the dangers behind former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s nuclear advocacy, particularly his attempts to sell nuclear reactors in the Middle East.

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the use of force. Kahn posted the livestream of the hearing. He also shared the war powers report that the White House released on Dec. 11. Philip Carter argued that now is the time to consider how changing civil-military relations will be applied in future administrations.

On this week's episode of Rational Security, Susan Hennessey, Tamara Wittes, and Shane Harris talked about the most pressing national security issue of the week: a mysterious, cigar-shaped asteroid traveling in our solar system.

Arun Sukumar explored the significance of Judge Dalveer Bandhari’s reelection to the International Court of Justice.

Nicholas Weaver questioned whether Apple is fully complying with law enforcement on iMessage- and FaceTime-related court orders. Paul Rosenzweig joined a number of officials in filing an amicus brief in United States v. Microsoft.

In this week’s Cyberlaw Podcast, Baker interviewed Elsa Kania on China’s goal to implement artificial intelligence in its military.

Now that you’ve made it through another week with Lawfare, how about helping us building an app? Wittes shared a survey so that we can hear from you, our dear readers, to help make hard national security choices on Lawfare a little easier to find—and read about.

And that was the week that was.