The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Benjamin Bissell
Saturday, October 18, 2014, 9:54 AM

This Thursday, FBI Director James B. Comey gave a speech at the Brookings Institution and was interviewed by our very own Benjamin Wittes. Besides giving a shoutout to Lawfare, which Comey apparently reads “every single day,” he spoke about the need for law enforcement to adapt in the post-Snowden, phone encryption era. Cody shared a live feed of the event and copied his prepared remarks. Additionally, Ben provided audio of the speech and subsequent Q&A, which doubled as this week’s Lawfare Podcast.

Apropos of surveillance, Jack shared Susan Landau’s new paper on NSA’s efforts to secure private sector telecommunications infrastructure.

Wells linked to a UN Special Rapporteur report on mass digital surveillance and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which obligates states to respect the privacy and security of digital communications.

Ben publicized an event that was held at the Center for Democracy and Technology on the paper he and Wells recently published entitled, “Databuse and a Trusteeship Model of Consumer Protection in the Big Data Era.” He also shared a New Yorker profile of Laura Poitras and her upcoming film, and commented on the latest Intercept story about alleged NSA activities abroad, positing that its lack of traction may be due to “Snowden fatigue.” Later, he linked to the recent Jane Mayer interview of Snowden himself, and explained why Glenn Greenwald’s challenge to people who think they have nothing to hide is “asking the wrong question.”

Last Saturday, Jack asked a question that remains unanswered: what will US troops in Baghdad do if/when ISIS militants arrive at the Iraqi capital? Later, he and Matt Waxman shared their recent essay in the New Republic that maintains that Obama’s precedents “will constitute a remarkable legacy of expanded presidential power to use military force.” Jack also shared the administration’s recent explanation as to why it thinks strikes against ISIS comply with the War Powers Resolution, and discussed the never-ending “Forever War.”

Jodie provided a video of a recent speech Matthew Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, gave at Harvard Law School. Olsen offered his perspective “on the changing nature” of the threat posed by ISIS and other emerging terrorist groups.

Bobby flagged a conference being held at the University of Texas at Austin entitled, “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism After a Decade: Are we Smarter and Safer?” The conference, which kicked off on Thursday, aims to “explore lessons learned from a decade’s worth of experience with ODNI and NCTC.”

Lauren Bateman provided a blow-by-blow readout of the hearing on the Department of Justice’s state secrets claim in Restis v. UANI.

Andy Wang noted that the Supreme Court asked for the views of the Solicitor General in Samantar v. Yousuf. He also summarized the arguments in the Fox-DOJ subpoena fight. That case was prompted after a reporter for Fox News, Mike Levine, broke a story about “federal prosecutors secretly filing terrorism charges against...Somali-Americans” using confidential information “leaked to him by various unidentified government officials.”

Jane flagged the government’s response to the detainees’ petition for an en banc rehearing in Hatim v. Obama.

In this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, Raphael S. Cohen, a scholar at the RAND Corporation, advised the US to dispense with attempts to win “hearts and minds” among the local population and instead focus on defeating ISIL militarily.

In the 38th episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker spoke with Shaun Waterman, editor of POLITICO Pro Cybersecurity and an expert on cybersecurity and counterterrorism. The two discussed Edward Snowden, the right to be forgotten, and the recent Twitter lawsuit, among other topics.

Last week’s Lawfare Podcast featured a speech at Brookings by Ambassador Shivshankar Menon, former national security adviser and former foreign secretary to the government of India. Ambassador Menon’s speech, entitled, “India’s Role in the World,” touched on many topics, including the “new optimism in US-India bilateral relations” and “how leaders can capitalize on this new momentum.”

Ben urged readers to support Lawfare and be a part of improving it and thereby contributing to the national conversation about security law. He later noted that you can also support Lawfare without spending “a dime” by using AmazonSmile, a feature where Amazon donates a small percentage of objects bought there to select non-profits, i.e. Lawfare. The AmazonSmile box is on the website's sidebar.

Ben also announced an exciting new feature to the Lawfare website: “Ask Wells.” Part Q&A, part advice column, Wells is open to any good, interesting, or intelligent questions, and will respond accordingly.

Finally, for all those fearful of drones taking over, Ben posted a video showing that Mother Nature still has some tricks up her sleeve.

And that was the week that was.