The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Benjamin Bissell
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 9:55 AM

Ben outlined all the many, surprising---and mutually contradictory---ways in which President Obama is “right.”

Cody noted that ISIS and al Nusra appear to have obtained drone technology and shared some photos taken by the groups’ newest tech.

I shared a piece from Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine, Resurgence, that mentions East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang) and observed that China is taking the threat of jihad on its doorstep seriously.

Wells highlighted the news that a Russian detainee at Bagram air base is set for prosecution in U.S. federal court.

Jack argued that the debate about the extraterritorial scope of the Convention Against Torture (CAT)’s provisions on cruelty is not about the government’s interrogation policy.

Jane noted that the government filed its response in Allaithi v. Rumsfeld and summarized its 15-page brief.

Alex Ely tipped us off that the Periodic Review Board recommended repatriation for one Saudi detainee being held in Guantanamo and continued detention for another.

Wells questioned whether House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers was serious when he said he would charge Edward Snowden with “murder.”

Tara Hofbauer shared an update released by the Director of National Intelligence on the implementation of President Policy Directive/PPD-28, which regards signals intelligence activities.

Michael Knapp shared news that defendants in United States v. Muhtorov moved to compel notice of surveillance techniques. He also summarized the defendants’ arguments.

Peter Margulies asserted that UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s recent report on “mass surveillance” makes “sweeping claims” but fails to ground those claims in an “accurate description of the US surveillance program.”

Cully Stimson noted that while former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff made the case for continuing the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), he also called for more “robust surveillance programs that work hand in glove with the VWP.”

Wells posted the first installment of “Ask Wells,” perhaps Lawfare’s most “peculiar” feature.

Wells also provided a readout of the oral arguments this week in the long-running military commission case of Al Bahlul v. United States and analyzed Judge David Tatel’s “keen sensitivity” to a key precedent, Ex Parte Quirin. Peter Margulies also examined the case and the fact that Quirin is still “very much alive.” Steve Vladeck responded to Peter’s post and raised two points of criticism.

I outlined why Beijing’s Fourth Plenum this week is important from a legal standpoint and cautioned against expecting too much in the form of judicial reform.

For those in need of a “macabre laugh,” Ben shared a video of the North Korean ambassador to the UN talks attempting to compare Pyongyang’s human rights record to that of its southern neighbor.

Bobby provided the agenda and audio from last week’s conference at the University of Texas-Austin on the lessons gleaned from the past decade’s experience under the ODNI and NCTC.

Jack delineated some implications of the President’s plans to avoid Congress vis-a-vis the sanctions on Iran and warned that any such deal with Tehran would be “tenuous.”

Wells examined whether or not the US is pushing the treaty limits of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs with Colorado and Washington’s legalization of marijuana. He also linked to a paper he recently wrote on the subject in concert with John Walsh of the Washington Office on Latin America entitled, “Marijuana Legalization is an Opportunity to Modernize International Drug Treaties.”

This week, Stewart Baker brought us the 39th episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, which featured Tom Finan, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist and Counsel at DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Marc Frey spoke with him about DHS’s interest in cybersecurity and what trends are visible in this space “for carriers and other stakeholders.”

In this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, Daniel Byman, the foreign policy editor of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, explained why the “Arab world’s foreign fighter problem makes the West’s concerns seem minor.”

And that was the week that was.