The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Cody M. Poplin, Benjamin Bissell
Saturday, December 13, 2014, 9:55 AM

This week, unsurprisingly, Lawfare spent much of its time focused on the release of the SSCI’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. Before the report came out on Tuesday, Ben promised no preemptive commentary and outlined what the readership could expect from Lawfare on the subject.

To start our coverage, Wells shared the video of Senator and Chairwoman of the SSCI Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) speaking before the release of the report. He later linked to the primary documents in the case, including the SSCI report itself along with the minority’s report and the CIA’s response.

Lawfare then undertook reading and organizing the reports into an accessible format. In part 1, part 2, part 3part 4, and part 5 of our readout, we outline each major conclusion of the report first, then the minority’s specific rebuttal, then the CIA’s relevant answer. Each part covers four conclusions from the report.

Ben linked to various Senators’ reactions to the SSCI report. Later in the week, Wells brought us videos of both Senator Mark Udall's (D-Co.) speech on the report as well as CIA Director John Brennan’s response. As Director Brennan spoke, Senator Dianne Feinstein live tweeted her comments, which Cody Poplin linked to. Ben Wittes also provided the text of a more formal response from the Senator’s office.

On Friday, Wells linked to a response to the CIA’s depiction of the program, from James Connell III, a lawyer for 9/11 accused Ammar al-Baluchi.

And while we could not take this report’s release more seriously, we think this Onion video, shared by Ben, encapsulates the state of debate at the moment depressingly well.

Wells noted the news this week that the US government has officially closed the infamous Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Ben reported that there were six more transfers of Guantanamo detainees, this time to Uruguay.

Also, Matthew Waxman argued that there is a recent silver lining for Guantanamo policy---but it is not what people have been talking about.

Bruce Schneier shared the recent disclosure of AURORAGOLD, which is a NSA surveillance operation against cell phone network operators and standards bodies worldwide.

Tara noted that the FISC has reauthorized the NSA’s telephony metadata collection for another 90 days.

Wells provided a video of this week’s oral arguments in Smith v. Obama.

Paul pointed out that only a few days after Sony was hacked, the entertainment empire has decided to strike back.

He later shared a Bloomberg story asserting that a mysterious 2008 Turkey pipeline blast opened a new era in cyberwarfare.

Additionally, while admitting that Congress is trying to stop the IANA transition, he argued that it may not be succeeding.

Stewart Baker brought us the 46th episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast. This one featured an interview with Shane Harris, Daily Beast contributor and author of @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.

Another news item this week was Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony on an ISIS AUMF. Cody and Ben provided the video of Kerry testifying. Ben later explained how Kerry outlined the administration’s vision of an AUMF, and what that vision is. In response to the speech, Jack argued that the Obama administration now clearly wants a “super-broad” AUMF. Ben then later provided a few thoughts on the AUMF hearing.

Earlier in the week, Ben and Wells analyzed Senator Menendez’s draft ISIL AUMF, which was later approved by the SFRC. Wells noted the business meeting of the SRFC, which approved the draft of Senator Menendez’s proposed AUMF. Later, Jack walked us through exactly what was included in the AUMF.

And, with all this talk of authorizations to use military force, Cody Poplin shared the text of the documents from the last time the United States declared a state of war following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in this week’s Throwback Thursday.

Ashley Deek’s brought the United Kingdom’s Article 51 letter on the use of force in Syria to our attention, noting that it implicitly adopts the “unwilling and unable” test.

For this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, Magnus Ranstorp, a well-known terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defence College, offered an in-depth examination of Scandinavia foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).

In the 102nd iteration of the Lawfare Podcast, Ben had a conversation with Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy. The two discussed the always-interesting world of Israeli politics, and specifically what early elections in the country might bring.

Steve Vladeck analyzed the DC Circuit’s mandamus jurisdiction question in al Nashiri and the legitimacy of the military commissions.

And Paul shared the news of Lawfare’s latest investment: a Bitcoin.

And that was the week that was.