The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Sebastian Brady
Saturday, February 7, 2015, 10:00 AM

On Tuesday, Wells shared the news that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report that detailed how the U.S. intelligence community has implemented the reforms that President Barack Obama announced with Presidential Policy Directive-28, Signals Intelligence Activities (PPD-28) just over a year ago. Carrie Cordero gave us a first and second take on the report, which focused on the report’s sections on privacy and transparency, respectively. Harley Geiger discussed what would happen if Congress does not reauthorize Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which currently authorizes the bulk metadata program. Cody brought us video of ODNI’s General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech on his department’s report here at Brookings.

As President Obama continues to talk about closing Guantanamo, Ben looked at how the administration might actually get that done. He argued that many detainees simply cannot be released or face criminal trial, so these detainees will need to be transferred to U.S. soil. Gabor Rona answered that closing Guantanamo must mean either releasing all detainees or trying them in federal court, not bringing many indefinite detainees into the U.S. His argument in part rests on his assertion that bringing detainees here will mean more of the same for them, legally speaking. Steve Vladeck pointed out that, in fact, detainees would probably fare much better legally stateside than in Guantanamo. Handing the debate off to our elected officials, Ben shared video of the administration’s testimony on Guantanamo before the Senate Armed Services Committee this Thursday.

Steve also provided us with a preview of an upcoming hearing in a Guantanamo case before the D.C. Circuit, which will examine whether the D.C. Circuit can issue writs of mandamus to the Court of Military Commission Review and, if it can, whether the appointment of CMCR judges violates the Appointments or Commander in Chief clauses of the Constitution.

Last week, Ben wondered aloud whether the Intercept’s SecureDrop tool for leakers was really such a good idea. Since then, Ben’s been hounded on Twitter. Cody and Ben synthesized much of the criticism into three main categories, and pointed out that one of the pieces of evidence that Ben’s critics rely on doesn’t actually say what they claim it does.

Yishai Schwartz gave us a rundown on Iran sanctions, describing how we got from our first sanctions in 1979 to the current and potential future sanctions regime.

Bruce Schneier noted President Barack Obama’s recent statement that terrorism does not pose an existential threat to the United States and wondered if, after years of political overreaction to the threat of terrorism, this means we can finally begin to discuss it rationally.

In conjunction with the release of President Obama's National Security Strategy report, National Security Adviser Susan Rice came to Brookings to discuss the president's foreign policy plan. Cody shared the video with us.

Nathan Sales described the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which currently allows citizens from 38 countries to travel to United States without a visa, and asserted that, despite recent calls to significantly alter the program, the VWP can actually become a security asset, rather than a liability.

Paul Rosenzweig linked us to an article on the New York Police Department’s integration of data analytics into its operations, musing that “This is what Big Data looks like in real world.”

Cody showed us the video of Secretary of Defense nominee Ash Carter’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. One question raised in the hearing was if the United States should arm Ukraine. Several of our Brookings colleagues have been debating that point, and Cody posted a play-by-play of their debate.

After Chris Soghoian erroneously tweeted that ex-NSA director Keith Alexander left his laptop unattended on a train, Ben tried to bring some clarity to the Twitter storm, and later shared his exchange with Chris.

Shibley Telhami and Katayoun Kishi penned this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, which looks at how to reconcile the odd collection of views that Americans hold on the Middle East.

In the newest installment of "Bits and Bytes," Paul updated us on several developments in the cyberworld.

Sean Mirski linked to his recent article at The National Interest on how the South China Sea dispute has significantly changed recently.

Jack argued that, if Congress really wants to use an AUMF to assert its constitutional role in the prosecution of the conflict with ISIS, it must include a sunset provision.

After it was revealed that the CIA worked with Israel’s Mossad to a senior member of Hezbollah in 2008, Jack sketched out how the U.S. government might have legally justified the assassination.

Herb Lin detailed a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission on the cybersecurity of the Internet of Things, and noted how the need for cybersecurity and the need for innovation can conflict with one another.

Cody posted the Lawfare Podcast (Episode #108), which featured a speech by the former director of both the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden, on the NSA and intelligence in a more transparent age.

Ben shared the latest episode of the Rational Security podcast (Episode #5), in which Ben, Shane Harris, and Tamara Cofman Wittes discuss, among other things, how ISIS’s execution of a Jordanian pilot changes the campaign to destroy the group.

In this week’s Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast (Episode #52), Stewart Baker brought on Rebecca Richards, NSA’s director of privacy and civil liberties.

And that was the week that was.