The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Raffaela Wakeman
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 11:00 AM

I'm emerging temporarily from my undisclosed location to get you caught up on this week's Lawfare happenings.

Detention-related matters made up most, but hardly all, of the week's writings.  There were posts about the investigation into the Boston bombing suspects, U.S. intervention in Syria, government access to online communications, and the wars on terror and drugs.  We also posted a book review and the latest Lawfare Podcast episode---and rolled out a brand new Lawfare feature to boot.

The New York Times editorialized on the hunger strike in GTMO.  Ben called the newspaper out (again) for its outrageous characterization of GTMO as a "political prison." President Obama addressed the situation there in a press conference Tuesday---watch his remarks here, read them (and Ben's expression of bewilderment at them) here.  And check out Jack's response here, too.

For a fleeting moment, Ben and Glenn Greenwald had a meeting of the minds over the president's comments about closing Guantanamo---despite their differing views on indefinite detention as a policy.  Meanwhile, hunger striking detainee Obaydullah's March declaration was made available in redacted form. The declaration outlines reasons for the strike, the facility's response, and the detainee's health status.

Other interesting GTMO developments: the D.C. Circuit issued an order in United States v. Al-Bahlul, after defense counsel inquired about the scope of the court's coming en banc review. Steve shared the ruling, which limited further briefing to only certain narrow, court-specified issues (and thus seemed to preclude further briefing on other issues).  Steve called the order "hogwash" and speculated that it nevertheless might support Ben's and Wells's theory---that the government might wind up regretting its decision to seek en banc  rehearing in the first place.

Slate had a big scoop this week: the memoir of one Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Guantanamo detainee. But as Ben explained, when it shared excerpts, Slate would have done well to provide some important context about Slahi.

Questions linger about detention in places far beyond Guantanamo. Bobby repeated his inquiry regarding the status of suspected  terrorists captured in Mali. Seriously, somebody has to know, particularly now that the U.S. officially has boots on the ground, as Bobby pointed out.

Steve made the case for the Supreme Court's granting cert in United States v. Ali. The case concerns court-martial jurisdiction over civilian contractors.

On to the aftermath of the Boston bombing: Ben was confused by Congressman Mike Rogers' comments about Mirandizing the Boston bombing suspect. Carrie Cordero, former national security official and now director of Georgetown Law's National Security Studies program, offered her own set of "hard national security" questions to ask in the wake of the attack.

Ashley filed this piece last Friday night, and explored legal rationales the United States might rely upon, in using force in Syria.  Then she followed up to discuss the the U.N. Charter's implications for providing weapons to the Assad regime's opponents.

Also in the world of international law: Paul ruminated over the possibility of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Paul also reacted to a Washington Post story about a proposal to require online communications platforms to provide the government access to their users' communiques. Susan Landau wrote in with her own thoughts about the proposal; hers were not as optimistic as Paul's.

Bobby pointed to this Washington Post story about the role of the U.S. intelligence community in Mexico's counternarcotics operations.

Ben and Ken got to get all dressed up in tuxedos, and participated in an Oxford Union debate on the use of drones in targeted killing. Ben reflected on the experience, and shared the video of the debate as well. John likewise participated in a drone-centric panel, at the Bipartisan Policy Center---get the video from that event here.

Jack noted the latest review of his book, Power and Constraint, by Georgetown Law professor Neal Katyal.  Jack also shared a review of his own---of New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife.

Be sure to listen to our latest Podcast.  You'll hear Brookings scholar Bruce Riedel in discussion with Phillip Mudd, a longtime counterterrorism official and author of Takedown: Inside the Hunt for al Qaeda.

We've got a new, regular feature, courtesy of Paul!  He'll be discussing new technologies and the legal and policy questions that they pose. Here's the first installment.

And that was the week that was. I'm heading back to my undisclosed location.  As always, we continue to solicit readers’ views about this experimental feature.  Please drop me a line and let me know yours.