The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Raffaela Wakeman
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 12:00 PM

Lawfare debate ensued over an amicus brief filed in the Al-Bahlul D.C. Circuit appeal. Catch up on all the action this weekend: Steve's critique of the brief, which was authored, among others, by law professor Peter Margulies; Peter's responseSteve's replyPeter's sur-replySteve's last word; and Peter's (further!) last word.

A cryptographer who recently won the NSA award for best 2012 cybersecurity paper had mixed feelings about the recognition.  Ben noted his remarks on the site.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a major hearing about the NSA surveillance programs, and simultaneously the Director of National Intelligence declassified a FISC order and two reports to Congress about bulk collection under Section 215. General Keith Alexander didn't attend that hearing, because he was in Vegas at the Black Hat Conference. And Ben highlighted a PBS Newshour report detailing former NSA officials allegations that the Agency engaged in large-scale domestic collection of communications content.

Paul, meanwhile, noted a Wall Street Journal op-ed authored by Timothy Edgar, a former civil liberties and intelligence attorney.  Edgar defends NSA surveillance programs while calling for transparency.

Journalist James Risen petitioned for a rehearing en banc in the Fourth Circuit, seeking to challenge a three-judge panel's ruling that he must testify in the leak prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.

Two Guantanamo-related cases set dates for oral argument: Al Janko v. Gates et. al,, a damages action against government officials in their individual capacities, will be heard on on October 22nd; the GTMO hunger forced-feeding appeal will be heard on October 18th.  (In the latter case, the court of appeals refused to impose an emergency injunction against forced-feeding pending appeal).

John commented on the Obama administration's recent announcement that it plans to transfer two Algerian detainees to their native land.

Matt reflected on the implications of closing Guantanamo for a future president.

Amidst a flurry of activity this week before its August recess, the Senate confirmed James B. Comey as FBI Director. Senator Rand Paul lifted a hold on Comey's consideration, after he received more details about the Bureau's use of drones in domestic airspace.  (The Senator ultimately cast the lone "no" vote on the nomination.)

Ben shared the transcript of a rather uncomfortable State Department briefing, where the spokeswoman for the Department explained that, although the U.S. is obligated to cut off aid to Egypt as a result of the coup in that country, the U.S. is nevertheless not obligated to determine whether there has, in fact, been a coup.

Jack highlights what appears to be conflicting statements by the U.S. government, first on the strength of Al Qaeda, and secondly on the NSA's ability to audit its people's actions.

In the Northern District of Alabama, a court applied the Kiobel court's presumption against extraterritoriality when it dismissed a suit brought under the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act.  John commented on the District Court's opinion.

Those who missed the launch of Ben and Dan Byman's report "Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S. Citizen Terrorist Suspects Abroad" can listen to the audio from their event at Brookings in our latest podcast episode. And by the way, we request that if you have opinions about our podcast, you express them over at iTunes.

Jack shared what appears to be a fascinating collection of historical legal opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel.  Paul was a bit surprised by one particular opinion released, about the president's authority to blockade Cuba.

Wondering what local governments are contemplating with respect to drones? Read about the city of Deer Trail, Colorado.  A pending bill there would create drone hunting licenses---to hunt the drones, not to use the drones for hunting---and even provide for drone bounties. The town is voting next week. Democracy in action.

A Pew survey, by the by, unsurprisingly found women more opposed to the use of drones than men.

Ritika noted the mixed Bradley Manning verdict.  He was acquitted of aiding the enemy, but found guilty of a host of other charges in his court martial. Cully Stimson, meanwhile, offered a quick primer on military justice rules, and their significance for Manning's case.

Apropos of the verdict, Ben shared the trailer of the Wikileaks movie, called "We Steal Secrets:"

Ben also posted another movie trailer, this one regarding "Terms and Conditions May Apply:"

All you law students reading Lawfare and getting ready for the fall semester, this one's for you: use our Amazon widget to search for and buy your textbooks online!

Ben made ringingly clear that there's no connection whatsoever beteween Lawfare from the Lawfare Project.  His post drew humor-infused support from Glenn Greenwald, Kevin Jon Heller, and Jameel Jaffer.

We've been dealing with some hosting service problems; thank you for your patience!

Lastly, your Lawfare reader statistics: we had over 40 visits from Iran and over 200 from Russia in the past month.

And that was the week that was.