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War of the Worst Case Scenarios

A few nightmare scenarios haunt the dreams of civil libertarians—scenes drawn from our long and ignominious history of intelligence abuses.   One—call it the Nixon scenario—is that the machinery of the security state will fall into the hands of an autocratic executive, disdainful of the rule of law, who equates “national security” with the security of his own grip on political authority, who is all too willing to turn powers meant to protect us from foreign adversaries against his domestic political opponents, and who lacks any qualms about quashing inquiries into his own illegal conduct or that of his allies.  Another—call it the Hoover scenario—is that the intelligence agencies anxious to protect their own powers and prerogatives will themselves slip the leash, using their command of embarrassing secrets to intimidate (and in extreme cases perhaps even select) their own nominal masters.  As the American surveillance state has ballooned over the past 15 years, we’ve often invoked those scenarios to argue out that the slippery slope from a reasonable-sounding security measure a tool of anti-democratic repression is disquietingly short and well-oiled. You may trust that some new authority will only be used to monitor terrorists today, but under a more authoritarian administration, might it be used to suppress dissent—as when civil rights and anti-war activists became the targets of the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO?  You may be reassured by all the rigid rules and layers of oversight designed to keep the Intelligence Community accountable, but will those mechanisms function if the intelligence agencies decide to use their broad powers to cow their own overseers?

We are now, it seems, watching both scenarios play out simultaneously.  Perhaps surprisingly, however, they’re playing out in opposition to each other—for the moment. Whatever the outcome of that conflict, it seems unlikely to bode well for American liberal democracy.

On the one hand we have Donald Trump, whose thin-skinned vindictiveness and contempt for judicial checks on his whims are on daily display, and who during his presidential campaign revealed a disturbing instinct for lashing out at political opponents with threats to disclose embarassing personal information. (Recall his tweets promising to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz, wife of primary opponent Ted, or his warning that the Ricketts family, which funded ads opposing him, had “better be careful” because they “have a lot to hide”.) As a private citizen, Trump treated the legal system as a tool to harass people who wrote unflattering things about him; as a candidate, he thought nothing of offhandedly suggesting he could use the power of the Justice Department to jail his opponent. Even before taking the Oval Office, then, Trump had provided civil libertarians and intelligence community insiders with a rare point of consensus: Both feared that with control of both the intelligence agencies and the institutional checks on those agencies within the executive branch, Trump would fuse a disposition to abuse power with an institutionally unique ability to get away with it.  On the flip side, Trump’s dismissive attitude toward the intelligence consensus that Russia had intervened to aid him in the election; his frankly bizarre, fawning posture toward Russia’s strongman leader; and his insistence on defying decades of political norms to shield his finances from public scrutiny signaled that inquiries into illicit conduct by himself or his allies and associates would be likely to wither on the vine once Trump loyalists had been installed at the heads of law enforcement agencies. As Nixon scenarios go, to steal a turn of phrase from my colleague Gene Healy, Trump is a civil libertarian’s grimmest thought experiment come to life.

And yet.

For all that, it’s difficult not to be a bit uneasy about the way the way the national security establishment, or factions with in it, appear to be pushing back—at least, assuming the leaks that have dominated headlines in recent weeks are originating within the IC. We have witnessed the torpedoing of the president’s appointed national security adviser—by means of a decision to illegally leak the contents (or, more precisely, sources’ characterizations of the contents) of foreign intelligence intercepts of his phone conversations with the Russian ambassador. That was followed almost immediately by the explosive, albeit vague, news that—contra the administration’s denials—senior Trump associates and campaign aides had regular contact with Russian intelligence officials over the past year, though this time without any description of what those conversations concerned. Continue Reading »

9 Top First Amendment Experts React to White House Press Briefing Ban on CNN, NYT, others

On Friday, the White House barred specific news organizations from attending a press briefing by spokesman Sean Spicer. Among the organizations excluded from the question and answer session were news outlets that President Donald Trump has singled out for criticism—including Buzzfeed, CNN, the New York Times, and Politico. The White House Correspondents’ Association stated that its board is “protesting strongly” against the action.

Many in the media have asked whether the White House actions were unconstitutional. I asked some of the most highly respected First Amendment law experts across the country. Here’s what they said.

Robert Corn-Revere, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP:

Whether or not a White House press briefing is a public forum, the selective exclusion of certain news organizations or reporters as retaliation for unfavorable news coverage or simply because the Administration does not like the “tone” of their coverage raises a significant First Amendment problem.  While there are not a lot of cases in this area – perhaps because most responsible public officials know better than to engage in such tactics – they have held that arbitrary denials of press access are unconstitutional.  Perhaps more to the point, such actions are deeply offensive to American values generally, and to the spirit of the First Amendment specifically. And that is true regardless whether a Republican or Democratic administration does it.

Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland:

All presidents have tangled with the press in one way or another. They frequently have blackballed one or more newsrooms from interviews with the president. But once they start excluding credentialed White House correspondents from briefings based on their journalism, they have entered new and forbidden territory.

Arthur Eisenberg, Legal Director, New York Civil Liberties Union: Continue Reading »

The General Assembly & Accountability for International Crimes

Further to Alex Whiting’s post on Russian objections to the U.N. General Assembly’s formation of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (IIIM), it is worth noting that the General Assembly has played a role in prior accountability efforts since its inception after World War II. Continue Reading »

Correcting the Record—Further Thoughts on the Intelligence Report on Civilian Casualties

In an exchange of posts over the past few weeks about the most recent casualty figures released by the Director of National Intelligence for theaters outside areas of active hostilities, Gabor Rona and Ryan Goodman have explored Rona’s argument that the data in the DNI report cannot be trusted. To recap:

  • In his February 7 post, Rona argues that the DNI report is “not credible” because U.S. casualty statistics reflect (1) the likely overapplication by the U.S. government of the law of armed conflict (and accordingly its rules permitting individuals to be targeted on the basis of “combatant” status) to situations where he believes higher human rights law standards ought to apply, (2) a definition of “combatant” that Rona believes is too broad and (3) a definition of “imminence” that he believes is too loose.
  • Goodman’s rejoinder of February 22 questions one of the core assumptions in Rona’s thesis–i.e., that the United States overstates the scope of the al Qaeda/associated forces/ISIL conflict and therefore is likely mislabelling significant numbers of civilian casualties as combatant deaths. Among other things, Goodman notes that there is widely-acknowledged ongoing armed conflict in Yemen, Somalia, and Libya–all countries where the U.S. has recently stated it has ongoing military operations and that the U.S. government has described as “outside areas of active hostilities” for purposes of the Presidential Policy Guidance.
  • Rona’s reply of February 23 recognizes that there is armed conflict in each of these countries, but argues that the U.S. government has not supplied sufficient evidence to prove that it is party to these conflicts. He also argues that his mistrust of DNI’s data is rooted in the U.S. government’s use of the terms “armed conflict,” “combatant,” and “imminent”–which he suggests are “at odds with the established understanding of those terms under international law.”

While it hardly seems likely that we will close the distance between the two sets of posts with this one, we wanted to weigh in on a few key points of disagreement before the exchange is retired to the digital archive, at least to make sure that they are on the record. A few statements that caught our collective eye in Rona’s last post are as follows:

1. Rona argues that, (w)e don’t know where the Administration considers itself to be at war, and therefore we don’t know if it using the more ‘liberal’ killing rules of the law of war in places and situations that do not, in fact, amount to war.” Assuming that this refers to the Obama Administration, we read the record very differently. Recognizing that there is a great deal of political sensitivity around the question of the geographic scope of the conflict, the Administration chose its words very carefully, but made three essential overlapping points: First, the United States is in an armed conflict–the domestic and international law underpinnings for which are most comprehensively summarized in the December framework report–with al Qaeda and the Taliban, their associated forces, and ISIL. Second, the existence of this conflict does not, in the words of President Obama, give the U.S. government the right to strike “wherever we choose,” given the barriers imposed by state sovereignty under international law, which can be overcome by, among other things, the consent of the territorial sovereign where strikes are to take place. Third, of the six countries identified in U.S. government war powers reporting and the December framework report as places where the United States conducts military operations, the three that the DNI report does not describe as areas of active hostilities (Libya, Somalia, Yemen) have all consented to U.S. operations on their territory. What, then, is so troubling about this picture? The U.S. government has made clear that it is in armed conflict with certain groups that are operating in countries that have consented to the use of U.S. military force, on their territory, to engage those groups. If the criticism is that the U.S. government can be a bit fuzzy about whether it is relying on a law of armed conflict justification or a self-defense/imminence justification when it takes action against those groups, then that may be a conversation worth having, but we’re not sure we see much cause for mistrust in this–since what it effectively means is that the United States might, in theory, occasionally rely on a self-defense/imminence justification instead of a less stringent law of armed conflict/status justification when acting in situations where both are available.

2. Rona argues that “Even in contexts that clearly are war … our government applies an overly broad definition of the term ‘combatant.’” As a threshold matter, we note that it goes too far to suggest that there is as clearly an “established” understanding as Rona posits of what “combatant” means in the context of a non-international armed conflict with an organized armed group like al Qaeda or its associated forces. Beyond a general sense that “combatant” connotes individuals who are not “civilians” and vice versa, there are important areas that still lack consensus. Indeed, from our perspective, one of the major challenges in international law over the past fifteen years has been to try to flesh out a common perspective on these terms, at least among the United States and its like-minded partners, in the absence of a black letter definition. The ICRC’s study on Direct Participation in Hostilities made an important contribution to this discussion but can’t be relied upon as expressing the view of States on this matter. What’s more, the U.S. government’s involvement in efforts to find common ground with some of its closest partners yielded a range of views. While there is still work to be done in narrowing that range and in identifying the areas of overlapping agreement, the U.S. government has offered, in a number of places, the contours of its definition–including in Brian Egan’s speech to the American Society of International Law and the December framework report. The Department of Defense has also included its views on the subject in its Law of War Manual. We do not doubt that Rona may take issue with some of the elements laid out in these sources, which is perfectly fair, but we do think it important that any conversation about the merits of the U.S. government’s approach to combatancy look at these sources, and also acknowledge where there is a lack of consensus about the metes and bounds of related terminology under international law. Continue Reading »

The Early Edition: February 27, 2017

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

The Trump administration is considering withdrawing the US from the UN Human Rights Council, accused of being biased against Israel, Nahal Toosi and Eliana Johnson reported over the weekend at POLITICO.

China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi is likely to tell the Trump administration that it’s time to talk with North Korea when he arrives in the US to meet with US officials today, Katie Hunt anticipates at CNN.

The first senior Chinese official to visit the US, Jiechi is scheduled to “exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concern” in meetings with US officials today and tomorrow, the AP reports.

The US needs to stop getting pushed around by China, former US ambassador to China Max Baucus said last week in an interview with Simon Denyer at the Washington Post, accusing President Trump of blundering around without even a basic understanding of the country.

The US wants to resume a major military exercise with Egypt canceled by President Obama in 2013 following the killings of hundreds of civilian protesters, the head of the US Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel told Egyptian media yesterday, Michael R. Gordon and Declan Walsh reporting at the New York Times.

President Trump will make the case for spending more on defense and homeland security, controlling immigration and other aspects of his agenda in his first address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night, Ron Elving reports at NPR.

Sharp increases in Defense Department spending will be part of the budget for the coming fiscal year according to senior administration officials, Glenn Thrush, Kate Kelly and Maggie Haberman reporting at the New York Times.

Trump’s choice for Navy secretary Philip Bilden withdrew his name from consideration in a decision  “driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced yesterday, Missy Ryan reporting at the Washington Post.

US security officials have yet to be authorized to vet refugees held on Pacific islands for potential resettlement in the US after Trump reluctantly agreed to uphold an Obama administration deal with Australia, an Australian official said today. Rod McGuirk reports at the AP.

French President François Hollande reproached President Trump for his remarks that Europe’s open borders had led to the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere, Alissa J. Rubin reports at the New York Times.

The issue of whether to put more resources toward America’s longest war, Afghanistan, pits President Trump’s commitment to end nation-building against his promise to combat terrorism in a conflict where US strategy is lacking, Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post.

Mattis is balancing the need to control President Trump’s more extreme impulses with the need to retain White House favor and avoid distancing himself too much in his first major pitch to Trump: options for accelerating the fight against the Islamic State, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt write at the New York Times.

Trump’s “emotionally charged rollout” of immigration enforcement policies – envisioning thousands of new agents, enlisting local police as immigration officers, making almost anyone in the US without papers a priority for deportation, bypassing immigration courts, and building a big wall – is part of a long history of “deportation scare tactics” at the US-Mexico border, writes Cora Currier at The Intercept.

US allies in Europe are resigning themselves to the fact that the Trump administration will remain unpredictable and often incoherent, if not hostile, in its foreign policy, and are starting to come up with contingency plans for a world in which “strong American leadership” is no longer assured, write Dan De Luce and John Hudson at Foreign Policy.

“We don’t know this guy.” A man described by Fox News as a Swedish defense and national security adviser who was brought in to verify President Trump’s claim that immigrants are wreaking havoc in Sweden has no ties to Sweden’s security establishment, has a criminal record in the US, and may not even be called Nils Bildt as claimed by Fox News, Swedish officials and court records reveal. Liam Stack and Christina Anderson report at the New York Times.

The TRUMP CABINET’S RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA

“The FBI has already said this story is BS.” Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a clumsy attempt to control public perceptions of the scandal over alleged contacts between aides to President Trump and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election by claiming falsely that the FBI had dismissed reports of such links, Tom McCarthy reports at the Guardian. Continue Reading »

Will the World be Silent in Face of the Rohingya Calamity?–The time has come for a UN Commission of Inquiry

 

In so many ways, Myanmar, also called Burma, has embarked on a strikingly successful political journey, aided in part by the international community with leadership from many States. Less than a decade ago, it was among the most autocratic nations in the world, arguably surpassed by only North Korea and perhaps Eritrea. But with sustained international pressure including through crushing sanctions and an intense global spotlight on the military junta’s brutal totalitarianism, Myanmar’s rulers began a slow political thaw as well as gradual liberalization of freedom of expression, association and assembly, along with slow and less than complete toleration of dissent.

Following visits from Heads of State from the United Kingdom, the United States and ASEAN nations, Myanmar’s political journey culminated in election last year of the National League of Democracy party and its leader, Nobel Laureate and pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. Daw Suu Kyi had previously won a landslide election in 1990 but was prevented from taking office by the ruling junta. She soon after was placed under house arrest as Myanmar sunk deeper into totalitarian rule.  For the next two decades, Suu Kyi was the very manifestation of courage, dignity and defiance – a heroic figure symbolizing Burma’s struggle for freedom.

Thus, her election and ascendance as the civilian leader of Myanmar – in reality if not name – cannot be underestimated.  While she shares power with the military which maintains considerable authority especially over security related ministries, her election is unquestionably an important milestone. Myanmar’s political evolution is no small thing and worthy of international applause. At the same time, we must remain cognizant that the situation remains fragile and while Myanmar is now on the path to greater liberalization, sustainable development and ultimately peace and stability, it is closer to the beginning of that voyage than the end.

Myanmar and Suu Kyi have taken a serious departure from this otherwise relatively positive story:  They have utterly failed to address the plight of the Muslim minority community in Rakhine State, known as the Rohingya.  The Rohingya are not popular in Burma.  They are seen as outsiders. Many in the Buddhist majority in Myanmar refer to them as Bengalis and refuse to use the term Rohingya as it is viewed as conceding closer links to Burma than many Burmese can accept.  Rohingya are often housed in camps with abysmal conditions; many do not enjoy freedom of movement, nor basic civil and political rights.  Though many have been in Burma for numerous generations, they are not recognized as citizens and thus essentially rendered stateless.  They suffer serious abuse and violence by neighbors and treated to daily humiliations of an extreme nature by Burmese government security forces.  By any measure, their circumstances are dire.

The dismal treatment of the Rohingya began well before Daw Suu Kyi took power.  But many had hoped that once she was in charge as of the Spring of 2016, she would begin to address the serious human rights blight in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya reside. Unfortunately, what has become increasingly clear over the ensuing months, is that while Daw Suu Kyi was perfectly comfortable reaping benefits as a human rights icon for her own pro-democracy struggle, she is not prepared to display the political courage necessary to take a stand for an unpopular Muslim minority group and prevent the grave and systematic denial of their human rights.

Since October, the situation has gone from bad to worse, as indicated by numerous independent reports by various human rights groups and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Myanmar.  Just last week, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein issued a rare “flash report” on the continuing human rights crisis in Rakhine.  He summed up what his investigators found, namely, that Burmese security forces have demonstrated “[d]evastating cruelty against Rohingya children, women and men” including “[m]ass gang-rape, killings – including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations.”

The High Commissioner’s report is not conjecture.  His investigators have interviewed victims and rigorously corroborated testimony from those who have escaped the horror by fleeing to refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh.  The High Commissioner states that “the vast majority [of victims] reported witnessing killings, and almost half reported having a family member who was killed.”  Of the women victims interviewed, more than half reported rape or other sexual violence. There are reports of babies butchered to death with knives.  In one heartbreaking testimony, a mother recounted how her five-year-old daughter was trying to protect her from rape when a man “took out a long knife and killed her by slitting her throat.” In another case, an eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five Burmese government security officers.

As usual, when oppressive situations turn from serious but survivable to grave and intolerable, people vote with their feet.  Despite the many perils of the journey and the general rejection Rohingya experience once they reach Bangladesh, the UN conservatively estimates that more than 65,000 Rohingya have fled since October 9, 2016. Their departure is the canary in the coalmine.  It indicates that the atmosphere in Rakhine has become unbearably poisonous and lethal.

Not surprisingly, the High Commissioner has concluded that “[t]he gravity and scale of these allegations begs for robust reaction of the international community” and has asked for increased scrutiny of the human rights situation in Myanmar.  Thus far, though, the United States and some of its key allies have not publicly supported more attention on Myanmar. In fact, there is some legitimate fear among human rights NGOs that the new U.S. administration will seek to diminish attention precisely when the situation calls for greater scrutiny.

Ignoring the plight of the Rohingya would be a grave mistake and would betray everything for which the United States stands.  Soon, we will have a test as to whether the United States and our allies will stand by our values and support greater examination of the human rights situation in Myanmar. On Monday, the 34th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council will have commenced.  For many years, the Council has appropriately adopted a resolution each March session with respect to Myanmar.  The resolution has enjoyed strong support from the United States. The Council has renewed the mandate of an independent investigator – called in U.N. speak, a Special Rapporteur, each year.  Myanmar has long sought to eliminate this scrutiny and the Rapporteur, arguing that its overall human rights situation has materially improved. Continue Reading »

Recap of Recent Posts on Just Security (Feb. 19-24)

I. Just Security Event: Modern Surveillance Under the Trump Administration

II. Russian Ties to the Trump Team 

III. The “Muslim Ban” Executive Order

IV. Norms Watch

V. Trump Administration Appointments

VI.  Whistleblowing in the Federal Government

VII. DNI Report on Civilian Casualties

VIII. CIA Extraordinary Rendition

IX. Syria Accountability in the United Nations 

X. Counterterrorism Strategy in the Trump Adminstration

XI.  The Law of War

XII. The Role of International Law in National Security 

A Look at the Case of the ex-CIA Officer Being Extradited to Italy for Her Role in a 2003 Rendition

A Gulfstream IV business jet similar to the one suspected of transporting Abu Omar during his rendition. (Eugene Butler/Wikimedia Commons)

[This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italy’s involvement in the rendition violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.]

News outlets are reporting that Portugal will surrender ex-CIA officer Sabrina De Sousa—a dual U.S.-Portuguese citizen—to Italy in connection with the extraordinary rendition and mistreatment of an Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar.  The move reflects the fact that De Sousa has exhausted her final appeal in Portuguese courts. The subject of a European Arrest Warrant (more on this below), De Sousa will be the first U.S. government agent to face jail time abroad (a potential four-year sentence) for President George W. Bush’s extraordinary rendition program. The Italian criminal proceedings join other legal efforts before the European Court of Human Rights and elsewhere challenging the involvement of European states in the U.S. rendition program (see our coverage here), including yesterday’s judgment that Italy breached Abu Omar and his wife’s rights to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, right to family life, and right to a remedy.

By way of background, the underlying case stems from the 2003 rendition of an Egyptian cleric, Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr (known as “Abu Omar”). Abu Omar was picked up on the street in Milan and flown from one NATO airbase to another and finally onward to Egypt, where he was allegedly interrogated and tortured. De Sousa claims she was supervising her son’s ski trip on the day Abu Omar was captured and that her only involvement in the rendition was as a translator between the “snatch team” and Italian authorities.

In 2007, Italy issued an indictment against more than 25 U.S. implicated personnel, mostly from the CIA, for their involvement in Abu Omar’s kidnapping and transfer to Egypt.  A version of the Italian complaint is available here. In 2009, De Sousa and her co-accused were tried and convicted in absentia   (Some Italian personnel were also prosecuted for their role in this rendition, although these cases were hindered by the application of the Italian state secrets doctrine). She alleges that the CIA barred her from communicating with her court-appointed lawyer in Italy and initially refused to hire a private lawyer on her behalf. As the Italian proceedings were underway, De Sousa unsuccessfully petitioned and sued then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Department of State/CIA for failing to invoke consular immunity (for “official conduct”) on her behalf. (Her complaint—which indicates she was a Foreign Service officer with the Department of State—is here; the court’s opinion is here).  Her FOIA requests for documents about the rendition were rejected (the pleadings are here). The guilty verdict was affirmed by an Italian appeals court in 2012, although a political decision was made not to seek the defendants’ extradition. As I explain here, this is not a universal jurisdiction cases, since the crimes are alleged to have been committed within Italian territory.

De Sousa holds U.S. and Portuguese citizenship and has family in Portugal. Nonetheless, it is unclear why she risked returning to Europe in 2015 knowing that she was subject to an outstanding arrest warrant and judgment; other American officials and personnel associated with President Bush’s program of extraordinary rendition have refrained from visiting Europe out of fear of arrest. Continue Reading »

Norms Watch: Tracking the Erosion of Democratic Traditions (Feb. 17-24)

FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

This week, CNN reported that the White House directly asked the FBI to deny reports of contacts between the Trump team and Russia during the campaign, and without much thought or careful policy consideration, Trump upset relations with one of America’s steadfast allies: Sweden.

The White House asked the FBI to Deny Any Contacts between Trump Campaign and Russia

Officials told CNN on Thursday that the White House directly asked the FBI to go on background with journalists to knock down media reports by CNN and the New York Times about contacts between Russia and the Trump team during the campaign, requesting the agency deny the reports and say there had been no communications.  The direct communication from the White House, occurring one day after the stories broke on Feb. 14, was “unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts,” writes CNN. The White House’s request violates Justice Department procedure memos issued in 2007 and 2009 which limit direct communications between the FBI and the White House on pending investigations.

Sources said FBI Director James Comey rejected the White House request because the contacts were the subject of a pending investigation. The FBI declined to comment on CNN’s story, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer rejected the story’s characterization of the account, saying, “We didn’t try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.”

On Friday morning, Trump himself went on the offense against the allegations using what’s becoming one of his signature defensive moves, taking to Twitter to blame the entire affair on leaks from within the FBI.

Trump Boasts of Immigration Raids as a “Military Operations”

Speaking on Thursday to a group of manufacturing executives, Trump said that his new immigration plan enforcing more aggressive deportation policies was “a military operation” that was “getting really bad dudes out of this country.” The use of military force to apprehend people living legally in the country “would be highly unusual — and possibly a violation of U.S. law,” writes The Hill Continue Reading »

Whistleblower Reinstated in Job in Test Case for NSA and Intelligence Community  

In a case that has been closely followed as a test for new whistleblower protections put in place by President Obama, it can now be reported that the whistleblower received restitution for his complaint, according to information provided to Just Security by a government official familiar with the case.

The whistleblower, who requested anonymity in communicating with Just Security, said that he suffered a reprisal for reporting a “lack of action in investigating possible misconduct by Senior NSA Officials with respect to a funding of a conference in Nashville, Tennessee.” The whistleblower, an Intelligence Community employee, was denied an assignment within the National Security Agency’s Inspector General’s Office of Investigations.

Thanks to a set of procedures put in place by the Presidential Directive in 2012 the whistleblower was able to file an allegation of reprisal. His complaint was initially rejected by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General. It then became the first case to be reviewed by another mechanism put in place by the Presidential Directive—an External Review Panel composed of three inspector generals, including CIA, the Justice Department, and Treasury. Continue Reading »