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News Roundup and Notes: February 9, 2016

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.


Fight for Aleppo. Shi’ite fighters, including forces led by Iran and Hezbollah, are pushing toward Aleppo, giving the Syrian government offensive the “greatest momentum” seen in years.…   continue »

Why Aren’t Criminal Defendants Getting Notice of Section 702 Surveillance — Again?

Since the Snowden disclosures began, the government’s massive surveillance operations under Section 702 of FISA have increasingly drawn public scrutiny. Section 702 is the authority the government uses to conduct both PRISM and Upstream surveillance — programs that allow the government to warrantlessly search the emails and web-browsing activities of Americans communicating with individuals or websites abroad.…   continue »

A Legal Map of Airstrikes in Syria (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a two-part series discussing the legal justifications various countries have put forth related to airstrikes in Syria. You can find the first part here.

With nearly a dozen States carrying out airstrikes in Syria against ISIL, my previous post set out the various legal reasons many of those States have used to justify their attacks.…   continue »

History, Hysteria, and Syrian Refugees

A week after the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, American political hysteria is on full display. On Thursday, the House voted to tighten screening procedures on Syrian refugees; never mind that the extraordinarily rigorous background checks already in place make it more difficult to come to the United States as a refugee than through any other immigration status.…   continue »

Is the FBI Using Zero-Days in Criminal Investigations?

We have known for a while now that the FBI uses hacking techniques to conduct remote computer searches in criminal investigations — particularly those that involve the dark web. But the addition of auto-update functionality to the Tor Browser, the world’s most popular anonymity tool, may push authorities into a tactical shift toward the controversial use of “zero-day” exploits that target previously unpublished software flaws.…   continue »

A False Choice on Guantánamo Closure

This post is the latest installment of our “Monday Reflections” feature, in which a different Just Security editor examines the big stories from the previous week or looks ahead to key developments on the horizon.

The President’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) veto last week signaled the start of the Obama administration’s final push to close Guantánamo.…   continue »

Section 215 and “Fruitless” (?!?) Constitutional Adjudication

This morning, the Second Circuit issued a follow-on ruling to its May decision in ACLU v. Clapper (which had held that the NSA’s bulk telephone records program was unlawful insofar as it had not properly been authorized by Congress). In a nutshell, today’s ruling rejects the ACLU’s request for an injunction against the continued operation of the program for the duration of the 180-day transitional period (which ends on November 29) from the old program to the quite different collection regime authorized by the USA Freedom Act.…   continue »