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News Roundup and Notes: November 30, 2015

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.


Warplanes, believed to be Russian, conducted airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian town of Ariha yesterday, killing at least 30 people, according to rescue workers in the area, which is not a stronghold of the Islamic State.…   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may push authorities into a tactical shift toward the controversial use of “zero-day” exploits that target previously unpublished software flaws.…   continue »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 »

Drone Disclosures, Official and Not

As readers of this blog already know, last week The Intercept published a series of fascinating stories about the US drone campaign. The stories, and the official documents that accompany them, supply new details about the way the government chooses its targets, the way drone strikes are authorized, the way the government assesses civilian casualties, and the way the government judges the success or failure of individual strikes.…   continue »

The False Choice of Opposing Torture or Endless War: A Response to Samuel Moyn

In a thoughtful guest post Samuel Moyn has continued and deepened a debate we began in the pages of the current issue of Dissent on the relative merits of opposing war itself and opposing immoral and illegal forms of warfare. Moyn wonders whether human rights and civil liberties lawyers have contributed to “endless war” by “cleansing” the war on terror of its excesses — in particular, the torture, disappearances, extraordinary renditions, and indefinite secret detention without hearings deployed by the George W.…   continue »

Was the Kunduz Strike a War Crime?

As reports poured in over the weekend that the United States bombed a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients and injuring 37 more, numerous commentators said that the strike was or could be a war crime or grave violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) (the laws of war).…   continue »