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Tag Archive: Iraq

The Troubling Application of the Political Question Doctrine to Congressional Force Authorizations

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 21 dismissed the suit brought by U.S. Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith challenging the legality of the military campaign against ISIS under Operation Inherent Resolve. The opinion by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejecting the suit on political question grounds is troubling.…   continue »

Integrating Iraqi Fighting Forces Is Not Enough to Curb Abuse

Human Rights Watch saw Shia armed forces allied with the Iraqi government commit horrific abuses against the Sunni civilian population during the operation to retake Fallujah back in May. We didn’t want it to happen again in Mosul.

As a result, Human Rights Watch pressed the Iraqi government to keep the abusive units within the Popular Mobilization Forces, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, out of the Mosul operation.…   continue »

Five (Overlooked) Decision Points for the Trump Administration in National Security

What are the decision points that the President-elect’s transition team and incoming administration will likely face over the horizon in the national security arena? News media and commentators have highlighted issues that now dominate headlines including: relations with Russia, Israeli settlements, the Iran nuclear deal, torture, Syria and ISIL strategy, North Korea’s nuclear program, and freedom of the press.…   continue »

State Responsibility for Assisting Armed Groups: A Legal Risk Analysis

Last month, the US State Department’s Legal Adviser Brian Egan highlighted one of the most significant legal issues on the horizon: US and coalition forces’ handling of large numbers of ISIL detainees as ISIL-controlled areas are liberated in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere (See Kate Brannen’s Just Security post, “Beyond Gitmo: What is the US Going to Do About the Coming Wave of ISIL Detainees?”).…   continue »

US-led Coalition Needs to Improve ‘Opaque, Ad Hoc’ Process for Reporting Civilian Casualties, New Report Says


President Barack Obama’s July 2016 Executive Order on Civilian Casualties has improved U.S. monitoring and reporting of civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes, but far more transparency is needed, according to a new report from Airwars.

The US-led coalition’s civilian casualty assessment process remains “opaque, ad hoc, and significantly biased towards internal military reporting,” the report says.  continue »

Memo to President Obama: You Have Another Memo to Withdraw

The election of Donald Trump has triggered an anxious conversation about how President Obama can entrench some of his accomplishments before January 21, 2017.  Importantly, given the Trump campaign’s embrace of waterboarding and “worse”, President Obama would do well to ensure that he has fully dismantled the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation system.…   continue »

Beyond Gitmo: What is the US Going to Do About the Coming Wave of ISIL Detainees?


With the Mosul battle raging and the Raqqa offensive possibly weeks away, U.S. policymakers and government attorneys will be facing a familiar kind of problem: What is going to be done with the inevitable ISIL fighters captured in the battle?

The answer to that question is not going to be easy, as evidenced by the ongoing legal and policy debates surrounding the U.S.…   continue »