Derek Reinbold  //  4/16/17  //  Topic Update


President Trump has officially notified Congress of U.S. military action against Syria (Politico).

  • Here is the President’s letter to Congress.
  • President Trump must reveal his reasoning and the Administrations’ legal justifications for the Syria strikes, writes Joshua Matz at Take Care.
  • Marty Lederman considers the Trump Administration’s legal reasoning for the strikes based on apparent Administration guidance at Take Care.
  • United to Protect Democracy filed a FOIA request to obtain President Trump’s legal justification for the strike.
  • Jennifer Daskal calls for the Trump Administration to release its full legal rationale for the strikes (Just Security).
  • John B. Bellinger, III reacts to the President’s report sent to Congress following the strike at (Lawfare).
  • Ryan Goodman recounts the views of top legal experts at (Just Security).
  • John B. Bellinger, III considers possible legal bases for the Syrian strike (Lawfare).
  • Andrew J. Bacevich argues that the strikes are a considerable encroachment on congressional war powers (Boston Globe).
  • Steven D. Schwinn concludes that congressional authorization isn’t needed for a strike against ISIS (Constitutional Law Prof Blog).
  • Large-scale military intervention against Syria will require congressional authorization, argues Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy.
  • Charlie Savage outlines significant international and domestic legal issues raised by President Trump’s military strike against Syria (NYT).
  • Harold Koh argues that the strike was not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution or the U.N. Charter (Just Security).
  • Marty Lederman disagrees, arguing that the strikes was not permitted as humanitarian intervention under the U.N. Charter.
  • Jens David Ohlin agrees with Koh, arguing the strike was permissible under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter (Opinio Juris).
  • Marko Milanovic concludes the strike was “clearly illegal” (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Hina Shamsi condemns the strikes as an illegal response to horrific atrocities (ACLU).
  • Michael J. Adams questions whether the Trump Administration justifies the strike on legal or moral grounds (Lawfare).
  • Jack Goldsmith examines the strike through the lens Office of Legal Counsel precedents (Lawfare).
  • Responding to Goldsmith, Andrew Kent argues that consensus has emerged regarding the interplay between presidential and congressional war powers (Lawfare).
  • Deborah Pearlstein questions whether the relevant international law principles in 2017 differ from those in 2013 (Opinio Juris).
  • Similarly, Julian Ku compares current arguments to those advanced in 2012–2013 (Opinio Juris).
  • Conor Friedersdorf argues that the strikes were “unconstitutional and unwise” (The Atlantic).
  • Edward Swaine breaks down the debate on international versus domestic law grounds (Opinio Juris).
  • Julian Ku notes a lack of criticism of the strike by other states (Opinio Juris), and comments specifically on China’s refusal to condemn the strike (Lawfare).
  • Michael Schmitt and Chris Ford discuss whether humanitarian intervention is an emerging norm (Just Security).
  • Monica Hakimi analyzes initial implications in the context of jus ad bellum (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Ashley Deeks compares the Syria strikes to the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo.
  • Marko Milanovic writes that the strikes maybe be illegal but legitimate (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Congress needs to act now to prevent forfeiting its roll as a constitutional check on the President’s war powers forever, argues Peter M. Shane at Take Care
  • At EJIL: Talk! Anthea Roberts warns that the U.S.’s failure to legally justify its actions in Syria will incentivize China and Russia to ignore international law. 
  • At Opinio Juris, Jens David Ohlin elaborates on his previous post on the right to self-defense and humanitarian intervention.
  • The Trump Administration’s military action against Syria last week was markedly different from President Obama’s plans in 2013, explains Ryan Goodman (Just Security).  
  • Ilya Somin examines partisan bias in the reaction to President Trump’s Syria strike (Volokh Conspiracy).
  • Jens David Ohlin posits that arguments against humanitarian intervention, such as the U.S. strike in Syria, tend to ignore principles beyond reducing international armed conflict (Opinio Juris).
  • Congressional silence and mixed signals on the intervention in Syria is an abdication of constitutional responsibility to weigh in, thereby contributing to meaningful limits on presidential power, argues Chris Edelson (ACSblog).
  • The Trump Administration risks making a bad situation in Syria even worse if it fails to develop a strong long-term plan, notes Ammar Abdulhamid (Lawfare).

Russia vetoed a UN resolution, drafted by the US, the UK, and France, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria last week and urging that Bashar al-Assad comply with international investigators (ReutersCNN).

The alleged use of sarin in Syria provoked a different response from Trump than other chemical weapons, notes Dan Lamothe (WaPo).

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the U.S. would punish those “who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.” (NYT)

There should be protocol or standardized expectation governing the executive’s disclosure of legal posture and process relating to military actions, urges Bob Bauer at Lawfare.

International law has failed to clearly address humanitarian intervention in Syria, argues Rebecca Ingber (Just Security).

  • Proposals to erode the U.N. Charter system fail to consider that the international legal system is likely incapable of making nuanced use-of-force distinctions, writes Ingrid Wuerth at Lawfare.

Sean Spicer's deplorable remarks about the Holocaust must be seen in the context of Trump Administration policies on Syria and immigration, explain Joshua Matz and Leah Litman on Take Care.

Trump Administration policies that make some communities less safe in the name of “national security” invite us to rethink the concept and scope of “national security” issues, argues Shirin Sinnar (ACSblog).

A group calling itself the Shadow Brokers dumped a cache of stolen NSA hacking tools on Saturday, a leak Grayson Clary finds rather underwhelming (Lawfare).

Deputy National Security Adviser Kathleen McFarland has stepped down, reportedly in order to become the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (WSJNYTBoston Globe).


Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump's Guantánamo "policy" is best understood as an extension of his anti-Muslim bigotry, wrote Nimra Azmi and Sirine Shebaya at Take Care. The terrorist watchlist statistics from last week's DOJ and DHS exaggerate the threat of terrorism, argued Harsha Panduranga at Just Security. The Pentagon's new National Defense Strategy contains notable omissions related to climate change and the use of special operations forces.

Updates | The Week of January 15, 2018

1/14/18  //  Daily Update

In a series of tweets, President Trump wavers between opposition and support of FISA reauthorization. On the 16th anniversary of the prison’s founding, Guantanamo Bay prisoners file mass habeas petition.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of December 18, 2017

12/24/17  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration unveiled its new National Security Strategy. A majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted to rebuke America's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the U.S. Embassy.