Derek Reinbold  //  4/9/17  //  Topic Update


In response to Tuesday’s deadly chemical weapon attack widely attributed to Bashar al-Assad’s government, President Trump ordered a military strike on a Syrian air base (NYT).

  • John Bellinger examines the legal basis for the strike (Lawfare).
  • At Just Security, Ryan Goodman argues that although U.S. military response to the humanitarian situation in Syria without U.N. Security Council approval would violate international law, it would not be unprecedented.
  • The apparent shift in policy exposes the Trump administration’s “volatility,” argue Julian Borger and Spencer Ackerman (The Guardian).

President Trump has issued a revised Presidential Memorandum on the organization of the National Security Council (NSC), notably removing Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon from the NSC principals committee (NYT).

  • The memorandum can be found here.
  • Jordan Brunner summarizes the revisions at Lawfare.
  • Also at Lawfare, John Bellinger highlights the “positive development” that the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell has been added to both the principals committee and the deputies committee.
  • Paul Rosenzweig argues that the revisions structurally subordinate homeland security to national security but that the domains should be separate (Lawfare).
  • Jonathan Stevenson questions whether the NSC reorganization really indicates that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is wielding sufficient control, particularly in the light of the administration’s continually disjointed messaging (NYT).

The Trump administration owes the public more than its so far “infrequent, subdued references” to America’s Afghanistan policy, argues Benjamin Haas (Just Security).

Members of Congress introduced legislation to ban warrantless cellphone searches at the border in response to President Trump’s plans for “extreme vetting” (The InterceptThe HillArs Technica).

Jay Morse outlines a framework for weighing the lives of civilians in armed conflict after a U.S. strike killed scores of civilians in Iraq (Just Security).

The White House violated traditional security protocol when announcing Jared Kushner’s visit to Iraq (WaPo).

Incidental collection of information on citizens is “merely an inherent feature of surveillance,” argues Benjamin Wittes (Lawfare).

President Trump has sent Jared Kushner, who has sometimes acted in “a parallel structure to . . . Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson,” to Iraq (NYT).


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.