FROM Stephen Vladeck
Suing Saudi Arabia: What could go wrong? Fifteen years after the attacks of September 11, the families of victims still want authorization to sue Saudi Arabia -- even though there's no "smoking gun." In this election year, they got what they wanted when bipartisan majorities of Congress yesterday overrode a veto by President Obama. But almost before the voting was over, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan was among those openly voicing second thoughts. Was the President right after all, warning of unintended consequences for Americans overseas? Can the new law be changed — once the election is over?
The Supreme Court’s Diversity Problem People have often complained that the country’s Supreme Court isn’t diverse enough: not enough women and not enough minorities. Still, it has improved. There are three women on the court now, one of them Hispanic. And there’s one African-American justice. Yet, while the court isn’t all white men anymore, there are other kinds of diversity that aren’t as obvious as skin color. For example, all the current justices went to Harvard or Yale law schools, and all but one were judges before being appointed. Is this a problem?
The "Known Wolves" of International Terror "Media is more than half the battle." That's the motto of the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism . It's taken from a remark by an enemy leader, Al Qaeda's current commander, and it's demonstrated by the highly sophisticated recruiting videos produced by the so-called Islamic State. But it works both ways. Law enforcement at all levels is able to monitor social media — and to identify what are called "known wolves." By monitoring social media, investigators around the world have discovered hundreds of thousands of want-to-be terrorists. Does that mean atrocities can be prevented? Last week, two men were arrested with plans to board planes just because they wanted to join ISIS. How was it legal to intervene before they'd done anything wrong? Should the civil rights of suspects be suspended for the human rights of potential victims? Counter-terrorism officials call that the latest challenge with half the war now being fought on the battlefield of the media.
New Court Decision Calls NSA Surveillance Legal A federal court in New York ruled today that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records is constitutional just a few weeks after a Washington District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the NSA program violates the constitutional ban on unreasonable search. District Court Judge William Pauley argues today that the program "represents the government's counter-punch" to take out al-Qaeda's terror network by connecting the dots in fleeting, random communications. Stephen Vladeck is a professor of law at American University.
What's Next for the Beleaguered NSA Surveillance Program A federal judge came down hard yesterday on the National Security Agency's collection of billions of Americans' telephone records, calling it a likely violation of the Constitution. But Judge Richard Leon stayed his own injunction against the NSA , setting off what's likely to be a long debate about the law and national security. That's the specialty of Professor Stephen Vladeck at American University Law School.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.