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.
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."
East Asia: President Trump's first foreign policy test Starting with North Korea's latest test of nuclear missiles, a chain of events is causing instability in Asia. Could it turn into the first real foreign policy crisis of the Trump Administration?
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.