Christopher Whitten

About Christopher Whitten

Chris was raised in the small town of Middlebury, Indiana. He attended Franklin College, a small liberal arts college near Indianapolis where he majored in History. He now lives in Newark, NJ where he attends Seton Hall School of Law. He is particularly interested in foreign relations and policy.

Colleen “Jihad Jane” LaRose Sentenced

Colleen LaRose, better known as “Jihad Jane,” was sentenced to ten years in federal prison last week. LaRose was convicted on multiple terrorism-related counts, most notably for her role in plotting the murder of a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a dog in a political cartoon. Prosecutors allegedly sought a more serious sentence but U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker lightened LaRose’s punishment based in part on her renouncement of her crimes. Continue reading

FISC Reopens NSA Phone Surveillance Program

Despite the public’s hopes that the NSA’s telephone surveillance program would be deemed unconstitutional, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) recently gave the Agency the go-ahead to continue collecting and analyzing millions of Americans’ private phone records. However, the extension may only be temporary as the FISC only granted the NSA three more months of surveillance. Continue reading

Congress Battling Over NSA Reform

As the debate over the NSA surveillance scandal rages on, two Congressional committees are now in the midst of a battle that will determine who gets the first crack at reforming the NSA’s intelligence gathering policies.  The battle between the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee will largely determine the extent to which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be modified in the post-Snowden era.  While much is still unclear, a historical comparison to the Pike and Church Committees from the Cold War era may well demonstrate which stance the government should take on NSA reforms. Continue reading

Drone Strikes Remain in CIA Territory

Six months after the White House announced that drone strikes would move from the CIA’s authority to the DoD, new reports state that the transfer will not be happening any time in the near future.  President Obama originally claimed that the transfer was meant to increase transparency and open up debate in regard to the controversial drone strikes across the Middle East.  While many will undoubtedly criticize the delay, the situation may not be as bad as it appears on its face.  In fact, it may be that keeping drone strike capabilities in the hands of the CIA will actually be a positive in the long run. Continue reading

Dispatch from Guantanamo Bay: US v. Mohammed

“It’s a Mixture of Kafka, Machiavelli, Catch 22, and George Orwell’s 1984.  It just depends on the day” – Major Jason Wright Defense Counsel for K.S.M.

            Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Guantanamo from October 22nd through 25th to observe the Military Commission proceedings for United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et. al. Perhaps the most appropriate word to describe my observations is frustration.  Regularly during the week, the observable liberties afforded to each of the accused, including prayer time in the courtroom, freedom of attire, and remaining unshackled were only contradicted by the accusations of intentional sleep deprivation, confiscated attorney-client privileged material, and force-feeding. Furthermore, the interpretation of the Military Commissions’ rules and their applications were consistently debated, particularly with regards to how they should be implemented when other laws, such as international laws, hold inconsistent stances. Continue reading

Drone Strikes Linked to More Civilian Deaths

Despite claims that drone strikes in Pakistan have been effective and efficient, new reports are set to come out later this week that link the drone campaign with high civilian casualty rates, raising questions regarding the United State’s transparency in the ongoing drone war.   Continue reading

Al-Liby Pleads Not Guilty in NY Federal Court

Abu Anas al-Liby, the Libyan man and suspected al-Qaeda leader accused of aiding the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, appeared in a New York federal court for the first time yesterday.  Al-Liby pleaded not guilty to charges linking him to the bombings, as well as charges that allege that he plotted with Osama bin Laden to attack American troops across the Middle East.  Reports from inside the court stated that al-Liby appeared weak and in poor health, most likely due to his decision to stop eating while aboard a U.S. ship as well as an ongoing bout with hepatitis.  Al-Liby was captured earlier this month after he was found by American special forces in Tripoli. Continue reading

NSA Collecting E-Mail Address Books

In news that shouldn’t be surprising to anybody, new information has come out that says the NSA has been monitoring and collecting e-mail address books in addition to telephone records and other Internet information from American citizens.  The Washington Post claims that this additional program was able to collect information from “a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts.”  The goal of this program is similar to that of the NSA’s other data collection programs, in that it is intended to find connections among foreign terrorist suspects.  The program allegedly led to the collection of over 250 million address books over the past year. Continue reading

Pentagon Appoints Guantanamo “Closer”

Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that it has appointed a special envoy in a renewed effort to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.  Paul M. Lewis, a former Judge Advocate General in the Marine Corps and current Democratic lawyer for the House Armed Services Committee, will take over the position on November 1.  He will be working alongside fellow Capitol Hill attorney Clifford Sloan, who was appointed in June as the State Department’s envoy for Guantanamo. Continue reading

How the Federal Shutdown Affects Security

As nearly every American has probably heard, the federal government began a partial shutdown last night just after midnight.  The shutdown is happening because the House and Senate have continually failed to reach an agreement on funding, and time finally ran out.  That means that all non-essential federal employees are out of work until this gets sorted out.  It also means that the essential workers are working without pay. Continue reading