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

Secret Periodic Review Board Hearings Limit Transparency at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

This week, the Pentagon began notifying would-be observers of the first Guantanamo Periodic Review Board hearing, scheduled for November 20th, that the hearing (and all subsequent hearings) will be held in secret. The announcement highlights the challenges government officials face as they try to balance their commitment to transparency with the perceived national security risks associated with public hearings. Given the amount of classified information addressed in these hearings, it is impossible for the government to ever achieve true transparency throughout this process, leaving the public to question whether our country’s purported commitment to justice is being upheld at Guantanamo. Continue reading

Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations: An Effective National Security Tool, or Symbolic Action?

The United States formally designated the Nigerian militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations as of this past Wednesday, November 13th, bringing the total number of Foreign Terrorist Organizations officially recognized by the State Department to 53. While it is undisputed that Boko Haram and Ansaru both have lengthy records of engaging in terrorist activities, making the designation an appropriate classification of their activities, this designation is largely symbolic and will have little effect on the group’s activities and power. Continue reading

Outrage Fatigue: The Danger of Getting Used to GTMO

Seton Hall University School of Law Professor and noted expert in national security issues Jonathan Hafetz was published yesterday in the World Politics Review. His article, Outrage Fatigue: The Danger of Getting Used to GTMO, discusses the status of GTMO throughout Obama’s tenure as President.  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

Conflicting Views on Government Shutdown’s Effect on National Security

In the wake of the current government shutdown, one of the most pressing concerns of the public is whether the shutdown will have any effect on national security. Put simply, at this point, we have no way of truly knowing what the effects of the lapse in federal funding will truly be.

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

A Week at Guantanamo Bay

In August of 2013 I had the opportunity to travel to Guantanamo Bay to represent Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research as an NGO observer at the 9/11 trials.  In particular, I was able to watch one of many pretrial hearings in the case of the United States v. Mohammed, in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali (AKA al-Baluchi), and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi are named as defendants.  The five detainees are accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks that lead to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Continue reading