Episode 46: The $15 Million Dollar Man

November 15, 2017

In this week’s episode, your devoted hosts dig into a bonanza of national security law odds-and-ends.

First up is an en banc decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review involving the standing of the ACLU and the Yale Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to litigate a claimed First Amendment right of public access in relation to FISC opinions. This may not go anywhere in the end, but it’s definitely going to go further than the government wanted.

Next comes the confusion surrounding a Justice Department letter indicating at least some willingness to dig into the Uranium One story and other related matters, which set the Twitterverse ablaze with concern recently.  A new special counsel?  Your hosts say: don’t bet on it.

After that the show takes up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which should be signed into law soon.  It has the usual GTMO transfer provisions (albeit with something that might be an interesting wrinkle), along with a whole slew of cyber-related sections.  One of them expands the long-running Mac Thornberry project of crafting notification rules running to SASC and HASC instead of SSCI and HPSCI) for certain low-visibility military activities (this time: “sensitive military cyber operations).  There also are similar oversight-facilitating provisions relating to the military’s process for reviewing cyber “weapons” for international law compliance, and a refinement of the 10 USC 484 system for quarterly briefings on cyber operations.  All of which amounts to about .001% of the overall content of the NDAA….

The fourth topic involves a quick review of a recent Senate hearing on the authority of the president to launch America’s nukes, which in turn leads to a quick review of the criminal law–and pardon law–issues raised by the Shane Harris Wall Street Journal story on Mike Flynn allegedly negotiating a $15m payment for help getting Gulen out of Pennsylvania and back to Turkey, perhaps even via rendition.  Ah, 2017.

The sensible part of the show wraps with a quick reminder that there still is a U.S. citizen in military detention in Iraq, and associated litigation pending (Doe v. Mattis).

But hey, we all know the real fun comes with the trivia at the end.  This week’s topic?  Best movie sequels ever.  That, and also the worst.

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