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Category Archives: Defense

GQ: The Guantanamo Quagmire

Pearlman, Adam Ross, GQ: The Guantanamo Quagmire (June 9, 2016). Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 27, 2016. Available for download at SSRN:

“Accepting for argument’s sake the twin premises that sending Operation Enduring Freedom detainees to Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) was in line with the international and domestic law of detention as it then existed, and that detaining suspected terrorists at GTMO achieved its core purpose of removing threats from the battlefield, and further allowed for the collection of useful intelligence from the detainees, this article examines why the GTMO is considered by many to be a “lightning rod,” a “political football,” or even an “albatross.”  As I have previously written, the government’s ultimate inability to successfully defend its application of prior habeas precedents has had significant legal consequences, including operational law incentives to lethally target combatants, and the development of international guidelines to fill supposed “legal ambiguities” in the rules troops must apply when detaining enemy forces in international armed conflicts. See “Meaningful Review and Process Due: How Guantanamo Detention is Changing the Battlefield,” Harvard National Security Journal (2015) – This article further examines the relationships and differences between law, policy, and politics in the context of detainee-related operations at GTMO. Taking a broad view of foreign policy and international relations, it examines how related but nonetheless discrete issues (e.g., law of war detention at GTMO versus intelligence interrogation at black sites) have been conflated in ways that have long-term legal and policy consequences, and that the name “Guantanamo Bay” is thus a cue for controversies that are perhaps as often mythical as grounded in fact.  Part I traces the evolution of American foreign policy and global leadership as driven by moral values. Part II examines two post-9/11 counterterrorism detention scandals often discussed in tandem with (if not entirely conflated with) GTMO — the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) so-called rendition, detention, and interrogation (RDI) program, and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal — that undercut the moral high ground and human rights focus around which successive presidential administrations conducted international relations. Part III analyzes the dynamics of modern communications and the influence of globalized, decentralized, and instant reporting of news on U.S. national security policymaking, particularly with respect to GTMO and detention-related issues. Part IV concludes by laying out the long-term consequences of the resulting dubious conventional wisdom that several aspects of U.S. detention policy violate international law, and asserts that a significant factor in GTMO’s supposed radioactivity has been self-imposed by failing adequately to articulate and defend legal and strategic decisions made early on, and subsequently adopting the human rights community’s talking points in high-level political rhetoric, which have made GTMO more politically toxic than necessary.”

BBC open access to archive of plans for response to nuclear war

BBC Magazine – The BBC’s detailed plans for nuclear war: “For the first time, the BBC has given detailed access to the plans it drew up in the Cold War for a Wartime Broadcasting System to operate in the event of nuclear war. Paul Reynolds, a former BBC diplomatic and foreign correspondent, has been studying… Continue Reading

Global watchdog report – anonymous company owners and government contracting

Via POGO:  “In a new report, London-based watchdog Global Witness sheds light on the dangers of anonymously-owned companies in government contracting. The recent Panama Papers scandal has raised concerns of how money stashed in anonymous shell companies is used to evade taxes and fund international crime. In a similar vein, a Global Witness report titled… Continue Reading

Physical cryptographic verification of nuclear warheads

Published online before print July 18, 2016, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1603916113. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PNAS, July 18, 2016. “How does one prove a claim about a highly sensitive object such as a nuclear weapon without revealing information about the object? This paradox has challenged nuclear arms control for more than five decades. We… Continue Reading

DOD Has Established Processes for Implementing and Tracking Recommendations to Improve Leadership, Morale, and Operations

DOD Has Established Processes for Implementing and Tracking Recommendations to Improve Leadership, Morale, and Operations, GAO-16-597R: Published: Jul 14, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2016. “Why GAO Did This Study – DOD has identified nuclear deterrence as its highest priority mission. In 2014, in response to several incidents involving the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces and… Continue Reading

GAO Reports – Immigration Benefits System, Military Personnel, Nuclear Security, Defense Nuclear Enterprise, EPA, Flood Insurance, Iran Nuclear Deal

Immigration Benefits System: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Can Improve Program Management, GAO-16-467: Published: Jul 7, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2016. Military Personnel: DOD Needs More Complete Data on Active-Duty Servicemembers’ Use of Food Assistance Programs, GAO-16-561: Published: Jul 15, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2016. Nuclear Security: NRC Has Enhanced the Controls of… Continue Reading

Pew – China and the global balance of power

“In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, many people began to question the reputation of the United States as the world’s leading economic power. As China’s economy continued to expand and the U.S. economy sputtered, overseas publics – especially in Europe – increasingly named China as the world’s top economic power. However, more… Continue Reading

House Intelligence Committee Publishes Recently Declassified Redacted Version of “28 Pages”

News release: “Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), under the direction of Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), approved publication of a newly declassified section of the 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.   Following a declassification… Continue Reading

2015 Annual Report on Security Clearance Determinations

NATIONAL COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY CENTER – OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE.  2015 Annual Report on Security Clearance Determinations, Unclassified. June 28, 2016. “This 2015 annual security clearance determinations report provides the current state of government security clearances. The report is divided into two sections, Security Clearance Volume for the Entire Federal Government and… Continue Reading

Defense Weather Satellites: DOD Faces Acquisition Challenges for Addressing Capability Needs

Defense Weather Satellites: DOD Faces Acquisition Challenges for Addressing Capability Needs, GAO-16-769T: Published: Jul 7, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 2016. “GAO found in March 2016 that the Department of Defense (DOD), in conducting a requirements review and Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) from 2012 to 2014, generally performed a thorough review for identifying capability gaps… Continue Reading

VA Conducts Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

News release: “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has undertaken the most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the U.S., examining over 55 million Veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort extends VA’s knowledge from the previous report issued in 2010, which examined  three million  Veteran records… Continue Reading

Commission on Care Final Report

“In Section 202 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, Congress established the Commission on Care, charging it to examine veterans’ access to Department of Veterans Affairs health care and to examine strategically how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration, locate health resources, and deliver health care to veterans during the next… Continue Reading