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News Roundup and Notes: May 22, 2015

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news. 


U.S. airstrikes “likely led to the deaths of two non-combatant children,” the U.S. Central Command acknowledged yesterday, following the investigation into the airstrikes targeting the Khorasan group last November.…   continue »

DOJ Guidance on Cybersecurity Carrots and Sticks

In a speech yesterday to the annual Cybersecurity Law Institute, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell showed how far the Department of Justice has come in its dealings with the private sector on cybersecurity. Caldwell praised public-private collaboration on issues like botnet takedowns and highlighted recent outreach the DOJ’s Cybersecurity Unit has done to private sector groups.…   continue »

Sen. Paul’s Great Surveillance ‘Filibuster’ and What to Expect Next

Senator Rand Paul, joined by Senator Wyden and other surveillance reform advocates, as well as five members of the House of Representatives, spent much of last night on the Senate floor, making history. He used the platform of a de facto filibuster to name drop privacy and civil liberties advocates like EFF’s Mark Jaycox, former NSA whistleblowers like cryptographer William Binney, and of course America’s Founders, to make his case for surveillance reform.…   continue »

The UN’s “Universal Periodic Review” of US Human Rights Practices—National Security Highlights

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review released a draft of its report on the United States’ UPR. The UPR is a process during which each UN member state has the opportunity to explain what measures it has taken to meet international human rights standards and receives feedback and recommendations from other member states in a sort of “peer review” process.…   continue »

German Cooperation With NSA Spies Broader Than We Knew

Late last month Der Spiegel reported that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, participated in and directly supported the National Security Agency’s efforts much more broadly than originally revealed by the Snowden documents. The Der Spiegel story revealed that nearly five percent of the searches conducted according to NSA requests were violations of German intelligence policies — which, among other things, prohibit spying on European targets.…   continue »

What ACLU v. Clapper Means

Many others have already weighed in about the significance of last week’s ruling in ACLU v. Clapper. Here are my own quick thoughts. As regular readers of this blog already know, I’m counsel to the plaintiffs in the litigation.

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[UPDATED with details and analysis] BREAKING: Second Circuit rules that Section 215 does not authorize telephony bulk collection program

[UPDATED]  The opinion is here.  Judge Sack’s concurring opinion is here.  Because the court rules on statutory grounds, it does not reach the Fourth Amendment questions.  The court reverses the district court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, but does not itself impose such an injunction, or (contra Ben Wittes) “strike down” the program; instead it simply reverses the district court and remands for further consideration, reasoning that the basic landscape will be altered in a few weeks’ time when either the statute sunsets or Congress amends it to authorize and/or restrict some form of telephony metadata bulk collection program.…   continue »

We Need a Full, Transparent Review of the US Targeted Killing Program

This post is the latest installment of our “Monday Reflections” feature, in which a different Just Security editor examines the big stories from the previous week or looks ahead to key developments on the horizon.

In releasing information on April 23 about a drone strike that killed two western hostages in Pakistan in January, the Obama administration demonstrated that it is able and willing to acknowledge responsibility for strikes, carry out investigations into them, and publicly offer compensation to victims’ families.…   continue »