The National Security Law Podcast
Summary: The National Security Law Podcast (aka the NSL Podcast) is a weekly review of the latest legal controversies associated with the U.S. government’s national security activities and institutions, featuring Professors Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas at Austin. They bring different perspectives to these issues, but always in a friendly spirit. The program is fast-paced but detail-rich, and is meant for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. If you’ve been looking for a thoughtful yet enjoyable way to keep up with and better understand these issues, the National Security Law Podcast is the show for you. To join the conversation, follow nslpodcast on Twitter (@nslpodcast).
In this hour-long episode, Professors Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney open by unpacking the ins-and-outs of two Guantanamo military commissions cases currently seeking Supreme Court review: the al-Nashiri case (which could give the Court a chance to determine whether an armed conflict existed with al Qaeda prior to 9/11) and Bahlul (which could give the Court a chance to settle, at long last, whether the commissions can adjudicate offenses that do not count as violations of the law of armed conflict). Well, actually, they open by admitting how bad their NCAA brackets turned out to be. But nevermind that. After the military commission stuff, they go on to describe an interesting development at the FISC regarding the standing of the ACLU, and they explain the doctrinal rules surrounding executive privilege claims in light of the dispute between Sally Yates and the Trump White House regarding her prospective testimony about Mike Flynn. They also find time to address the impact of the controversy over civilian casualties in Mosul, and a recent announcement by DOJ involving naturalization fraud committed by Iraqi refugees said to be linked to a terrible episode that occurred in Iraq in 2005 (involving US hostages). Last, they take up a series of questions posed by listeners on Twitter; somehow it results in a discussion of Big Little Lies.
In this episode, [USperson 1] and [USperson 2] discuss whether the law was violated by [USperson 3] when [he/she] spoke to [USpersons 4-17] about alleged surveillance of [USperson 18] or perhaps various [USpersons] working for [USperson 18]’s campaign. They also discuss the appearance at [USuniversity 1] by [USperson 19] in which [he/she] did not talk about [USperson 18], but did have lots of interesting stuff to say about the “going dark” debate. [USperson 1] and [USperson 2] also dig into the question of denaturalization of convicted terrorists, and whether this portends an uptick in such efforts or even an eventual move towards actual expatriation legislation for such cases. Finally, they manage to talk about Ed Sheeran, Game of Thrones, and the impending return of [USperson 20’s] show VEEP, in which art increasingly imitates life.
Episode 8 (about 58 minutes long) finds Professors Vladeck and Chesney discussing the legal, policy, and institutional issues raised by reports that President Trump has authorized CIA to resume control of drone operations in some circumstances, and that he also has added certain parts of Yemen and Somalia to the current list of zones of active hostilities. They also provide an update on litigation relating to the revised refugee/travel executive order. In addition, they take up the topic of “proxy detention” of terrorism suspects, fleshing out the concept and its legal implications. From there they talk about a recent jury conviction of an al Qaeda member, a person whose circumstances might have left him prosecuted instead by a military commission had he been captured earlier (and had Italy not insisted on precluding such a result, as a condition of extraditing the defendant). Last but not least, they note (but don’t get terribly exercised by) the release of security-related materials from Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s time at DOJ, and then they wrap up with predictions about the NCAA tournament that almost certainly will prove to be wildly off.
In this episode, Professors Chesney and Vladeck live up to their new motto (see the episode title) by wading into the confusion surrounding a pair of recent presidential claims with significant national security law implications: President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him (or his campaign), and his allegation about the “GTMO recidivism” rate as between the Bush and Obama administrations. This in turn leads to a discussion of the “Vault7” dump by Wikileaks of information on CIA tools for accessing iPhones, Android devices, and so forth, and from there they discuss the new immigration executive order as well (disagreeing as to its litigation prospects). With time running short, they move on to a lightning round touching on the draft Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (that’s right, it’s the “AC/DC Act”), and an important but little-noticed military commission ruling that seems likely to result in four CIA officers having to testify about the interrogation of al-Nashiri. Things don’t get contentious until the end, when for better or worse they take up the NBA MVP debate. Cornucopias also get a mention, for insufficient reasons.
In this episode, Professors Vladeck and Chesney get into the weeds of the controversy surrounding the statements Attorney General Sessions made during his confirmation process concerning contacts with Russians. Is there a credible case for perjury here? They don’t seem to agree, but you’ll have to listen to find out where they part ways. They also foreshadow future discussions regarding the debate that will occur this year regarding “Section 702” renewal, as well as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. As usual, things come apart at the end, especially when Game of Thrones enters the picture.
In this episode, Professors Chesney and Vladeck consider whether the Supreme Court is poised to use a border-shooting case (Hernandez v. Mesa) to expand Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights for non-citizens outside the United States, and what this might mean for other scenarios ranging from drone strikes to SIGINT collection and network investigative techniques the FBI might use with overseas effect. They then turn their attention to the fight against the Islamic State in Mosul, exploring the evolving role of U.S. ground forces there. Next, they provide a detailed update on four sets of cases involving the military commission system. Finally, they spiral out of control (and coherence) with their views on how to improve the NBA all-star game. Seriously, guys?
In this episode, Professors Vladeck and Chesney come to grips with a number of legal issues raised by the Mike Flynn story. What the heck is the Logan Act and was it perhaps violated? What about the possibility of a charge for making false statements to the FBI? Was the underlying surveillance lawful? Were minimization rules violated? What about the folks who leaked the story? After all that, the conversation swerves into a preview of the Hernandez case (which will be argued at the Supreme Court next Tuesday and presents questions about the application of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to non-citizens outside the United States, inter alia) and a discussion of what might happen soon with respect to the Periodic Review Board process for Guantanamo detainees. At that point, the conversation goes entirely off the rails as the guys turn their attention to fantasy baseball…
In this episode, Professors Chesney and Vladeck dive deep into the latest iteration of the Trump Administration’s draft executive order on military detention, Guantanamo, and the Islamic State, a task that leads them into an extended discussion of: the legal consequences of bringing an Islamic State detainee to GTMO, the geographic reach of habeas corpus, the fuzzy caselaw on military detention applied to American citizens, and irrelevant thoughts on the greatness of the San Antonio Spurs and the sadness of Manchester By the Sea.
In this episode, Professors Vladeck and Chesney focus on two major developments: the Trump Administration’s sudden decision to suspend entry into the United States for persons hailing from seven countries, and a rare boots-on-the-ground raid conducted by U.S. Special Operations Forces against an AQAP compound in Yemen. They close by offering worthless Super Bowl predictions.
In the first episode, Professors Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck walk listeners through some of the key issues raised by an alleged draft executive order on interrogation, detention, and prosecution of terrorism suspects. They also find time to speculate about the playoff prospects of the New York Mets.