If you read Politico's oral history of Bin Laden kill operation (10 yrs ago) by @vermontgmg politico.com/news/magazine/…
& want more: the story of 4 natsec lawyers told the secret whose edgy navigation around legal obstacles permitted it, adapted from my book nytimes.com/2015/10/29/us/…
Or for the absolute gluttons who want an even more fulsome account of their hyper-secretive deliberations (Attorney General Holder wasn't even told!), see these four sections of the Targeted Killings chapter of Power Wars /2 amazon.com/Power-Wars-Rel…
The big/edgy legal issues included whether it was lawful to violate Pakistan's sovereignty without even asking it -- an ally that had assisted with other counterterrorism operations-- for help first to see if it was willing and able to carry out the raid itself or jointly; /3
whether it was lawful to go in as a kill rather than capture mission, including whether and under what circumstances an apparent surrender offer had to be accepted or could be rejected, and what to do with a living detainee if they did take him alive; /4
whether it was lawful not to notify Congressional leaders about the intended covert action - the lawyers blessed withholding that notice to reduce the risk of leaks, but then Panetta went rogue unilaterally told them anyway; /5
and what to do with his corpse, including whether burial at sea would be lawful (the Geneva Conventions say wartime enemy dead are supposed to be buried in accordance with their religion, and Muslims are generally supposed to be buried in soil turned toward Mecca)./end

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More from @charlie_savage

4 May
In ruling for @CREWcrew in a FOIA case seeking an OLC memo related to whether Trump could be indicted for obstructing the Mueller investigation, Judge Amy Berman Jackson says the (Trump) DOJ lied to her by saying it was predecisional when the decision had already been made. /1 Image
When DOJ grudgingly showed her the memo, she saw that it was about actually strategy and arguments for Barr to quash the idea, which he had already decided to do - not predecisional as DOJ had told her in a sworn affidavit./2 Image
ABJ says the evidence in the record contradicts what DOJ said, and shows bad faith. /3 Image
Read 9 tweets
1 May
New and partly exclusive: FOIA lawsuits by NYT and ACLU win release of the drone strike rules Trump secretly revamped in 2017, plus what's up with the delay in the Biden administration's deliberations over coming up with its own direct-action policy. nytimes.com/2021/05/01/us/…
The Obama approach to drones was centralized and individualistic: high level interagency review of whether a specific target posed a threat to Americans./2
The Trump approach was looser/decentralized: they established standards for particular countries and let operators decide whether they had been met and whether an attack was warranted. Permitted killing based on status as member of enemy force, as opposed to individual threat./3
Read 9 tweets
21 Apr
Senators @RonWyden and @RandPaul, and in House @RepJerryNadler and @RepZoeLofgren, plus many cosponsors, introduce anticipated bill that would ban the US government from buying app data from brokers on things like people's locations without a warrant. /1 wyden.senate.gov/download/the-f…
Here's a story from January about the Defense Intelligence Agency buying commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps & searching them for Americans’ past movements without a warrant. /2 nytimes.com/2021/01/22/us/…
This bill seems destined to become a proposed amendment to the larger bill on FISA reform and reviving Section 215 of the Patriot Act, if and when Congress gets around to picking that issue up again after it collapsed amid Trumpy chaos last year. /end nytimes.com/2020/08/14/us/…
Read 4 tweets
21 Apr
Good explanation by @TomRtweets on CIA-NSA dispute over how much the lack of sigint in the pool of available evidence should discount confidence in the CIA's assessment that Russia offered bounties in Afghanistan. Dovetails w/ NYT reporting since 2020. washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/inside…
The facts - CIA analysts reached this assessment based on other types of evidence we have detailed, the Trump WH handled it strangely and then lied about whether he was briefed, and the NSA had lower confidence its based on concerns about sigint gap - are unchanged since 2020. /2
That the CIA (& NCTC) has moderate confidence in its assessment, meaning they think it is credibly sourced and plausible, and NSA (& DIA) has low confidence, w/ greater concerns over lack of sigint, is not new. It is the intelligence community status quo reported last summer. /3
Read 5 tweets
4 Apr
Guantanamo's crumbling, super-secret Camp 7 is kaput, Southcom announces. (The high-value ex-CIA detainees it housed, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Muhammed, have been transferred to Camp 5.)/1 southcom.mil/News/PressRele…
This article in December, a joint effort by @carolrosenberg, @EricSchmittNYT and myself, first put forward the chatter that closing Camp 7 and consolidating the detainee population in the 5/6 space was in the works. /2 nytimes.com/2020/12/15/us/…
In honor of Camp 7's departure from current-events relevance, let me one last time post this link to what satellite imagery and rare fragments of discussion in declassified documents etc revealed about its nature. /end charliesavage.com/what-google-ea…
Read 8 tweets
19 Mar
In an already gratuitous tangent calling for overturning a key 1st Amendment precedent that protects the free press, 85-year-old Laurence Silberman seems to have lost the filter that counsels most judges against displaying a nakedly partisan demeanor. cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opini…
Silberman was Nixon and Ford admin official. He was a friend of Dick Cheney, who as WH chief of staff in 1975 wanted to make him the top WH domestic policy official, while Kissinger thought he should lead the CIA. (See Takeover p 49.) In 1985, Reagan made him into a judge. /2
In 1988, Silberman tried to give victory to the Reaganites' novel theories of executive power maximalism by writing an opinion striking down the independent counsel law and proclaiming the Unitary Executive Theory to be true. The Supreme Court disagreed, overruling him 7-1. /3
Read 5 tweets

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