The National Security Law Podcast

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck

Unpacking the Legal Issues Behind the Headlines

All Episodes

Ah, well, that took a bit longer than expected!  We promise we don't mean to let this become a quarterly show, or even a monthly.  Too much national security law for that! In today's episode, we discuss: Haroon Gul's victory in a GTMO habeas case (and what it may or may not mean for the bigger picture) Majid Kahn's sentencing testimony (and the clemency letter that the majority of the panel subsequently issued) The SCOTUS decision to deny cert. in ACLU's attempt to establish a constitutional right of public access to at least some FISC opinions (and the Gorsuch-Sotomayor dissent) The SCOTUS oral argument in Fagaza, raising both statutory interpretation questions about FISA (and, possibly, constitutional questions about the State Secrets Privilege) Today's DOJ announcement about Poland's arrest (and America's extradition request concerning) a Ukrainian national associated with the REvil ransomware Kaseya campaign The conviction (for economic espionage) of a Chinese MSS official who attempted to get an American GE employee to spill secrets (and the extradition of the defendant from Belgium, where he thought he was going to take delivery of stolen information) And, of course, some disorganized frivolity!

Nov 9

1 hr 8 min

What's that?  A new episode?  What have these guys been doing all month... Well, whatever they've been doing all September since Episode 209, Professors Vladeck and Chesney are back at last with a new episode.  Tune in as they discuss and debate: The en banc D.C. Circuit oral argument in al Hela (asking, inter alia, whether the Due Process Clause applies at GTMO) A preview of the upcoming SCOTUS arguments relating to the State Secrets Privilege The Dorfman/Naylor/Isikoff article on CIA planning relating to Assange and Wikileaks A National Security Division roundup noting the sudden wind-up of the Huawei CFO case and the new material support case against a Canadian Islamic State fighter previously held by the SDF in Syria All that, plus no small amount of frivolity (including a much-too-long endorsement of the greatness that is Joe Abercrombie).

Oct 6

1 hr 7 min

This week on the National Security Law Podcast, we mark 20 years since the 9/11 attacks.  Tune in as co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney share their views on the major legal developments unleashed by that awful day, in a broad retrospective on the era.

Sep 10

1 hr 8 min

In this week's episode, we focus on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.

Aug 16

49 min 18 sec

It's been a long summer break for the podcast, but we're back! Tune in today as Professors Chesney and Vladeck discuss and debate: AUMF reform prospects (2001 AUMF in particular) Ongoing uncertainty as to the fate of the Presidential Policy Guidance re use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities Litigation exploring whether a unanimous panel should be required in courts-martial A semi-deep dive into Jacobson, the 1905 Supreme Court case that upheld a local mandatory vaccination order (targeting smallpox) in the face of what we would today describe as a substantive due process fundamental rights/liberty claim. How about that CDC rent-moratorium extension? And, yes, we lament the apparent collapse of the Mets, while also recommending some good books and podcasts!

Aug 11

1 hr 15 min

[Updated to fix the audio issue with the original file...though I have to admit, it was very entertaining to hear the hosts speaking an octave too low!)  We're back with another round of discussion and debate featuring co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney, working through the latest national security law developments. Tune in for: The end of the decade-long run of General Mark Martins as Chief Prosecutor at GTMO The interagency debate within the Biden Administration regarding whether to concede that the Due Process Clause applies to GTMO detainees (either in the habeas context or more broadly), in connection with the al-Hela litigation currently pending before the en banc D.C. Circuit Interstate deployments (without federalization) of state national guard forces, and the state-level separation-of-powers issues arguably raised by private funding of NG activities OLC's opinion on the removal power New life for the US effort to extradite Julian Assange from the UK Donald Trump attempting to invoke the First Amendment as the basis for a civil action challenging the actions of (private) social-media companies Brief notes on the parallel between the so-far-unsuccessful efforts to deter both attacks on US forces in Iraq and ransomware attacks emanating from Russia And as always, there's much frivolity both at the start and the finish!

Jul 13

1 hr 17 min

We're back, with one slightly-older co-host and another co-host who is ready to drive across the country!  Tune in for discussion and debate relating to: The domestic and international law aspects of the Biden administration's decision to conduct airstrikes against Kata'ib Hezbollah targets in Syria and Iraq The ongoing Biden administration internal debate over which rules should govern the use of lethal force in locations other than Syria and Iraq The Supreme Court's denial of cert. concerning warrantless searches of electronic devices at the border (leaving in place a significant circuit split, oddly) The Supreme Court's denial of cert. in a case involving torture claims against a contractor associated with the Abu Ghraib prison The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruling in Begani concerning court-martial jurisdiction over former servicemembers Sentencing for a US translator who became a spy for Hezbollah, providing classified information including the identity of human sources linked to the attack that killed Iran's Suleimani Sentencing for a US person convicted of teaching the making of explosives for purposes of a federal crime of violence Seizure of websites used by Kata'ib Hezbollah and also by an IRGC-affiliated Iranian media group All that, plus the MLB crackdown on scuffed balls and ... Steve's Excellent Cross-Country Road Trip!

Jun 28

1 hr 10 min

Hello from Austin! We're back with a new episode!  Tune in as your co-hosts Professor Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: SCOTUS narrows the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in Van Buren SCOTUS grants cert. in Fazaga, adding to the sense that the October '21 Term will be unprecedented for its engagement with state secrets privilege and FISA issues The Biden Administration withdraws IEEPA sanctions against TikTok and WeChat...for now, at least! GTMO closure trial-balloon?  About that NBC News story that mentions a possible desire to put the long-term military detainees in a Supermax prison rather than a military facility Over-the-horizon uses of force in Afghanistan post-withdrawal: so, will that be subject to the PPG as a use of force outside a zone of active hostilities? Leak-hunt subpoenas: we've got subpoenas concerning the communications of journalists...and Members of Congress...and the White House Counsel. Where are the legal and policy redlines in such cases? Mike Flynn, Larabee, and the idea of recalling separated servicemembers in order to subject them to court-martial proceedings (based on post-separation conduct) Also, did we mention the Mets are in first place?  Join the MLB-themed frivolity as we ramble about teams and players doing surprisingly well and surprisingly not-so-well!

Jun 15

1 hr 22 min

We are very excited for this week's show, in which we interview Eric Goldstein--the Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity at DHS CISA!  We had a terrific conversation, with a focus on (1) understanding the specific programs and activities that CISA engages in to improve cybersecurity, (2) the highlights from President Biden's cybersecurity executive order, and (3) career pathway insights. We did not neglect the frivolity either--we've got NBA playoff predictions (including that rarest of all NBA discussions: how things are looking for the Knicks and Wizards in the context of the playoffs).    

May 24

51 min 50 sec

Recording episode 202 was something of a milestone for us, because we met in Steve's office for an in-person recording for the first time since Before.  Wow!  We're grateful to be back in the "studio," and we found it was a much-more fun experience for us.  See if you can detect the difference as we talk about A GTMO military commission ruling construing the Military Commissions Act prohibition on the admissibility of information derived from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to apply only as to offers of evidence in the trial setting, not to pre-trial motion practice (at least where the statement in question is not offered for the truth of the matter asserted). The judicial carousel at the mil coms prepares to spin again. The sentence-reduction agreement in the Majid Khan case, which will (as that label suggests!) reduce his sentence in exchange for Khan giving up on his effort to secure testimony regarding his treatment while in CIA custody. Some brief comments on the Gaza situation. Noting that Matt Olsen will be nominated to replace John Demers as the head of DOJ's National Security Division, continuing the tradition of excellent leadership in that office. We also have all sorts of utterly frivolous thoughts about Top Gun and the Top Gun sequel, as well as Marvel's plan for a Star Lord-focused scripted podcast series set in a dystopian non-cinematic universe timeline. Can't wait!

May 20

49 min 39 sec

Our latest episode is shorter than normal because...well, we recorded most of it and then lost the file.  Suffice to say we were a bit tired by the time the re-recording was done!  Or maybe we're better off this way?  Either way, tune in for our thoughts on the DC Circuit's en banc grant in the al Hela GTMO detainee case (asking whether the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause applies at GTMO), the ACLU's attempt to get SCOTUS to review a FISCOR decision relating to the ACLU's efforts to compel public release of FISC opinions on First Amendment grounds, and the recent FOIA-based release of the 2017 Trump administration changes to the 2013 Obama administration "PPG" rules on targeted kill/capture operations outside of areas of active hostilities.

May 7

34 min 18 sec

Thanks so much to everyone who attended (virtually) tonight's live recording of episode 200!  It was a blast. We covered: The drawdown in Afghanistan and its legal implications (for the AUMF, detention, habeas litigation, the use of force, you-name-it) The latest developments in the Military Commissions The new round of sanctions against Russian entities--particularly those relating to the SolarWinds episode FBI's use of a Rule 41 search(-and-seizure) warrant to delete webshells off of servers compromised as part of Hafnium's Microsoft Exchange exploitation Taking stock of the Biden Administration on national security law issues at the (very roughly) 100 day stage All that, plus a fun array of audience questions on matters ranging from the professional to the personal. We are grateful for all you listeners.  Thanks for making the first 200 episodes so fun.  Just 3,800 shows to go before we find something better to do!

Apr 20

1 hr 35 min

In this week's episode, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: The proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (and DOJ's January 2021 response to an earlier version of the DTPA) A pair of recent federal prosecutions involving attempt/conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State--and corresponding lessons about the way in which terrorism cases are developed using cooperating witnesses and undercover officers. The DC Circuit's ruling in the al-Tamir (was al-Hadi) military commission case (rejecting the defendant's arguments about the adequacy of the government's proposed remedy for a situation in which the presiding military judge had made rulings while seeking employment elsewhere in the government). We have a National Cyber Director nominee at last, and it's a good one. SCOTUS and the Shadow Docket: insights from the Tandon ruling. All that, plus the usual frivolity!

Apr 13

1 hr 19 min

Welcome back!  This week your co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: The PCLOB's report on Executive Order 12,333 The government's decision to shutter Camp 7 at GTMO, consolidating those detainees with others at Camp 5 The proposed DC National Guard Home Rule Act The Supreme Court's decision to vacate and remand (for dismissal on mootness grounds) the Second Circuit's decision finding that President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking followers on his Twitter account--and Justice Thomas's accompanying comments on ways that the First Amendment might be construed to apply to private social media platforms. A Fourth Circuit's ruling rejecting a Fifth Amendment Due Process challenge to the Terrorist Screening Database system All that, plus opening day for the Mets!

Apr 5

1 hr 1 min

Just in time for your weekend entertainment, NSL Podcast is back with a new episode. This time the show was recorded live before a (Zoom-based) audience of Texas Law alumni, which made for a nice change of pace!  Tune in as co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: War Powers reform:  whither the 1991, 2001, and 2002 AUFMs?  Might there even be agreement on how to handle "associated forces" in a 2001 AUMF reform package? The Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon bombing) case: SCOTUS has granted cert on the jury issue, but will the Biden Administration still pursue the death penalty in general? Court martial jurisdiction Judicial deference on security matters -- including IEEPA and CCMC (Communist Chinese Military Companies) designations The Fourth Circuit reinstating the jury's decision convicting a man of acting as an (unregistered) foreign agent for Turkey An extradition of a North Korean citizen...how'd that happen?  

Mar 26

56 min 7 sec

An extra-fun episode because we have an extra person with us tonight: Texas Law 3L Jake Bishop, our special guest host!  Jake, thanks for joining in the fun! Tune in, as Jake and co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss: The return of the PPG?  The Biden administration reinstates, for now, certain rules regarding the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Will it last? Does it matter? AUMF reform: the 2002 (and 1991!) AUMF version AUMF reform: the 2001 AUMF version The prospects for a "covert" response against Russian networks in relation to SolarWinds, and whether that makes any sense Steve's (apparently brutal) oral argument before the CAAF today Oh, and apparently there is a sequel to Coming to America?  Maybe they should have tried a bit harder on that one....

Mar 10

1 hr 29 min

Well, it's been a while, thanks to the ice/snow/power/water fiasco we recently underwent in Texas.  But, though tired and not very prepared, we are back tonight!  Tune in as co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: The domestic and international law grounds cited by the Biden administration for its recent airstrike in Syria An update on the situation regarding high-value Islamic State detainees held by the SDF in Syria (and whether they ever were in US custody) A note on the role of "true threat" charges in insurrection-related cases: how specific (if at all) must such charges be vis-a-vis the threatened object of the threat? More developments at GTMO The Biden administration's response to Kashoggi in comparison to its response to Navalny And some rather-rambling frivolity, mostly in the anticipation for Coming 2 America dropping in a few days.

Mar 3

1 hr 7 min

We had great fun recording this one, thanks to special guest Greg Gisvold (consultant and senior fellow with the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina) is the winner of a recent charity raffle in which the prize (or penalty???) was ... cohosting the show with us!  That proved to be great news for us, for Greg's work around the globe working in support of rule-of-law-building programs couldn't be more interesting and important.  Listen in to learn more, as we cover: The latest impeachment developments An update on Steve's litigation (at the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces) on court martial jurisdiction and former servicemembers The delay of the Hambali (et al.) arraignment at GTMO Whither those high-value Islamic State detainees the US acquired from our Kurdish allies back in October 2019? And best of all, our interview with Greg Gisvold regarding rule of law capacity building around the globe Stick around for a comically-overlong segment on the 1986 Mets, too.  Seriously...we just kept talking about it, and having no editor, well, it's a long show as a result!

Feb 11

1 hr 19 min

This week on NSL Podcast, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss The proposition that the First Amendment (particularly the Brandenburg rule) might matter for the Senate's trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump The D.C. Circuit's ruling rejecting subject-matter jurisdiction over Philip Sundel's attempt to gain access to a closed proceeding in the al Qosi litigation at the GTMO military commissions, with a special focus on the extensive dicta concerning the standing of agency employees to challenge the actions of their own agencies The controversy that erupted in light of news that KSM might be vaccinated The delay in the arraignment of Hambali and his co-defendants at GTMO The confirmation of Secretary Mayorkas at DHS, and the delay of a confirmation hearing for Garland to be AG The Biden administration's termination of certain Trump-era cases DOJ had been pressing to SCOTUS Canada's decision to formally list the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, and why the same thing cannot (under current law) happen in the United States This, plus some lollygagging Bull Durham style, and dueling predictions about the Super Bowl!

Feb 4

1 hr 10 min

And then it was over. Wow.  Here's hoping we can focus on traditional national security law topics from now on!   Today is a pretty good start. We've got: A new administration needs a welcoming gift...so, here's a delightful basket of...military commission charges involving the Bali/Jakarta bombings??? A parting gift from Army Secretary McCarthy: AR 190-8 no longer applicable at GTMO The DC Circuit weighs in on Hoda Muthana's citizenship status--ruling against her and thus also against her father's attempt to compel the government to support her return to the US from Syria (where she had been married, twice, to Islamic State fighters) The DC Circuit also weighs in on the Zaidan case, finding no standing to the sue the U.S. government for alleged targeting for drone strikes in Syria where the allegations of such targeting were deemed too speculative Larabee: apparently Steve is going to have do so more briefing soon regarding court martial jurisdiction over former servicemembers The WeChat suit in the 9th Circuit: Bobby review's last week's oral argument concerning the government's appeal of a preliminary injunction that suspended the Trump administration's IEEPA action against WeChat, citing First Amendment grounds.  The First Amendment argument here is quite weak; time to send this one back for consideration instead of the IEEPA issue. Confirmation of Avril Haines as DNI, and passage of a statutory override that will allow the Senate to proceed to confirm General (ret.) Lloyd Austin as SecDef. Biden immediately rescinded the "national emergency proclamation" as to the Southern Border, ending the redirection of defense dollars towards "wall" projects. That, plus loads of sportsball frivolity (yielding precious little insight!).

Jan 22

1 hr 11 min

We're back with further discussion of the insurrection: Is it constitutional for the Senate to carry on with trial of an Article of Impeachment if the impeached official is no longer in office? Yes, yes it is. Disqualification from future office is a separate and independent purpose of the trial phase, independent of removal from office; where it otherwise, any half-wit could avoid such punishment simply by resigning once it became clear they were likely to lose in the Senate. We review the strong statement of FBI and DOJ engagement in pursuing the ringleaders and others culpable for the January 6th attack. What really happened to the Would-Be-Acting-Twice-Nominated DHS Secretary Chad Wolf? It's a tale of statutory inevitability.  At any rate, welcome to the front office Pete Gaynor! Does the disqualification-from-office provision of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment apply to Trump's outrageous conduct?  Well, that 6:01pm tweet of his wants to make a case for providing aid-and-comfort to armed enemies of the Constitution and government of the United States... Mike Pompeo announces an Iran-al Qaeda team-up...what legal implications? Nightmare scenarios for the endgame period: watch out for domestic terrorism at iconic government-related locations away from the Inauguration. How great is it that the Mets picked up Francisco Lindor?

Jan 13

1 hr 4 min

Today was a national tragedy of the first order. Tonight we discuss: the many crimes that definitely were committed, and certain other crimes -- particularly seditious conspiracy -- that may have been committed (and how that relates to the First Amendment Brandenburg test) the bizarre and indefensible lack of a strong police presence and a proper National Guard response (including an unpacking of the legal authorities governing control over DC's guard) some familiar -- and some not-so-familiar -- interpretive questions associated with the 25th Amendment (including not just the role of "Acting" secretaries, but also the question of what happens if the president's "rebuttal" letter is followed instantly by the firing of all the secretaries who signed the original letter) impeachment issue, including the prospect of proceedings lasting beyond January 20th...and the possibility of an outcome permanently barring Donald J. Trump from office

Jan 7

52 min 32 sec

How about a surprise mini-episode on New Year's Eve???  Sure, why not!  Tune in for...well, not much.  We just wanted to say hi, happy new year, thanks for being listeners, and 2020-Don't-Let-The-Door-Hit-You-On-The-Way-Out!

Jan 1

9 min 32 sec

Hello from Austin, home of SolarWinds and CyberTrucks! [ed. note:  uh, no.  Let's go with home of bbq and tacos instead]  We're back with another round of discussion and debate with Professors Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney, as they cover: Erica Newland's NY Times op-ed arguing that DOJ attorneys should have resigned early on during the Trump administration What exactly counts as a seditious conspiracy for purposes of (i) federal criminal law and (ii) the Uniform Code of Military Justice?  Asking for a friend... The sudden rise, and apparent collapse, of a rushed attempt by DoD leadership to direct separation of NSA and Cyber Command Prospects for a veto override if Trump vetoes the NDAA tomorrow Section 1705 of the pending NDAA: an authority for DHS CISA that in some ways speaks directly to the flaws exposed by the SolarWinds debacle Al Shabaab's 9/11-style plot, and the compelling ordinariness of the Justice Department's decision to prosecute it in Manhattan Pan Am 103 back in the news: AG Barr announces charges against the bombmaker (who may also have made the bomb that struck La Belle Discotheque in Berlin) And, of course, views on the Mandalorian season finale!

Dec 2020

1 hr 1 min

Hey, we're back on our weekly schedule!  How 'bout that...now we'll probably skip the next three, but hey, until then, we've got a quite a show, not to mention the launch of our holiday charity drive! What's that all about?  Well, it's simple: give $5 or more to Casa Marianella, forward the emailed receipt that you get from them to ThisIsTheWay@strausscenter.org (.org, not .com!), and you will be entered in a drawing.  What drawing?  Well, after January 15, we'll pick one of the entries at random, and that person will be invited to join us (date to be determined jointly) to CO-HOST an episode with us!  Do it!  Do it!  C'mon, do it! What's that?  Oh, right.  This week's show actually talks about: Barr out, Rosen in The demise of the Ken Paxton (well, "Texas") election suit Electors doing their jobs, electors doing...something else The "Safe Harbor" rule and justiciability of electoral slate challenges The SolarWinds cybersecurity mess TikTok v. Trump: The DC Circuit seems poised to accept TikTok's IEEPA interpretation argument The roadmap to closing GTMO under the Biden administration (well, we are speculating, but still...) Did you know the Periodic Review Board authorized a GTMO transfer the other day?  That's 6 approved for transfer, out of 40 remaining overall. Another trial judge for the 9/11 case...or one of the old ones is back.? DOD ending support for CIA Title 50 operations? The NDAA: veto or not? If not, then here's what Section 1702 does for Congressional oversight of "sensitive military cyber operations" The Supreme Court's Briggs decision: bad news for a certain podcast co-host Is it just me, or is this least really long? Frivolity: The Mandalorian of course.  Or is it the Manladorian? (Google it)

Dec 2020

1 hr 13 min

It's National Safe Harbor day (for all you Electoral College enthusiasts), and we're here to celebrate with a new show.  Join for spirited but respectful debate between Professors Chesney and Vladeck as they discuss: The legal basis for a possible presidential action to compel Pfizer to bump the United States ahead of other countries when it comes to accessing vaccine doses beyond the 100m covered in the current contract Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's attempt to get the Supreme Court to adjudicate a claim by Texas that the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all should be thrown out The Supreme Court's ruling (granting injunctive relief) in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, concerning the application of the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause to New York's emergency rules on maximum-occupancy for purposes of pandemic control Whither the NDAA? We take note of the veto threat, and offer thoughts on selected issues in the bill including the GMTO and military commission-related provisions (or, in the latter case, the absence of one such provision), as well as the proposed National Cybersecurity Director Plus, inevitably, a review of the latest episode of The Mandalorian, and appreciation for the New York Colt McCoys (Giants)!

Dec 2020

1 hr 7 min

And...we're back! Tune in as Professors Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss the latest in national security legal developments, including: Prospects for the Biden Administration to chart a new course with respect to (a) the use of military detention at GTMO, (b) the transfer of GTMO detainees approved for such transfer already, or (c) the use of military commissions as the vehicle for criminal prosecutions Prospects for the nomination to be Secretary of Defense, and the role of the federal statute requiring servicemembers to be out for at least seven years before becoming eligible for that (civilian) position Comments on the other national security nominees to this point More on the plethora of election-related lawsuits and the larger problem of bogus claims about massive fraud Steve's win in the Larrabee lawsuit, in which Judge Leon has now held that it is unconstitutional to subject separated servicemembers to face recall for court-martial prosecution for post-separation crimes The killing in Iran of a senior al Qaeda figure, and the related question of how the passage of time impacts (or does not impact) an individual's connection to the AUMF and the U.S. government's position on the existence of an armed conflict with al Qaeda And, at long last, frivolity focused on The Mandalorian Season 2!  (Plus, the improbable playoff prospects of the New York Giants, for whom anything is possible with Colt McCoy at the helm!)

Nov 2020

1 hr 1 min

In this week's episode, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: The array of firings and appointments of senior Defense Department officials The law governing the General Services Administration and support for presidential transitions Whether it is appropriate to place pressure on Jones Day (and their other clients) based on the involvement of Jones Day lawyers in election-challenge lawsuits United States v. Maiorana: charge against a Staten Island man, under 18 USC 875(c) (threats of violence), based on vile online postings about killing protestors and government officials (raising First Amendment issues relating to the difference between the "True Threat" and "Incitement" categories) TikTok update: tomorrow (the 12th) is the CFIUS divestment deadline....what will happen next? Since *someone* hasn't watched the first Mandalorian season 2 episodes yet, we are left to chat about the new owner of the Mets and the chances of a Dodgers/Yankees-style spending spree....

Nov 2020

52 min 38 sec

We are back, but alas we're here to talk about the election!  If you were hoping for a national security-focused escape from the election, well, we'll make it up to you soon)!

Nov 2020

1 hr 7 min

And we're back, after a(nother) week off!  What do we have to show for it? Tune is as co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney as they review: Steve's Supreme Court argument in Briggs -- more military justice at SCOTUS! Speaking of the Court: whither the role of the Chief once he's not obviously the fifth vote? Who will be the new swing justice? And what to make of the Court's actions this week in the Pennsylvania and Alabama election cases? Meanwhile, over at the DOJ National Security Division: Russian military officers indicted for NotPetya and more A man convicted of material support who was nearing the end of his sentence just picked up an extra 25 years, for it turned out he was using his time to recruit others to carry out attacks and planning some future violence of his own Two web domains used by Kata'ib Hizballah--a sanctioned foreign terrorist organization--have been seized, for needless to say KH did not get themselves an OFAC license... And then the long-awaited Tom Berenger frivolity!  Jake, Barnes, Longstreet...much to discuss!

Oct 2020

52 min 14 sec

They may or may not have more presidential debates, but you'll always at least have us!  Tune in for this week's episode as Professors Chesney and Vladeck review the latest national security law developments: The two so-called Islamic State "Beatles" have now arrived in Virginia to face criminal prosecution in civilian court. Meanwhile, the trial before a military commission of KSM and others charged with involvement in the 9/11 plot needs a judge, again. In a horrifying illustration of organized domestic terrorism, the FBI and DOJ today revealed the arrest of five men who were plotting to kidnap Michigan's governor (apparently with plans to them hold some kind of show trial, which then presumably would lead to her murder). The Second Circuit will not quash the subpoena issued by New York City's DA (Cy Vance Jr.) for Trump-related tax records. The 25th Amendment was in the news, bigly, last Friday as President Trump's health situation deteriorated; we spell out how it works, and then argue over the wisdom of having the Speaker of the House in the statutory order of succession for the presidency Where in the world is Steve Vladeck...in terms of oral arguments?  He was in the Texas Supreme Court this week, and will be in the Supreme Court of the United States next Tuesday (for Briggs). Meanwhile, we have one word of advice and one homework assignment for y'all: ADVICE: WATCH TED LASSO! HOMEWORK: Be prepared to identify the top 5 best, and bottom 5 worst, Tom Berenger movies (for next week's frivolity)!

Oct 2020

46 min 47 sec

We're not a biweekly show, we promise!  It just seems that way sometimes...like this week, when we are bringing you: Discussing the passing of Justice Ginsburg and potential implications of the Amy Coney Barrett nomination for national security and rule of law cases Breaking down the separate opinions enjoining IEEPA sanctions against WeChat (on First Amendment grounds) and TikTok (on IEEPA exception grounds) The FISC's 2019 Section 702 certification opinion and ongoing issues of compliance The Ninth Circuit's Moalin decision (finding statutory and Fourth Amendment problems with Section 215 bulk metadata collection) Trump's taxes: could someone with that sort of debt normally get a security clearance? Annals of the Bowe Berghdahl case: a military judge who had an eye on an immigration judgeship A new judge for the 9/11 trial But skip all that if you are in the middle of debate prep, for we also have...a BINGO CARD for tonight!

Sep 2020

1 hr 24 min

So we took a week off without warning because, you know, 2020.  But we're back, and we sure don't lack for things to discuss and debate!  Tune in as co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney weigh in on: The NY Times story reporting a request from AFRICOM to expand targeting authorities involving al Shabaab in Kenya in particular. The President's denial, and then confirmation, that he favored trying to kill Bashar al-Assad. DOJ launching a criminal investigation of former National Security Advisor John Bolton. DOJ moving to interpose the U.S. government as defendant in a defamation suit stemming from President Trump's answer to questions relating to rape allegations. A federal judge's decision to invoke Lochner (!!!) en route to declaring various Pennsylvania public health measures unconstitutional. Whether the military can subject a person to court martial for an offense allegedly committed prior to a break in service, where the person already was prosecuted (unsuccessfully) in a state court. The latest twists and turns with TikTok and WeChat under IEEPA and CFIUS And the Mandalorian trailer...OMG OMG OMG

Sep 2020

1 hr 13 min

We are back after a week off, and apparently your co-hosts used the extra time to sharpen disagreements about old school topics like ... GTMO!  Tune in for: An extended debate over the D.C. Circuit's Al Hela decision, including everything from the scope of the NDAA FY'12 detention provisions to the applicability of the Due Process Clause at GTMO A shorter discussion of similar issues that also arose last week in the district court's ruling in Uthman About the Hatch Act....I mean, good heavens. We also include a Chadwick Boseman appreciation, in lieu of our usual frivolity.  And it somehow turns into a discussion of deep fakes, too.

Aug 2020

1 hr 13 min

We are back with a new episode, bringing you respectful disagreements and discussion--not to mention heaps of frivolity--about the latest national security law news.  This week, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss: Attorney General Barr's offer to eschew the death penalty in order to enable the UK to provide the US with inculpatory evidence against the two Islamic State "Beatles" detainees currently in US military custody...and his promise that they mean will be transferred to Iraq for prosecution if this doesn't occur by October 15. The GAO's legal memo concluding that the senior-most DHS officials do not hold their positions lawfully (thanks to the distinction between regular and "catastrophic" vacancy scenarios) The United States Postal Service strikes back...through the law enforcement officers in its Inspection Service.  Didn't know that was a thing?  Neither did Steve Bannon, most likely, but that's who arrested him... The Fifth Circuit won't show its cards with respect to whether the all-male military draft rule remains constitutional given that the role of women in the military has changed so much since Rostker...will SCOTUS take the case though? Some National Security Division updates All that, plus 80s soundtrack frivolity!

Aug 2020

1 hr 7 min

We were out last week...what'd we miss? Oh. So, there was much we could have covered this week, but we decided to focus on these three: The First Circuit ruling vacating the Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon Bombing) death penalty based on concerns about jury bias The President's decision to sanction TikTok and WeChat Legal questions raised by the quartet of executive orders and other presidential directives over the weekend relating to COVID-19 economic relief, including an important federalism question relating to the scope of CDC/HHS pandemic-response authority. As for frivolity: we discuss whether and how college football will unfold this fall (or maybe this spring, or maybe not at all), but more importantly we also ask listeners to weigh next week on an important topic: Best movie soundtracks of the 1980s.  Which is pretty funny because, well, that was the subject of frivolity in Episode 50, and neither of us remembered that while recording the current episode!  In fairness, that was fall 2017, which was like 623 years ago...

Aug 2020

1 hr 11 min

We delay this program just fine without his help, thank you very much.  Well, I guess you can see what we are leading with this evening.  The run-of-show: President Trump's suggestion about delaying the election Michael Cohen will be home, and writing, after all Michael Flynn, on the other hand, can't be so sure about staying home thanks to the en banc D.C. Circuit (until he gets a pardon, that is) The Tata nomination in tatters? Revisiting Portland and trying to zero in on the most significant elements in that story The Second Circuit's curious decision in Hassoun All that plus live reactions as the Mets drop another one, as the NBA restarts, and as Watchmen quite rightly rakes in the Emmy nominations.

Jul 2020

1 hr 23 min

This week we don't lack for topics, to say the least. Tune in for in-the-weeds discussion of: Trumplandia meets Portlandia 1: What's the legal basis for DHS components engaging in law enforcement activity there? Trumplandia meets Portlandia 2: Since when can you just shoot a non-violent person in the head with a "less-than-lethal" round? Trumplandia meets Portlandia 3: What's the legal framework for DHS collection and analysis of intelligence relating to property-protective missions? Meanwhile, Michael Cohen litigates BOP's ability to send him back to jail for publishing a book Meanwhile, in regular law enforcement: terrorism charges for an MS-13 leader Meanwhile, at GTMO: A remarkable sanction against the government issued by the trial judge in the Majid Khan military commission case Meanwhile in Europe: The Court of Justice of the European Union blows up Privacy Shield based on concerns involving Section 702 and also 12,333 collection Meanwhile in the 9th Circuit: A sharp dispute over the interaction of FISA and the state-secrets privilege just might set the stage for SCOTUS to weigh in And then, after all, we have what we must admit was a desultory frivolity segment.  Though maybe that is purposeful performance art, projecting how the MLB "regular season" is going to feel...  

Jul 2020

1 hr 10 min

We're back, with a Supreme-Court focused episode!  Tune in for: The Supreme Court's twin decisions in the New York grand jury and Congressional subpoena cases The consequences of those decisions for related litigation such as the Don McGahn subpoena case The McGirt decision on the Muskogee nation's control of territory in eastern Oklahoma The petition for en banc review in the Michael Flynn case As for frivolity, how could it be anything other than the Hamilton movie?

Jul 2020

1 hr 17 min

This week on NSL Podcast, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney review and debate the latest national security legal news, including: Russian "bounties" on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, including (theoretical) legal implications A district court ruling finding the government lacks sufficient evidence to hold Adham Hassoun under Section 412 of the USA Patriot Act The Julian Assange prosecution: new fact allegations that might help distinguish his situation from that of conventional journalists An actual bill in the Senate addressing the "going dark"/Crypto Wars 2.0 debate: The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act SCOTUS roundup: Article II and the power to remove; extraterritorial constitutional rights; Congressional access to grand jury material; the Alien Tort Statute, foreign sovereign immunity And for frivolity?  In honor of the upcoming Disney+ stream of Hamilton, we consider the song (with a strong assist from Kirk Hamilton's Strong Songs podcast).

Jul 2020

1 hr 2 min

We're back with an evening recording, as co-hosts Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck weigh in on: The D.C. Circuit's Mike Flynn ruling, and the likely path ahead The bizarre process of removing SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey Berman The Bolton book ruling The Veterans Memorial Preservation Act PCLOB's FISA session earlier this week The SCOTUS ruling on Expedited Removal and the Suspension Clause And then we gripe, a bunch, about rules MLB did and did not adopt for their upcoming rump season.

Jun 2020

1 hr 21 min

In the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast, co-hosts Professors Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss: Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, and War Powers DOJ's doomed effort to get a prior restraint preventing publication of John Bolton's already widely-distributed book (and, in contrast, DOJ's strong prospects for getting a constructive trust for breach of contract) Espionage Act liability for leaking national security information: a 30-month sentence for a former DIA analyst this week, and speculation about how it would look if DOJ took this approach with John Bolton The Supreme Court's DACA ruling: wrestling with the nuances of the decision There were no National Guard air assets conducting surveillance in DC...unless maybe there were? There were no Pennsylvania National Guard personnel in DC...unless maybe there were? Oh, look, international armed conflict between China and India... The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 becomes law: understanding how it relates to IEEPA, where it does and does not provide wiggle room for the president, and whether its plain terms warrant application to President Xi and other senior Chinese officials. As for frviolity: Sportsball is almost back...but will the NBA or MLB really deliver games?

Jun 2020

1 hr 9 min

After an extra-long break, we are back...and swamped!  Tune in for debate and discussion of, among other things: The National Guard deployments to Washington, DC, including questions of status, command, and authority The special circumstances of the DC National Guard (and, relatedly, the issue of DC statehood) The Third Amendment, hotels, and originalism??? Civ-Mil relations and the weird weeks for General Milley and Secretary Esper The Tom Cotton Op-Ed and the NY Times' response to the fallout from it The NDAA and proposals to mandate renaming of US military bases named for Confederate Generals GTMO, military commissions, the Majid Khan ruling (to the effect that torture can be cited as grounds for mitigation at sentencing), and implications for the 9/11 prosecution and capital punishment President Trump's Executive Order declaring a national emergency vis-a-vis the prospect of ICC action against U.S. personnel, and the corresponding creation of a sanctions regime against not just ICC personnel involved in such actions but also against those who materially support them. And a surprisingly belated-yet-timely review of HBO's Watchmen series.  Seriously, if you haven't watched it yet, get started!

Jun 2020

1 hr 29 min

Tonight we bring you a special episode, recorded jointly with Ben Wittes as an episode of the Lawfare Podcast.  Ben, Bobby, and Steve explore the threatened invocation of the Insurrection Act by President Trump, the president's existing use of the DC National Guard, the president's assertion that he will designate Antifa as a "domestic terrorist organization," and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters out of Lafayette Square Park in order to facilitate a presidential photo op.

Jun 2020

53 min 22 sec

Welcome back to the nerdiest national security law show around!  Tune in this week for debate and discussion between Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney regarding: Inspector General firings Presidential Emergency Action Documents Mike Flynn's sentencing as the OJ Simpson Trial Apple, FBI, and the Pensacola AQAP plot as the latest salvo in the Going Dark/Cryptowars debate The ruling of Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in the BND surveillance case The D.C. Circuit ruling in Ali, a GTMO habeas case concerning the application (or not) of the Due Process Clause All that...and, well, Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor.

May 2020

1 hr 6 min

Welcome back to the National Security Law Podcast, after a one-week hiatus!  (You can actually watch the recording here, if you need more Zoom in your life). In this episode, Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney discuss and debate: This week's SCOTUS oral arguments in the Trump business subpoena cases.  Is a pragmatic compromise in the works?  Will the DA and HPSCI emerge winners? DOJ called, and they want to abandon their successful prosecution of Mike Flynn because...well, res ipsa loquitor. Speaking of Mike Flynn, the "unmasking" pseudo-controversy is back. FISA amendment mayhem!  A bid to prevent use of Section 215 for browser records *just* fails to make it into the Senate bill, and then a boost to the amicus system--and the rules on disclosure of exculpatory evidence and on Woods procedures compliance--makes it over the goal line easily.  But will the House follow suit? Something about war powers something something veto or something...is anyone watching??? And then there was the season finale of Westworld.  It's like they just ran out of good ideas...

May 2020

1 hr 34 min

What a fun episode!  Co-hosts Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck recorded "live" before the Austin Bar Association, as the finale of their day-long Zoom conference.  On tap: The ODNI report on FISA statistics: We have a detailed discussion of the highlights, focusing on whether there is cause for alarm in the renews that FBI in some instances failed to get a warrant (as required by statute) before accessing the content of U.S. person communications incidentally collected via 702. Pandemia: What's the real story with the latest Defense Production Act order, the one directed at the meat-processing industry? Flynn-sanity:  Will Mike Flynn be pardoned, and if not will recent developments involving the FBI's activities impact his sentence? Will the Supreme Court pave the way for judicial enforcement of Congressional subpoenas of Trump business records, or will it instead foreclose that possibility (and much more than that)? Hey, look, another judge for the 9/11 case at GTMO! All that, plus a review of WestWorld episode 7.

May 2020

1 hr 12 min

Is this our most-substantive episode ever?  No, no it's not.  Is it a sign that co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney are going a bit stir crazy?  Perhaps so.  Does it feature cute cameos from Steve's kids and his dog? Yes, that it does! (Which is why you probably want to peek at the Zoom video recording of the session, which is here!)  At any rate, tune in for: Pandemia: We discuss and debate the implications of the Attorney General's cryptic reference to the possibility of Justice Department intervention in litigation against states in connection with state public health policies.  More war on federalism, or nothing-to-see-here? GTMO has a new Convening Authority!  (Sorry, did you say "What's a Convening Authority"????) SCOTUS wants to weigh in, at last, on the meaning of "exceeds authorized access" in the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act.  This could turn into the second-most-famous Van Buren! That's actually it for substance.  But don't think they won't talk for 15 minutes about WestWorld.

Apr 2020

58 min 21 sec

And we're back, with discussion of the latest national security law news. (Video of the show here!)  This week, co-hosts Steve Vladeck and Bobby Chesney nerd out with the details on: Can he do that? President Trump says he might adjourn Congress so as to be able to use his recess-appointment power.  Inquiring minds want to know: is that a thing? Oh, also: can he do that? President Trump also says he has "total authority" over whether and when the economy should reopen, and Vice President Pence says that POTUS has "plenary" power in this emergency setting.  Inquiring minds also want to know if that is a thing.  So, we end up with a somewhat-deep dive into, of all things, the Supreme Court's decision in In re Debs. Wait, who's the judge now? There's yet another new trial judge for the 9/11 case at GTMO.  What's the record for a single trial???  Meanwhile, it appears that this one has denied a defense request for access to otherwise-unavailable parts of the SSCI "Torture report." But forget all that.  The real action, as usual, is the frivolity.  Westworld's latest episode is on tap!  

Apr 2020

1 hr 17 min

We are "live" from Penn Law today!  Thanks to the Penn Law National Security Society, not to mention the magic of Zoom, we recorded today with a virtual audience.  Tune in for your co-hosts, Professors Chesney and Vladeck, as they debate: Paracha v. Trump: A blast from the past: a district court habeas ruling on the legal and factual foundations for holding a GTMO military detainee, one that raises fascinating (and relatively novel) questions about the use of military detention in circumstances where the detainee might not be a member of an AUMF-covered group but who did provide material support to such a group.  This in turn leads to a debate about the relevance of international law to that question, and then that leads to a discussion of what international law actually has to say about such fact patterns. Pandemia: We've got an actual, real-live action under the Defense Production Act: a ventilator-production contract with GM!  We review the direct use (and non-use) of "the P!", noting how the mere invocation of it (even without actual use) not only plays a political role but also, perhaps, plays a subtle but important role in changing negotiation postures. We've got a fascinating Fifth Circuit decision, In re Abbott, that raises complex doctrinal questions about how to reconcile the compelling state interest in public health during a pandemic with individual rights claims (in this case abortion rights, but there are plenty of other possibilities), and what the right reading of Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905) is with respect to that question.  Does all rights claims reduce to the protections of mere rational basis review in such settings?  Or should we instead apply the usual doctrinal frameworks for analysis of a particular right, but with full recognition of the unusually-compelling nature of the offsetting government interest? For example, would you really apply mere rational-basis review if a state decided to make it a crime to advocate in favor of relaxing shelter-in-place rules? Modly, we hardly knew ye!  Modly's ill-advised speech to the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt went over like a lead balloon...one that eventually landed on his own head. (ed. note: that makes no sense....) Beware, IGs!  It's legal for the president to remove them, but is it right to do so? FISC fallout from Horowitz Part II: Horowitz is one IG who is not on the hotseat, it's safe to say!  Hot on the heels of his report blasting FBI for shoddy compliance with its own "Woods procedures," the FISC is out with a strict order demanding to know whether those compliance problems might eventually have led to incorrect or incomplete representations to the FISC...and, what's more, it wants such scouring done not just for the 29 cases Horowitz sampled but also across the FISC docket, with bimonthly reporting to the FISC on progress.  Not a fun time to work at FBI GC! Sandig v. Barr - Judge Bate holds that to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act's "unauthorized access" condition, one must engage in some kind of circumvention of security measures, and that it's not enough that you are unauthorized in the separate sense of doing something that violates "terms of use/service." This will help solidify a trend of rulings in that direction. But enough law and policy.  Gimme WestWorld Season 3, Episode 4!

Apr 2020

1 hr 17 min