Executive Orders and Directives Trump Might Modify or Rescind, based on his comments (Reference documents from Lawfareblog.com)

Since the election Lawfareblog co-founder Bobby Chesney has posted two articles under the heading “Annals of the Trump Administration” that are handy references -or checklists if you wish- for executive orders and presidential directives that President Trump might change or rescind, based on his campaign statements.  I thought you might find them as valuable as I do.

The first deals with interrogation:

“…given candidate Trump’s repeated endorsements of waterboarding or worse, it seems very likely that sometime next January we’ll see action repealing President Obama’s executive order 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogation“), accompanied by renewed talk of taking the gloves off when it comes to interrogation.”

The second includes interrogation, Guantanamo, signals intelligence, and policy on terrorist targeting.  Here is an example of the kinds of questions raised:

“Section 3(c) of 13491 bars reliance on Bush-era Justice Department interpretations of interrogation-related federal statutes and treaties (you know the ones).  Will a revocation order from Trump explicitly reinstate the authority of those memos?”

I cannot commend Lawfareblog to you highly enough.  National Security and the issues surrounding it lead me to read it daily.  Along with reading Just Security, my other “go-to” site for similar issues, it is as routine for me to read it as to drink my coffee while doing so.

While it is “lawyerly” and scholarly, it is only rarely inaccessible to a lay person.  It has won my interest because it takes a more thoughtful approach to my issues.  My biases run much more toward civil liberties and retaining “speed bumps” for the government in its dealings with individuals but I’ve found most of the civil liberties sites to be more “hair on fire” commentary and less scholarly than I can take regularly without spilling coffee on my computer.

I impose my civil liberties skepticism on articles from time to time while I enjoy them all the time.  You might enjoy the site; it contains a growing array of subject fields related to national security, understood broadly.

I thank Ben Wittes, editor, for permission to make these available through this blog.

US Intelligence Community as campaign fact-checker…Not a good idea

“A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August. “To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation,” said the official. “The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear.”

Trump Told Russia To Blame for Hacks Long Before Debate – NBC News

For all my grumbles about the US Intelligence Community, I take for granted that it has matchless sources for the information it produces.  In addition to the sources that are secret, it has access to all public information.  That means that what it says it knows is likely to be true, subject only to some very sophisticated states or people who know how to deceive it.  I suspect there are few who can.

I take what it reports, even when it falls short of a full-throated assertion, to be as close to the truth as I am going to find.

Why not use the IC to check facts and correct the record of campaign statements?

Sounds attractive.  None of the fact-checking sites and sources can compete with it.  So why not, at last, know as much of the story behind any campaign statements as we can know to make an informed choice?

This is a bad leak and, as it reads, likely a high-level leak, designed to defend its briefings against any charge that they were insufficient, untimely, or lacking authority.  That’s not an acceptable position for a largely secret community to take.  I understand it, maybe better in this election than I would have in past ones which weren’t as “fact-free” as this one seems to be.  But we can’t have it.

The IC is not there for domestic political use, however useful it might be.  Its purposes are governmental.  We have an interest in truthful campaign assertions; we have an even greater interest in governmental organizations not charged with electoral responsibilities staying out of them.  Preserving their independence of electoral politics is absolutely essential to preserving their value to us no matter who holds public office.

The role of the IC is a part of the government’s role in defense (external and internal) of the nation; neither it nor we are well-served when it publicly defends itself.


Think about it: Apple’s gift to the government*

What a favor Apple is doing the government.

* The House Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing yesterday ( The Encryption Debate). It posed questions to the FBI, Apple, prosecutors and experts. The videos are long but there is also a narrative on the page summarizing much.

Expert Susan Landau testified suggested the FBI should use this situation to develop the capabilities it seeks from Apple.  (It has just asked for an extra $38 million appropriation.)

But the big Apple gift was to the government as a whole.  Cyber security has been neglected, both encryption and decryption.  Key government agencies could have protected their files as Apple protects its devices. If they had, 20+ million people would not have been hacked.

Many parts of the government have not yet taken the protection of their data seriously.  Apple is showing them they can make it damned near impossible for anyone to get information to which they have no right.  Yes, the agency would need a key for administration.  It could be highly secured.

Let me make clear, throughout this dispute, my sympathies have been with Apple.  How can access for the good guys be protected from the bad guys?  No one ever says.

In fact, we don’t know that some US government agency or someone else hasn’t already built exactly what the FBI wants Apple to build.  If you think it is sad we don’t know whether other agencies have already done what Apple is being asked to do, well, I do too.)