Shortbursts: Supreme Court, new poll on the military, interview about lawfare, a NSA opportunity, and more!

“Shortbursts” is a Lawfire® feature you will see occasionally, and it aims to give you a quick volley of info on a number of items. 

Filling the Supreme Court vacancy: The press is alive with reports about the President’s supposed selection to fill the spot of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, but I remain concerned about the paucity of national security experience and expertise among the current members of the Court. This is a vitally important area of the law as we go forward and, as I wrote here in 2016, there are some uniquely qualified individuals who could fill this gap. Judge Margaret Ryan, a former Marine, currently serving on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, is said to be on the President’s list, and although I don’t know her personally, I think she would be a great fit.

Someone I know personally is Avril Haines, the former Deputy National Security Advisor and former deputy director of the CIA, who was recommended for the Court by Professor Phillip Bobbitt in a 2016 essay entitled “The Supreme Court Could Use an Expert on National Security or International Law.” Haines served in administrations of both parties, but was a political appointee of the Obama administration – and that fact alone would probably make her a nonstarter. This is really unfortunate as she could bring a wealth of national security expertise to the Court. And, yes, I think she would conduct herself as an unbiased and apolitical Justice.

The leading candidate appears to be Judge Brett Kavanagh of the D.C. Court of Appeals who I’ve met in passing. He is highly-regarded, and I found his concurring opinion in Al Bahlul convincing. Somehow, however, I think the pick might be Judge Amy Barrett who, as far as I know, doesn’t have particular expertise in national security matters although she also appears to have a very strong record.

In which societal institution does the American public have the most confidence? The Gallup Poll organization reported in late June that “Americans’ confidence in an array of U.S. societal institutions is holding steady in 2018, with the military continuing to earn the highest confidence of 15 institutions tested.” Also of possible interest to national security devotees is a recent (June 5th) Rasmussen poll that shows as far as “most active duty military personnel and veterans are concerned, President Trump is stronger than most recent presidents.”

ICYMI: Interview about lawfare: In a 22 June interview with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian in Washington I discussed how the US and its allies need to incorporate lawfare into defense planning, and how state and non-state actors are moving in this space, and how free societies can immunize themselves against lawfare-based offensives. The interview was held during “Strategic Competition: Maintaining the Edge,” the 2018 edition of the Center for a New American Security think tank’s annual conference. The full interview is found here.

ICYMI: New article about targeting: A special issue of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law has just been published with my article “Targeting of Persons: The Contemporary Challenges.” I plan to write more about this in another post, but you can check it out now here. 

Opportunity with the National Security Agency. I recently received this message which law students may find of interest: 

We wanted to make you aware that we have posted a vacancy announcement for the Legal Honors Program in the National Security Agency’s Office of General Counsel. We are seeking highly motivated entry-level attorneys to join our Legal Honors Program in Fall 2019. The Program is a three-year term appointment that includes rotations through our seven legal practice groups, which include the areas of Operational Authorities, Operational Support, Legislation, Litigation, Acquisition, Research & Technology Law, Law & Policy, and Administrative Law & Ethics. Honors attorneys will be well positioned at the close of their three-year term to apply successfully for a full-time attorney position within NSA OGC or to utilize the skills acquired during the Program to launch a career outside of the Agency in national security law or other legal disciplines. More information about the Legal Honors Program and NSA’s Office of General Counsel is now available on our newly-launched page on NSA’s website.

More information is found here. The closing date is 9 September.

I hope you are having a great summer! (Joy and I are on a cruise ship in a Norwegian fjord ; watch this space for a post about the Artic and national security!)


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