Shortbursts: Essay winner, book recommendations, new blog, and ICYMI

“Shorbursts” is a Lawfire®occasional feature that aims to give you a quick volley of info on a number of items:

LENS Essay wins a national award!

Some great news!  Mark Rothrock’s terrific essay,  “All’s Fair in Love and Wars of Self-Defense: In Support of the ‘Conservative Approach’ to Jus ad Bellum,” which was a LENS Essay Series selection, just won honorable mention in the National Institute of Military Justice’s 2020 John S. Jenkins Writing Competition.  Mark is a Duke Law class of 2020 grad, and served as the Managing Editor for Volume 69 of the Duke Law Journal.  He’s currently clerking in the Eastern District (with a follow-on to the 6th Circuit.)  He’s also an officer in the US Marine Corps Reserve.

New blog!

Lawfire® welcomes a new blog by our friends at the Lieber Institute at West Point!  Here’s the description:

Articles of War is a curated digital publication that features expert analysis on the law of armed conflict and related issues. We publish different perspectives – military, academic, policy, humanitarian, etc. Articles in the publication highlight new developments in law, analyze emerging legal issues, place current events in a legal context, and emphasize military operational perspectives on the law of armed conflict. Our intention with Articles of War is to help foster a deeper understanding of the complex and evolving relationship between law and warfare.

For more information, see COL Shane Reeves and Prof Sean Watt’s Introduction post to Articles of War.


Some recommended reading that entertains – but also educates:

P.W. Singer and August Cole,  Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution.  Though putatively a “novel” this book is really an extended hypothetical that enables the authors to talk about the latest developments in robotics and artificial intelligence in an accessible way (and the “novel” comes with scores of footnotes for the academically inclined!).  The tale follows an FBI agent and her newly-assigned ‘trainee’ robot as she investigates a terror plot in the not-too-distant future.

David Ignatius, The Paladin: A Spy Novel.  A CIA analyst is framed while attempting to investigate a hyper-sophisticated criminal cyber organization.  Lots of scary detail about the disturbing potential of “deep fakes” to destroy people’s lives and cause all sorts of mayhem.  A can’t-put-it-down piece of masterful story-telling by a Washington Post columnist who very obviously knows much about intelligence agencies and the rogue potential of cyberspace techniques.

James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, 1st Case.  A cyber prodigy, recently booted from MIT for using her considerable hacking skills the wrong way for a righteous reason, finds herself with a chance to reboot her life through an internship as a cyber-expert with the FBI.  She soon finds herself embroiled in a case involving a diabolical and dangerous hacker whose cyber skills may exceed her own.  Lots to learn about how hackers work!

Amaryllis Fox, Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA.  While this extraordinary story of a former CIA spy isn’t without controversy (see here), it is one of the few that provide a woman’s perspective about being a no-kidding spy in the complicated world of the 21st century.  Her very personal journey to the CIA – and from it – makes for very interesting reading.  Lots of ‘spy craft’ in between also makes this book much worth your while.


A number of issues that have been addressed on Lawfire® seem to be re-emerging.  Here’s a quick index for you on a couple of topics:

Mail-in balloting: The military’s voting process is not a panacea for the challenges of the fall elections” (27 May 2020).

Using the military for domestic disorders: Mobilizing the military for domestic operations: some legal considerations(2 June 2020).

Police reform: “Casting police reform as a ‘national security’ issue risks perpetuating the public safety crisis (4 June 2020).

Leadership:Eight leadership lessons from the Navy carrier captain’s case(27 April 2020).

Women and the draft: Must Annie get her gun? Women, draft registration, and the Constitution(15 March 2020).

Soleimani killing: “The killing of General Soleimani was lawful self-defense, not ‘assassination’(3 Jan 2020).

Nonpartisan military: Why an apolitical military is so important in an era of an ‘All-Volunteer’ force(21 Sept 2019).

Still, remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

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