Episode 32: Back to the Future…of Afghanistan and GTMO?
Never a dull moment in 2017. In this week's episode, Professors Vladeck and Chesney take on four topics (well, four relevant topics...do try to stay with them past their musings on home runs at the Little League World Series). First, they unpack the part of President Trump's Afghanistan speech in which he promised to loosen "rules of engagement," construing it as a pledge to further relax Obama administration policies regarding the scope of permitted targets in Afghanistan, the permissible roles for U.S. ground forces, and the range of situations in which permission must be obtained from POTUS or SecDef. They place those possible changes in context with similar adjustments in 2014 and 2016, and discuss their implications for the AUMF debate as well. Second, they note a report (by Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman) in the New York Times to the effect that President Trump is drawing close to signing a new executive order on the fate of Guantanamo (and, indeed, that he nearly signed it three weeks ago). This leads to a discussion of what we should all be looking for in whatever GTMO order emerges (for example, will there still be Periodic Review Boards?). Stay tuned on that subject. Third, they discuss the D.C. Circuit's recent ruling requiring Judge Scott Silliman to recuse from the Court of Military Commission Review in relation to the 9/11-focused military commission case (a discussion that leads to a more-general conversation about whether it makes sense even to have the CMCR going forward). And fourth, they discuss the uber-fed-courtsy (yes, that is a phrase now!) question of whether the Judicial Power under Article III extends to injunctions directed to the President himself. The key case there is Mississipi v. Andrew Johnson, and the principle is of self-evident importance--but not self-evident current vitality. But wait...don't stop at that point! Surely you have not had enough Game of Thrones talk yet? Whew, good. Stick around for their review of the Zombie Rendition episode (aka GoT episode 6), in which they complain about temporal implausibilities, stupid strategies, and tactical blunders in the world of Westeros.