The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. Their study was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. The CIA released its redacted June 2013 response to the study and the Director of the CIA John Brennan gave a new statement on December 9, 2014. The CIA also prepared a fact sheet on the history of the program and its responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee's main findings.
On October 28, 2014, Nobel Peace Prize Winners addressed a letter to President Obama, asking him to disclose U.S. torture practices, as detailed in the CIA 2012 torture report, to close sites where torture was performed, and to end the practice in the United States.
Responding to Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion of confiscating the passports of British subjects fighting abroad, Ed Husain asks, "In trying to reduce the terror threat, is the government unwittingly increasing it?"
This U.S. Court of Appeal's Second Circuit ruled that this redacted version of a 2010 Justice Department memo, which "signed off on the effort to target Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen deemed a terrorist, for killing without a trial," had to be released, in response to FOIA requests filed by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union.
President Barack Obama outlined on May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University, his administration's counterterrorism strategy, which include three areas: "targeted action against terrorists; effective partnerships; and diplomatic engagement and assistance." He discussed legal and moral concerns, and congressional oversight regarding the use of lethal targeted drone attacks and terrorist detention centers, and signed a policy directive to guide future operations.
Attorney General Eric Holder sent this letter on May 22, 2013, to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, addressing accountability, transparency, and legality of U.S. counterterrorism operations. He discloses previously classified information regarding the deaths of four U.S. citizens involved in terrorist groups, who were "outside the area of active hostilities" and were targeted by lethal drone attacks. This letter came before President Obama's speech at the National Defense University and his Presidential Policy Directive, which outline the administration's policies regarding counterterrorism operations, including drones and terrorist detention camps. See also the Department of Justice Memo: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa'ida or An Associated Force.
Carla Anne Robbins says, "The drone war isn't going away. As the U.S. slashes budgets, the lethality and cost-effectiveness of drone strikes will likely make them an even more attractive option. But that doesn't mean the current policy is wise or even sustainable."
NBC News published this Department of Justice confidential white paper on February 5, 2013, which outlines the legal framework that would allow the U.S. government to "use lethal force in a foreign country" against a U.S. citizen highly involved with al-Qaeda or its associates. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators requested all classified documents related to the legality of targeted killings of Americans be released.
This Congressional Reseach Service report briefly summarizes the legal issues raised by the choice of forum for trying accused terrorists, and provides a chart comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court.
News of planned military trials for five 9/11 suspects underscores the Obama administration's need to more forcefully defend the necessity of military tribunals if they are to have legitimacy at home and abroad, says CFR's Matthew Waxman.
Matthew C. Waxman discusses U.S. attorney general Eric Holder's address providing the Obama administration's legal rationale for targeted killings of certain al Qaeda suspects--including U.S. citizens.
Detainee policy that would mandate military custody for al-Qaeda suspects captured in the United States could have a detrimental impact on U.S. counterterrorism operations, say CFR legal experts Matthew C. Waxman and John B. Bellinger III.
Guantanamo Bay, where hundreds of terror suspects have been detained since 9/11, has underscored the need for flexibility and careful balancing in detainee policy to confront twenty-first-century threats, writes CFR's Matthew Waxman.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Koblentz argues that the United States should work with other nuclear-armed states to manage threats to nuclear stability in the near term and establish processes for multilateral arms control efforts over the longer term.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »