February 15, 2017 @ 02PM

Lawfare posted an interesting deep-dive on the law of leaks. The introduction discusses Trump’s recent tweet that the “real” story is about illegal leaks:

First, the President makes these accusations despite not knowing the actual source of these leaks. At least some of the information seems to be coming from his own White House. And nothing that has come to light is the kind of material that only the FBI or NSA would be aware of. Indeed, there is no particular reason to assume that any of these leaks are intelligence community leaks, rather than leaks by current and former White House officials with the knives out for Flynn.

Second, these tweets suggest that the President is more interested in hunting down leakers than in getting to the bottom of extremely serious allegations against his own administration. Whether Trump’s comments represent an intentional deflection or merely reflect misaligned priorities, most people can agree without defending leaking that the leaks are probably not the “real scandal” here.

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, the President’s statement seems to signal an intention to use the pretense of leak investigations to engage in political retaliation. As Tim Edgar noted yesterday, the President is showing an instinct here that is not all that dissimilar from the events that set Watergate in motion.

February 13, 2017 @ 03PM

From Phil Klay’s What We’re Fighting For:

If we choose to believe in a morally diminished America, an America that pursues its narrow selfish interests and no more, we can take that course and see how far it gets us. But if we choose to believe that America is not just a set of borders, but a set of principles, we need to act accordingly. That is the only way we ensure that our founding document, and the principles embedded within, are alive enough, and honorable enough, to be worth fighting for.

February 2, 2017 @ 05PM

With apologies for the extreme degree of meta.

If you’re one of the three or four people who follows my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting daily for the past full month. That’s a first in my blog’s 15+ year history.

I wanted to do this in part because the four sections of my site — blog, microblog, photoblog, and audioblog — are finally well-separated. Each has its own landing page and RSS feed; my home page aggregates all content and offers a feed to match.

Today’s post caps off the full month with an audioblog post. Historically I’ve also transcribed my audio posts, but that’s probably wasted effort. Going forward, I plan to pair my audio with a small amount of explanatory text.

January 30, 2017 @ 11PM

Matt Levine, author of the wonderful Money Stuff column for Bloomberg, in a rare moment of seriousness:

If the president can, without consulting the courts or Congress, banish U.S. lawful permanent residents, then he can do anything. If there is no rule of law for some people, there is no rule of law for anyone. The reason the U.S. is a good place to do business is that, for the last 228 years, it has built a firm foundation on the rule of law. It almost undid that in a weekend. That’s bad for business.

January 29, 2017 @ 10PM

Lawfare is a blog by and for national security legal professionals. It’s therefore a refreshingly sober-minded source of analysis and opinion about the actions of the Trump administration. Benjamin Wittes writes that Trump’s executive order on immigration is an astonishing mix of malevolence and incompetence:

NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)

This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.

January 24, 2017 @ 11PM

The first beta of iOS 10.3 has several interesting new features, including automatic conversion to APFS, the ability to respond to customers on the App Store (!), and SKStoreReviewController, an official API for requesting app reviews. Naturally, Francisco is already on it:

January 23, 2017 @ 04PM

Francis Fukuyama, pondering America’s checks and balances:

As a political scientist, I am looking ahead to his presidency with great interest, since it will be a fascinating test of how strong American institutions are. Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules. So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men.

In the past, Fukuyama has advanced the argument that America is a vetocracy, a system of government gridlocked by countless checks and balances. In light of Trump, he sees this vetocracy as a double-edged sword.