The Day We Fight Back

Posted on February 19, 2014 in Countdown
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech directly to 300 Israeli students and youth leaders in Ramallah to discuss the peace process. Taking a page from the Obama playbook, Abbas went over Netanyahu’s head and spoke directly to the Israeli public to outline the Palestinian position on peace negotiations.
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Living in Limbo

Posted on February 12, 2014 in Countdown
We don’t have to tell you that resolving the crisis in Syria hasn’t been easy. Russia has offered to meet directly with the United States to discuss Syria after the first Geneva II negotiations did not produce much substance, and it was also revealed that Syria is behind schedule in shipping out its chemical weapons arsenal. Still, there is a small piece of good news that could have a big impact for those suffering in Syria: in a welcome step, the Obama administration announced it will ease some restrictions to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States.
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Obama’s NSA Remarks Fell Short of Expectations

Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Blog
On Friday, January 17, 2014, President Obama offered his much anticipated speech on surveillance. While advocates were hopeful that the President's remarks would support significant reforms to curb mass surveillance, his remarks fell short of expectations.
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President’s Review Board Slams NSA’s Overbroad Surveillance Operation

Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Blog
The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, tasked with reviewing the NSA’s surveillance program, released its highly anticipated report yesterday. President Obama did not offer any statements assessing the Group’s recommendations, but in a released statement, the White House said, “Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration’s overall review of signals intelligence, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement. The President will also continue consulting with Congress as reform proposals are considered in each chamber.”
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Federal Court Rules NSA Data Collection likely Unconstitutional

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Blog
By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow The controversial National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects Americans’ phone records received its first public judicial setback yesterday, with a federal court finding that it probably violates the United States Constitution. The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia concluded that the program most likely violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the government from conducting “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The government will almost certainly appeal, and Judge Richard J. Leon’s order to stop collection won’t take effect until the appellate process is complete.
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Countdown to 2014

Posted on December 17, 2013 in Countdown
We know, it’s sad, but yes, this is in fact the last Countdown of the year. We promise to come back in 2014 with even better material as we aim to give you a unique breakdown and topical analysis of issues in the U.S. and Middle East.
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Spying, Prying and Justifying

Posted on October 21, 2013 in Countdown
You don’t need us to tell you we like what we see from Bill de Blasio, the progressive Democrat who seems a shoo-in for the next mayor of New York City and has been harshly critical of the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program. But this week he gave us the best reason yet to support his election in two weeks: he promised to end NYPD’s pervasive, widespread surveillance of Arab Americans and American Muslim New Yorkers.
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The Clock is Ticking

Posted on October 16, 2013 in Countdown
Washington’s nuclear-stakes game of “deal or no deal” might finally come to an end today, just hours before the Treasury Department says it the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just announced that they’ve agreed to a deal to reopen the government and raise the statutory debt ceiling, ending the ongoing government shutdown now in its third week and preventing an unprecedented and catastrophic default by the United States.
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NSA Data Collection: Fact and Fiction

Posted by on October 04, 2013 in Blog
By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing to discuss possible reforms and oversight to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). The hearing, which Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) quite properly insisted on holding despite the government shutdown because of the importance of the issue, focused on the government’s use and interpretations of its authority under FISA Sections 215 and 702. It seems appropriate, particularly since a lot has been said about this lately, to address some of the most common things being said on this issue, and arguments being made, by individuals on all sides.
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A Good Week for Diplomacy

Posted on September 30, 2013 in Washington Watch
By any measure, this was a big week for diplomacy at the United Nations. On Tuesday, President Obama set the tone for the week delivering an important and potentially far-reaching speech before the General Assembly. In his remarks, he reflected on the challenges America faces in attempting to protect its core interests and project its values in a rapidly changing and dangerous world. The speech deserves to be read in its entirety since it represents the most thoughtful statement to date of the President's reflections on how protecting America's interests and realizing American aspirations must be tempered by a recognition of the limits of power.
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