The United States government’s 1793 prosecution of Gideon Henfield represents the first instance of the lawfare engaged in by the fledgling government. Over the course of the decades that followed, criminal prosecution became a default selection for addressing national security threats. This article examines how the Washington Administration utilized law as a weapon to defend itself from the British and French and set the precedent for using prosecutions to achieve national security objectives.
The rich legal literature that has grown up to assess the constitutionality of bulk communications collection by the government has focused overwhelmingly—and understandably—on the challenge such programs pose to particular claims of individual right against the state, yet attempting to describe what seems troubling about bulk collection in terms of individual rights alone has significant doctrinal and conceptual limits.
MAJ Peter Combe argues that the covert action statute prohibits the Central Intelligence Agency from violating self-executing treaties to which the United States is party, as well as non-self-executing treaties and customary international law implemented by statute, but it provides domestic legal authority to violate non-self-executing treaties and customary international law that have not been implemented through legislation by Congress. This application of the covert action statute in practice is illuminated through a case study of the legal issues surrounding the Osama bin Laden raid.