Obama's Legal Team Divided On Anti-Terror Tactics

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From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — Senior lawyers in the Obama administration are deeply divided over some of the counterterrorism powers they inherited from former President George W. Bush, according to interviews and a review of legal briefs.

The rift has been most pronounced between top lawyers in the State Department and the Pentagon, though it has also involved conflicts among career Justice Department lawyers and political appointees throughout the national security agencies.

GALLERY: Top Newsmakers

The discussions, which shaped classified court briefs filed this month, have centered on how broadly to define the types of terrorism suspects who may be detained without trials as wartime prisoners. The outcome of the yearlong debate could reverberate through national security policies, ranging from the number of people the United States ultimately detains to decisions about who may be lawfully selected for killing using drones.

“Beyond the technical legal issues, this debate is about the fundamental question of whom we are at war with,” said Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor who specializes in war-power issues. “The two problems most plaguing Obama in the war on terrorism are trials for terrorists and taking the fight beyond Afghanistan to places like Pakistan and Yemen. This issue of whom we are at war with defines both of them.”

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