2016 Year in Review: National Security

By Brian Chae

French Parliament Elects to Extend National State of Emergency for the Fifth Time

France has been in an official state of emergency since the Paris shootings in late 2015 that left 130 people dead. Following the Bastille Day attack in August 2016 that left another eighty-seven dead, the French parliament voted by an overwhelming majority of 288-32 to extend the state of emergency until after the July 2017 elections. This gives the new president an opportunity to reassess security and extend the state of emergency if necessary. As Hollande is not seeking re-election and Le Pen is strongly favored to win office, another extension seems a distinct possibility. Declaring a state of emergency is significant because it curtails certain civil liberties and empowers the executive to respond to a serious threat to public order. One of the most significant examples of this includes the executive’s ability to unilaterally issue “administrative” search warrants without judicial approval. This was seen in action when French authorities raided a number of properties in rapid succession in search of suspects following the Paris and Nice attacks. Another significant executive power afforded in this situation is the power to expel certain individuals from French territories or place them under temporary house arrest. This has great implications for the wider European refugee crisis.

Obama Administration Releases Report on the Legal Bases on Which Continued United States Military Operations Abroad Justified

Since the 2001 AUMF marked the legal beginning of the War on Terror, both Bush and Obama have relied on their “powers against those . . . [they] determine” necessary in order to prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States to wage war on various factions on multiple continents. This report provides a comprehensive summary of the domestic and international legal bases for the use of force in preservation of United States national security, consistent with respect for the sovereignty of other nations. It discusses these rationales with respect to use of military force abroad and to detention and applies them to particular theaters of conflict. The report does not, however, fully address the claims of some critics that the President is overly expansive in construing its constitutional and international authority.

Massive Influx of Refugees Sparks Concerns Over Western Inability to Effectively Control Crime and Terrorism

The refugee crisis continues to be an unresolved and contentious issue among Western governments. Amid reports that terrorist attacks in France and Belgium were linked to Islamic extremism, domestic support for tighter border control and refugee policing has dramatically increased. This has precipitated in the rise of right-wing political movements in many Western countries, such as Brexit in the United Kingdom, the election of Trump in the United States, and the potential election of Le Pen in France.