Research Links & Critical-Thinking Questions – October 2017

RESEARCH LINKS
Issue 1: War in Afghanistan Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Report to Congress CIA World Factbook on Afghanistan Brookings Institute Article, “America’s Afghanistan Problem” Heritage Foundation Commentary, “Trump Lays Out Winning Strategy for Afghanistan” Issue 2: Surveillance Law Letter from Attorney Gen. Sessions Urging Congress to Reauthorize FISA Section 702  Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board 2014 Report on FISA Surveillance Program  Center for Democracy & Technology, "Section 702: What It Is & How It Works”  April 28, 2017, Statement from NSA on Stopping of Certain Section 702 Activities Sen. Rand Paul’s Call for Amendment to End Warrantless Searches of U.S. Citizens  CQ Online Article, “Congress Braces for Tense Debate on Surveillance Law”   
CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS
Issue 1: War in Afghanistan
  1. Do you support continuing to have a military presence in Afghanistan? Why or why not?
  2. Read President Trump’s remarks on his strategy for Afghanistan (see link above). Why do you think he chose not to give specifics such as how many troops he will send or state an estimated withdrawal date? Do you agree or disagree with this strategy?
  3. Read the Heritage Foundation commentary (see link above). Do you agree with the author’s reasoning? Why or why not?
  4. Compare and contrast the pro/con congressional quotes on p. 3 of the newsletter. Whose opinion do you agree with most on this issue, and why?
  5. Why do you think President Trump changed his mind on sending more troops to Afghanistan, despite earlier criticizing President Obama for doing so when he was in office?
Issue 2: Surveillance Law
  1. Read the NSA’s April 28, 2017, statement announcing it will no longer include “about” communications in its intelligence gathering activities. Does this assuage any concerns you may have? Why or why not?
  2. Does FISA Section 702 need to be amended to strengthen protections of Americans’ constitutional and privacy rights? Or should Congress permanently reauthorize it as is? Justify and defend your position.
  3. Why do you think some legislators are concerned about the potential for abuse of power among employees and/or contractors of the NSA, FBI and/or CIA?
  4. Read Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Sept. 7, 2017, letter to Congress (see link above). Do you agree with his reasoning? Why or why not?
  5. Carefully read the wording of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Are Americans’ constitutional rights being violated under the NSA’s current interpretation of FISA Section 702? Why or why not?