National Security Policy & Law: Panel Discussion

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
Time: Noon
Location: Feinberg Lecture Hall (Dineen 360)


  • William C. Banks, Director, INSCT
  • W. George Jameson, Former Director, Office of Policy & Coordination, CIA
  • Robert B. Murrett, Deputy Director, INSCT
  • Laurie Brown Hobart, Former Assistant General Counsel, US Intelligence Community, and Assistant Teaching Professor, SU College of Law

Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame Inducts Robert B. Murrett

Robert B. Murrett

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) inducted the Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame Class of 2017 during a ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Springfield, VA, Oct. 3, 2017.

Among the inductees was INSCT Deputy Director Vice Adm. Robert Murrett (Ret.), Professor of Practice, Public Administration and International Affairs, SU Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. A former NGA director, Murrett was cited for having pushed to get more analysts and support staff into theater during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which deployed highly-trained geospatial intelligence analysts to combat zones to support war fighters.

“Murrett also ensured NGA provided a common operating picture in Haiti following the earthquake and tracked the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He oversaw the construction of NGA Campus East, which consolidated the agency’s East Coast operations into a central location,” according to the NGA press release. 

Murrett’s tenure as Director of NGA was the culmination of a distinguished career as a US Navy intelligence officer. Among his other appointments, Murrett was Commander of Atlantic Intelligence Command; Director for Intelligence, US Joint Forces Command; Vice Chair Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; and Director of Naval Intelligence. 

“[The] induction into our Hall of Fame is the absolute pinnacle of achievement and recognition for anyone who has ever served in a part of the geospatial intelligence enterprise,” says NGA Director Robert Cardillo. “The 65 phenomenal names inscribed in our Hall of Fame before today each represented pioneering spirits and hard work. They persisted and reached the pinnacle of our profession, not for themselves, but for the United States and our allies.”,-geospatial-pioneers.aspx


Turning the Law on Its Head: William C. Banks Reviews the New Supreme Court Session with WAER

(WAER | Oct. 3, 2017) A Syracuse University Law Professor says President Trump’s appointment of new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch should not be significant in the Justice’s decisions moving into his official first term. Professor William Banks thinks that Gorsuch’s values will be much more impactful.

“I think Mr. Gorsuch is going to prove himself to be one of the most, if not the most conservative Justice on the court. Probably more conservative than Justice Scalia, or at least as conservative.”

Professor Banks adds that while the Supreme Court will face multiple important decisions down the line, a few already stick out to him.

“One that will decide the availability of remedies for big time political gerrymandering in legislative districts. Another one that will decide the rights of business owners to decline the rights of gay or lesbian customers.”

Banks feels even stronger about one particular topic than impacts most Americans, smartphones. This decision will decide if police are allowed to monitor the location of cell phone users through site location data, a decision Banks thinks could have a strong impact on recent law history.

“The Fourth Amendment case on cellphone site location – if it comes out in favor of those whose location was given up – is a change in Fourth Amendment doctrine that will turn about 50 years of law on its head” …

To read the full article, click here.

“Terror Has Gone Low-Tech” Says Corri Zoli, Writing in Foreign Policy

Terror Has Gone Low-Tech

The Catalonia attacks are a case study in the future of violent extremism. Governments need to figure out how to respond.

(Re-published from Foreign Policy | Oct. 2, 2017) After the fifth low-tech terrorist attack this year alone in the U.K. — not to mention a spate of attacks across Europe since 2014, and earlier — it is time for governments to reevaluate their approach. At the core of this self-assessment should be a simple recognition, which itself requires separating facts from appearances when it comes to terrorism.

Terrorist attacks in Europe have occurred at such a pace in the last few months that we are in danger of treating them as the new normal. No sooner had the attack on Barcelona’s La Rambla district disappeared from the headlines than the Parsons Green London tube station was targeted in an improvised explosive device attack claimed by the Islamic State. Worse, without time to pause, analyze the case facts, or think strategically, law enforcement across Europe and elsewhere run the risk of getting stuck in a reactive rather than proactive stance.

“Careful analysis exposes common themes across these attacks, which are useful in a strategic response to the hard-to-predict acts of low-tech terror.”

Yet careful analysis exposes common themes across these attacks, which are useful in a strategic response to the hard-to-predict acts of low-tech terror. Although this analysis will focus on the brotherly ties that many analysts missed in the recent Barcelona terror attacks, readers will readily see elements echoed in Parsons Green, in other recent U.K. attacks (Westminster, London Bridge, and Manchester), and beyond. In many cases, the attackers’ networks were held together by family ties. The suspects in Parsons Green, for instance, were foster brothers, young men with recent immigrant backgrounds, who used low-tech terror tactics in busy, unguarded public places; and they appear to have responded to calls from a parent terror organization (in the case of London, by Inspire, an al Qaeda magazine) to attack trains.

The ties that bind

In the three incidents associated with the recent August Barcelona terror attacks, nine of the 12 attackers were brothers. Only leader Abdelbaki Es Satty and two additional recruits, Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Salh El Karib, did not possess family ties in the group. The operatives were young (with the exception of Es Satty) and shared Moroccan nationality or heritage. This kinship element was often glossed over in discussions of the Catalonia attacks, as well as others in which cell members were often related in other ways (for examples, cousins, via families in marriage, etc.).

Although undertheorized, the subject of kinship in terrorism research reveals the utility of social network theory in underscoring how interpersonal relationships — the ties that bind — structure both groups and commitment levels. In low-tech terror attacks in Belgium, France, the U.K., and elsewhere, these bonds — literal or constructed — help operationalize “brothers in arms” willing to sacrifice themselves for transcendent aims. (Literal bonds involve biological, kinship relations in families, brothers and cousins, while constructed bonds involve the close friendships.)

So what role can identifying kinship ties play in government responses to repeated low-tech terrorist attacks, and can it help to deter such attacks?

Catalonia: the facts and the suspects

Any discussion of preventive and countermeasures must begin with case facts and to contemplate the details of this now familiar style of low-tech, small-cell attack in urban settings. The Aug. 17, 2017, La Rambla van attack was executed by an Islamic State cell and involved three related incidents, all linked back to a central figure, Es Satty. He was incarcerated between 2010 and 2014 for drug smuggling from North Africa, had established ties with al Qaeda jihadis from the 2004 train attack, and successfully appealed his deportation order in 2015 after his release from prison. He was also the subject of recent Belgian intelligence warnings to Catalan authorities.

The Alcanar explosion: The night before the Barcelona attack — Wednesday, Aug. 16 — in the town of Alcanar, several members of the Islamic State cell accidentally blew up their house, killing two members: Es Satty, who rented a room in the house, and 22-year-old Youssef Aallaa, born in Naour, Morocco, and affiliated with the Ripoll mosque, where Es Satty worked as an imam. A third member was injured in the attack — 21-year-old Spanish national from Melilla, Chemlal, reported to be the bomb maker, who is currently under arrest.

Like Aallaa and his two brothers, Mohamad and Said, Chemlal was recruited by Es Satty via the Moroccan immigrant community in Ripoll. Authorities discovered more than 100 gas canisters stored at the location, and supplies of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) indicated that the group was planning a spectacular bombing of the Sagrada Família basilica. Es Satty had communicated to his roommate — internet café owner el Karib who bought tickets for both Es Satty and Moroccan national Driss Oukabir — that he was soon leaving for Morocco, where he had already sent his wife and children …

To read the full article, click here.


AALS News Spotlights National Security Law Section

Spotlight on Sections: National Security Law

INSCT Director William C. Banks (second from left) sits on the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting National Security Law panel.

(AALS News | Summer 2017) The Section on National Security Law provides for the exchange of information among, and the professional development of, law school faculty members interested in and involved with the laws governing national security.

What can you tell us about the membership of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on National Security Law and their work? 

Jennifer Daskal: There are a growing number of national security law scholars at schools across the country, and we have seen real growth in our membership over the years as a result. Our primary focus is on the programming that takes place at the Annual Meeting. In 2018, we have two events planned. The first includes a stellar group of panelists: Avril Haynes, the former Deputy National Security Advisor; Gen. John R. Allen, a retired four-star general who was Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan; Oona Hathaway, a Yale Law School professor and former Special Counsel to the General Counsel at the Department of Defense; and Heidi Kitrosser, a renowned Minnesota Law School professor who was recently awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. That panel, which is titled “National Security in a Time of Trump,” will address the latest and greatest national security issues come January 2018.

Rachel VanLandingham: The second panel focuses on works-in-progress by junior scholars—those who have fewer than seven years in the academy. When we held [this program] last year, which was the first time, we chose articles from a call for papers that were not yet published, so we truly made it a works-in-progress to help scholars improve their papers. We had articles on cyber security, as well as articles regarding particular methods that the FBI uses and how they contravene, or seem to contravene, international law. Disparate topics, but exciting. We had a good turnout for the panel last year and great interaction. The format will be the same this year: we’ll select papers from a call, then assign a discussant to present the paper and highlight components of it to the general audience. Then the junior scholar gets a chance to respond. That’s a little different from a traditional works-in-progress session.

What are the important conversations happening right now in legal education regarding national security?

 JD: I think it’s an important and exciting time to be working in the field and to be engaging with other scholars and teaching students. This field existed before September 11, 2001, but only a small number of scholars engaged in the field. After the attack, the prominence of national security blossomed. I think we’re at a significant point right now where a lot of scholars, commentators, and students are focused on what’s happening with the current administration and looking at the wide array of national security threats and the ways in which claims of national security have been used to justify a host of disparate policy responses. You see national security scholars and former government officials—who often were scholars before they went into the government and continue to teach after they leave government—writing briefs and otherwise engaging in a whole range of issues from immigration to use of force to surveillance to foreign relations. The voices of people who have studied or are studying these issues are more important than ever.

RV: I have more of an anecdotal, personal observation about being at a law school that is not on the East Coast, and not at the epicenter of politics as Washington, D.C. is. I am in Los Angeles at a law school that is known more for entertainment law. When I asked to teach this course when I got here three years ago, it had not been taught in years, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the interest and by the number of students in my classes.

Even more importantly, I love the fact that so many students become interested in federal government service after taking this class. They had no idea what was out there because they grew up and went to school in Los Angeles and are focused on the things that don’t have anything to do with federal service. I believe there’s a nexus between exposure to national security law and the many subjects it covers and federal service. I’ve had a few students from my national security law course who have applied to become judge advocates in the military. One former student is interning for the Department of Homeland Security. I have another student interested in the CIA, and they said they’d never considered it before taking National Security Law. I would hazard a guess that’s not unique to Southwestern Law. This kind of course is good exposure for different kinds of service and employment that individuals wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

JD: I think one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of national security law is that it’s so broad. People can enter the field with an array of different expertise and interests. You could have a national security law class focused on any one of a number of topics—such as cyber security, energy policy, environmental policy, immigration law, international law, or, surveillance policy. Or a class that tries to do it all. That means the faculty members who are engaged in this section come at it with all kinds of perspectives and expertise. It also means that there’s a lot of room for innovation in teaching. And there here are many opportunities for students to get engaged in the issues from a variety of perspectives as well.

Do you collaborate often, either as a section with other sections or personally within your scholarship, with scholars in other fields? 

JD: There are very few faculty members who are purely national security law scholars. Most national security faculty come at it with some other substantive expertise. For me, it’s criminal law, constitutional law, and national security law. For others, it’s international law and national security law. I think most of us are actively engaged in conversations in other substantive areas of the law in addition to the conversations that are more exclusively focused on national security.

How do you choose, with so many angles and points of entry, what to cover or not cover in national security law survey courses?

RV: For a lot of us, we teach what we’re comfortable with because we’re coming in with pre-existing work expertise in certain areas, as well as having expertise gleaned from one’s complementary teaching load. This is purely anecdotal, but I know quite a few folks who teach national security law and have professional government or human rights experience, so they focus on those areas. Another thing that’s neat about teaching this course: there are more casebooks now than there ever have been, and most of them are quite comprehensive. You can pick the subjects for that particular semester that are the most topical given current events. For a while, drone warfare and the use of drones was a topic of huge interest, so professors would tie in this interest when teaching relevant legal frameworks in national security law. I think there are many different ways to go about it, and it would be beneficial to folks teaching and writing to discuss what they teach and develop best practices. I think our section is uniquely poised to do that kind of work.

JD: Because the topic is so broad, I think a lot of teachers end up ultimately coming up with their own materials instead of using a casebook …

To read the full article, click here.

David M. Crane Speaks at Conference on the Qatar Blockade & Human Rights

INSCT Faculty Member and Professor of Law David M. Crane was a keynote speaker at a conference on human rights and the embargo of Qatar at a side event at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City on Sept. 21, 2017.

Also speaking at “The Human Rights Dimension of the Unprecedented Blockade Against the State of Qatar” was Professor Ken Harper of the Newhouse School. “I was asked to speak on the critical role a free press plays in a civil society and the great sacrifices journalists make to bring us the stories of our shared humanity,” says Harper.

A diplomatic row over alleged funding of terrorism has led several neighboring countries to cut ties with Qatar, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and critics says the resulting Qatar blockade is adversely affecting the civilian population of the Persian Gulf state.


“A Dynamic Area of the Law”: William C. Banks Discusses Hotel Cameras & Surveillance with TIME

Are Hotels Spying On You? Here’s the Truth

(TIME | Sept. 21, 2017) If you’ve ever walked into a hotel room and wondered if you’re being watched, you’re not alone.

Whether it’s an idle question or a gnawing paranoia, many Americans have considered whether hotels are spying on their guests in the digital age. The answer is generally no, since that would violate laws in more than a dozen states. But the issue is complicated on a federal level, and security experts also say rogue hotel employees could easily hide small cameras inside devices, like clocks and lamps …

… Under federal wiretapping statutes, it’s illegal in every state to audio record anybody without their knowledge, but there’s no federal law pertaining to hidden camera usage, according to Syracuse University law professor William Banks. Only about 13 states have made it illegal to install or use cameras in private places without authorization from recorded subjects, according to Sanchez and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “This is obviously a really dynamic area of the law,” Banks said. “It’s a rapidly changing area of policy and law in states. It’s challenging for legislatures to keep up with the changes in technology — what you can do with your telephone or your gadget that’s hardly visible” …

To read the whole article, click here.

Cora True-Frost Speaks About Countering Violent Extremism Efforts at ESIL

SU College of LawAssociate Professor Cora True-Frost recently spoke at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law (ESIL). She presented her upcoming publication, “What Happens to Human Rights When the United Nations Addresses the ‘Conditions Conducive to Terrorism’?”

“The various organs and agencies of the United Nations have embraced state efforts to counter violent extremism.  The UN’s embrace has simultaneously opened opportunities for and created obstacles to its promotion of international human rights,” says True-Frost.  “This panel addressed the numerous new challenges in the fight against terrorism, with contributions on migration law, countering violent extremism law, and private international law remedies.  Practitioners, scholars, and diplomats present affirmed that the panel discussion would be very helpful to their work going forward.” 

True-Frost attended the conference in Naples, Italy, through a grant from the Andrew Berlin Fund via the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.  The Andrew Berlin Family Fund was created in 2010 when the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs received an endowment gift to fund faculty and graduate student research relating to issues of national security. The Berlin Fund, established in honor of Professor David H. Bennett, operates through INSCT, a collaboration between SU Maxwell School and the Syracuse Law.