INSCT Director of Research/Research Assistant Professor Corri Zoli is interviewed on CNY Central after the recent terrorist attacks in London (March 23, 2017).
The Border and Beyond: The National Security Implications of Migration, Refugees, and Asylum under US and International Law
February 28, 2017 | Georgetown Law
Panel 1: Immigration, Homeland Security, and the Constitution (9:05 – 10:30 AM)
Panelists will engage in debate on various constitutional issues, such as the separation of powers and the protection of civil liberties, in the context of recent events in the US in which both migration and national security have been implicated.
Moderator: William Banks, Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Syracuse University
- Jen Daskal, Professor of Criminal, National Security, and Constitutional Law, American University Washington College of Law; former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, US Department of Justice
- Lucas Guttentag, Professor of the Practice of Law at Stanford Law School; Founder and former National Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project
- Marty Lederman, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center; former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office Legal Counsel
Panel 2: The US Refugee and Asylum Legal Regime (10:35 AM – 12:00 PM)
Panelists will explore the current status of US asylum and refugee laws and how the screening processes factor into national concerns. The panel also will discuss the Trump Administration’s recent executive orders relating to border security and refugee policy in the US.
Moderator: Jason Dzubow, Partner, Dzubow & Pilcher, PLLC; Adjunct Professor of Asylum Law, George Washington University Law School
- Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS, the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the US.
- Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; former Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee
- Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland-College Park
Luncheon Keynote Address by Elisa Massamino, President & CEO, Human Rights First (12:30 PM – 1:05 PM)
Panel 3: Migration and Security Threats Abroad (1:15 PM – 2:40 PM)
Panelists will discuss the security implications of the refugee crisis in Europe and the potential legal obligations that the US might have under international law to assist its allies in handling the situation.
Moderator: David Stewart, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
- Bec Hamilton, Professor of National Security, International, and Criminal Law, American University Washington College of Law
- Karin Johnston, Professor of International Politics, American University School of International Service
- A. Trevor Thrall, Senior Fellow, Defense and Foreign Policy Department, Cato Institute; Associate Professor, George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government
- Mark Iozzi, Democratic Counsel, House Foreign Affairs Committee
‘You’re fired’: Experts confirm Trump’s dismissal of 46 U.S. attorneys was totally normal
(Sinclair Broadcasting Group | March 13, 2017) Immediate outrage over any action taken by President Donald Trump has become the new normal, so it wasn’t a surprise to see a wave of criticism follow the administration’s call for the resignations of the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama.
Within President Trump’s first month in office, 47 of the 93 U.S. attorneys offered their resignation. They were political appointees under Barack Obama and most if not all recognized the fact that after January 20, their days under the new administration were numbered. On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered the message for the remaining attorneys to immediately step down from their posts.
This kind of house-cleaning at the Department of Justice is entirely typical for a new administration, even though different presidents have approached the matter in different ways. On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer characterized the transition, saying it is “standard operating procedure for a new administration around this time to ask for the resignation of all the U.S. attorneys” …
… Syracuse University law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney William C. Snyder made clear that all United States attorneys are presidential appointees who are typically replaced at the change of administration. “Any surprise at that is feigned.” The way that process is done, however, differs depending on the administration …
… Bill Clinton was a different story. He broke with tradition in an even more dramatic way than President Trump, firing all 93 U.S. attorneys in one day. In March 1993, Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno penned a similar letter to the one Sessions sent out on Friday calling for every attorney to submit his or her resignation.
“I remember it well,” said Snyder, who was serving as an assistant U.S. attorney at the time. “I was with the person who was named Acting U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia that afternoon, and he was completely shocked and surprised to have been named. He had received no contact from anyone about that, prior to the call from the White House advising that he was named Acting U.S. Attorney.”
The man he was scheduled to replace, U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens, challenged the order to resign. The perception at the time was that his dismissal was politically motivated and intended to stop his ongoing investigation of a Clinton ally in Congress for financial crimes. Stephens, like Bharara, was ultimately fired and the scandal received ample press coverage at the time.
“The Clinton action in 1993 was viewed with outrage as a departure from the norm,” Snyder explained …
To read the complete story, click here.
A major new inquiry has just been opened and it could reveal just how complicit the UK was in CIA torture
(The Independent | March 16, 2017) A major new inquiry has just been launched into the role of the US state of North Carolina in the CIA’s torture and rendition of terrorism suspects after 9/11. The CIA apparently used an aviation contractor based in North Carolina to fly kidnapped captives to secret prisons around the world, where they were brutally tortured. It is estimated that at least thirty four individuals were transported by the CIA front company, Aero Contractors, including a number of Britons.
Aero’s involvement in the CIA program was first revealed in 2005, prompting local activists to press for an official investigation. But, despite repeated meetings with state officials, including North Carolina’s Attorney General, no action was taken. According to Dr Christina Cowger, chair of the inquiry’s board, they were “taking their cue” from President Obama, who had decided in 2009 not to prosecute Bush officials. Their lack of cooperation led to the formation of a citizens’ inquiry, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.
After years of preparation, that inquiry is now ready to go. It is led by several commissioners, including some with high-level government service. At a briefing for reporters on Wednesday, Jennifer Daskal, one of the commissioners and a former official in President Obama’s Justice Department, explained that the inquiry was “important” due to the “relative lack of significant accountability” for CIA wrongdoing so far and “particularly important” in light of President Donald Trump’s willingness to consider reviving CIA torture …
… “Certainly the UK will be brought into this,” said commissioner David Crane, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law and founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Other nations which held detainees transported by Aero Contractors, such as Morocco and Poland, will also be examined. The inquiry may help lift the lid on how many countries participated in the program. It was believed that 54 were involved, but new research shows that 15 more countries, including France and Japan, cooperated …
… The inquiry is unlikely to result in any criminal investigations, given the history of impunity for CIA torture so far. But disclosures of new information could fuel litigation and serve as a “catalyst for further action”, David Crane told me. Jonathan Freeman, another commissioner and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, hopes that the inquiry will create a “transparent process” and effect “a change in policy, even on a subtle level”. But the going might be tough, especially with Trump in the White House.
To read the complete story, click here.
See also: Associate Press/Charlotte Observer: Citizens’ group aims to investigate CIA rendition program (March 15, 2017)
On March 6, 2017, representatives of Ukraine and Russia met at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to argue claims made by Ukraine about Russia’s involvement in the annexation of Crimea and in alleged operations in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
Specifically, Ukraine accuses Russia of violating the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism by supporting eastern Ukrainian separatists. It also claims that Ukrainian and Tatar minorities in Crimea are being treated unfairly under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
“Ukraine’s Claim in The Hague has Great Merit” — Former Chief Prosecutor for UN Court
(UATV | March 13, 2017)
In the wake of two surveillance-related stories in the past few days, the media have turned to the national security expertise of INSCT Director William C. Banks.
The first story concerns the explosive March 4, 2017, claim made by President Donald J. Trump on Twitter that former President Barack Obama personally ordered a “wiretap” of the Trump presidential campaign before the November 2016 election, presumably to ascertain links between the campaign and the Russian government. This claim led to media questions about how and why a wiretap of phones or electronic communications could be made by the government, the workings of the FISA court (where such a request might lawfully be made), and whether or not President Trump could find and release this information in order to quell confusion and concern. Banks addressed these issues nationally with CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront (see video clip below); MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (on background); and the Sinclair Media Group (“Congress poised to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims”).
Secondly, on March 7, 2017, Wikileaks released thousands of documents that appeared to catalog the CIA’s domestic cybersurveillance and cyberespionage capabilities, and in particular new technology that enables the agency to surveil targets via personal electronic devices. Banks discussed this issue on Bloomberg Radio with fellow national security expert Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law (see audio clip below).
Graham Threatens Subpoena for Trump Wiretap Info
(CNN Erin Burnett Outfront | March 8, 2017)
(Bloomberg Radio | March 8, 2017) Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, discuss new documents released by WikiLeaks, which, if true, show the extent of the CIA’s abilities to use personal technology devices to monitor seemingly private conversations and messages. They speak with June Grasso and Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”
INSCT Deputy Director Robert B. Murrett, a former Director of Naval Intelligence and Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, will speak on the SUNY-University at Buffalo (UB) Alumni Panel on Terrorism and Homeland Security on March 9, 2017, Army-Navy Club, Washington, DC.
Other distinguished UB alumni who will offering their insight into critical issues that confront the United Sates are:
- Pam Benson, Managing Editor, Cipher Brief, and former Senior Producer for National Security, CNN, will moderate the panel.
- MAJ Donald T. Zajackowski, Political and Military Analyst, US Marine Corps.
- Christine A. Potosnak, Branch Chief, Administrative Appeals Office, Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Department of Homeland Security.
- Gregory Michaelidis, Founder and Director, Security Awareness Lab, and former Senior Advisor for Public Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security.
David M. Crane will be joining other distinguished members of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture project for a conference call press event on March 15, 2017, at 10 a.m. (for details contact John Bagwell).
Other speakers will include Lawrence Wilkerson, Retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell; Rev. Ben Boswell, Senior Minister at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC; Jennifer Daskal, former counsel at the US Department of Justice and law professor at American University in Washington, DC; Christina Cowger, Chair of the Board of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture; and Richard Mahoney, Arizona’s former Secretary of State, and current director of North Carolina State University’s School of Public and International Affairs (moderator).
As the media advisory states: “In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the CIA secretly used North Carolina as a staging ground to launch flights which picked up suspected terrorists abroad and transported them to CIA ‘black site’ prisons in Eastern Europe and Asia. There, US personnel could operate beyond the reach of US law and use ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ or torture, to gather information and intelligence.
“Declassified documents and news reports have confirmed the CIA front company Aero Contractors used North Carolina’s aviation infrastructure and public airports to launch these ‘torture taxi’ flights as part of the United States’ Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program.
“This is the first non-governmental inquiry of its kind established to promote transparency and accountability for a state’s role in supporting the CIA’s unlawful RDI program.”
INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member David M. Crane, a resident of North Carolina, has agreed to serve as a Commissioner on the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT).
NCCIT is a non-profit, non-governmental organization created to address the issue of North Carolina’s role in torture and rendition and to craft a model of accountability “that can inspire efforts elsewhere.”
According to the NCCIT website, the state has been closely involved with extraordinary rendition efforts, such as the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program, which potentially violate national and international laws. The NCCIT writes that whether in the “black site” jails of proxy nations or in facilities belonging to the US, “captives were held secretly, denied access to families or lawyers, and tortured during their interrogations.”
According to NCCIT, North Carolina’s specific role in the practice of extraordinary rendition revolves around the presence of special forces in the state; its proximity to Langley, VA, the headquarters of the CIA; and the existence rural airports alleged to be staging posts for rendition initiatives. Several aviation companies in the state also are alleged to have helped the CIA with its RDI program and, in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, to have run the “Guantanamo Express” air route:
“So far, human rights investigators have documented that over 135 persons were subjected to extraordinary rendition. In at least 34 documented cases, North Carolina-based jets, pilots, and crews ferried detainees to torture sites for the CIA, and at least 18 of those cases appear in the executive summary of the Senate Torture Report.”
The NCCIT’s mission is to probe North Carolina’s role in CIA extraordinary rendition, enhance transparency, and help build momentum for genuine accountability for US torture, including acknowledgment and redress for the victims and survivors.
Over the next 18 months, NCCIT staff, board members, and volunteers will prepare briefing documents for commissioners, organize expert testimony, coordinate logistics for a hearing, and assist commissioners with publishing a report containing findings and recommendations.
Congress poised to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims
(CNY Central | March 6, 2017) Members of Congress appear ready to investigate allegations that the Obama administration may have authorized surveillance on Donald Trump during his candidacy, a claim the president made over Twitter on Saturday.
Without providing any evidence or context for the accusation, President Trump tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found.” He sent out three more messages on the subject questioning whether it was legal for “a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?”
By early Sunday morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on Congress to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims into their investigation into Russian election interference to determine “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.” He added that “neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”
The allegations made by the president are extremely serious — if they are true. And despite round the clock media coverage of the story, there are very few actual facts that have been made public to back up Trump’s “Nixon/Watergate” claims against former President Obama.
In fact, it appears Trump’s tweets stemmed from a Breitbart news story published on Friday. The story included analysis from conservative radio show host Mark Levin who outlined a series of open-source media reports that the Obama Department of Justice sought twice to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court order to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several campaign advisers. The request filed in October was reportedly rejected, while another filed in August was approved. Those original claims, citing unnamed government officials, were first published by HeatStreet, a UK-based publication, citing two sources “with links to the counter-intelligence community” …
… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) pointed to the complete lack of evidence in Trump’s claims, saying on Monday, “I have seen no evidence to substantiate the President’s claims … The White House has provided no facts to support President Trump’s rogue comments.”
Gaining access to the evidence to substantiate or refute Trump’s claims that Obama had Trump Tower bugged during the 2016 election will be an incredibly difficult feat, especially because of the highly secretive nature of the FISA Court.
The process for releasing FISA Court orders and opinions is extremely selective and really only got started after the passage of the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act, explained William Banks, Syracuse University law professor and director of school’s national security and counter-terrorism institute. Information is released either through annual reports, which include the gross number of requests and fulfilled FISA Court orders, or from time to time the court will release its opinions, if it is deemed in the public interest.
Under the law, not even the president can access current or previous court orders. “These orders are secret. They are deliberated in the court in a secret proceeding, and the president is not privy to them,” Banks stated. In that respect, the president could not have learned about the alleged FISA Court through official channels. “It just cant happen,” the professor argued. “So what he’s doing here is repeating something he read in Breitbart.”
Reports claiming that Trump learned about the FISA Court orders through his senior White House counsel are also specious. The New York Times quoted a senior White House official over the weekend claiming the Donald F. McGahn was trying to secure access to what he believed was a FISA Court order authorizing surveillance related to Trump and his associates. Banks reacted to the report saying, “That would be extraordinary. The law does not provide for it” …
To read the whole story, click here.
(Orient TV | March 2, 2017) Amnesty International’s report on the execution of more than 13,000 prisoners at Sednaya Prison, which is considered the most prominent development in documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, and how it helps in the case against Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
- Stephen J. Rapp, Former Prosecutor, International Criminal Court and US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Office of Global Criminal Justice
- David M. Crane, Former Prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Head Of Syria Accountability Project; Professor of Practice, SU Law