House Passes FISA Rules After White House Uncertainty
William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, discusses the House’s passage of an extension to the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Act, otherwise known as FISA, which has seen unsteady support from the President, who says he now supports the warrantless spying bill. He speaks with Bloomberg’s June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Politics, Policy, Power and Law.”
William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, discusses attacks by House Republicans against the FBI and the Russia investigation as GOP lawmakers try to prepare the party for the 2018 midterm elections. He speaks with Bloomberg’s June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Politics, Policy, Power and Law.”
Congress Faces Deadline on Controversial FISA Program
(Bloomberg Radio | Dec. 22, 2017) William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University School of Law, discusses whether or not Congress will vote to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008—and specifically FISA Section 702—which allows the NSA to collect emails and other communications from U.S. companies and persons while pursuing overseas foreign targets. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s “Politics, Policy, Power and Law.”
Uncovering and communicating the truths about human conflict, human suffering, and human rights violations is a complicated but vitally important task that often falls to those who write the “first rough draft of history”—that is, journalists operating on the front lines of conflict zones or under cover.
“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster.”
Training communicators to make sense of atrocity and humanitarian disaster was the motivation behind Media & Atrocities, an interdisciplinary course offered for the first time this semester at Syracuse University. The course was co-taught by David Crane, Professor of Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law and member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, and Ken Harper, Associate Professor of Multimedia Photography and Design at the Newhouse School and director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement.
The course examines the critical roles that law, policy, and communications play in ensuring truth-telling and securing justice for victims of atrocity, often by providing international law organizations with the raw information they require to bring humanitarian law violators to justice. Harper says he and Crane believe it’s the first university course of its kind.
“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster … basically, making the unthinkable understandable,” says Harper.
Special guests—including Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione, CNN senior UN correspondent Richard Roth, and Physicians for Human Rights researcher Christine Mehta ’11—participated in class discussions via Skype.
Course content was constantly shifting, Harper says, “adapting to the reality the world presents.”
Students in the course included both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of programs across campus, such as international relations, broadcast and digital journalism, public affairs, photography, and law. They began the semester by examining the meaning and history of atrocity, reviewing legal developments over the past century, and learning about the modern international criminal law system.
Most of the semester was spent building a mock postconflict justice tribunal for Syria. Students chose various roles—such as prosecutor, journalist, public relations officer, or activist—and carried out a series of practical exercises in preparation for the final exercise, held on the last day of class: a press conference called by the mock tribunal’s chief prosecutor (played by Crane) announcing an indictment against Syrian President Bhashr Hafez Al-Assad.
Students also set up a public relations office; organized a PR plan; staged a news broadcast; and developed a coordination plan for NGOs working in Syria, as well as a model for the organizations to work together into the future.
Zach Krahmer, who is earning a master’s degree in photography from the Newhouse School and an executive master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School, says he chose to enroll in the class because he is interested in conflict resolution and has worked with communities that have experienced trauma. “I wanted to think critically about the way we produce and consume media that involves atrocities, and the responsibility that implies,” he says.
He notes a particular assignment that had him and his classmates explore the ways social media have been used in various campaigns, with the resulting presentations touching on everything from the Colombian plebiscite to Buddhist extremist groups in Myanmar to Assad. “I was surprised by the innumerable ways that perceptions of events had been manipulated by tactful use of media,” he says.
Krahmer, along with fellow students Katie Conti and Maggie Mabie ’16, acted as Crane’s media team for the mock tribunal. They staged the public release of an indictment against a sitting head of state; wrote, edited and delivered a press release; and crafted the chief prosecutor’s press briefing. “It was valuable to experience the deliberation that goes into crafting public messages such as these,” he says. Mabie, who earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the Newhouse School and is now a joint J.D./M.P.A. student in the College of Law and the Maxwell School, says the final exercise was one of the most powerful parts of the class. “Everyone treated the simulation as if it were real.”
Following the class, Krahmer says, “I have a greater appreciation for the way media can be leveraged by different actors to achieve their goals.”
Crane knows intimately how important good journalism and good public relations are to the success of postconflict justice. As the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone—an international war crimes tribunal set up after a devastating civil war—Crane held frequent press conferences and town hall meetings with ordinary citizens seeking justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, helping them to engage with a lengthy and esoteric process and to accept its findings.
Today, Crane and his law students in the College of Law’s Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) rely on ground reports from reporters, photojournalists, and others in the field. SAP is an internationally recognized, cooperative effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian Civil War. The students log reports of crimes in their “Crime Matrix,” which is filed with international clients such as the United Nations and International Criminal Court. The intent is that the Crime Matrix will help form the basis of a prosecution of those most responsible for humanitarian crimes after the conflict ends.
Crane and Harper have collaborated on several recent SAP projects, including the event Running for Cover and the white papers “Looking Through the Window Darkly”; “Covered in Dust, Veiled by Shadows”; “Idlib Left Breathless”; and “Report on the Yazidi Genocide.”
“In a conflict zone, the free press is often another victim of tyrants and unscrupulous warriors, and journalists must do their work in extremely dangerous conditions. Certainly, Ken and I know first-hand the difficulties reporters face when documenting human suffering, and the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded many crimes against journalists during that conflict,” says Crane. “Nevertheless, throughout the world there are brave reporters who risk their lives, not only filing reports so the world can witness atrocity but also acting as advocates for those who have no voice. In this course, Ken and I worked together from different disciplines to instill a sense of the responsibility communicators in war zones have, how their work can bring hope and eventually justice to the afflicted, and the importance of professionalism in extreme conditions.”
Federal Judge Questions Enemy Combatant Detentions
William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, discusses how long the Federal government should be allowed to detain legally detain a U.S. citizen before letting them challenge their detention. He speaks with Bloomberg’s June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Politics, Policy, Power and Law.”
But that headline is misleading because the indictment issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Western Pennsylvania didn’t name the Chinese government at all. It only named three employees of the Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited (Boyusec).
“The indictment makes no allegations regarding state sponsorship,” said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle, who added that prosecutors only “included the allegations that we are prepared to prove in court with admissible evidence.”
Elias Groll, who wrote the article, apparently questioned why the DOJ didn’t include the Chinese government like they did in the 2014 indictment that named five Chinese PLA officers, and which also came from the same U.S. Attorney’s office in Western Pennsylvania. Groll contacted FireEye’s John Hultquist and quoted from past research by RecordedFuture in support of his headline that directly refuted what the DOJ said.
So let’s be clear about what FireEye, RecordedFuture, and every other cyber security company puts out in a commercial white paper designed to generate headlines and attract sales, and what the DOJ develops in order to get a conviction. Only one of those two things can properly be called “evidence.”
In 2014, I spoke with William C. Snyder, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who served in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia and who today is a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Law. My question for him at that time was what must a cyber intelligence report have to deliver in order for an AUSA to pursue an indictment with the intent to prosecute. Here is an excerpt of his response to me.
First, the report by the non-government company is hearsay and is not admissible in court to prove any of the findings in the report. What the U.S. Attorney will be looking for in the report is a path to admissible evidence.
Here is a simple example. Guy opens Yahoo email accounts in names of boss who fired him and cop who arrested him. Guy sends emails from both accounts to the White House, threatening to blow it up. Desk at White House snags both emails and finds that they came from same IP.
For USSS, I issue on behalf of a grand jury a subpoena to the cable company for basic subscriber info for that IP. It comes back to a static IP for an account in the name of Joe Defendant at the address of his house. Ready to indict? No.
Agents interview ex—boss and cop. Both deny sending emails to White House and both have had run—ins with Mr. Defendant.
Agents interview postal carrier and neighbors. Mr. Defendant lives at the house with his wife and small child. Interviews continue, and local pastor and others indicate that wife and child were at church at the time emails to White House were sent. I take agents to a judge, who issues search warrant for Mr. Defendant ’s house and computers …
Mueller Investigation Enters New Phase After Flynn Plea
(Bloomberg Law | Dec. 4, 2017) Robert Ray, a former federal prosecutor & former Whitewater Independent Counsel, discusses Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea. Plus, Syracuse University law professor William Banks discusses comments by the President’s legal team, who say that a President cannot obstruct justice. They speak with Bloomberg’s June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law” … MORE
The Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law has announce that William C. Banks has joined the Center as a Senior Fellow.
“I am delighted to welcome Bill Banks to the Center,” says Center Director and Professor of Law Laura K. Donohue. “Bill’s scholarship has played a key role in defining the field of national security law. He has tremendous expertise, and we are privileged to have him join us at Georgetown.”
A highly regarded and internationally recognized scholar and teacher, topics of Banks’ wide-ranging research include national security and counterterrorism law; laws of war and asymmetric warfare; drones and targeted killing; transnational crime and corruption; cybersecurity, cyberespionage, and cyber conflict; human security; emergency and war powers; emergency preparedness and response; prosecuting terrorists; civilian-military relations; and government surveillance and privacy. Banks is most recently the co-author (with Stephen Dycus) of Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2016).
A graduate of the University of Nebraska (B.A. 1971) and the University of Denver (J.D. 1974; M.S. 1982), Banks joined the faculty of the SU College of Law in 1978. Among his public service appointments, Banks has served as a Special Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee (for the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer);on the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security; as a member of the InfraGard National Members Alliance Board of Advisors; on the Advisory Council for the Perpetual Peace Project; on the Executive Board of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community (ICTAC); as an Editorial Board member at The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, The Netherlands; and as a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Banks also is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.
In 2003, Banks founded the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, which became a recognized leader in research and education on national and international security and terrorism. He is a Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor and Syracuse University Maxwell School Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs. During 2015-2016, Banks was Interim Dean of Syracuse University Law.
“Bill Banks is one of the country’s foremost experts on national security law,” says Professor David Koplow, co-director of the Center on National Security and the Law. “His leadership and collaboration on the Journal of National Security Law & Policy is just one way that he has already strengthened the opportunities for students in national security law at Georgetown.”
On Nov. 28, 2017, Director of Research Corri Zoli discussed the latest threats from Islamic State targeted at Christmas shoppers and festivals in the West, in places such as Germany, Italy, and New York City. Zoli reviewed images—”advertisements for death” and “calls to arms”—that ISIS is circulating and that were identified by Zoli’s research students. Zoli noted that devices designed to stop vehicles from harming pedestrians—a current favorite tactic of low-tech terrorists—are being deployed in cities, including in Syracuse, NY.
“The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects.”
The new findings, produced in partnership with The Rendition Project, reveal that nearly 30% of all acknowledged CIA black-site prisoners –34 individuals — rendered from 2001-2006 were transported on planes that originated in North Carolina. The Senate torture report has detailed the abuse detainees were subject to at these CIA sites.
Aero Contractors, founded in 1979 and headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, NC, operated a Gulfstream V jet nicknamed the “Guantanamo Express” to transport dozens of prisoners to black site prisons and proxy countries where many were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, painful stress positions and prolonged sleep deprivation, in their interrogations following 9/11. Aero also operated a Boeing business jet from a hangar it built at the Global TransPark, a state development project in Kinston, North Carolina.
The role of Aero Contractors and how North Carolina’s tax dollars, aviation infrastructure, and other public resources may have been used to directly or indirectly support the CIA’s rendition and torture program are the primary focus of NCCIT’s investigation. The public hearings held this week served as an opportunity for international experts, witnesses, and participants in the program to provide testimony to the Commission.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was wrongfully accused of involvement in 9/11, appeared before the commission remotely by video and told the story of how he was transported on an Aero-operated flight which originated in North Carolina, brutally tortured, and detained at Guantanamo for more than 14 years. Slahi stated, “I am personally inspired to see citizens of North Carolina organize to demand accountability especially in an environment where the use of torture is still openly advocated.”
Although many of the details about the torture program remain classified, Dr. Sam Raphael, co-founder of The Rendition Project, has managed to uncover significant new findings regarding the role of North Carolina’s aviation infrastructure. Raphael says that “Aero Contractors, based in the state, operated two aircraft which played a central role in the CIA’s torture program, rendering at least 34 individuals to secret detention at CIA black sites, and at least 15 others to foreign custody, for interrogation and torture – including rape, genital mutilation, water torture, and electro-torture. Horrific details of the treatment of prisoners held by the CIA continue to emerge, and North Carolina’s public airports are now known to have been implicated in many more of these cases than previously understood. Now is the time for full accountability and justice.”
Catherine Read, Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, stated, “No one has been held accountable for the heinous human rights violations committed in our country’s name and whose consequences continue to be felt. On the contrary, many of the key individuals involved in designing and executing the torture program continue to be given appointments within the federal government. NCCIT seeks to do the job our government has refused to do by investigating the links between the U.S. torture program and NC tax dollars and state resources that may have been used directly or indirectly to support the supply chain of torture and seek transparency and accountability.”
David Crane, NCCIT Commissioner and international chief war crimes prosecutor, said, “The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects. The work of NCCIT serves as a unique and innovative model of citizen-driven accountability. Only with transparency can the public engage in an informed discussion of how to keep abuses like these from occurring again using our soil and tax dollars.”
The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is continuing to investigate following the public hearing and will issue a report in 2018 with findings and recommendations.
“CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens” (The Guardian | Jan. 17, 2018) … Seven years later, Cowger sat in the front row of a makeshift hearing room in the Raleigh Convention Center as 11 volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture “upped the ante”, as she put it, on that pledge. Over the course of two days, this “citizen-led truth seeking commission” called 20 witnesses to testify on the damage done by Aero’s rendition operations …
“David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation. ‘The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,’ Crane said.”