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.


“A Sea-Change of New Issues”: The Jerusalem Post Reviews 10 Years of New Battlefields/Old Laws


(The Jerusalem Post | Sept. 14, 2017) Though children have always had a protected status in war, armed ISIS children can be targeted under the laws of armed conflict, IDC Herzliya Professor Daphne Richemond-Barak told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“If children are holding a gun then direct participation in hostilities rules apply to children… children might be targets and not just victims,” she said.

Richemond-Barak and Syracuse Professor William Banks spoke to the Post in the midst of the International Institute of Counterterrorism Conference in Herzliya, discussing a range of new battlefield and law issues ranging from subterranean warfare to new standards for targeted killings.

The premise of Richemond-Barak’s comments about armed children as targets is that until ISIS started to use children on a mass scale, the issue of Western countries going up against large numbers of children simply had not come up.

That meant that children were victims and protected from targeting as a given.

ISIS’s new tactic of arming children on a mass scale changed that paradigm and required taking a new look at the “new battlefield” and how to apply the laws of war.

Regarding the sea-change of new issues confronting military lawyers on the battlefield, Banks noted that his university and ICT started to work on new solutions to these issues dating back to 2006.

Banks said, “During the 2006 Lebanon War we were here on the IDC campus… mulling over what was happening. It was clear from the circumstances that the framework we had been using in the West and in Israel was ineffective because the fighting was of a new kind.”

He said that currently many Western adversaries “do not use uniforms, use unconventional tactics, unconventional weapons, are failing to follow the laws of war, are hiding in civilian neighborhoods and are [using human] shielding.”

The Syracuse professor said that the legal framework needed to be updated to deal with new challenges posed by non-state actors abusing the laws of war, while remaining committed to principles like “the rule of law, protecting civilians and treating all combatants with dignity according to the laws of war.”

Richemond-Barak added that in 10 years of conferences, their group of US, Israeli and other legal scholars have “always tried to invite a mix of military officials… to get them in with the lawyers because the dialogue is so important, the conversation between lawyers and non-lawyers… we need to impact policy decisions at the operational level.”

Further, she said, “it is important that” many of the meetings “take place in Israel” since Israel is the frontlines where so many new issues arise.

Addressing another new issue, Banks said that the US and Israel were revealing far more information about what intelligence and other issues led to attacks which ultimately led to harming civilians, even if the harm to civilians was unintentional.

One example was the 2015 mistaken US attack on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan which killed 42 innocent civilians. Banks complimented the US for unprecedented disclosure of how the mistaken attack had occurred and on its disciplining of over a dozen military personnel.

However, human rights groups criticized the US for not fully disclosing how and why its intelligence failed and for not criminally prosecuting the soldiers involved …

Read the whole article here.

“Managing Expectations”: Keli Perrin Discusses the Federal Response to Hurricane Harvey with Business Insider

Trump and his administration receive high marks for initial response to Hurricane Harvey — but the real test is only just starting

(Business Insider | Sept. 2, 2017) Forecasters were near certain that Hurricane Harvey would be the most devastating storm to hit the continental US since Hurricane Katrina 12 years earlier.

Perrin … said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

But even they could not have foreseen the level of rainfall that would blanket areas of southeast Texas — particularly around Houston. With rains in some areas exceeding 50 inches and flooding that put entire neighborhoods virtually underwater, the disaster will go down as one of the costliest in American history.

More than 40 people have been found dead as a result of the initial hurricane and subsequent flooding. At least 33,000 Texans are now spread throughout more than 230 shelters. Roughly 20,000 homes were damaged, and hundreds of thousands will, in all likelihood, seek disaster assistance of some kind.

For President Donald Trump, this disaster was the first “serious” crisis early in his administration, as conservative news aggregator Matt Drudge wrote ahead of the storm’s landing last week. It was a major question for the young administration: How would Trump and his officials respond to and handle Hurricane Harvey?

A week after Harvey’s destruction began, Trump and his team have generally received high remarks for their response …

… nd after his meeting with federal, state, and local leaders in a Corpus Christi fire station, Trump addressed a large crowd that had gathered outside, saying, “what a crowd, what a turnout.” He added that the storm was “historic, it’s epic, but I can tell you it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”

Some bristled at the display. Politico’s Josh Dawsey noted that the trip didn’t include Trump meeting with “a single storm victim,” seeing “an inch of rain or” getting “near a flooded street.” But, the Politico reporter wrote that the trip “gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted.” And pool reporter David McSwane wrote suspiciously of the hundreds of Trump supporters who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to greet the president at the fire station, where Trump waved the Lone Star flag and mentioned the crowd size and turnout.

“The turnout of hundreds of Trump supporters is notable because few knew where Trump was actually going,” he tweeted. “Someone organized that.”

But Keli Perrin, a Syracuse University law professor whose expertise is in critical infrastructure and emergency response, told Business Insider that she thought Trump was “actually on script” in his responses.

“He does throw in some stuff like crowd counts or this is going to be the best response ever, because that’s what he does,” she said. “That’s his persona. But for the most part, if you watch his full clips, he’s saying the right stuff.”

Mackowiak said he “probably wouldn’t” have issued the pardon at the time Trump did, but he praised both Trump and the administration for their initial handling of the disaster.

“He is who he is,” Mackowiak said. “There’s a limit to sort of what he’s capable of doing” …

Perrin, who said she’s a “real fan of Administrator Long,” said the administration is doing a good job of both “managing expectations” and not making similar mistakes made by the Bush administration.

“Of course, the Trump administration is trying not to look like the Bush administration,” she said. “They’re showing up, [Trump] was there, he was doing what he was supposed to do. Corpus Christi instead of Houston, he was close but out of the way. It’s almost like they read what went wrong in Katrina and fixed it.”

What comes next for Trump is the push to get federal funding for the recovery and pass both an emergency package as soon as possible, with a more substantial one in the coming months …

To read the whole article, click here.

“New Opportunities for International Justice”: David M. Crane Hosts the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues

SU College of Law students Sarah Lafen 3L and Anna Patton 3L, members of Impunity Watch, stand with Professor David M. Crane at the 2017 IHL Dialogues in Chautauqua, NY.

As a Director of The Robert H. Jackson Center, located in Jamestown, NY, INSCT Faculty Member David Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, was on hand to open the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues on Aug. 27, 2017, at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The annual event, now in its 11th year, gathers current and former international war crimes tribunal prosecutors, renowned academicians, and law experts to speak on current issues in international criminal law.

The theme of this year’s Dialogues is “Changing Times: New Opportunities for International Justice and Accountability.”

The event opened with the conferring of The Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement, bestowed on Zainab Hawa Bangura in recognition of her distinguished service to mankind and her achievement in the field of international justice. As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 2012 to April 2017, Bangura worked—and continues to work—in the pursuit of justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, both in her native Sierra Leone and around the world.

University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky—a former faculty member at Syracuse University College of Law—accepted the award on behalf of Bangura, who was not able to travel due to a recent humanitarian disaster in her native country.

A second keynote event was a first-time group interview with Andrew Cayley, Robert Petit, and Nick Koumijian, former and current chief international co-prosecutors for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The ECCC—referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—was established by the UN and the Cambodian government to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, during which an estimated 1.7 million people were killed.

The Dialogs conclude on August 28 and 29 with public seminars and lectures held on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution.

The Robert H. Jackson Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty under law through the examination of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The 10th Chautauqua Declaration

The culmination of the IHL Dialogues was the issuance of the 10th Chautauqua Declaration. The ceremony was moderated by James Silkenat, representing the American Bar Association. The Declaration was executed by representatives of all the International Criminal Tribunals, including Professor David M. Crane.


“Deal Very Carefully”: Robert B. Murrett Weighs US Options Regarding North Korea with Politico

Trump’s tough talk does little to deter North Korea

(Re-published from POLITICO | Aug. 29, 2017) Short of launching a military attack that would carry enormous risks, President Donald Trump has few military options at his disposal to back up his rhetorical assault against North Korea — as some arms control experts and members of Congress fear the president’s tough talk has only increased tensions.

“It is very important to deal very carefully with North Korea. They are [a] less rational actor than other international players.”

Indeed, North Korea’s latest provocation, following a large-scale U.S. military exercise, was seen by many as evidence that Pyongyang has responded to the president’s more bellicose approach than President Barack Obama’s, as well as new international sanctions, by instead stepping up its missile development.

“It makes it a little difficult to continue to be talking about, ‘Oh, you better watch out, North Korea, we’re going to get you,’” said James Moore, a former assistant secretary of Commerce with experience in the region who is now a professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. “Our options are really very limited.”

The test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Monday was seen as especially provocative because it flew over Japanese territory before splashing down in the ocean, drawing widespread condemnation.

Trump — who earlier this month threatened “fire and fury” upon Pyongyang — on Tuesday issued a statement saying that “all options are on the table.” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that ”enough is enough” as the world body planned to convene an emergency meeting to address the latest development in the crisis.

But it will prove exceedingly difficult at this stage for the Trump administration to compel North Korea to stand down by threats or military moves.

Retired Adm. Robert Murrett, a former director of naval intelligence, said there are a range of options at the military’s disposal — but none of them are likely to make much difference in the near term.

They include sending additional reinforcements to the region in the form of air, ground or naval forces. The United States and South Korea could also conduct additional military exercises like the one completed just as the North Koreans test-launched the latest missile, he said.

American and Japanese military forces were wrapping up the war games called Northern Viper on Hokkaido, the island in northern Japan that was overflown by the North Korean missile. About 2,000 U.S. Marines participated, according to the Defense Department.

Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, which supports negotiations with North Korea, said that the missile test over Japan is “not surprising” given the timing of both Trump’s recent comments and the military exercise.

“North Korea often responds to threats with threats and to provocations with provocations,” she said.

Murrett also expressed doubt that additional military steps by the United States and its allies would force a change in behavior on the part of Pyongyang resulting in stabilizing the situation.

“It is very important to deal very carefully with North Korea. They are [a] less rational actor than other international players,” said Murrett, who now teaches at Syracuse University.

Yet he stressed that backing down from regularly scheduled military exercises with South Korea and Japan, as some recommended as a way to ease some of the recent tension, is not the answer, either.

“Canceling such a long-planned exercise would have sent the wrong signals” to U.S. allies, he said, and have a “negative impact on our current and long-term readiness.”

Another military option being raised in news reports is for the United States to position “strategic” weapons on the Korean peninsula, such as nuclear-armed bombers. The Pentagon declined to address questions about whether it is contemplating such a move …

To read the whole story, click here.

“More Arms Than an Octopus”: William C. Banks Discusses Mueller Investigation Latest with Bloomberg Law

Bloomberg Law: William Banks on Robert Mueller Investigation

William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism for Syracuse University College of Law, will discuss how Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether or not Michael Flynn was involved in an attempt to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers. He speaks with Michael Best and Greg Stohr on “Bloomberg Law.”

Members of INSCT Offer Thoughts on North Korean Threat

(SU News | Aug. 11, 2017) Syracuse University faculty members William Banks, a professor in both the College of Law and Maxwell School, and Robert Murrett, who also is a professor at both the Maxwell School and the  College of Law, offer their thoughts on the possible threat of North Korea to U.S. interests at home and abroad. Both are also members of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT).

“The US is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”

When it comes to declaring war on North Korea, according to Banks, the founding director of INSCT, “Under United States law, the president cannot lawfully strike militarily at North Korea without authorization from Congress. Under international law, the U.S. is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”

When asked if the armistice still in place from 1953 between the U.S. and DPRK gives the U.S. president international law options he might not have when dealing militarily with another country, Banks says “the fact that the Korean War ended in the stalemate of an armistice has little or no bearing on the current military situation and the legality of a strike against North Korea.”

As for Murrett, the former director of naval intelligence, “When it comes to the intelligence assessments of North Korea, we look at three tiers: their nuclear capability, the weaponization of their nuclear capability and the types of delivery vehicle they have, be they missiles, submarines or aircraft. When it comes to degrees of certainty in regard to North Korea’s current nuclear capability, I have very high confidence in the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, and these intelligence assessments will influence U.S. policy and planning.

“The U.S. military is a planning machine and U.S. Forces Korea, part of the U.S. Pacific Command, has detailed contingency plans for the Korean Peninsula—drawn up in collaboration with South Korea and Japan—which offer a range of different options. Although I am concerned about the North Korean threat to Guam—that territory is an essential part of the U.S. presence in the Pacific—we can’t forget our Pacific allies, not just South Korea and Japan but Australia, New Zealand and others. We must keep them informed of the planning we perform and the diplomacy we execute.”

Members of INSCT Offer Thoughts on North Korean Threat