David M. Crane, Other NCCIT Commissioners to Further Explore North Carolina’s Role in US Torture Program at Public Hearings

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) will hold public hearings in Raleigh, NC, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2017, as a part of its ongoing investigation into how North Carolina’s state tax dollars and public resources may have been used to facilitate aspects of the CIA’s post-9/11 Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program, which potentially violated national and international laws.

The 11-member panel of commissioners, which includes INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member David M. Crane, will receive testimony from a diverse lineup of scholars, military officers, legal experts, and those with firsthand experience and knowledge of the CIA’s torture program, including both interrogators and detainees. 

Witnesses will address the links between the US torture program and North Carolina, in particular the role of a CIA-associated company based in the state, Aero Contractors. The commission will hear testimony about how Aero Contractors used the state’s infrastructure—including taxpayer-funded public airports—to station and deploy planes that picked up suspects abroad and transported them to black site prisons or third party countries where they experienced torture.  

In particular, Mohamedou Ould Slahi will testify about his experience being wrongfully accused, tortured, and detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for more than 14 years, which he wrote about in his international bestseller Guantanamo Diary.  Slahi’s case is one of more than 40 documented to involve North Carolina-based jets and pilots.  Many of these cases appear in the declassified executive summary of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture released in 2014. 

Confirmed witnesses appearing before the Commission at the hearings include:

  • Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative at the American University Washington College of Law
  • Glenn Carle, former CIA interrogator and Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights
  • Jayne Huckerby, law professor and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Duke Law School
  • Alberto Mora, former General Counsel of the US Navy and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
  • Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas, active US Air Force and counsel to two Guantanamo detainees

This event is open to the media and will be live streamed at nccit.org.

Step-by-Step: William C. Banks Updates Bloomberg on the Mueller Probe

Goodman and Banks on Mueller Probe

(Bloomberg Law | Nov. 13, 2017) Ryan Goodman, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and William Banks, Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, discuss the latest developments in the in the Mueller probe.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2017-11-13/goodman-and-banks-on-mueller-probe-audio

Robert B. Murrett Speaks to Brazilian Media About Trump’s Visit to Asia

Com trunfos, China recebe americano

(Estadão Jornal Digital | Nov. 8, 2017)

… The President of the Republic of Korea today arrives in Beijing from South Korea. After saying that it was a “waste of time” to talk to North Korea last month, the American adopted a diplomatic tone and invited Pyongyang to “sit at the table” to discuss the nuclear issue. “I think we’re making a lot of progress, I think we’re showing great strength. I think they understand that we have unparalleled strength,” Trump told a news conference alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “In the end, this will work.”

Deputy Director of the Institute of National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, Robert Murrett evaluated the change in the president’s tone as an attempt to reduce tension in the region. The South Korean president was elected on a platform that advocates negotiation with Pyongyang and rejects any military confrontation. Trump’s bellicose rhetoric was not well received by the South Korean population, who would be directly hit in a possible war. Research by Pew Research has shown that two-thirds of South Korean respondents consider Trump to be “dangerous.”

Murrett recalled that the issue of North Korea will be at the center of Trump’s agenda in Beijing. “Any kind of action against North Korea has to include the Chinese.” …

To read the article in the original Portuguese, click here.

“It’s a Snowball:” William C. Banks Discusses Potential Charges Against Flynn, Kushner, Others

Flynn in Focus as Mueller Investigation Moves Forward

(Nov. 6, 2017) Andrew Kent, a professor at Fordham University Law School, and William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, discuss special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which is now said to focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They speak with Bloomberg’s June Grasso and Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s Bloomberg Law.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2017-11-06/flynn-in-focus-as-mueller-investigation-moves-forward-audio

“Never Underestimate”: USA Today Speaks to Robert B. Murrett About Japan’s Military Posture

When it comes to North Korea, what is Japan’s military role?

(USA Today | Nov. 6, 2017) President Trump pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday to purchase more military hardware from the United States and take a more active role in its defense against North Korea.

“I would never underestimate the Japanese military.”

Trump had privately questioned why Japan didn’t shoot down the North Korean missiles launched over the northern island of Hokkaido in August and September, according to a report Saturday by Japan’s Kyodo News Agency. The report, citing diplomatic sources, said Trump wondered why a nation of “samurai warriors” wouldn’t take action.

At a news conference in Tokyo with Abe, Trump addressed the question, saying: “(Abe) will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States. … And we make the best military equipment by far” …

… For more than 60 years Japan has operated the Self-Defense Forces, with some 250,000 air, naval and ground troops that experts say are among the best-trained and most well-equipped in the world.

“I would never underestimate the Japanese military,” said retired vice admiral Robert Murrett, deputy director of the Institute of National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University. “In terms of just sheer military proficiency — unit for unit, person for person, they’re the best military in Asia.”

Murrett said that North Korea is continuing to push Japan to toward a more assertive posture.

“From a policy approach, they’re getting more energetic and less deferential to their neighbors or to the umbrella provided by the United States,” he said …

To read the full article, click here.

 

William C. Banks to Discuss “Fighting at the Legal Boundaries” During Georgetown Law Workshop

INSCT Director William C. Banks—an expert on new battlefields, asymmetric warfare, enemy combatants, and other jus in bello issues in modern warfare—will be a discussant at the Georgetown Law Center workshop on “Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict.”

The workshop addresses a book by Kenneth Watkin, QC, which offers a holistic approach toward the application of the various constitutive parts of international law and that reviews case studies on how international law addresses insurgents, terrorists, and transnational criminal gangs.

The Nov. 17, 2017, workshop is sponsored by the Georgetown Law Center, Center of the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law, and Human Rights First.

Workshop Commentators are:

  • Geoffrey Corn, Presidential Research Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law
  • Laura Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
  • Noam Lubell, Professor, School of Law, University of Essex
  • Marko Milanovic, Associate Professor in Law, University of Nottingham
  • Tom Ruys, Professor, Department of European, Public, and International Law, University of Ghent
  • Rachel Van Landingham, Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law

Workshop Discussants are:

  • Ken Watkin, author, Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict
  • William C. Banks, Director, INSCT
  • Gabriella Blum, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Harvard Law School
  • Audrey Kurth Cronin, Professor, American University School of International Service
  • Janina Dill, University of Oxford
  • Charles Dunlap Jr., Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, Duke University
  • Josh Geltzer, Executive Director, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown Law
  • CPT Todd Huntley, Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, VA
  • Richard Jackson, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Marty Lederman, Associate Professor, Georgetown Law Center
  • Dan Mahanty, Senior Adviser, Center for Civilians in Conflict
  • Jens David Ohlin, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
  • Deborah Pearlstein, Professor, Cardozo School of Law
  • Stephen Pomper, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, Multilateral Affairs, and Human Rights, National Security Council
  • Charles Sabga, Acting Deputy, New York Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Gary Solis, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Center
  • Emily Spencer, Director, Education and Research Centre, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
  • Jane Stromseth, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center

Moderators are:

  • Mitt Regan, McDevitt Professor of Jurisprudence, Georgetown Law Center
  • Rita Siemion, International Legal Counsel, Human Rights First
  • Heather Brandon, Advocacy Counsel, National Security, Human Rights First

“Living Proof”: Syrian Accountability Project Publishes White Paper on the Yazidi Genocide

Yazidi Genocide CoverCrimes committed against civilians during war can be especially heinous, but when those crimes are committed with planned intent to destroy an ethnic or religious community, international law applies the unique label of “genocide.” It is not a charge used lightly by the international community, although in recent times it has been applied to crimes committed during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and Rwandan Civil War (1994).

“Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories.”

Now, a white paper published by the Syracuse University College of Law-based Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) asserts that war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2014 against the Yazidi community by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also should be considered genocide. The report documents crimes perpetrated against the Yazidi community and calls on the international community to take “proper care of the living proof” of the Yazidi genocide and to begin the “strategic preservation” of forensic evidence that could be used in an international court.

As with past SAP special reports, the “Report on the Yazidi Genocide: Mapping Atrocity in Iraq and Syria” draws on the project’s six-year-long effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides during the Syrian Civil War and associated conflicts. Working with open-source materials from available media and contacts within the region, SAP students are responsible for maintaining the project’s two main deliverables, the Conflict Narrative and the Crime Base Matrix. The former is a legally relevant historical narrative of the conflict, while the matrix’s intent is to provide case facts of representative crimes (as well as the relevant international or national legal standard for each crime) to guide a future prosecution team. In this way, SAP both advocates on behalf of victims and provides legal analysis to aid in the eventual administration of postconflict justice.

The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” has been sent to SAP’s international clients, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the US Congress, and leading human rights organizations. The report also joins related documents requested of SAP by London-based law firm Doughty Street Chambers and barrister Amal Clooney, who acts as legal counsel to Yazidi victims of ISIS’ crimes and to Yazda, a non-governmental organization that supports the Yazidi community. 

“The Syrian Accountability Project has become a relied-upon legal investigatory tool for the delivery of justice for the people of Syria and the Levant,” says Syracuse University College of Law Professor of Practice David M. Crane, who supervises the project. “The capacity of a College of Law student with a focused, properly supervised plan is unlimited.”

The Yazidis—an ethno-religious group of between 500,000 and 1.2 million people living primarily in Northern Iraq—are Kurdish-speaking and follow their own syncretic religion that combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” alleges that, beginning in summer 2014, the group was targeted by ISIS and its campaign to “purify” the region of non-Islamist influences. The report details what it calls “grim incidences” of “incomparable brutality” during this campaign. More than 2,800 Yazidis were killed in this short time; 4,600 community members were abducted; 1,950 children were victimized; and towns and villages were blockaded or emptied of their residents. Women were kidnapped, raped, forced to abort fetuses, and sold into sexual slavery, while in a particularly abhorrent episode in August 2014, many children died of exposure on Mount Sinjar, where up to 50,000 Yazidis were seeking refuge.

“This has been a harder project to track than crimes committed in Syria during the civil war,” says SAP Executive Director and third-year law student Joseph Railey. “Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories. Nevertheless, this white paper helps clarify for our clients what kinds of information the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded beyond the case facts stemming specifically from the Syrian Civil War.”

While the report cross-references individual representative crimes with the articles of the Geneva Conventions, Rome Statute, and/or Iraqi Penal Code that they violate, it is the systematic nature of the crimes, along with ISIS’ stated intent to convert Yazidis to Islam, that raises the atrocities collectively to genocide. “The stories underlying these crimes provide the evidentiary support necessary to demonstrate that ISIS executed a systemic plan to destroy, in whole or in part, the Yazidi people,” the report states. “ISIS soldiers regularly demonstrated a specific intent to destroy the Yazidi people through their ideology and unabashed assertions for eliminating the Yazidi community.”

The report recognizes that many of the circumstantial evidence and news reports that SAP has collected are not legally sufficient to support a declaration of genocide, but it hopes that publishing these narratives will spur the international community to make an effort to preserve physical evidence of crimes. “Bringing ISIS to justice for genocide against the Yazidi community, at the domestic or the international level, will depend on the strategic preservation of forensic evidence,” the report concludes.

“What we are asking is that more recording of actual criminal evidence be done by the international community,” asserts Railey. “We are essentially saying, what happened was horrific, yet few people are talking about it. So we want to help draw people’s attention to the Yazidi situation and start a dialogue about what can be done.”

See also: “UN: Islamic State Atrocities in Mosul Need International Justice” (Voice of America/Reuters, Nov. 2, 2017)

“Important Signals”: William C. Banks Discusses RussiaGate Special Counsel Indictments on Bloomberg Law

First Charges in Russian Interference in US Election

(Oct. 30, 2017) William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, and Fordham Law School professor Andrew Kent discuss Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. They speak with Bloomberg’s June Grasso and Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s Bloomberg Law.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2017-10-31/first-charges-in-russian-interference-in-us-election-audio

Cyber Attribution & War: William C. Banks Presents at West Point Emerging Technology Conference

From October 25 to 27, 2017, INSCT Director William C. Banks took part in the “Impact of Emerging Technology on the Law of Armed Conflict” conference at the US Military Academy at West Point. Hosted by the Leiber Institute for Law and Land Warfare at the West Point Center for the Rule of Law, the hosts described the topic of emerging technologies on the battlefield as a “complex and dynamic field” within the law of armed conflict (LOAC).

Professor Banks discussed “Cyber Attribution and In Bello Compliance During an Armed Conflict.” He spoke on the “Distinction, Marking, and Attribution” panel with COL Mike Meier, of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and LTC Mark Visger, of USMA-West Point (moderator).

Also speaking at the event were Professor Laurie Blank of the Emory University International Humanitarian Law Clinic; COL Geoffrey Corn, Staff Judge Advocate, US Cyber Command; Professor Peter Margulies, Yale Law; and Professor Michael N. Schmitt, USMA-West Point.

Other topics discussed at the conference included “not-yet-emerged” weapons technologies; how technology “distorts” the nature of conflict; distinction, emerging technologies, and civilians/combatants on the battlefield; concealed cyber operations; perfidy and invisible technologies; and artificial intelligence at war.

 

WaPo Interviews William C. Banks About Alleged US ISIS Fighter

Case of Suspected American ISIS Fighter Captured in Syria Vexes US

(The Washington Post | Oct. 29, 2017) Justice Department officials don’t believe they have enough evidence to charge an American citizen and suspected member of the Islamic State who was captured in Syria last month, but the United States will face immediate legal challenges if he is not released and is detained without trial.

“It’s time now to wonder whether the Trump administration is thinking of doing something different.”

The issue threatens to reignite court battles fought during the George W. Bush administration when the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. citizens cannot be held indefinitely as members of al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups under war legislation Congress passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The court ruled that they are entitled to counsel and the right to challenge the evidence against them before a neutral arbitrator.

Nearly seven weeks ago, on Sept. 12, the man apparently surrendered to a rebel group in Syria, which handed him over to U.S. forces, according to officials familiar with his case. Since then, his name, age and other personal details, including a second country of citizenship, have been withheld, even from U.S. lawyers seeking to represent him. He is being held in a Defense Department “short-term facility” in Iraq, according to the Pentagon …

Removing the likelihood of a trial in the United States leaves the government with few options, said William Banks, a professor of public administration and international affairs at Syracuse University. “It’s time now to wonder whether the Trump administration is thinking of doing something different,” he said.

Banks and other national security analysts said the United States could negotiate with the man’s family and country of second citizenship to accept his return under conditions that he be monitored and not be allowed to travel.

Such deals have been struck in the past when, for instance, prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been transferred home …

Read the complete article here.