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.

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)

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.”

https://www.nga.mil/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/2017-Geospatial-Intelligence-Hall-of-Fame-inducts-six-former-leaders,-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.

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.

 

“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.

 

“Journalism & International Justice”: David M. Crane Lectures at Chautauqua

(The Chautauquan Daily | July 17, 2017) In 2013, Charles Taylor, the former president of the West African nation Liberia, was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity for subjecting the people of Sierra Leone to murder, mutilation, rape and sexual slavery. Estimates vary, but it is believed that more than 50,000 people were killed, several hundred thousand were maimed or wounded and 2.5 million were displaced in a nation of 6 million during 11 years of conflict.

“If they call me tomorrow, I could prosecute Assad.”

Taylor is the only sitting head of state ever to be convicted on such charges, according to David M. Crane, the chief prosecutor in the case. He was appointed by Kofi Annan, then-secretary general of the United Nations, at the recommendation of the Security Council, to create and manage the independent Special Court for Sierra Leone. Besides Taylor, the leaders of three other factions in the war were also convicted of war crimes, including the widespread forced conscription of children as fighters.

Why was Crane chosen?

“That’s the $25 question,” he said. “(Former U.S. secretary of state) Colin Powell told me that I had a reputation for creating new organizations and driving them forward toward success.”

At 3:30 p.m. [on July 18, 2017] in the Hall of Philosophy, Crane will discuss his work and address the theme “Journalism & International Justice” as part of the Oliver Archives Heritage Lecture Series. He will be joined by the television and newspaper journalist Brian Rooney, the winner of four Emmy and two Edward R. Murrow awards. A renowned expert in international criminal law and a professor of that subject at Syracuse University’s law school, Crane said he chose the topic because of “the role of the press in bringing atrocities to light. Without the press, politicians would just cover them up.”

While Taylor is the only head of state to be tried and convicted by an international tribunal, Crane — along many other human rights advocates and legal scholars — hopes he will not be the last. Crane created and has headed the Syrian Accountability Project at Syracuse University since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. The group has built a huge database and index matrix cataloguing war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad and the leaders of 13 fighting factions. The group, which has verified 8,000 pages of individual war-crime incidents, has been praised by the U.S. Congress and the United Nations for its work, and could be called upon to assist in any potential tribunal.

“If they call me tomorrow, I could prosecute Assad,” said Crane, who served in the U.S. military and worked for 30 years on national security issues and policy for the Department of Defense and congressional intelligence committees …

Read the full article here …

International prosecutor David M. Crane to discuss media and war crimes

Tara Helfman Appointed to DOJ Civil Rights Position

INSCT Faculty Member and Associate Professor of Law Tara Helfman has been named Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the US Department of Justice (DOJ).  

Helfman—who is currently serving as a Visiting Scholar at Georgetown Law—will commence work at DOJ headquarters in Washington, DC, this month
 
As a member of the Civil Rights Division, Helfman will defend the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans by upholding the Constitution and enforcing federal civil rights law. This prestigious appointment complements her extensive scholarship in constitutional law.  

“From the Farm to the Schoolhouse” with Catherine Bertini

INSCT Faculty Member Catherine Bertini was recently interviewed for the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Nourishing Millions podcast series.

In the episode, “From the Farm to the Schoolhouse,” Bertini explains how education is central to creating opportunities for girls and women as key players in the effort to end hunger and malnutrition …

… we talk with Catherine Bertini, professor at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and 2003 World Food Prize Laureate, about the many challenges that face women living in low- and middle-income countries today.

Professor Bertini details the role of women as the cooks and caregivers of the household, and laborers within agriculture, dual roles that make them critical to ending hunger and malnutrition. She proposes that girls’ and women’s education is the foremost step to creating not only opportunities for women, but also increasing the agricultural productivity and economic opportunities within their countries.

The episode relates some innovative solutions to ensuring that families keep their daughters in school, and Professor Bertini’s vision of a world in which all women can lead fulfilling lives.