Security Gaffes in the White House Cause Intelligence Expert Grave Concern
(Spectrum | May 22, 2017) This is a special edition of SPECTRUM featuring intelligence expert, David Crane. The way President Trump is dismissive of “intelligence briefings” and makes disclosure decisions without prior consultation with intelligence experts causes grave concern to a long time security veteran.
Recently, the news has focused on security gaffes in the White House. Some reports have said that President Trump gave the Russians intelligence information that was classified at the highest level of secrecy.
It is reported, by Trump’s National Security Advisor, that he made the decision to do so “on-the-spot” without any prior consultation with his security team. His National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said at a press briefing that before making the disclosures, the President did not know the source of the information or from where the information came.
Although McMaster claims the President’s disclosures to the Russians were “wholly appropriate,” many experts question the wisdom of such spur-of-the moment Presidential decisions to share highly secretive information without consulting with the security team first.
To understand exactly what happened and what the “intelligence terminology” we hear means, we’ve called in an expert — David Crane.
Crane spent over three decades in top-level Intelligence work for the government. He helped create and was the founding director of the Office of Intelligence Review in the Department of Defense. He is an international law specialist and has acted as a prosecutor of war crimes for the United Nations.
Crane is very concerned about how this Administration is handling intelligence and what the dire ramifications could be. He is troubled by the President’s seemingly casual attitude about “intelligence” and his dismissive policies toward “briefings” by veteran intelligence officers. He also describes how the President’s mishandling of critical information can put other countries and individuals in jeopardy as well as the United States.
Robert Mueller Garners Bipartisan Support in New Role
Former Massachusetts Governor and principal and ML Strategies William Weld and William Banks, director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse Law School, discuss the selection of Robert Mueller to lead the Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. Presidential election. They speak June Grasso and Greg Stohr on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”
(Syria Deeply | May 18, 2017) The Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) at Syracuse University doesn’t know about weekends. “It’s a seven-day-a-week operation,” says project leader and law professor David Crane. The SAP team updates its extensive database constantly and provides quarterly reports to its clients, “which are the United Nations, the [U.S.] Office of the Legal Advisor, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as various countries,” he says.
Since 2011 the SAP has been documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. “It’s a neutral effort. We’re not looking at one side or the other, we’re building a trial package against anyone who commits war crimes and crimes against humanity,” says Crane. The trial package is for domestic or international prosecutors in the future who decide to bring a case to court.
Crane is confident that it will happen, it might just take a little longer. He’s got experience.
As founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Crane helped to send Charles Taylor to prison. He created SAP as an organization using “the tried and proven techniques of what we did in West Africa and apply them to the Syrian civil war.”
Syria Deeply spoke with Crane about SAP’s latest research on Aleppo, its techniques and quality control and his viewpoint on the chances of prosecuting war crimes in the context of the Syrian crisis
David M. Crane: Like all white papers these are information assets for people who know nothing about Aleppo to people who are deeply involved and everything in between. The purpose is to inform, for example, a policymaker, a diplomat or someone who is in the international criminal business and to allow someone who is not informed at all to read through the white paper and have a basic overview – a four corners overview – of what took place in Aleppo over the past six, seven months. We wanted to also give the important historical context of Aleppo and the tragedy of the destruction of this ancient city.
Syria Deeply: What methodology and tools did you and your team use?
Crane: We work with researchers, investigators and criminal information analysts. We used the same techniques, the same analysis and data collection that we had been using for well over six years, and that is through various sources. We have an incredible amount of data at our fingertips.
We have what we call open source material, which is data that is currently available on the web, social media and what have you. We also have what we call walk-in information; in other words, we received on a regular basis individuals who report to us incidents and situations they want to bring to our attention. Then we have our clandestine methodologies; we’ve been developing an information network within Syria that is reporting to us through clandestine means.
Syrian War Crime Cases Prepped by US Attorney David Crane
(Spectrum (WOUB Public Media) | May 17, 2017) World-renowned international lawyer and national security expert David Crane is heading the Syria Accountability Project to hold Syrian governmental and faction leaders accountable for thousands of verified war crimes.
He and his group are building war crime cases and trial packages against Syrian government and faction leaders. To date, Crane’s group has verified over 8,000 pages of individual war crimes.
Crane is building conflict maps and criminal law matrix to help international, national and local prosecutors in Syria try and convict war criminals. He also has compiled a massive data base and incident index. He even has prepared model indictments against named Syrian leaders.
Crane brings a wealth of experience to this effort. He was the lead prosecutor in war crimes trials for the United Nations against Sierra Leone and other leadership in the 1.2 million massacre of its citizens in that 11 year civil war. His work resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia. This was only the second time in history that a former head of state was convicted of war crimes.
He also helped create and was the founding director of the Office of Intelligence Review in the Department of Defense.
Throughout his illustrious career, Crane has been able to apply the rule of law to chaotic situations whether they are foreign or domestic.
Domestically, he is a firm believer that the U.S. Constitution guides everything. He cites that statutes, regulations and policies may come and go but the Constitution is always present with strong guiding principles to follow.
Crane is currently a Professor of Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law. He also is a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University.
History Alum David Crane Receives Honorary Doctorate of Letters
Ohio University alum David Crane, who earned a bachelor’s degree in History in 1972 and a master’s in African Studies in 1973, was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree at the Graduate Commencement on April 28.
He earned a J.D. from Syracuse University in 1980 and is now one of the world’s international law experts.
“My life, and all it is and has stood for, began here at Ohio University,” Crane said. “I learned the joy of learning; of standing up for what is right; to be a critical thinker; to become a leader and manager; and I learned the importance of lifelong friendships and, most importantly, the true meaning of love. A love that has lasted almost 45 years.”
Crane has held many positions during his 30-year career with the U.S. federal government. Some of them include: judge advocate for the U.S. Army, assistant general counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency and founding director of the Office of the Intelligence Review in the Department of Defense. He also has served as the Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law and chairman of the International Law Department in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School.
Among his duties were prosecuting cases, educating attorneys on international humanitarian law and overseeing investigations into acts of terrorism and international aggression.
After retiring, he was appointed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He was responsible for evaluating and prosecuting individuals who committed crimes against humanity and violations of international human rights that occurred during the Sierra Leone civil war, 1991-2002.
He is the founder and vice president of the “I am Syria” campaign, which educates the world on the Syrian Conflict. He also founded “Impunity Watch,” a law review journal and news reporting site that caters to government officials, non-governmental organizations and international lawyers.
(Jurist | May 4, 2017) Last Monday, 24 April, it was easy to miss the important news that the Supreme Court denied cert in the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make public the full Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture. The news was lost in the frenzied media analysis of Trump’s first 100 days, new opinion polls on his performance, and a looming possible government shutdown over the border wall.
“The Supreme Court’s denial of public access to the full Senate report means we will be forced to continue wondering how much torture was used, the level of damage it did to the US, and which private entities may have been involved.”
The ACLU is to be commended for their leadership both in this FOIA request, and in the ground-breaking lawsuit Salim v. Mitchell. That suit was brought by torture victims and the family of a man tortured to death by the CIA, and fortunately is moving forward in a Spokane federal court.
But this Supreme Court decision on the Senate report is a blow to efforts at accountability for this dark chapter in US history, and bad news for Americans who want open government and transparency. From the declassified but heavily-redacted executive summary that is available, we know that the CIA’s interrogation tactics were both more brutal and less effective than was acknowledged publicly. The CIA did not provide oversight at the black sites it maintained, and it lied to Congress and the public about the number of detainees it held and tortured during the period following 9/11.
The Supreme Court’s denial of public access to the full Senate report means we will be forced to continue wondering how much torture was used, the level of damage it did to the US, and which private entities may have been involved. Most disturbingly, the decision blocks the robust public debate that release of the full report would stimulate. It continues the shielding of responsible officials from any form of accountability, and keeps the American public and our elected leaders from learning lessons from the failed tactics of the past.
One of President Obama’s final acts in office was to preserve the report under the Presidential Records Act — a positive step given that many elected officials, including Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.), have advocated destroying all classified versions. But this step also meant that the report would remain hidden from the public for at least twelve years, and perhaps much longer.
Our current President has, at best, easily influenced and inconsistent views on torture. President Trump, both while campaigning and even after taking office, has openly supported and endorsed resuming torture, although he has also backtracked on his own statements. His appointment of Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, who once oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand and was physically present during torture sessions, further underscores that more information about the torture, rendition and detention program must be revealed.
The lack of government transparency and public accountability—reinforced by this week’s Supreme Court decision—makes the work of organizations pushing for accountability all the more vital. One such initiative worth noting is the recently launched non-governmental North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT).
NCCIT was established to investigate and bring about public accountability for the specific role that North Carolina’s state and local governments played in supporting the US torture program …
INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member David M. Crane was Founding Chief Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and currently is a Professor of Practice at Syracuse University College of Law. Catherine Read is Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.
War Crimes Evidence in Syria, SU Law Group has New Report on Government Violence Against Civilians
(WAER (Syracuse, NY) | May 1, 2017)A project at Syracuse University’s Law School is monitoring potential war crimes in Syria. The Syrian Accountability Project has a report out on some of the most violent and deadly incidents, allegedly carried out by the government against its own citizens.
“We’ll get Assad eventually; there’ll be a knock at his door someday.”
“From use of chemical weapons, use of barrel bombs, a nasty type of improvised explosive device dropped from helicopters, to indiscriminate shelling general, dragging war planes out every single day and just bombing neighborhoods. We also found extra-judicial killings, attacks on hospitals and the aid convoys on September 19th (2016).”
They were investigating the siege of Aleppo and also found another tactic – not allowing civilians a way to leave.
“The way the Syrian government has done it for the past six and-a-half years, the way it’s been carried out has just been awful, to say the least. There’s no distinguishing between a combatant on the ground and a lawful target, and just a child, for instance that’s just in their neighborhood trying to play.”
Lucas says their work can show investigators where to look for evidence and witnesses in preparation for a war crimes trial against Syrian Leader Bashar Al-Assad and others. SU Law Professor and project leader David Crane is confident justice will be served … if not so optimistic about the country’s future.
“We’ll get Assad eventually; there’ll be a knock at his door someday. But the area around Syria, known as the Levant, it’s destroyed. It will take a generation. It is now a part of the world the U.N. is only going to be able to manage. At this point it’s almost ungovernable” …
Siege, the blockade and subjugation of a city, is an ancient and enduring strategy of war, responsible for some of the cruelest events in modern conflict: the battles of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, of Leningrad during World War II, and of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.
Add to these notorious examples the 2016 Siege of Aleppo, an attritional campaign of the Syrian Civil War that lasted 160 days, from July to December, pitting the victorious Syrian Arab Republic against a rebel coalition mixed into a civilian population of some two million. Taken together, the Battle of Aleppo, which began in 2012, and the subsequent siege killed an estimated 31,000 people, with 75% of those believed to be civilians. One of the world’s oldest cities and a cultural capital, Aleppo was reduced to rubble.
A close examination of the multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred during the 2016 blockade, the Covered in Dust release event took place in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3, Syracuse University. Discussants at the event were Ken Harper, Associate Professor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; Cora True-Frost, Associate Professor of Law, SU Law; and Professor Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.
Although siege itself is not banned under customary international law, this strategy often employs tactics that are considered crimes. In terms of targeting citizens and the aid workers trying to help them, the Siege of Aleppo was especially egregious. Covered in Dust documents six distinct categories of incidents that are representative violations: the use of siege to starve a civilian population; indiscriminate shelling of civilians and specifically the dropping of “barrel bombs”; the use of chemical weapons (there were reportedly at least eight chlorine gas attacks during the blockade); attacks on humanitarian and medical operations, including on aid convoys and hospitals; and extrajudicial killings, especially during the final days of the battle.
The information in this white paper is drawn from SAP’s extensive legal analysis, now in its sixth year. The project’s comprehensive Conflict Narrative and Crime-Based Matrix are detailed accounts of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war. The narrative is a daily accounting of recorded and pertinent crimes taken from open sources, while the matrix highlights specific incidents from the narrative, noting the date, location, description, and responsible party. The matrix also provides the relevant source of potential legal liability under the Rome Statute, the Geneva Conventions, and/or the Syrian Penal code.
The purpose of this white paper and SAP’s wider work is to aid the eventual administration of transitional justice for the people of Syria after the war. To this end, Covered in Dust will be sent to the newly created United Nations Syrian Accountability Center, which was formed with the help of Professor Crane in December 2016. The report also will be sent to these clients of SAP: the UN Undersecretary General for Legal Affairs; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Chief Prosecutor International Criminal Court; Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes; and various UN ambassadors.
(DefenseNews | April 23, 2017) As the Pentagon hands off innovation requirements to the private sector, what is the effect on the defense industrial base? Former Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe (an INSCT Affiliated faculty Member) and William Lynn, the CEO of Leonardo’s DRS Technologies, discuss the changing landscape and the latest efforts to deliver advanced technologies to the war fighter.