News & Events

David M. Crane Publishes “Every Living Thing: Facing Down Terrorists, Warlords, and Thugs in West Africa”

David M. CraneDavid M. Crane L’80, Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence, has published a memoir of his time as Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL). Every Living Thing: Facing Down Terrorists, Warlords, and Thugs in West Africa—A Story of Justice is drawn from Crane’s personal journals and is the first ever detailed account written by a chief prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal.

Appointed by then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, from 2001 to 2005, Crane—the first American since Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg in 1945 to be named the Chief Prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal—worked with a team of intrepid investigators to unravel a complicated international legal puzzle. In doing so, he became the only prosecutor in the modern era to take down a sitting head of state for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Set in the ravaged West African country of Sierra Leone, Every Living Thing shows how multiple countries were devastated by an international criminal enterprise led by presidents Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, Charles Taylor of Liberia, and Blasé Compare of Burkina Faso, with an assist from a vast network of terrorists—including Al Qaeda—vying for the control of diamonds.

Following the creation of Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002, a small band of lawyers, investigators, and paralegals changed the face of international criminal law with their innovative plan to effectively and efficiently deliver justice for the tens of thousands of victims, most of them women and children. Among those Crane indicted was Taylor, the first sitting African head of state to be held accountable in this way. Taylor was found guilty in April 2012 of all 11 charges levied by the SCSL, and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Writes Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “In Sierra Leone, David Crane masterfully built up a fully-fledged court, investigating and prosecuting some of the worst cases of international crimes and many of the most notorious war criminals of our era. He brought with him a deep commitment to justice, and genuine empathy for a country and people who had endured unbearable atrocities. The memoirs of this admirable and learned public servant will undoubtedly convey important lessons on how—and why—we must strive to deliver justice for all victims, even in the most challenging circumstances.”

 

William C. Banks Reviews Impeachment Day 2 with KPCC

Impeachment Hearing: Day Two with Marie Yovanovitch

(KPCC Los Angeles | Nov. 15, 2019) On the second day of impeachment hearings, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

Yovanovitch was removed from her post in May by what she described as a “smear campaign” by the Trump Administration and the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yurij Lutsenko. Yovanovitch had clashed with Lutsenko over alleged corruption in his department, say Ukrainian officials.

Yovanovitch previously testified to Democrats behind closed doors last month that she was warned to “watch her back,” before being ousted as ambassador. She said that she was the victim of a “campaign of disinformation” by Trump’s allies working through “unofficial back channels.” She attributes her loss of position to her anti-corruption stance. Without sustaining any criticism from the State Department itself, Yovanovitch was removed from office in May.

Republican House members largerly wrote off the relevance of Yovanovitch’s testimony. California Representative Devin Nunes said she “is not a material fact witness.” But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asserted that by removing Yovanovitch, Trump and his allies had “set the stage for an irregular channel” of foreign policy communication with Ukraine led by Rudy Giuliani to pressure Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden and the Democratic Party …

Listen to the segment.

 

Watch: Robert B. Murrett Interviews Ambassador Ryan Crocker

At the Rumsfeld Foundation seventh annual Graduate Fellowship Conference in Washington, DC, on Sept. 19-20, 2019, Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, Professor of Practice at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Deputy Director of the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law, conducted an engaging interview with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Diplomat in Residence at Princeton University.

From his service as former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, Amb. Crocker offered his advice for rising leaders from his wide-ranging experience, as well as remarked on broader diplomatic and security issues of the day.

Newly Re-Named Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law Expands Mission Toward Emerging Technologies, Intelligence Community

Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL) is the new name for the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), a collaboration between the Syracuse University College of Law and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Security Policy and Law

Founded by Professor of Law Emeritus William C. Banks in 2003, the Institute has its roots in the global response to terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It has since expanded to work across the Syracuse University campus and beyond on a wide spectrum of national and international security topics, including homeland security, the law of armed conflict, violent extremism, postconflict reconstruction, disaster response, the rule of law, veterans’ affairs, critical infrastructure, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies.

The Institute’s new name and identity reflect this growth in topics and activities, and it acknowledges the Institute’s longstanding flexibility in addressing evolving security challenges—both within the United States and around the world—through interdisciplinary research, teaching, public service, and policy analysis.

The Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law is led by the Hon. James E. Baker, former Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and former Legal Adviser to the National Security Council. The Institute’s Deputy Director is Vice Admiral Robert B. Murrett (Ret.), former Director of the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and former Director of Naval Intelligence.

“Our new identity recognizes the essential interdisciplinary nature of contemporary security challenges.”

“Our new identity recognizes the essential interdisciplinary nature of contemporary security challenges,” says Judge Baker. “As the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law, we continue our mission to conduct leading-edge policy and law research and analysis across disciplines and to educate and inspire the next generation of security thought-leaders and practitioners.”

“A prime mover in national security policy and law for more than 16 years, the re-positioned Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law is poised for the future,” says Dean Craig M. Boise, College of Law. “I am particularly excited about the Institute’s expansion into emerging technologies, the private practice of security, and diversity in the intelligence community. These changes are transforming the workplaces our students are entering. By staying abreast of these trends, the Institute is and will remain a premier training ground for future practitioners across all security sectors.”

“This new identity change reflects the expansive ways in which policy, law, and governance intersect a broad array of issue areas that shape not just US national security but human security around the world,” says Dean David M. Van Slyke, Maxwell School. “As a top-ranked research institution, Syracuse University provides boundless opportunities for us to explore these intersections across campus.”

SPL’s growing subject-matter expertise and diversity is evident in the range of sectors that the Institute’s certificate program graduates work across, in the national and international security community, for US and foreign governments, international humanitarian organizations, the intelligence community, public health agencies, the private sector, think tanks, and NGOs. Alumni serve in all five branches of the US military.

SPL offers three interdisciplinary certificates of advanced study, in Security Studies, National Security and Counterterrorism Law, and Postconflict Reconstruction. It has graduated more than 700 students from its academic programs since 2003.

Adding to its emerging research and practice areas of expertise, the Institute recently played a key leadership role in generating external funding for two major collaborative research initiatives.

The first award is a research and production partnership with the Georgetown University-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). As part of the $500,000 agreement, SPL will assist CSET in investigating the legal, policy, and security impacts of emerging technology; supporting academic work in security and technology studies; and delivering nonpartisan analysis to the law and policy community. Judge Baker is the grant’s Primary Investigator.

In the second, federal award, Syracuse University was named as a US Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (ICCAE) with total support for the new program up to $1.5 million over five years. Known as the Partnership for Educational Results/Syracuse University Adaptive, Diverse, and Ethical Intelligence Community Professionals (PER/SUADE), Syracuse University is leading a consortium of universities and colleges to recruit and educate talented, diverse students interested in public service careers in the intelligence and national security fields.

The grant’s goal is to help diversify the US government’s intelligence and national security pipelines. The program is open to all Syracuse University students—graduate and undergraduate—from all schools and colleges, as well as partner schools (Wells College, the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Norfolk State University). PER/SUDAE’s Primary Investigator is Vice Admiral Murrett and Judge Baker is the Co-Primary Investigator. Multiple University faculty are helping to design the program as co-investigators, including the SPL Director of Research Corri Zoli and faculty from the College of Law, Maxwell School, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, College of Engineering and Computer Science, University College, and elsewhere.

Impeachment & Public Opinion: William C. Banks Speaks to China Daily

Public opinion could be telling as impeachment proceedings unfold

(China Daily | Nov. 2, 2019) The impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump could shape and sway public opinion and impact the 2020 presidential campaign, analysts said.

The House of Representatives, in a 232-196, mostly party-line vote on Thursday, approved rules for the next, more public, stage in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into Trump’s attempt to have Ukraine investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Over the past five weeks, the probe has primarily been shaped by closed-door testimony from several officials who have raised questions about whether Trump and his inner circle withheld nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine in order to pressure Kiev to investigate Trump’s political rivals, thehill.com reported.

The probe focuses on a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to investigate Joe Biden, a 2020 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings …

… William C. Banks, co-author of National Security Law and the Power of the Purse, a 1994 book about tensions between the executive and legislative branches over security and spending, said that to win a second term, Trump would need the impeachment effort to fail and backfire, showing the Democrats as interested only in partisan victory and not the rule of law.

“If the public impeachment process builds the Ukraine abuse of office case clearly, so that average Americans can see what the president did, it should lead to impeachment and a trial in the Senate,” said Banks, a Syracuse University College of Law professor.

“From there on, everything depends on events that have yet to occur,” he said …

Read the full article.

 

The Burden of a Militarized US Foreign Policy

By Corri Zoli

(Re-published from Medium.com | Oct, 30, 2019) What role should American troops play — some would say, standing in the crossfire — between distant governments and groups engaged in protracted armed conflicts, whose grievances long predate 9/11? What US obligations are owed to parties of these conflicts, even partners, particularly if their issues — which they believe are worth fighting and dying for — have little to do with US national strategic priorities? How many of the long-term conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which the US is often expected to manage, are defined by the same, solvable problems — ethnic strife, capitulation on human rights, bad actors using political violence rather than building pluralistic consensus — which could be solved if local governments would simply govern their own diverse constituencies with care and accountability? In the Mideast in particular, these “conflict drivers” create economic-conflict traps and erode region-wide stability. Should the US then pick up the pieces?

“What is bizarre about the uproar over the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out the small number of remaining US troops (1,000–1,500) in Northern Syria is that very few of these questions have even been asked, let alone answered.”

Unfortunately, there are far too many wars to which these questions apply — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen (between Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, and Iran), Pakistan and India, in fractured Syria, lawless Libya, Sudan, and South Sudan, even the longstanding Israel-Palestinian conflict. If we broaden the lens to include — not just active wars and internal strife — but low-intensity conflicts and hybrid threats, the numbers rise to include post-Arab Spring Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and the Syrian-Civil War spillover into Lebanon. Is it reasonable to expect American servicemembers to protect and police these nations’ in light of their security threats, much of which stems from internal governance deficits? Can the American public feasibly support US intervention — at a cost of trillions, not to mention in lives — in 10 Mideast conflicts out of 16 nations?

What is bizarre about the uproar over the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out the small number of remaining US troops (1,000–1,500) in Northern Syria is that very few of these questions have even been asked, let alone answered. Few analysts mention the dismal empirics of war, the backdrop for weighing the merits of any lasting US presence in Syria, from policy, strategic, democratic, and other perspectives. From a democratic perspective, for instance, American voters have spoken, twice, in the last two elections, supporting both Obama and Trump Administrations’ promise of “no new wars.” From a policy perspective, the picture is even more bizarre: despite Obama’s best intentions, his own political appointees would not let him extricate the US from the Mideast. Hence, Obama called his Libyan intervention the “worst mistake” of his presidency, even as he initiated this and two other new US interventions in Syria and Yemen, adding three more wars to US ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (which Obama tried unsuccessfully to end in 2011). Biden, who presided over Obama’s withdrawal ceremony in Iraq in December 2011, said: “thank you, Obama, for giving me the opportunity to end this goddamn war.” Such a sentiment was short-lived and, as most analysts believe, the prerequisite for the rise of ISIS in the Levant.

These examples illustrate how easy it is for all of us — even Presidents with foreign policy authority — to get lost in the mixed media messages, the twists and turns of self-serving politics, the topsy-turvy world of policy recommendations, and the “fog of war” complexities of conflict, all of which inexorably push for more war …

Read the full article.

 

Professor William C. Banks Helps CNN Fact Check “Unconstitutional” Impeachment Claims

(CNN | Oct. 31, 2019) Moments after the House passed a resolution establishing procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the White House condemned the vote.

In a statement, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the resolution “fails to provide any due process whatsoever to the Administration,” calling it “unconstitutional.”

Trump echoed his administration’s complaints in an interview with British radio station LBC that aired soon after the vote. Referring to the resolution he said, “They gave us absolutely no rights” …

… William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University, told CNN that “some will see the new procedures as providing due process, and there is no harm in that view. As such ‘due process’ is a synonym for ‘fairness.'”

“There is nothing in the Constitution or any law, nor any rules of the House, that prescribes a particular procedure for impeachment proceedings,” Banks added.
The Constitution notes only the basis for impeachment and that the House “shall have the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate “shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.”

“The House resolution is not in any way ‘unconstitutional,'” Banks said. “The resolution provides more than is required.”

Read the full article.

 

Russia’s Snub of Geneva Convention Protocol Sets Dangerous Precedent

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Hill | Oct. 20, 2019) While Turkish-backed fighters may have been committing potential war crimes in Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia—which the United Nations also has accused of committing international crimes in Syria’s proxy war—is pulling out of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which protects combatants and others found on the battlefield, particularly civilians who are “especially to be protected.” Not doing so is per se a war crime.

A compilation of law, policy and customary international law, the Geneva Conventions have been a cornerstone in controlling the horror of conflict and containing its impact to the battlefield. Modern armies have been bound by the “law of armed conflict” since 1949. The Geneva Conventions is the only international treaty that all nations signed, and many have incorporated its principles into their own domestic law.

The Protocol Additional (1977) clarifies the nuances of armed conflict, essentially incorporating non-international armed conflict into the limits on the use of force highlighted in the Geneva Conventions. This was an essential move, because most of the conflict of the Cold War and the “dirty little wars” of the 21st century are of non-international character. Up to that point, the Geneva Conventions covered only international armed conflict. Though several countries, including the United States, have not ratified the Protocol Additional, all note that it’s evidence of customary international law and routinely follow its parameters.

No country ever has quit this important international paradigm until Russia’s announcement on Thursday. Putin’s decision is a troublesome addition to the movement away from various international legal regimes that promote peace and security, a hallmark of the tenets of the United Nations. In this evident “Age of the Strongman,” the movement away from a global approach to the rule of law is overshadowed by populist and nationalistic views in many parts of the world.

The rule of law stabilizes the interaction of states; it enhances peace and security, and encourages stable global trade, financial and information systems that benefit all. Despite this, a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have blocked and weakened U.N. efforts to perform its mandate — and even have mocked and prevented the International Criminal Court from seeking justice for victims of atrocity crimes …

Read the full article.

David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

William C. Banks Helps CNN Fact-Check Trump vs. Schiff

Fact-checking Trump’s shifting narrative on Adam Schiff

(CNN | Oct. 21, 2019) Over the last two years, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, has been a constant target of President Donald Trump’s ire.

Recently, Trump has focused almost entirely on a statement Schiff made to the committee last month in which he gave his own interpretation of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Schiff’s controversial statement included what he said was “the essence” of what the President communicated to Zelensky, rather than the “exact transcribed version of the call.”

Since then, the President’s characterization of Schiff — while always negative — has shifted dramatically, with Trump referring to Schiff’s comments as illegal, criminal or treasonous at least 8 times. He has even threatened to sue Schiff …

Schiff’s immunity

Recently, Trump has renewed his calls for Schiff to be punished, deploying a new tactic. The day of Schiff’s statement to Congress, he shared a clip of it on Twitter. Although the Constitution includes a specific provision that allows members of Congress to speak freely during official meetings, Trump claims Twitter is not protected under the clause and as such Schiff should be prosecuted for fraud.

On October 18, Trump said: “I understand he has immunity, but he doesn’t have immunity when he puts it on his Twitter, which he did.”

Facts First: The constitutional provision that gives Schiff immunity from prosecution over his comments in Congress also gives him immunity over his tweet of a video of those comments, experts say.

Per a Congressional Research Service report, the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause has also been interpreted “to include all ‘legislative acts’ undertaken by Members or their aides.”
Trump is partially right; Were Schiff to have tweeted his rendition of the call or other inaccurate characterizations of the President outside of the context of his congressional duties, it would not be considered a protected legislative act. However, because the tweet was of Schiff’s speech to Congress, Schiff remains immune from prosecution over it.

“Rep. Schiff is protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution from being questioned ‘in any other place,'” said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University. “The protection clearly extends to the offending Tweets.”

Read the whole article.

 

James E. Baker Shares Cold War Lessons

Former judge shares Cold War lessons

(Fulton Sun | Oct. 17, 2019) Moynihan’s world view was shaped by his experiences facing down “war and tyranny” during the Cold War, Baker said.

“Law is an attitude, and it is a culture of commitment to norms that bring law to life.”

First, there’s the importance of the big picture. Baker pointed out former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill kept his eyes focused on vigilance against war and tyranny.

“If you shape the mission with clarity like that, you will never lose sight of how you should order the priority of your work policy when principle confronts expedience,” Baker said.

Second is commitment to one’s allies as a valuable asset in defending the freedom and rights of all people.

Third: A scrupulous attention to telling the truth, especially in the face of enemy propaganda.

Fourth, and the main focus of Baker’s speech, is upholding and protecting the law.

“One of the things that united America in the Cold War was the importance of law as a bulwark against tyranny,” Baker said.

As a former judge, Baker has a strong love for the law. That doesn’t just mean the laws as determined by legislators and interpreted by the courts, however.

“Law is an attitude, and it is a culture of commitment to norms that bring law to life,” he said.

Those norms include a free press, protection of minority rights and division of power. That’s why, he said, America’s enemies, including Russia, are so focused on undermining our elections, courts and press. Law also guides national security — its values and processes.

“Law depends on the moral integrity and courage of those who wield its power,” he said. “There is also choice in which values we accent and how we deal with the twin pressures of expedience and personal preference.”

Baker said our country is failing at teaching law. The focus in law schools is on merely teaching the letter of the law, rather than “what it means to live in a constitutional democracy, and the constant commitment to legal value it takes if we are going to continue to do so.”

“We have a choice to make,” Baker said. “We can treat law solely as a tool — the authority to act and thus a spoil of power and a tool of power. Or we can treat it as the essential reservoir of values that makes a democracy a democracy.”

He pointed to the United States’ recent withdrawal of troops from Syria as an example of failure to learn from the Cold War’s lessons, especially about the importance of allies and big-picture thinking. That withdrawal left Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS vulnerable to attack by Turkish troops.

“If you cut and run on your allies, no one’s going to trust you,” he said, adding there seems to be “no discernible national security process in the current administration” …

Read the whole article.