Setting the Terms: William C. Banks Discusses Christopher Wray’s Senate Testimony

Professor Emeritus William C. Banks discusses the recent Senate testimony by FBI director Christopher Wray, who named China as the number one threat to the US. Banks also discusses the FBI’s handling of the second Justice Kavanaugh background check and the future of domestic unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) regulation, among other topics raised at the hearing.

Banks’ segment starts at 6m 09s

To Fly or Not to Fly? What’s Next for Drone Regulation Within the United States, with Reggie Govan

Speaker: Reggie Govan, former Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration

Date: Jan. 24, 2018

Time: Noon

Location: Cortland Lecture Hall (Dineen 340)

Reggie Govan, the former Chief Counsel of the FAA, played an integral role shaping public policy at the cutting edge of aviation technology, and he has a deep understanding of the impact of rapidly evolving innovative technology systems and operations on the regulatory environment. He is one of the architects of today’s regulatory framework for expanding commercial drone operations, ensuring counter-drone security, and expanding performance-based rulemaking.

Govan is an advocate for a comprehensive reconsideration of the relative roles of federal, state, local, and tribal governments and of private industry to support low-altitude commercial drone operations.

Before joining the FAA, Govan served for 14 years as a corporate counsel with responsibility for a broad range of compliance issues as well as a Counsel to committees in the US House of Representatives and Senate. He also is a seasoned litigator.

“Research Handbook on Remote Warfare” Features William C. Banks on Cyber Conflict

Featuring an essay on “Developing Norms for Cyber Conflict” by INSCT Director William C. Banks, the Research Handbook on Remote Warfare, edited by Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin, has been published by Edward Elgar Publishing. 

“Professor Ohlin has brought together a diverse group of talented scholars and practitioners to assess drones, cyber operations, and autonomous systems from a completely novel perspective—remoteness.”

The handbook (also offered as an e-book) is described as an essential read for academics and students of jus ad bellum, national security law, international humanitarian law, human rights, and modern warfare techniques and the complex legal issues they create.

Essays examine how the practice of armed conflict has changed radically in the last decade and addresses in particular the legal implications of remote warfare and its significance for combatants, civilians, policymakers, and international lawyers.

http://www.e-elgar.com/shop/research-handbook-on-remote-warfarePrimarily focused on the legality of targeted killings by drones, cyber attacks, and autonomous weapons, chapters offer compelling insights, challenge assumptions, and give a variety of international perspectives on the use of force, humanitarian law, criminal law, and human rights law. Suggestions are made for the future development of law to control the limits of modern remote warfare, with a particular focus on the possibility of autonomous weapons.

In his essay, Banks reviews the state of the law when it comes to disruptive intrusions—cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, for instance—by state and non-state actors and the complexity of creating a “more fully-formed international law” of cyber conflict and even cyber warfare.

Writes Banks, “Developing an international consensus on the norms for cyber conflict will not be easy. The state of doctrinal international law is only partly to blame. At least as important as constraints are the political differences among states and non-state actors in shaping cyber norms. In addition, the facts needed to make the normative judgments in this fast-paced
realm of changing technologies are now and will be for the foreseeable future hard to come by and even more difficult to verify. Law will play catch up, as it should, but the lag between evolving technologies and normative stability in cyber operations may be a long one.”

In his review of the handbook, the University of Exeter’s Michael Schmitt observes that, “Professor Ohlin has brought together a diverse group of talented scholars and practitioners to assess drones, cyber operations, and autonomous systems from a completely novel perspective—remoteness. In doing so, he and his team shed new and important light on topics that lie at the heart of future conflict. Additionally, by focusing on remoteness, this handbook breaks loose from the intellectual stove-piping that characterizes our often-predictable assessments of emergent methods and means of warfare. It yields valuable insights into a characteristic of weaponry and tactics that will increasingly define warfare in the decades to come. It is a must-read for anyone concerned with international law in the battlespace.”


Part I The Concept of Remoteness in Warfare
1. Remoteness and Reciprocal Risk
Jens David Ohlin
2. The Principle of Distinction and Remote Warfare
Emily Crawford
3. Modern Drone Warfare and the Geographical Scope of Application of IHL: Pushing the Limits of Territorial Boundaries
Robert Heinsch
4. The Characterisation of Remote Warfare under International Humanitarian Law
Anthony Cullen
5. Remoteness and Human Rights Law
Gloria Gaggioli
Part II Remotely Piloted Vehicles and Cyber Weapons
7. Drone Strikes: A Remote Form of Self-Defence?
Nigel D. White and Lydia Davies-Bright
8. Drone Warfare and the Erosion of Traditional Limits on War Powers
Geoffrey Corn
9. Developing Norms for Cyber Conflict
William C. Banks
Part III Remoteness Through Autonomous Weapons
11. Remote and Autonomous Warfare Systems: Precautions in Attack and Individual Accountability
Ian S. Henderson, Patrick Keane and Josh Liddy
12. Autonomous Weapons Systems: A Paradigm Shift for the Law of Armed Conflict
Robin Geiß and Henning Lahmann
13. Making Autonomous Targeting Accountable: Command Responsibility for Computer-Guided Lethal Force in Armed Conflicts
Peter Margulies
14. The Strategic Implications of Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Michael W. Meier

William C. Banks Thrower Symposium Panel Now Online

On Feb. 11, 2016, INSCT Director and Interim Dean of Syracuse Law William C. Banks spoke on the panel “Cybersecurity Beyond the Media Coverage: Applicable Law Doctrines, Corporate Responsibility, and Practical Implications” at the 2016 Randolph W. Thrower Symposium at Emory University School of Law.

The symposium—called “Redefined National Security Threats: Tensions and Legal Implications”—explored the tensions, complementarities, and resulting legal implications in three rapidly changing and developing areas of national security: cybersecurity; new technologies, including domestic drones; and effect of transnational tensions on domestic security, immigration laws, and cross-border security.

The panel “Cybersecurity Beyond the Media Coverage” was moderated by Steven Grimberg, Emory Law Adjunct Professor and Deputy Chief of Economic Crimes at the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. Other panelists were COL Gary Corn, Staff Judge Advocate, US Cyber Command; Catherine Lotrionte Yoran, Director, Institute for Law, Science, and Global Security, Georgetown University; and Morgan Cloud, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, Emory Law School.

William C. Banks Speaks to Foreign Policy About Drone Raids

Victims of US Special Operations Raids Gone Wrong Are Lucky to Get a Sheep

(Foreign Policy, June 8, 2015) … In the new case, the families of the Yemeni men — Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, the cleric, and Waleed bin Ali Jaber, his cousin and a cop — cite Obama’s April acknowledgement that American Warren Weinstein and an Italian aid worker, Giovanni Lo Porto, were mistakenly killed by a U.S. drone earlier this year. The lawsuit, which does not ask for money, wants a court to compel Obama to do the same for their loved ones.

William Banks, director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, told FP that it’s legally impossible to pry drone strike information from the administration.

“The lawsuit itself doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell,” he said …

To read the full article, click here.

William C. Banks Discusses “How Do Drone Strikes Go Wrong?” With the BBC

How do drone strikes go wrong?

… Mistakes happen, says William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, largely for one reason: “People are involved.”

In most cases the people are good at their jobs. Over the years the drone programme has been extraordinarily effective in the fight against al-Qaeda. Dozens of al-Qaeda commanders have been “taken off the battlefield,” as Mr Obama puts it, through the strikes.

Mr Obama recognised the dangers of the programme and had a policy that stated no strikes would be carried out unless there was “near certainty” that civilians would not be killed.

The process for carrying out a drone strike is complex, though, and critics of the programme say it was only a matter of time until they backfired.

People in Pakistan—officials as well as individuals who are hired locally—help US analysts put together information about the hiding places of militants.

In addition, individuals who work on the drone programme, whether they are CIA analysts or done pilots, sift through intelligence from satellite imagery, audio recordings and other sources in order to distinguish “bad guys from good guys”, Mr Banks explains.

“Even if you’re up close and personal, it can be difficult,” he says, “much less if you’re at a distance, using technical means” …

To read the story in full, click here.

William C. Banks Speaks to Bloomberg Law About “Drone Kill List” Lawsuit

[button link=”http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/Politics/Law/vBFkXylI9yyQ.mp3″ size=”medium” color=”grey” rounded=”yes”]Listen to the segment here[/button]

(Bloomberg Law, March 16, 2015) William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law, and Jeffrey Bachman, a professor of international humanitarian law at American University, discuss a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union requesting secret Obama administration documents specifying the criteria for placement on the so-called “kill list” for drone strikes. They speak with Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”

William C. Banks Publishes in Drone Wars

Drones_wars_Low_ResINSCT Director William C. Banks’ chapter “Regulating Drones: Military Law and CIA Practice and the Shifting Challenges of New Technologies” has been published in a new book on what has become the iconic military technology of many of today’s most pressing conflicts—“Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy.” Published by Cambridge University Press, Drone Wars documents a moment in history when new military technologies are transforming how war is waged by the US and, increasingly, by other states and by non-state actors.

Edited by Peter Bergen, of the New America Foundation (NAF) and CNN, and Daniel Rothenberg, of Arizona State University, the book investigates how remotely piloted “unmanned aerial systems” (the US military’s term for what are commonly referred to as “drones”) have become a lens through which contemporary US foreign policy can be understood and a means for discussing key issues regarding modern laws of war and the changing nature of global politics.

With other chapters written by political scientist PW Singer, NAF’s Jennifer Rowland, and Georgetown University’s Rosa Brooks, among others, the book offers an interdisciplinary perspective on targeted killing and civilian casualties; presents key data on drone deployment; and offers new ideas on their historical development, significance, and impact on law and policy.

Writes Fred Kaplan, author of The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, “[Drone Wars is an] essential anthology delving into the raging debate over the use of drones in the endless war on terror, covering all the angles—political, legal, moral, military—with impressive scope and judicious balance.” Adds Tom Ricks, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, “This is the best volume I have read on the nature of post-9/11 warfare. It is likely to become the standard book on ‘the decade of the drone.’”

To learn more about the book, click here.

JNSLP Vol. 7:3 Now Available Online

In JNSLP Vol. 7.3, authors address a number of compelling national security issues, including targeting under international humanitarian law (Michael N. Schmitt and Eric W. Widmar); insight into the NSA’s practice of providing security to private companies (Susan Landau); creative ways to limit overclassification (Herbert S. Lin); the evolution of explosive weapons and their effect on the development of international law (Barry Kellman); and aligning criminal prosecutions with law of war detainment in Guantanamo (Norman Abrams). The issue also includes a review, by Spike Bowman, of Bob Gates’ Duty.

To read articles and subscribe to the print version, visit jnslp.com.

William C. Banks to Keynote “New Technology & Old Law Symposium: Rethinking National Security”

NewTechnologyOldLawThe Texas A&M Law Review’s Fall 2014 Symposium—“New Technology and Old Law: Rethinking National Security”—will take place on Oct. 17, 2014, offering a series of panel discussions that will explore a number of technological innovations that have drastically altered the way we think about national security and how these technologies fit into the existing legal framework that governs the anticipation, identification, and defense against national security threats.

Sub-topics include:

  • Theft of intellectual property via cyber espionage.
  • Regulation of UAVs under current legal framework.
  • Emerging biotechnologies and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.
  • Effect of new technology and social media on the “reasonable expectation” concept.
  • Public expectations regarding Internet privacy and impacts on national security.
  • Technological and legal challenges surrounding US drone regulation.

The Symposium’s Keynote Speaker will be INSCT Director William C. Banks. Other distinguished presenters include:

  • Paul Finkelman, Albany School of Law
  • Abraham Wagner, Columbia Law School
  • Catherine Lotrionte, Georgetown University
  • Steve Vladeck, American University, Washington School of Law
  • Margaret Hu, Washington & Lee University School of Law
  • Adam Pearlman, United States Department of Defense
  • David Graham, Judge Advocate General’s Legal School and Center
  • Tung Yin, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Vickie Sutton, Texas Tech University School of Law

More information can be found here.



9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Opening Remarks/Introduction
Lisa A. Rich | Texas A&M University School of Law

9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Drones & Asymmetric Warfare
David E. Graham | The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, US Army
Tung Yin | Lewis & Clark Law School
Christopher Jenks | Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Moderator: Professor Sahar F. Aziz

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Big Data & Mass Surveillance
Steve Vladeck | American University Washington College of Law
Margaret Hu | Washington & Lee University School of Law
Adam Pearlman | United States Department of Defense
Moderator: Professor H. Brian Holland

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Keynote Presentation
William C. Banks | Syracuse University School of Law

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Internet Privacy and Security
Paul Finkelman | Albany School of Law
Abraham Wagner | Columbia Law School
Catherine Lotrionte | Georgetown University
Moderator: Professor Lynn Rambo

4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Emerging Topics in National Security
Vickie Sutton | Texas Tech University School of Law
Sahar Aziz | Texas A&M University School of Law
Moderator: Professor Lisa A. Rich                                         

5:15p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks
Sahar Aziz | Texas A&M University School of Law