Need to Know: David M. Crane Explains Security Clearances & Classification with Spectrum

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.

Tremendous Integrity: William C. Banks Discusses Robert Mueller’s Appointment with Bloomberg

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.”

David M. Crane Discusses His Intelligence Law & International Law Career With Spectrum

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.

Assad’s Crematoriums: David M. Crane Discusses New Syrian Atrocities With TRT World

INSCT Faculty Member David M. Crane speaks to Turkey’s TRT World about allegations that Syrian President Bashar Assad has built a crematorium near Saydnaya Military Prison, believed to be a new way to slaughter enemies of the regime and to cover up the extent of illegal treatment of political prisoners. The allegations come from the US Department of State, which has released declassified satellite images showing the crematorium standing on land that was un-built in a comparable photo taken in 2013.

William C. Banks Speaks to Bloomberg Radio About Yates’ Testimony, Flynn, “18 Days,” & Russiagate

Yates’ Testimony Leaves More Questions than Answers

(Bloomberg Radio | May 9, 2017) Alex Whiting, professor at Harvard Law School, and William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University Law School, discuss former acting attorney general Sally Yates’ testimony before Congress, in which she detailed the timeline that lead up to former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s expulsion. They speak with Greg Stohr on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”

Understanding Interdisciplinary Responses to International Terrorism & Violent Extremisms

INSCT Graduate Student Research

Date: April 28, 2017
Time: Noon – 2 p.m.
Location: Hartmann Seminar Room (Dineen 436)

In partnership with Emory University, George Washington University, and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Strategic Partnerships with Colleges and Universities—and with feedback from state and federal policymakers—graduate students in the College of Law and Maxwell School will share findings from their research on international terrorism and violent extremism.

Topics include:

  • The role of the UN in crafting international counterterrorism policy.
  • Women’s leadership role in terrorist organizations.
  • The importance of anti-extremist K-12 educational programs, such as Holocaust and atrocity education.
  • Cross-cultural perspectives on what works in other settings (e.g., Israel, Egypt, Indonesia, Belgium, etc.).
  • The experience of vulnerable communities with CVE in the United States (e.g., Somali communities in Minnesota).
  • The challenge of implementing counterterrorist and counter-extremist laws and statutes.
  • The role of “hard” and “soft” power CVE mechanisms, including drones.

This capstone research has been developed under the guidance of INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli and INSCT’s National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center (LAW 822), a working laboratory for contemporary national and international security law and policy challenges.

Graduate Student Contributions to Policy Solutions

Both professors William Banks and Corri Zoli were tapped by DHS as subject matter experts, along with Emory Law Professor Laurie Blank and George Washington Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Deputy Director Seamus Hughes, to provide recommendations to DHS Secretary John F. Kelly for improving strategic partnerships with colleges, universities, and the K-12 communities in fostering CVE-related academic research and programming. Students conducted the grounding research to develop these recommendations, which have been submitted to the DHS Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) and to Secretary Kelly.

DHS & Countering Violent Extremism

While the subject of important social science debate, DHS draws on federal law to define a “violent extremist” as “individuals who support or commit ideologically-motivated violence to further political goals,” and “violent extremism” as “an unpredictable threat from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists.”

On this issue, DHS’s priority is on countering violent extremism (CVE)—building stronger, safer, resilient communities; addressing all forms of violent extremism, regardless of ideology; and preventing violence by focusing not on radical thought or speech, but on educating communities about the threat of recruitment, radicalization to violence, and innovative community responses.

Much of this work has been initiated by the US Office for Community Partnerships, whose mission is to develop and implement a full range of partnerships to support and enhance efforts by key stakeholders to prevent radicalization and recruitment to violence by terrorist organizations. Engaging the higher education community is part of these efforts in preventing violent extremism and strengthening community partnerships for addressing violent extremism. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) and the Academic Subcommittee on CVE are designed to help leverage academic expertise for these efforts.

A Serious Standard: William C. Banks Discusses FISA Warrants, Carter Page With WIRED, VOA

The Carter Page Surveillance Doesn’t Prove Anyone’s Conspiracy Theory

(WIRED | April 12, 2017) It’s easy for all sides to read too much into the news that the FBI reportedly obtained a warrant to surveil former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Those convinced of Trump’s Russia ties may see validation and proof of a grander conspiracy. Others may see this lending credence to Trump’s allegations that the Obama administration ordered illegal, politically motivated surveillance in the heat of last year’s presidential campaign. In truth, it does neither. At least, not yet.

“In FISA you have the probability of a possibility of foreign intelligence connection. In criminal cases you have a probability of criminality.”

In truth, the most important takeaway from this week’s Washington Post report has little to do with Trump directly at all. The focus should instead be on one key implication: That Russia didn’t just interfere in the US election; they may have had help from the inside.

It’s a tantalizing report, one that’s tempting to read too much into from a few different directions.

Courting Surveillance

According to unnamed US officials in the Post report, the FBI attained its Page surveillance warrant through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If that’s true, it means that when asking for the warrant, the FBI presented the secretive FISA court with enough probable cause that the judge granted the request.

That’s both a big deal and not at all uncommon; the FISA court granted 1,456 requests for surveillance warrants in 2015 alone. The National Security Agency routinely uses these warrants to monitor the phone calls and emails of foreign nationals. It generally doesn’t take much to get a request through. If there’s a chance that the target could provide intelligence value, FISA judges give the green light.

What is less common, though, is surveilling a US citizen, like Carter Page. As you might guess, that makes for a tougher sell to a court that focuses on foreign intelligence.

“At a basic level, the standard under FISA is higher for US persons than a non-US person,” says Carrie Cordero, a national security lawyer who has worked directly on FISA process issues. “For a US person, the individual would have to be knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities, or aiding and abetting others” doing the same.

Emphasis on the knowingly. “The facts to establish probable cause need to go beyond that the person is an unwitting dupe,” says Cordero. In other words, you can’t just Mr. Magoo your way into FISA surveillance. Intelligence officials have to demonstrate that the person in question has been working as a foreign agent, or on behalf of a foreign power.

Don’t get tripped up by that use of “probable cause,” which has a different meaning here than it does on Law & Order reruns. “It’s the same phrase, but it’s very different,” says William Banks, director of Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. “In FISA you have the probability of a possibility of foreign intelligence connection. In criminal cases you have a probability of criminality.”

That’s still a serious standard—especially given that to obtain a FISA warrant against a US citizen, the intelligence community has to prove that the surveillance is necessary to protect national security. For a foreign diplomat, that eavesdropping just has to be ‘relevant.’

And in either case, FISA approval requires evidence aplenty. “It could be any number of things,” says Banks. “Visual sightings, he said-she said, listening to conversations from a public place, or an informant.” According to the Post, in Page’s case that included multiple meetings with Russian agents …

The Carter Page Surveillance Doesn’t Prove Anyone’s Conspiracy Theory


Sorting Out US Surveillance Methods, Laws (VOA News | April 12, 2017)

… Until the attacks of September 11, 2001, FISA surveillance mostly targeted foreign spies and diplomats. But with “the arrival of international terrorism on our shores, there has been more focus on that side of things,” said William Banks, director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University …



William C. Banks Discusses Senate Russia Probe on Bloomberg

Senate Provides Model of Bipartisanship in Russia Probe (Audio)

(Bloomberg Radio | March 30, 2017) William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University Law School, discusses the bipartisan Senate investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He speaks with June Grasso and Greg Stohr on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”

Surveillance of Presidents and People: William C. Banks Speaks to CNN, Bloomberg, Other Media

In the wake of two surveillance-related stories in the past few days, the media have turned to the national security expertise of INSCT Director William C. Banks.

The first story concerns the explosive March 4, 2017, claim made by President Donald J. Trump on Twitter that former President Barack Obama personally ordered a “wiretap” of the Trump presidential campaign before the November 2016 election, presumably to ascertain links between the campaign and the Russian government. This claim led to media questions about how and why a wiretap of phones or electronic communications could be made by the government, the workings of the FISA court (where such a request might lawfully be made), and whether or not President Trump could find and release this information in order to quell confusion and concern. Banks addressed these issues nationally with CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront (see video clip below); MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (on background); and the Sinclair Media Group (“Congress poised to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims”).

Secondly, on March 7, 2017, Wikileaks released thousands of documents that appeared to catalog the CIA’s domestic cybersurveillance and cyberespionage capabilities, and in particular new technology that enables the agency to surveil targets via personal electronic devices. Banks discussed this issue on Bloomberg Radio with fellow national security expert Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law (see audio clip below).

Graham Threatens Subpoena for Trump Wiretap Info

(CNN Erin Burnett Outfront | March 8, 2017)

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Cyber-Spying Tactics

(Bloomberg Radio | March 8, 2017) Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, discuss new documents released by WikiLeaks, which, if true, show the extent of the CIA’s abilities to use personal technology devices to monitor seemingly private conversations and messages. They speak with June Grasso and Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”


An “Extraordinary” Claim: William C. Banks Discusses Trump, Wiretaps, & the FISA Court With CNY Central

Congress poised to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims

(CNY Central | March 6, 2017) Members of Congress appear ready to investigate allegations that the Obama administration may have authorized surveillance on Donald Trump during his candidacy, a claim the president made over Twitter on Saturday.

“These orders are secret. They are deliberated in the court in a secret proceeding, and the president is not privy to them.”

Without providing any evidence or context for the accusation, President Trump tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found.” He sent out three more messages on the subject questioning whether it was legal for “a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?”

By early Sunday morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on Congress to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims into their investigation into Russian election interference to determine “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.” He added that “neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”

The allegations made by the president are extremely serious — if they are true. And despite round the clock media coverage of the story, there are very few actual facts that have been made public to back up Trump’s “Nixon/Watergate” claims against former President Obama.

In fact, it appears Trump’s tweets stemmed from a Breitbart news story published on Friday. The story included analysis from conservative radio show host Mark Levin who outlined a series of open-source media reports that the Obama Department of Justice sought twice to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court order to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several campaign advisers. The request filed in October was reportedly rejected, while another filed in August was approved. Those original claims, citing unnamed government officials, were first published by HeatStreet, a UK-based publication, citing two sources “with links to the counter-intelligence community” …

… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) pointed to the complete lack of evidence in Trump’s claims, saying on Monday, “I have seen no evidence to substantiate the President’s claims … The White House has provided no facts to support President Trump’s rogue comments.”

Gaining access to the evidence to substantiate or refute Trump’s claims that Obama had Trump Tower bugged during the 2016 election will be an incredibly difficult feat, especially because of the highly secretive nature of the FISA Court.

The process for releasing FISA Court orders and opinions is extremely selective and really only got started after the passage of the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act, explained William Banks, Syracuse University law professor and director of school’s national security and counter-terrorism institute. Information is released either through annual reports, which include the gross number of requests and fulfilled FISA Court orders, or from time to time the court will release its opinions, if it is deemed in the public interest.

Under the law, not even the president can access current or previous court orders. “These orders are secret. They are deliberated in the court in a secret proceeding, and the president is not privy to them,” Banks stated. In that respect, the president could not have learned about the alleged FISA Court through official channels. “It just cant happen,” the professor argued. “So what he’s doing here is repeating something he read in Breitbart.”

Reports claiming that Trump learned about the FISA Court orders through his senior White House counsel are also specious. The New York Times quoted a senior White House official over the weekend claiming the Donald F. McGahn was trying to secure access to what he believed was a FISA Court order authorizing surveillance related to Trump and his associates. Banks reacted to the report saying, “That would be extraordinary. The law does not provide for it” …

To read the whole story, click here.