Write On! Naval War College Seeks Papers on Women, Peace, Security

(Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) is issuing a call for papers in preparation for its third annual Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Conference Series to be held at the NWC in Newport, Rhode Island, April 16-17, 2015.

In an effort to gather theoretical and practical ideas from a wider audience not normally represented in a limited conference format, the conference series chair is soliciting papers from academics, researchers, military personnel, non-governmental organizations and individuals who have an interest or experience in issues pertaining to WPS.

In support of the conference theme, “Constructive Pathways: Stimulating and Safeguarding Components of Women, Peace, and Security,” interested parties can contribute to this goal by submitting a paper on one of the following subjects:

  • Department of Defense operational aspects of WPS
  • How different types of conflict impact minority populations
  • Regional viewpoints of modern conflict zones
  • Efforts in soft and hard power
  • Media, arts, information and communication networks
  • Law, politics and governance
  • Quantitative studies

    Selected papers will be published on the NWC website and accessible to U.S. Navy personnel fleet-wide. Proposals must be submitted by Nov. 1, 2014. Submission guidelines can be found at https://www.usnwc.edu/wps2015-callforpapers.

The World Cup Spotlight (Part II): In the Shadows of National Security

(Previous posts in this series here and here.)

Argentina celebrates win over Switzerland (photo credit)

Argentina celebrates win over Switzerland (photo credit)

Blogging from Argentina, where World Cup expectations are at an all-time high and where nearly everything stopped for two hours yesterday afternoon for the Argentina-Switzerland game (even schools either showed the game or let children go home temporarily to watch it).

Yet, for some Argentines – as well as likely for some Brazilians – a World Cup in South America conjures up memories they’d rather leave alone. Argentina hosted and won (though not without controversy) the Cup in 1978, two years into its brutal military dictatorship and fourteen years into Brazil’s. Under the guise of national security, both governments tortured and disappeared their own citizens in an effort to quell left-wing dissent. In Buenos Aires, one of the most infamous torture centers was just a few blocks from the stadium where the final game between Argentina and the Netherlands was played, and former prisoners recall hearing the jubilant crowds cheering while they were rotting in tiny cells awaiting the next torture session or worse.

National security was once again in the headlines in Brazil in the past year leading up to the World Cup. As is protocol for the country hosting the next Cup, Brazil also played host for the Confederations Cup a year ago, a trial run for the bigger tournament happening now. Brazilians angry with the government’s disconnect with the plight of the poor used the tournament as a stage on which to air their discontent. Protestors were sprayed with rubber bullets and arrested under Brazil’s national security law.

A counter-terrorism bill now before the Brazilian National Congress has given some people pause due to its vague wording as it could conflate protestors and terrorists, though proponents say that the law is necessary given Brazil’s growing international profile. Among other provisions, the proposed bill calls for a penalty of 15-30 years in jail for “causing or inciting widespread terror by threatening or trying to threaten the life, the physical integrity or the health or liberty of a person.” Drafters have said that they will amend the text to clear up ambiguities, but a major concern is that  the law, if passed, will criminalize freedom of expression. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, herself a former guerrilla who was tortured during the military dictatorship, likely sees the potential harm in the imprecise bill, nicknamed A1-6 after the A1-5 law that was in effect during the dictatorship, and has declined to sign it – so far.

It remains to be seen how these soccer-loving countries will reconcile their unease with national security and terrorism laws with their growing presence on a global stage. And the World Cup, while capturing the interest of much of the world, will also bring the participating countries’ uncomfortable pasts into the spotlight. As Brazil tries to best Colombia on Friday and Argentina takes on Belgium on Saturday, not everyone will be glued to a television; some will be purposely avoiding the tournament so as not to relive their experiences in 1978.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Cup Spotlight (Introduction)

By now, Brazil’s lack of adequate preparation for the World Cup soccer tournament is well documented (see here, here, and here, among others). As the month-long competition kicks off tomorrow, it is likely that roads, transit lines, and stadiums throughout Brazil will still be under construction. Yet, insufficient infrastructure is but one of the myriad issues that may potentially plague this and other World Cups. Legal-political issues such as sex trafficking, forced migration, slavery, questions about the amount of public money spent on this quadrennial event, and national security concerns all threaten to mar the glossy surface of the world’s most popular sporting event.

This series, The World Cup Spotlight, will examine some of the effects this quadrennial event has on the host country and beyond.

 

 

The 2nd Circuit’s Disclosure Order: A Fresh Opportunity to Revive the Imminence Debate?

On 21 April 2014, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and ordered the US Department of Justice to disclose portions of a classified memorandum written by the Office of Legal Counsel around June 2010, providing legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen.

The court decided that the government waived its right to secrecy by publishing a Justice Department White Paper in 2011 and by making repeated public statements on the legality of targeted killings.

At the time of writing, it is unclear when the memorandum might be made public, or whether the government will seek review of the decision.

Although the plaintiffs had not challenged the legality of targeted killings, and the operational details in the memorandum were not affected by the disclosure order, the decision is a clear rejection of the policy of secrecy surrounding the US government’s targeted killings program.

Allegedly, the classified memorandum concluded that al-Awlaki could be lawfully killed, if he could not be captured, because there were reports that he was involved in the war between the US and al-Qaida and posed a significant threat to US citizens, as well as because Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him. The sparse details left many wondering about the particular mechanism followed and the laws applied to reach the decision to kill him. Subsequent public statements, the White Paper (WP) and a Fact Sheet released by the White House in May 2013 tried to fill the gap and provide a domestic and international legal framework for the targeted killings of US citizens (and others) abroad. As regards domestic law, while President Obama acknowledged the paramount importance of due process, the WP trivialized (on pp. 5-6) the Mathews v. Eldridge (1976) test through a cursory weighing of private and public interests against each other. As regards international law, while official references to the law of self-defense and the law of armed conflict have been manifold, their applicability and inter-relationship has not been clarified.

It remains to be seen whether the partial disclosure of the memorandum, if effected, will revive the debate and bolster the scrutiny on the US government’s targeted killings program.

Among many concerns of the program, the concept of imminence in itself, and its schizophrenic association with both due process and the law of self-defense merit thorough review and discussion. Continue reading

A $15 Million Dollar Torture Partnership

Poland CIA Prison

By Amrit Singh

It has been common knowledge for a while that Poland hosted a secret CIA prison where Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and other prisoners now held in Guantánamo were detained and tortured.  As Warsaw and Washington struggle in vain to hide this truth from the public, fresh revelations from the Washington Post now confirm that the CIA paid Poland $15 milllion to host that prison. In early 2003, two senior CIA officers delivered the cash in large cardboard boxes to Col. Andrzej Derlatka, the deputy chief of Polish intelligence, and two of his associates.

This is significant news for many reasons. First, Europe’s top human rights court justheard oral arguments in two companion cases brought on behalf of al Nashiri and another Guantánamo prisoner, Abu Zubaydah. The cases challenge Poland’s participation in the CIA’s secret detention program. The fact that Poland received $15 million in cash as reward for its participation further confirms the overwhelming evidence the Court has already received in support of the applicants’ claims in these pending cases.

Second, news of the $15 million payment has created a public uproar in Poland. Even skeptics of the Guantánamo prisoners’ claims are now persuaded of Poland’s complicity in torture; and those who until now clung to the idea that this complicity was driven by lofty Polish ideals cynically recognize the power of money. It will be interesting to see how the Polish authorities decide to respond. Since 2008, they have been dragging out a pending (and ineffective) investigation into the CIA prison. The new revelations raise the question of whether domestic pressure, combined with the pending European Court proceedings, will compel the authorities to stand up to Washington and fess up to the truth. Fifteen million dollars seems a paltry amount for a country like Poland to receive for sacrificing its own constitutional ideals and facing potential censure before Europe’s highest human rights court. (Significantly, in December 2012, the court held that Macedonia had violated the European Convention through its participation in the secret detention and rendition of German national Khaled el Masri).

Meanwhile, in Washington, a 6,000 page Senate intelligence committee report on CIA secret detention and interrogation continues to be withheld from the public, despite the fact that the majority of the committee believes the CIA’s secret prisons and torture techniques were “terrible mistakes.”  It is not clear when this report will see the light of day and in what form. What is clear, however, is that the truth will come out one way or another, no matter how hard the Obama administration, the intelligence community’s allies, and Republican lawmakers try to cover it up.

Yesterday the news was about Macedonia’s complicity in CIA torture; today the news is about Poland; tomorrow it will be about Romania and Lithuania, which also hosted secret CIA prisons and also face litigation before the European Court.

Indeed, that the United States co-opted as many as 54 countries into unlawful CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations may ultimately mean that there is only so much the administration can do to cover up the truth.  In the face of snowballing disclosures, the U.S. and its partners in torture would be well advised to own up to their responsibility before the truth emerges by other means to embarrass them.

(Crossposted from Just Security: A Forum on Law, Rights, and U.S. National Security)

Introducing Amrit Singh

Amrit Singh pic

It’s our great pleasure today to welcome Amrit Singh as an IntLawGrrls contributor. Amrit is Senior Legal Officer for National Security and Counterterrorism at the Open Society Justice Initiative. She is counsel in al Nashiri v. Poland, and al Nashiri v. Romania, cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights, and author of Globalizing Torture:  CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (Open Society Justice Initiative 2013).

Prior to joining the Open Society Justice Initiative, Amrit was a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated numerous cases relating to immigrants’ rights issues and post-September 11, 2001 human rights abuses, including ACLU v. Dep’t of Defense, which yielded the public disclosure of the “torture memos,” among thousands of other government records relating to the Bush administration’s torture program.

Amrit is co-author (with Jameel Jaffer) of Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Columbia University Press 2007).  Ms. Singh has previously testified before the United States Congress on the subject of prisoner abuse and torture associated with the Bush Administration’s application of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”  She is a graduate of the Yale Law School, Oxford University, and Cambridge University, U.K.

Amrit’s first post  discusses revelations that the CIA paid Poland $15 million in 2003 to host a secret CIA prison.

Heartfelt welcome!

New Iran-US Claims Tribunal Judge: Rosemary Barkett

Image

Rosemary Barkett, 1992. Courtesy The Palm Beach Post

The U.S. State Department recently announced the appointment of Judge Rosemary Barkett as a U.S.-appointed member of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life provides a bit more background:

Former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Rosemary Barkett is leaving the United States federal appeals bench to join the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, based in The Hague. Judge Barkett, who was born in Mexico and previously served as a Catholic nun in the Sisters of St. Joseph, became the first woman Florida Supreme Court justice in 1985. She was also the first female chief justice, from 1992 to 1994. She was appointed as federal judge of the 11th Circuit by President Bill Clinton and took the bench in April 1994.