CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

June Terrorism Symposium

June 12-13, 2006, Denver

The National Institute of Justice invites State and local law enforcement officials to learn what the research shows about what works to prevent and respond to terrorism.

Panelists will describe their challenges and experience in interactive, dynamic sessions.

Visit to register.



  • How to identify warning signs.
  • What local prosecutors are doing to combat terrorism.
  • Ways to improve cooperation between law enforcement and Arab communities.
  • Securing shopping malls and seaports.
  • Money laundering: Do you know it when you see it?

Who should attend? Law enforcement officers, policymakers, researchers, criminal justice practitioners, community members, public health officials, social scientists, and anyone interested in learning more about strategies to combat terrorism.

March 21, 2006 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Virginia Law Panel Debates Extraordinary Rendition and Torture

Graham"The controversial use of extraordinary renditions to interrogate or detain suspected terrorists has evolved since its first use by the United States in 1995, but the practice fails to address concerns about torture and may be ineffective in quashing terrorism, said panelists at a Feb. 16 discussion at the University of Virginia Law School. Moderated by JAG Legal Center and School Executive Director David E. Graham (pictured), the panel featured Michael F. Scheuer, author of the best-selling Imperial Hubris and former chief of the CIA Bin Laden Unit, and Margaret L. Satterthwaite, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law.

“Suspected terrorists are often transferred from one state to another for the purpose of arrest, detention, and/or interrogation,” Graham said. “This act of transfer itself is an act of rendition, and I say that so that you don’t…take away the idea that the word ‘rendition’ is, in and of itself, a dirty word. It’s not.” If undertaken under the full construct of the law, as it most often is, Graham said, this process is better known as extradition. Irregular or extraordinary rendition occurs when prisoners are extradited through a process that does not afford them an opportunity to judicially challenge their transfers...Some reports, none substantiated, suggest that over 100 extraordinary renditions have occurred since 9/11, according to Graham. “The Bush administration has said that [it does] not engage in extraordinary rendition for the purpose of…intelligence interrogation using torture as a method,” he said. “They don’t deny that extraordinary renditions have occurred.”

Nonetheless, many critics continue to believe that these renditions are conducted in order to gain crucial information through the torturing of suspected terrorists. While the Convention Against Torture (CAT), which the United States has ratified, forbids transfers to states where there is a “substantial likelihood” that an individual will be tortured, it does not forbid transfers to locations where certain kinds of treatment that might be considered cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under U.S. law might occur. Nor does the CAT forbid renditions, Graham said." More. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 23, 2006 in Confessions and Interrogation, Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Case's Mock NSA Wiretap Hearing to Broadcast February 22

Case School of Law's recent Mock Congressional Hearing on the NSA Wiretap Controversy will be broadcast on WCPN, Cleveland's National Public Radio Station (90.3 FM), from 7:00-8:30 pm on Wednesday, February 22, 2006. The hearing featured two of the country's foremost experts on national security law, Ruth Wedgwood and David Cole, with a panel of Case law professors playing the part of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

February 18, 2006 in Homeland Security, Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 9, 2006

"NSA Kabuki Theatre": Commentary on the NSA Wiretap Hearings

Commentary from Findlaw: "In 1993, during President Clinton's first term, the Democrat-controlled House held a hearing on the Waco Branch Davidian tragedy, which had resulted in the death of several dozen men, women and children. The hearing, was a farce: a virtual lovefest, during which members of the Clinton Administration responded to softball questions from their colleagues in the House with superficial answers, and Republican queries were ignored or glossed over with disdain, if not outright contempt.

More than a dozen years later, with the White House and Congress once again in the grip of a single Party, and another matter of great seriousness facing the Congress - NSA spying on American citizens -- where are we?  Thus far, if it's not "déjà vu, all over again," it's pretty darn close. [But some important facts did come through]." Full column from Findlaw. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 9, 2006 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Better Border Enforcement Keeps Migrants Here

Mexicans who ordinarily would return home when there is no work stay here over the winter to avoid being caught on the other side

January 28, 2006 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

DHS Visit Based on Book Request Hoax

A student who claimed to have been visited by DHS agents after he ordered the famed islamic terrorist handbook "Quotations from Chairman Mao" admitted that he made the whole thing up. Story here. [Jack Chin]

December 24, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

4th Circuit Refuses to Transfer Padilla to Civilian Custody

"In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court denied Wednesday a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody...The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (in Richmond, VA) also refused the administration's request to vacate a September ruling that gave President Bush wide authority to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely without charges on U.S. soil. The decision, written by Judge J. Michael Luttig, questioned why the administration used one set of facts before the court for 3 1/2 years to justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month. Luttig said the administration has risked its "credibility before the courts" by appearing to try to keep the Supreme Court from reviewing the extent of the president's power to hold enemy combatants without charges." More from . . [Mark Godsey]

December 21, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Florida Professor Acquitted in PATRIOT Act "Test Case"

"A federal jury acquitted former Florida professor Sami al-Arian yesterday of conspiring to aid a Palestinian group in killing Israelis through suicide bombings, dealing the U.S. government a setback in its efforts to use secretly gathered intelligence in criminal cases against terrorism suspects. The trial was a crucial test of government power under the USA Patriot Act, which lowered barriers that had prevented intelligence agencies from sharing secretly monitored communications with prosecutors. The case was the first criminal terrorism prosecution to rely mainly on vast amounts of materials gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), whose standards for searches and surveillance are less restrictive than those set by criminal courts." Full story. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 8, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congress Agrees to Extend the PATRIOT Act

"Congressional leaders reached a deal Thursday to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act...Under the deal, 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year will be extended for four more years...The deal marks Congress' first revision of the law...The provisions include the two most controversial elements -- secret FBI access to library and business records and roving wiretaps.  Roving wiretaps involve the use eavesdropping devices that prevent a target from evading law enforcement officials by switching phones or computers. A "lone wolf" provision that sets standards for monitoring terror suspects who might be operating independently also survived...But the deal reached Thursday would force law enforcement to seek a court's approval before getting access to library and business records. 'Under existing law, a law enforcement agent could obtain these records, unilaterally, on a declaration of relevance," Specter said. "The conference report now requires a judge to review a statement of facts. And the court has to be satisfied that these records are relevant to a terrorism investigation.'" Read more. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 8, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Northwestern CrimProf Sheds Light on Prosecutions of CIA Operatives In Absentia

AllenItaly's chief anti-terrorism expert for the northern Italian region has stated his intention to prosecute 22 past and present CIA operatives "in absentia" on kidnapping charges.  This decision comes in the wake of European nations' reactions to recently publicized information about how the CIA has used European facilities since 9/11.  Recent news reports have exposed that aircrafts registered to CIA front companies have been using European airports with increasing frequently since 9/11.  At least eight European nations have raised questions about this secret CIA practice, known as "extraordinary rendition."  The Milan case being pursued by Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro that now threatens to further expose the once-secret practice stems from the February 2003 abduction of an Egyptian-born imam, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, better known as Abu Omar.  Omar was abducted as he walked from his Milan apartment to a nearby mosque.

Although they are highly uncommon, if not unknown in the United States, trials in absentia are more common in Europe, particularly in terrorism cases.  The European Court of Human Rights has advised that convicting a defendant in absentia does not violate the defendant's human rights as long as: 1) the defendant has been notified that a trial is taking place; and 2) the defendant is provided with legal counsel.  In some cases, even defendants thought to be dead have been convicted in absentia.

The Milan kidnapping trial will proceed if the Milan Judge Chiara Nobili grants permission; Nobili has already approved warrants for their arrests.  If the CIA operatives are convicted, they will be subject to arrest and extradition in any of the 184 Interpol (international police organization) countries.  Prosecutor Sparato believes that Italian criminal procedure affords him authority to take testimony from potential witnesses located at the U.S. Embassy in Rome (where the CIA's Italian branch is located), the U.S. Consulate in Milan (from where Omar's abduction was coordinated), and from people currently residing in the U.S. 

But international law experts, including Northwestern CrimProf Ronald Allen (pictured), don't think the governing laws and procedures give clear guidance on how this situation should be handled.

From The Chicago Tribune: "This is uncharted territory," says Ronald Allen, a professor of criminal law at Northwestern University. Although procedures exist for the international exchange of evidence in civil cases, Allen says "these kinds of things just don't come up" in most international criminal cases.

Other experts said that while it might be impossible for Spataro to obtain evidence or testimony in the United States without the assistance of the Bush administration, which is not likely to be forthcoming, U.S. Embassy employees in Rome who do not have diplomatic immunity probably would be subject to the normal processes of Italian law. Prospective witnesses presumably would include CIA officers stationed in both locations." Read more. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 24, 2005 in CrimProfs, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jose Padilla Goes from Enemy Combatant to Criminal Defendant

From "With the stroke of a pen, alleged terrorist Jose Padilla has been transformed from an enemy combatant with few legal rights to a criminal defendant covered by the Bill of Rights. On Tuesday, Padilla became a defendant in a federal criminal case in Miami. Legal critics contend the change is an indication the Bush administration knew it abused its discretion and retreated to preserve its ability to designate future enemy combatants, as Padilla's case was poised for review by the U.S. Supreme Court." More from the Daily Business Review. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 23, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Business Groups Join ACLU and Criminal Defense Lawyers to Limit the USA Patriot Act

From Bloomberg: "Even in Washington, this isn't a coalition you see every day. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, the nation's two largest business groups, have formed an alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union and criminal-defense lawyers to oppose portions of the USA Patriot Act...The groups want Congress to limit provisions allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to demand, with only limited review by judges, that companies turn over personal records of customers, suppliers and employees. The ACLU is concerned about privacy rights; businesses are worried about lawsuits, and even criminal liability if the disclosure of records violates foreign privacy laws.

``Government is looking to deputize in-house counsel and, generally, businesses,'' says Susan Hackett, senior vice president of the Washington-based Association of Corporate Counsel, a group representing company attorneys that opposes the provisions. ``You're opening yourself to liability,'' particularly to overseas suits, says Hackett, the group's general counsel. ``It could be incredibly onerous and incredibly expensive.''

The Patriot Act expires at the end of the year unless Congress renews it. Negotiators for the House and Senate meet this week to reconcile their differing versions of the renewal legislation. The Senate version takes into account many of the business-civil liberties coalition's concerns; the House version doesn't...The lobbyists are focusing on two particular provisions of the law. One of them, which allows investigators to use so- called National Security Letters to request records, has been invoked about 30,000 times a year, according to the Washington Post. The Justice Department won't confirm that number, saying it's a secret.

The business and rights groups -- which include the Washington-based National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which represents 47,500 attorneys, judges and law Professors -- are asking that the new version of the law require more judicial oversight of the requests, a position that is opposed by President George W. Bush." [Mark Godsey]

November 15, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Duke Students Defend Detainees

Duke Law School students will be directly involved in researching and writing briefs and helping craft strategy for the military lawyers who are defending Guantanamo Bay detainees.  In October, the Law School established the Guantanamo Defense Clinic, by special arrangement between the chief defense counsel for the detainees, Col. Dwight H. Sullivan, USMCR, Office of Military Commissions, Department of Defense, and Duke Law Professor Madeline Morris, an expert in international and humanitarian law who is serving as a legal adviser to Sullivan as well as directing the clinic. Sullivan and another member of his military defense team held an extensive meeting with the students on Oct. 27 at the Law School , briefing them on the status of the detainees' cases and brainstorming defense strategy.  “Our students have the opportunity to address complex questions of American and international law that are unique to the war on terror, such as whether terrorism is a crime and the very legitimacy of the use of military commissions for trying civilians engaged in war-like acts,” said Morris, who also teaches the classroom component of the clinic.

On November 7 five detainees were newly charged with war crimes, bringing to nine—out of a total of 505—the number of prisoners with cases pending before the military commissions authorized by President George W. Bush. The four cases on which students received briefings involve Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman Al Bahlul, an alleged al Qaeda propagandist; Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al Qosi, alleged to have been a long-time associate, accountant and bodyguard of Osama bin Laden; David Hicks, an Australian national alleged to have trained and fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army and with al Qaeda in Afghanistan; and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden.

Charges levied against the detainees vary, but include conspiracy to commit attacks on civilians, murder and terrorism. Briefs drafted by clinic students have already been filed in various motions pertaining to Hicks' defense.  On Monday, the United States Supreme Court said it would hear a defense challenge to the legality of the military commissions in the case of Hamdan. While the military commissions will likely be stayed pending a ruling in that case, Morris said the defense team -- and the clinic students -- will use the time to prepare for future proceedings in all nine cases.

“I wouldn't miss this,” said third-year law student Audry Casusol, one of five students enrolled in the clinic, which will expand to accommodate 24 in the spring semester. “We are not defending any acts the detainees are alleged to have done, but their rights. The system must be fair.”

Added David Thompson, a second-year law student participating in the clinic , “ I believe the international and domestic legal questions that emanate out of the United States ' decision to detain suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay are incredibly important. Not only do these issues have bearing on American and global security, but they also have tremendous bearing on the character of American jurisprudence.”

Duke Law Dean Katharine T. Bartlett said the establishment of the Guantanamo Defense Clinic provides a great opportunity for students and fits well with one of the school's strengths. “We are without doubt one of the strongest law schools in the country in the area of national security law, and we are on our way to being one of the strongest clinical schools as well. This is a unique opportunity for Duke and I am thrilled that Madeline Morris, with her expertise in both criminal law and human rights, was positioned to be able to take advantage of it.”

For more information, contact Frances Presma (919) 613-7248 or .

November 13, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 5, 2005

TJ CrimProf Interviews Abu Ghraib Commander

Cohnthomas_jefferson Thomas Jefferson CrimProf Cohn's Interview with Abu Ghraib Commander Reveals Shocking New Details of Torture and War

From a press release:  San Diego – Explosive new accounts of the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture scandal have been unveiled in an in depth interview that Professor Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law recently conducted with Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. Karpinski was in charge of the prison in Iraq and is now the highest ranking officer to be demoted and sanctioned as a result of the scandal that occurred in the fall of 2003.

Earlier this month, Cohn interviewed Karpinski, who was reprimanded and demoted to colonel for failing to properly supervise the Abu Ghraib prison guards. In this interview, Karpinski explained how she was kept in the dark about the torture and discussed the chain of command that she says set the torture policy.  Cohn, who was honored this spring with the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2005 Service to Legal Education Award, is conducting scholarly research on criminal liability for torture of prisoners in U.S. custody stemming from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cohn’s research addresses the criminal liability of interrogators and intelligence personnel, as well as command responsibility. She also is examining the obligations of the United States under the Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions, and individual liability under federal statutes.

The interview with Karpinski as well as an article in which Cohn highlighted parts of the interview are available for public viewing on Cohn, who lectures throughout the world on international human rights, is a regular contributor to the Truthout Web site.

Cohn has arranged for Karpinski to speak at the law school in early November, close to the time that Karpinski’s new book will be published. Students and others who attend Karpinski’s lecture will hear her account of the corruption and graft of those who she alleges were responsible for much of the torture. They also will learn Karpinski’s perspective on how the torture scandal was covered up and why she was made the scapegoat.

Cohn teaches Evidence, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson and frequently is called upon by national and local news media to serve as a legal analyst. She also is executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, and serves on the Roster of Experts at the Institute for Public Accuracy. In addition, she was a legal observer in Iran on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and she has participated in delegations to Cuba, China, and Yugoslavia.  [Mark Godsey]

September 5, 2005 in CrimProfs, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 2, 2005

FBI to Conduct "Threat Assessments" to Find Inmates Radicalized While in Prison to Commit Extremist Violence

From (Sacramento): "FBI agents nationwide have been ordered to conduct 'threat assessments' of inmates who may have become radicalized in prison and could commit extremist violence upon their release, according to an FBI letter obtained by The Associated Press.  'The primary goal of these efforts is to assess and disrupt the recruitment and conversion of inmates to radicalized ideologies which advocate violence,' according to a letter from the acting assistant chief of the FBI's Los Angeles office, Randy D. Parsons.

The agency has been concerned since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that groups with extremist ideologies may be targeting felons as prime candidates for conversion during their time in prison.  The agency has worked with prison officials to identify potentially disruptive groups for 'some time,' according to the letter. 'However, recent investigations have identified a clear need to increase the FBI's focus and commitment in this area,' Parsons wrote in the letter, dated Friday and obtained Tuesday by the AP.  He said the FBI wants to increase its efforts to 'identify, report, analyze and disrupt efforts by extremist persons or groups to radicalize, recruit or advocate for the purpose of violence within correctional facilities.'" Story here... [Mark Godsey]

September 2, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Case Western Launches Global Security Website

The Case Western Reserve University School of Law has launched an interactive Web site for its Institute for Global Security, Law and Policy, designed to stimulate public debate and provide a comprehensive hub for addressing security and counterterrorism issues.  The site,, features a blog providing analysis of critical global security issues and links to legal and policy commentary, other blogs and news summaries across the Internet. By using the collaborative nature of blogging, the site encourages individuals within and outside the Institute to comment on legal and policy issues. Students enrolled in the Counterterrorism Law course, co-taught by Professor Amos Guiora and Adjunct Professor Jonathan Leiken, will submit weekly blog entries to the site.  “The site reflects the Case School of Law’s commitment that the Institute becomes the leading national and international resource and research center for issues of global security,” said Amos Guiora, professor of law and director of the Institute. Guiora is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces with extensive experience in counterterrorism.  “This Web site will increase the Institute’s visibility and add to its reputation as the world’s leading center for the study of global security issues,” said Gerald Korngold, dean and McCurdy Professor of Law.   [Mark Godsey, taken from a Case Western press release]

August 30, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Security Breaches at Nuclear Facility

Here's a story about ABC news getting some heat for allegedly sending summer interns into nuclear facilities across the country armed with hidden cameras and instructed to breach security.  [Mark Godsey]

August 25, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Huge Jump in Prosecution of Immigration Cases

Report here.  [Mark Godsey]

August 24, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Toledo CrimProf David Harris Debates Terror and Racial Profiling in NY Daily News

Harris_2 Regarding NY subway searches following the London bombings, Harris argues that racial profiling is actually counterproductive to homeland security.  The counterpoint by a NY city councilman is here

[Mark Godsey]

August 22, 2005 in CrimProfs, Homeland Security, Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

FBI Can't Translate Terrorism Recordings Fast Enough

The increased number of tapped telephones and recorded conversations stemming from the "War on Terror" has caused a huge backlog in getting them translated.  This apparently means that the FBI could record a call today describing an imminent attack, and we wouldn't know about it until it was too late.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

July 31, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)