nationalsecuritylaw overview of Koh testimony on the WPR at Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning

June 28, 2011

I’ve posted a summary of Harold Koh’s testimony on the WPR at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, here.

nationalsecuritylaw Testimony from Koh, Fisher, and Spiro on WPR Issues

June 28, 2011

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing today on the WPR and Libya.

Testimony from Harold Koh is here. Testimony from Lou Fisher is here. Testimony from Peter Spiro is here.

nationalsecuritylaw Mike Schmitt named as the new Chairman of the International Law Department at the Naval War College

June 28, 2011

* Mike Schmitt named as the new Chairman of the International Law Department at the Naval War College

Congratulations to Mike, as well as to Dennis Mandsager who is stepping down as the Chair. Here is the announcement from Dennis:

The following message is from Professor Dennis Mandsager, Chairman,

International Law Department, US Naval War College:

Please join me in welcoming Professor Mike Schmitt as the new Chairman of


International Law Department (ILD) effective 1 October 2011.

Professor Schmitt, who is currently Chair of Public International Law at

Durham University in the UK, is well-known to many of you. He is a retired

USAF judge advocate, who graduated first in class from the Senior Course in

1996 and stayed on at the War College for two years as an instructor in the

International Law (formerly Oceans Law & Policy) Department. He was also

the visiting Stockton Professor in 2007-2008, has edited six volumes of the

International Law Studies ("Blue Books"), and has contributed to numerous

editions of the Naval War College Review.

Following his retirement in 1999, Professor Schmitt moved to the Marshall

Center in Germany as Professor of International Law. He went on to direct

the Program in Advanced Security Studies, and served as Dean from 2008-2010. A

noted international authority on the law of war, he is the General Editor of

the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, serves on many advisory and

editorial boards in the field, and is the author of over 100 articles and

books which have been published around the world. He has also been an

invited Visiting Scholar at Yale, the Australian National University and the

University of Melbourne.

Over the years Professor Schmitt has participated in many international

projects designed to clarify international law as it applies to armed

conflict, including the Harvard Manual on International Law Applicable to

Air and Missile Warfare, the Chatham House Project on Categorizing Conflict, and

the International Committee of the Red Cross’ study on the participation of

civilians in conflict. He is presently directing a major multi-year project

on Cyber War and International Law sponsored by the NATO affiliated

Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence.

I will step down as ILD Chair on 1 October and remain on the College


Cheers, Dennis

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Cannon (E.D.Va. June 27, 2011) (2.5 year sentence in case of contractor who killed an Afghan national in Kabul)

June 28, 2011

* United States v. Cannon (E.D.Va. June 27, 2011) (2.5 year sentence in case of contractor who killed an Afghan national in Kabul)

A thirty-month sentence today for Justin Cannon, a Blackwater contractor who was convicted in March of involuntary manslaughter in relation to the shooting of an Afghan national in Kabul in 2009. From the DOJ press release:

WASHINGTON – Justin Cannon, 29, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for his role in shooting and killing an Afghan national while on an unauthorized convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 5, 2009, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar also ordered Cannon to serve two years of supervised release following his prison term.

On March 11, 2011, Cannon and Christopher Drotleff, 31, of Virginia Beach, Va., were convicted of involuntary manslaughter while working as contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense in Afghanistan. Cannon and Drotleff were acquitted of other charges, including second-degree murder, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and firearms offenses. On June 14, 2011, Drotleff was sentenced to 37 months in prison.

“Justin Cannon was hired to support the Defense Department mission in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Instead, he recklessly fired on a civilian car, killing an Afghan national. He dishonored the American military, the Afghan people, and the many men and women in uniform who serve this country honorably. Today’s sentence brings some measure of justice to an otherwise tragic situation.”

“Justin Cannon opened fire with an AK-47 at the rear of a retreating vehicle and took the life of an innocent Afghan,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “While Mr. Cannon was in Afghanistan to support to U.S. troops, his incredibly reckless behavior instead undermined our military mission and weakened the bond of trust with the Afghans. Those serving overseas – even in dangerous places like Afghanistan – must follow the law and not make up their own rules. Today’s sentence makes clear that those who break the law will be held accountable, regardless of where their crimes occur.”

Cannon and Drotleff were charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) in a superseding indictment filed on Aug. 5, 2010. Cannon and Drotleff were Department of Defense contractors employed by a subsidiary of Xe (formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide).

According to evidence presented at trial, on May 5, 2009, both men left their military base without authorization to transport local interpreters. The evidence at trial established that, after the lead vehicle in the convoy crashed and was overturned on the side of the road, Cannon and Drotleff fired multiple shots into the back of a civilian car that had attempted to pass the accident scene. The passenger of the car was fatally shot and the driver was seriously injured. An individual who happened to be walking his dog in the area was also killed in the shooting. The jury found the defendants guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Romal Mohammad Naiem, the front-seat passenger. They were acquitted of charges relating to the death of the person walking his dog and injuries to the driver.

According to court records, as contractors, Cannon and Drotleff provided training to the Afghan National Army for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the use and maintenance of weapons and weapons systems.