Amidax Trading v. S.W.I.F.T.; forthcoming scholarship

February 19, 2009

Judge Castel has granted a motion to dismiss a would-be class action directed against SWIFT (a consortium in the business of facilitating international banking transfers), the Treasury Department, CIA, and other defendants, arising out of reports that the U.S. government obtained data from SWIFT as part of its post-9/11 counterterrorism efforts.  The core of the analysis follows:

In sum, in a newspaper article based on discussions with “[n]early 20 current and former government officials and industry executives,” there is one unnamed person quoted as saying that the government initially got “the entire Swift database.” (Id.) Every other person quoted explains that there was a limit to the amount of information provided by SWIFT and there were controls and restrictions constraining the ability of government officials to search through the data provided. Of course, plaintiff need not establish that the government obtained access to the entire SWIFT database. To establish an injury in fact–and thus, a personal stake in this litigation–plaintiff need only establish that its information was obtained by the government. See Sierra Club, 405 U.S. at 734-35 (“the ‘injury in fact’ test requires … that the party seeking review be himself among the injured”). However, plaintiff has not made any showing that the government is now, or ever was, in possession of its financial information. See Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Nat’l Sec. Agency, 493 F.3d 644, 677 (6th Cir.2007) (explaining that because “plaintiffs do not, and cannot, assert that any of their own communications have ever been intercepted” plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program on Fourth Amendment grounds) (footnote omitted).

Plaintiff’s complaint does not allege a concrete and particularized injury. It is premised upon conjecture and requires the kind of speculation that the Supreme Court has prohibited. It would be purely “hypothetical” to surmise that plaintiff’s financial information was among the tens of thousands (or perhaps hundreds of thousands) of SWIFT transactions obtained or reviewed by the government; and it would be entirely “conjectural” to suppose that an anonymous source quoted in one paragraph of an article is more reliable or accurate than any other source quoted elsewhere in the article. See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61. Read in its entirety, the complaint is a patchwork of guesses and contradictions. Thus, plaintiff has failed to adequately allege an injury in fact, and, therefore, the Court need not consider whether the remaining standing requirements of causation and redressability have been met.

The Court acknowledges that defendants’ potential invocation of the state secrets privilege, (see Federal Def.’s Mem. at 35 n. 15), raises the possibility that neither plaintiff nor anyone else will ever be able to establish that its data was obtained by the government from SWIFT. However, as the Second Circuit has noted, “perhaps no one could ever have standing to raise this issue. But such is irrelevant for determining whether the ‘case’ or ‘controversy’ requirement has been satisfied.” In re United States Catholic Conference (Abortion Rights Mobilization Inc. v. Baker), 885 F.2d 1020, 1031 (2d Cir.1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 918 (1990). “The assumption that if respondents have no standing to sue, no one would have standing, is not a reason to find standing,” Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 227 (1974), because that “view would convert standing into a requirement that must be observed only when satisfied.” Valley Forge, 454 U.S. at 489. Indeed, the Second Circuit has explained that “the lack of a plaintiff to litigate an issue may suggest that the matter is more appropriately dealt with by Congress and the political process.” Catholic Conference, 885 F.2d at 1031. Because plaintiff lacks standing, this action must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. [FN5]

2. Forthcoming scholarship

“Law Enforcement and Intelligence Gathering in Muslim and Immigrant Communities After 9/11”

U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-03

DAVID A. HARRIS, University of Pittsburgh – School of Law

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies have actively sought partnerships with Muslim communities in the U.S. Consistent with community-based policing, these partnerships are designed to persuade members of these communities to share information about possible extremist activity. These cooperative efforts have borne fruit, resulting in important anti-terrorism prosecutions. But during the past several years, law enforcement has begun to use another tactic simultaneously: the FBI and some police departments have placed informants in mosques and other religious institutions to gather intelligence. The government justifies this by asserting that it must take a pro-active stance in order to prevent attacks by terrorists from outside the U.S., and by so-called homegrown cells from within. The problem is that when the use of informants in a mosque becomes known in a Muslim community, people within that community – the same people that law enforcement has so assiduously courted as partners against extremism – feel betrayed. This directly and deeply undermines efforts to build partnerships, and the ability to gather intelligence that might flow from those relationships is compromised or lost entirely.

As it stands, the law – whether in the form of Fourth Amendment doctrine, defenses in substantive criminal law, or cases and statutes supporting lawsuits against government surveillance – offers little help in resolving this dilemma. Further, change in either statutes or Supreme Court doctrine that might help address the problem seems vanishingly unlikely. Locally negotiated agreements on the use of informants represent the best alternative route toward both security against terrorists and keeping Muslim communities inclined to assist in anti-terrorism efforts. In these agreements, law enforcement might agree to limit some of its considerable power to use informants, in exchange for the continued cooperation of the community. The article discusses how such agreements might be reached, what they might strive to do substantively, and also addresses the problems they would encounter.

“Security Council’s Targeted Sanctions Against Presumed Terrorists: The Need to Comply with Human Rights Standards”

Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 6, Issue 3, pp. 541-555, 2008

MICHAEL BOTHE, affiliation not provided to SSRN

A serious lacuna in international relations is the absence of a possibility for individuals to challenge decisions of international organizations. However, the right to legal remedy is a fundamental human right, and it is generally recognized that human rights bind international organizations. Thus, the question is raised as to what reforms the Security Council procedure requires in light of targeted sanctions, i.e. the placing of individuals on a list of measures to be implemented by states or the EU/EC. The author argues that there should be due process standards for listing decisions themselves as well as an effective remedy against such decisions. The inspection panels installed by the World Bank are presented as an example that meets such standards and could inspire a review procedure for Security Council actions affecting individuals by targeted actions. Finally, it is contended that, despite the possible critique, it is not only a matter of expediency but a legal duty to render UN listing and de-listing procedures consistent with due process requirements.

War About Terror: Civil Liberties and National Security After 9/11

Council on Foreign Relations

Daniel B. Prieto

This working paper, authored by Daniel B. Prieto, adjunct senior fellow for counterterrorism and national security, addresses the issue of how to maintain America’s longstanding democratic traditions while protecting it from real and serious threats. Based on an assessment of executive authority, legislative activity and oversight, and judicial review, the paper argues that counterterrorism policies will be sustainable over the long term only if policymakers design them with the coequal objectives of improving national security and protecting civil liberties. On this basis, it offers findings and recommendations on U.S. detention and interrogation policy, and the domestic intelligence activities of the United States.

“Fighting Terrorism in the Political Arena the Banning of Political Parties”

Party Politics, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 91-108, 2008

SUZIE NAVOT NAVOT, College of Management – Law School

In recent years, Western democracies have attempted to outlaw political parties alleged to be ‘non-democratic’. Provisions in post-World War II constitutions were mainly enacted to exclude Nazi and Fascist parties from participating in the elections. Lately, the banning of political parties has spread to radical and religious parties. Recent debates in Spain, Germany, Turkey and Israel provide some examples of this. This article deals with the legal framework for the disqualification of political parties in Israel, focusing on the new anti-terrorist amendment, which allows for banning lists and individual candidates who support terrorist acts and the use of violence. The new grounds for banning parties are also discussed in a comparative perspective, vis-a-vis the new Spanish law of 2002. The article reveals the dilemmas of Israel, a ‘defensive’ democracy, in its attempt to deal with support for terrorism by outlawing political parties.

“National Security and Expulsion to a Risk of Torture”

Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 486-490, September 2008

JERNEJ LETNAR CERNIC, University of Aberdeen – School of Law

In Saadi v Italy, the European Court of Human Rights held that article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits expulsion of individuals to states where they would face a “real risk” of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. This article analyses the ECHR’s reasoning.

“Bank Liability Under the Anti-Terrorism Act: Dispelling the ‘Routine Banking Services’ Defense in Material Support Cases”

STEPHEN I. LANDMAN, Catholic University of America – Columbus School of Law

This article evaluates civil liability for financial institutions that provide material support to terrorist organizations. Part I of this article analyzes the development of the ATA and related legislation proscribing material support to terrorist groups, highlighting the evolving statutory construction by looking to the body of case law surrounding lawsuits against the terrorist support network. Part II examines the issue of terrorist financing generally, taking into consideration the challenges facing financial institutions. Finally, Part III analyzes the term “financial services” in the context of material support prohibitions, referencing the ongoing litigation against financial institutions under the ATA. Using the lawsuit filed on behalf of Daniel Pearl as a case study, this article concludes that a broad interpretation of the statute is not only in line with the legislative intent of the ATA, but is also the only way in which it can be effective in halting terrorist financing.

handy link for OLC memos; forthcoming scholarship

January 28, 2009

1. Handy resource for keeping track of OLC and other legal memos from 2001-2008 relating to national security, including links to those that are public and descriptions of those that are not

This is pretty useful.  From ProPublica:

2. Forthcoming Scholarship

“‘De Facto Sovereignty’: Boumediene and Beyond”

George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming
SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 00-29

ANTHONY J. COLANGELO, Southern Methodist University – Dedman School of Law

In Boumediene v. Bush, which grants non-citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, constitutional habeas corpus privileges the Supreme Court took notice that the United States maintains “de facto sovereignty” over that territory. As its sole precedential support, the Court cited a case that never mentions the term de facto sovereignty. What is this concept? How important is it to the Court’s holding? Did the Court get the concept right given its longstanding usage and meaning in Supreme Court precedent? And what can de facto sovereignty tell us about when the Court will find habeas to extend to other situations involving extraterritorial detention of non-citizens in the war on terror? Read the rest of this entry »

United States v. Yahya; forthcoming scholarship

September 17, 2008

1. United States v. Yahya (S.D. Fla. 9/11/08)

Superseding indictment returned in Miami case involving export of dual-use goods to Iran, stemming from an investigation of the use of US-made goods in IEDs in Iraq.

From the press release:

A federal grand jury in Miami, FL, has returned a Superseding Indictment charging eight individuals and eight corporations in connection with their participation in conspiracies to export U.S.-manufactured commodities to prohibited entities and to Iran. The defendants are named in a thirteen (13) count Indictment – returned on Sept. 11, 2008 and unsealed today — that includes charges of conspiracy, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the United States Iran Embargo, and making false statements to federal agencies in connection with the export of thousands of U.S. goods to Iran.

The Superseding Indictment alleges that the defendants purchased, and then illegally exported to ultimate buyers in Iran, numerous “dual use” commodities. “Dual-use” commodities are goods and technologies that have commercial application, but could also be used to further the military or nuclear potential of other nations and could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States. In this regard, the Superseding Indictment alleges that the defendants caused the export of 120 field-programmable gate arrays, more than 5000 integrated circuits of varying types, approximately 345 Global Positioning Systems (“GPS”), 12,000 Microchip brand micro-controllers, and a Field Communicator. All of these items have potential military applications, including as components in the construction of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The charges announced today are the result of an extensive inter-agency investigation into the use of U.S.-made goods in the construction of IEDs and other explosive devices used against Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Charged in the Superseding Indictment are: Ali Akbar Yahya, an Iranian national and naturalized British citizen; F.N. Yaghmaei, a/k/a ” Farrokh Nia Yaghmaei,” an Iranian national; Mayrow General Trading, Atlinx Electronics, Micatic General Trading, Madjico Micro Electronics, a/k/a “MME,” and Al-Faris, all Dubai-based businesses; Neda Industrial Group, an Iran-based business; Bahman Ghandi, a/k/a “Brian Ghandi,” an Iranian national; Farshid Gillardian, a/k/a “Isaac Gillardian,” a/k/a “Isaac Gill,” an Iranian national and a naturalized British citizen; Kaam Chee Mun, a/k/a “Brian Kaam,” a resident of Malaysia; Djamshid Nezhad, a/k/a “Reza,” a resident of Germany; Ahmad Rahzad, a/k/a “Saeb Karim,” an Iranian national; Majid Seif, a/k/a “Mark Ong,”a/k/a “Matti Chong,” an Iranian national residing in Malaysia; and Eco Biochem Sdn BHD and Vast Solution Sdn BHD, Malaysian businesses.

The defendants are charged with purchasing and causing the export of U.S. goods to Iran through middle countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, England, Germany, and Singapore. More specifically, the charges in the Indictment are as follows:

  • Count 1 of the Superseding Indictment charges defendants Yahya, Yaghmaei, Mayrow General Trading, Atlinx Electronics, Micatic General Trading, Majidco Micro Electronics, Al-Faris, and Neda Industrial Group with conspiracy to export goods to Iran and to defraud the United States, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Title 50, United States Code, Sections 1702 and 1705(a), the United States Iran Embargo, and the Export Administration Regulations, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
  • Counts 2 through 5 charge defendants Yahya, Yaghmaei, Micatic, and Mayrow with exporting U.S. goods from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the United States Iran Embargo.
  • Counts 6 through 8 charge defendants Yahya, Yaghmaei, Majidco, Micatic, and Mayrow with making false statements in federally mandated shipping documents regarding the ultimate destination and use of the goods, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2).
  • Count 9 charges defendants Yahya, Mayrow, Al-Faris, Ghandi, Gillardian, Mun, Nezhad, Rahzad, Seif, Eco Biochem, and Vast Solution with conspiracy to export goods to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Title 50 United States Code, Sections 1702 and 1705(a), the United States Iran Embargo, and the Export Administration Regulations, and to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
  • Counts 10 and 11 charge defendants Al-Faris, Seif, and Vast Solution with exporting U.S. goods from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the United States Iran Embargo.
  • Counts 12 and 13 charge defendant Seif with making false statements by misrepresenting the ultimate destination and use of the goods on Federal Form BS-711 Statement By Ultimate Consignee and Purchaser, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2).

2. Forthcoming Scholarship

“Exercising Passive Personality Jurisdiction Over Combatants: A Theory in Need of a Political Solution”

The International Lawyer, Fall 2008

ERIC TALBOT JENSEN, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Army

On March 4, 2005, a car carrying Nicola Calipari and Andrea Carpani, members of the Italian Ministry of Intelligence, and Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist who had been taken hostage one month before and who had just been released and was on her way back to Italy, was traveling to the Baghdad Airport. The car was fired on by US forces from a checkpoint, killing Mr. Calipari and wounding Ms. Sgrena and Mr. Carpani.

As a result of this tragic event, a joint investigation occurred and but Italy and the United States could not agree on the results. The United States determined that the soldiers involved had acted appropriately. Italy disagreed and on February 7, 2007, Mario Lozano, an U.S. Army National Guardsman, was indicted by Italian prosecutors who declared that Lozano can be tried in absentia because the case was policial.

The trial occurred and the decision was announced on October 25th. Judge Spinaci ruled that the law of the flag, or the law of the soldier’s sending state, prevails over a claim of passive personality jurisdiction in a case like this. This paper analyzes Judge Spinaci’s decision and determines that he is correct. Absent another international agreement, the exercise of passive personality criminal jurisdiction over a combatant for combatant acts is inappropriate when the combatant’s sovereign is seized of the case. Rather, because the combatant is acting on behalf of the sovereign, any claim against the combatant should be resolved through political means.

“Torture Nation, Torture Law”

Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 97, 2008

JOHN T. PARRY, Lewis & Clark Law School

U.S. law plainly forbids something called “torture.” Some writers even contend the ban on torture is foundational to the idea of the United States as a liberal democratic state committed to individual rights and the rule of law. The revelations of torture and other forms of mistreatment by U.S. forces at places such as Abu Ghraib thus undermine what these writers characterize as American leadership on human rights and call the nation’s identity into question.

Most readers will sympathize with these claims. This essay, by contrast, suggests that torture may be compatible with American values in practice and with the legal system we have constructed to serve those values. Put another way, many fear that the revelations of abuses committed in the war on terror put the U.S. at risk of becoming a torture nation. This essay explores the ways in which the U.S. is already a torture nation and suggests that being a torture nation could be as important a part of the U.S. legal and political system as the ban on torture.

To guide that exploration, I illustrate some of the ways in which past practice and mainstream legal doctrine provide a solid foundation for the abuses of the war on terror. The first part of this essay traces some of the history of torture and related forms of abuse in U.S. foreign policy, followed by a description of the law and practice of police and prison violence, and concluding with immigration. Part Two examines the interaction of U.S. and international law in the context of torture, primarily through a detailed examination of U.S. ratification of the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Part Three concludes the essay by drawing explicit connections between these precedents and the perceived excesses of the war on terror.

My goal is not to make a normative argument about the condition of U.S. law and practice. Nor am I suggesting that they are pernicious or evil. At most, I am arguing that the U.S. is an entirely typical modern state in its use of torture. I seek primarily to fix the distorted picture sketched by rhetorical responses to the abuses of the war on terror. The examples I offer are not themselves a complete picture, of course, but no account of U.S. law and practice relating to torture can be complete without them. Grappling with a more complex representation of how violence colors U.S. law and politics is difficult, but scholarly analysis of these issues requires the effort. What, if anything, readers do with the resulting picture is a question beyond the scope of this essay.


“Civil Liability for Violations of International Humanitarian Law: The Jurisprudence of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission in the Hague”

Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 25, No. 23, 2008

WON KIDANE, Seattle University School of Law

Violations of international humanitarian law are compensable by a state causing the violations. The roots of this obligation can be traced to Article 3 of Hague Convention IV, which states that a party to the conflict which violates the provisions of [international humanitarian law] shall . . . be liable to pay compensation. It shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces. A similar rule is also contained in Protocol I Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In practice, the enforcement of this important provision of international humanitarian law has remained a matter of rarity, particularly in terms of civil – rather than criminal – liability. However, a recent exception is the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission in The Hague (the Claims Commission or the Commission). The Claims Commission was established pursuant to a peace agreement signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia in Algiers, Algeria, on December 12, 2000, ending a devastating war fought between the two countries from May 1998 to December 2000.

The Commission was charged with the duty of deciding, through binding arbitration, all claims by one party or citizens of that party against the other party for loss, damage, or injury resulting from violations of international law (mainly violations of international humanitarian law that occurred during the war). The Commission commenced its work in March 2001 and decided to consider the claims of the parties in two different phases of the proceedings: a liability phase and a damages phase. The Commissions rendered the final decisions of the liability phase on December 19, 2005. The damages phase is still being conducted, although no decisions have been rendered by the Commission to date as part of that phase. Thus, this Article exclusively focuses on the Commission’s work as it relates to the completed liability phase.


“The Law on the Unilateral Termination of Occupation”

Eyal Benvenisti, THE LAW ON THE UNILATERAL TERMINATION OF OCCUPATION, (Veröffentlichungen des Walther-Schücking-Instituts für Internationales Recht an der Universität Kiel) Endreas Zimmermann and Thomas Giegerich, eds., 2009

EYAL BENVENISTI, Tel Aviv University – Buchmann Faculty of Law

This brief note discusses the legal ramifications of the unilateral termination of occupation. The note seeks to characterize the moment of termination and examines the obligations of the occupant during (and possibly after) the termination process.