Awash in Blood: The Blackwater Pardons
Thursday, January 21st, 2021 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
This event is sponsored by Case Western Reserve University School of Law and is co-hosted by The Robert H. Jackson Center and the Global Accountability Network.
event is free to attend virtually
Join us on Jan. 21 for a roundtable discussion of the legal, practical and political issues surrounding President Trump's pardon of the Blackwater employees convicted of war crimes in the Iraq War.
The roundtable discussion will be moderated by Professor Avidan Cover and features notable experts in international law, including Kristin McMahon, President, Robert H. Jackson Center; David M. Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor Special Court for Sierra Leone; Beth Van Schaak, Professor, Stanford School of Law; Stephen Rapp, former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues (2009-2015); Michael Newton, Professor of the Practice of Law, Vanderbilt University; and James C. Johnson, professor of law and director of the War Crimes Research Office at Case Western University School of Law
Kristan McMahon has served as President of the Robert H. Jackson Center since April 2019. McMahon is a former principal with Vetted Solutions, an executive search firm specializing in association and nonprofit recruiting and consulting in Washington D.C. where she helped guide a transformational process for the company’s executive searches. Previously, McMahon was corporate counsel for Verizon in Arlington, VA where she advised all business entities on a variety of antitrust issues, including deal analysis and compliance with antitrust/competition laws. Before joining Verizon, McMahon served as a Staff Attorney for Howrey LLP, where she was part of the antitrust team leading government investigations and litigations for numerous global Fortune 500 companies.
McMahon received a B.A. in Journalism/Mass Communication and Political Science at Saint Bonaventure University, a J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and a Certificate from the Communications Law Institute of the Columbus School of Law for her special studies in Communications Law.
Avidan Y. Cover is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, and Director of the Institute for Global Security Law & Policy at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Cover supervises students in civil rights and human rights in the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center, and teaches doctrinal courses in constitutional law, race and American law, public international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Cover’s scholarship focuses on human rights, civil rights and national security law. He has appeared in numerous news media, including The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, FOX News and Court TV.
Cover was a Fulbright Scholar from 2018 to 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya where he taught international criminal law and legal theory at Strathmore Law School and researched refugee and security issues. Prior to his appointment at Case Western Reserve University, Cover taught at the Seton Hall University School of Law, where he supervised the Urban Revitalization Project in Newark, New Jersey. In addition, he was a Gibbons Public Interest and Constitutional Law Fellow from 2007 to 2009 during which time he litigated prisoner’s rights, same-sex marriage, national security and education cases in federal and state court. Cover also served as Senior Counsel in Human Rights First’s Law and Security Program where he researched and analyzed U.S. military and intelligence agencies’ interrogation and detention policies and practices. He holds a BA degree from Princeton University and a JD cum laude from Cornell School of Law.
David Crane, a founder of modern international criminal law, was the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2002 to 2005 after being appointed by Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Served with the rank of Under-Secretary General, he indicted the President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, the first sitting African head of state in history to be held accountable. Prior to this position, he served over 30 years in the U.S. government. Appointed to the Senior Executive Service of the United States in 1997, Mr. Crane has held numerous key managerial positions during his three decades of public service, including as Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s School. Additionally, he was a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, a joint venture with the Maxwell School of Public Citizenship at Syracuse University. He retired from Syracuse University College of Law in 2018.
He is author of the world famous “Caesar Report” that brought to light the crimes against humanity in Syria. Prof. Crane is on one of the founders of the Global Accountability Project that houses the Syrian, Yemeni, and Venezuelan Accountability Projects, as well as the Mechanism System in the United Nations, to include the International, Independent, and Impartial Mechanism for Syria. Prof. Crane recently published his memoirs about his time in West Africa called, Every Living Thing.
Prof. Crane was made an honorary Paramount Chief by the Civil Society Organizations of Sierra Leone and received the George Arendts Pioneer Medal from Syracuse University. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Various other awards include the Intelligence Community Gold Seal Medallion, the Department of Defense/DoDIG Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. In 2005, he was awarded the Medal of Merit from Ohio University and the Distinguished Service Award from Syracuse University College of Law for his work in West Africa. He founded Impunity Watch, an online public service blog and law review and created the “I am Syria” campaign in 2012. Prof. Crane speaks around the world and publishes extensively on international humanitarian law. He holds a J.D. from Syracuse University, a M.A. in African Studies and a B.G.S. in History from Ohio University. Prof. Crane has been awarded several honorary doctoral degrees from around the United States.
Beth Van Schaack is the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the Law School and a faculty affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Human Rights & International Justice.
Professor Van Schaack returned to Stanford after stepping down as Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the U.S. Department of State. In that capacity, she helped to advise the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights on the formulation of U.S. policy regarding the prevention of and accountability for mass atrocities, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In this position, she worked extensively within the inter-agency to help coordinate the deployment of a range of diplomatic, legal, economic, military, and intelligence tools to help expose the truth, capture and judge those responsible, protect and assist victims, enable reconciliation, deter atrocities, and build the rule of law.
Prior to her State Department appointment, Van Schaack was Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, where she taught and wrote in the areas of human rights, transitional justice, international criminal law, public international law, international humanitarian law, and civil procedure. She has been a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Council on International Law and served on the United States inter-agency delegation to the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda in 2010.
Van Schaack joined the Santa Clara faculty from private practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP where she practiced the areas of commercial law, intellectual property, international law, and human rights. Prior to entering private practice, Van Schaack was Acting Executive Director and Staff Attorney with The Center for Justice & Accountability, a non-profit law firm in San Francisco dedicated to the representation of victims of torture and other grave human rights abuses in U.S., international, and foreign tribunals. She was also a law clerk with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She continues to advise a number of human rights organizations, including: the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the National Institute of Military Justice, the International Justice Resource Center, the Commission for International Justice & Accountability, and Accountability Counsel. Professor Van Schaack is also a member of the Institute for Integrated Transition’s Law and Peace Practice Group.
Van Schaack is a graduate of Stanford University (B.A.); Yale Law School (J.D.); and Leiden University (PhD).
Stephen Rapp has been a lawyer in private practice, a Democratic member of the Iowa House of Representatives, and a Staff Director and Counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Rapp ran for the U.S. House of Representatives for Iowa's 3rd congressional district twice, losing to Charles Grassley. From 1993 to 2001, Rapp was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. In 2001, he joined the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he led the prosecution in the "Media Trial" against the leaders of the RTLM radio station and Kangura newspaper for inciting the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He became the Chief of Prosecutions of the ICTR in 2005, and continued to assist Chief Prosecutor Hassan Jallow in prosecuting those involved in the 1994 genocide. In 2007, Rapp succeeded Desmond de Silva to become the third Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he directed the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others alleged to have violated international criminal law during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
Rapp was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues by President Barack Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 8, 2009. Rapp leads the State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice. In that position, he advises the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and works to formulate U.S. policy on prevention and accountability for mass atrocities. He stepped down from the post on August 7, 2015.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright created the position of Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in 1997 in order to bring focus in American foreign policy to the twin imperatives of enabling the prevention of, and ensuring accountability for, atrocities around the world. In 1997, President William J. Clinton appointed David Scheffer to serve as the first advisor to the Secretary of State on U.S. policy responses to atrocity crimes. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Pierre-Richard Prosper to serve as Ambassador-at-Large to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and, in 2005, he appointed John Clint Williamson to succeed Prosper as Ambassador-at-Large to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In February 2011, Rapp gave a lecture entitled "Achieving Justice for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.
The office coordinates U.S. government support for ad hoc and international courts trying persons accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed (among other places) in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia, and helps bolster the capacity of domestic judicial systems to try atrocity crimes. It also works closely with other governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations to establish and assist international and domestic commissions, courts, and tribunals to investigate, judge, and deter atrocity crimes in every region of the globe. The Ambassador-at-Large coordinates the deployment of a range of diplomatic, legal, economic, military, and intelligence tools to help expose the truth, judge those responsible, protect and assist victims, enable reconciliation, and build the rule of law.
Currently, Rapp is a Senior Visiting Fellow of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government, Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, a think tank in The Hague, Netherlands and a Global Prevention Fellow at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.
Michael Newton is an expert on terrorism, accountability, transnational justice, and conduct of hostilities issues. Over the course of his career, he has published more than 90 books, articles, op-eds and book chapters. He has been an expert witness in terrorism related trials and is admitted to the counsel list of the International Criminal Court, where, in 2018, he helped prepare the appeal of Jean-Pierre Bemba and participated in oral arguments in the Appeals Chamber. At Vanderbilt, he developed and teaches the innovative International Law Practice Lab, which provides expert assistance to judges, lawyers, legislatures, governments, and policy makers around the world. Professor Newton is most recently the editor of The United States Department of Defense Law of War Manual: Commentary and Critique, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
An authority on the law of armed conflict, Professor Newton served as the senior adviser to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. State Department from January 1999 to August 2002, during which he implemented a wide range of policy positions, including U.S. support to accountability mechanisms worldwide. He negotiated the “Elements of Crimes” for the International Criminal Court, and was the senior member of the team teaching international law to the first group of Iraqis who began to think about accountability mechanisms and a constitutional structure in November 2000. He shuttled to Baghdad repeatedly to aid international and Iraqi lawyers and jurists in drafting the Statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal while serving as the International Law Adviser to the Judicial Chambers from 2006 to 2008. He began assisting Iraqi officials, victims and civil society groups on legal issues associated with documentation and investigation of crimes committed by Da’esh on Iraqi soil days after Yazidi victims fled towards Mount Sinjar. He was the U.S. representative on the U.N. Planning Mission for the Sierra Leone Special Court and a founding member of its academic consortium. He is an elected member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and on the expert roster of Justice Rapid Response. In addition to teaching the Practice Lab, he develops and coordinates externships and educational opportunities for students interested in international legal issues, having supervised more than 150 such opportunities.
Professor Newton has served on the executive council of the American Society of International Law and as an invited expert for the Genocide Prevention Task Force established by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He is currently on the Advisory Board of the ABA International Criminal Court Project.
Professor Newton served in the U.S. Army more than 21 years, beginning with his commission from the U.S. Military Academy in May 1984 as an armor officer in the 4th Battalion, 68th Armor at Fort Carson, Colorado. After his selection for the Funded Legal Education Program, Newton served as chief of operational law with the Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) during Operation Desert Storm, and as the group judge advocate for the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). His deployments include Northern Iraq on Operation Provide Comfort to assist Kurdish civilians, and Haiti with 194th Armored Brigade (Separate), where he organized and led human rights and rules of engagement education for multinational forces, including police. He has taught international and operational law at the Judge Advocate General's School and Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taught international law at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
James C. "Jim" Johnson, the former Chief of Prosecutions at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), has been named Prosecutor of the Residual Special Court.
Johnson joined the Office of the Prosecutor at the SCSL in 2003 as Senior Trial Attorney, and was named Chief of Prosecutions in 2006. After he left the SCSL in 2012 he served for three years as President and CEO of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York.
Since 2013 he has been an Adjunct Professor of Law and Director of the Henry T. King War Crimes Research Office, Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also Director of the International Humanitarian Law Roundtable and Managing Director of Justice Consultancy International, LLC.
Under Johnson’s supervision, Case Western Reserve law students have undertaken legal research for the International Criminal Court, Cambodia Genocide Tribunal, Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Interpol, IIIM for Syria, and the IIMM for Myanmar. Last year he launched the Yemen Accountability Project under which 70 CWRU law students are preparing case files for the eventual prosecution of persons responsible for atrocities in Yemen. He will continue to teach at CWRU and direct the Law School’s War Crimes Research Office while serving as Chief Prosecutor of the Residual Court.