SALT Blog

SALT Testifies at Public Hearing on Uniform Bar Exam

SALT will testify at a public hearing on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) on January 20, 2015 at CUNY School of Law, making the points outlined in this letter. SALT will testify: 1) that New York attorneys have long critiqued the utility and disparate impact on racial minorities of the New York Bar Exam as it is currently administered; (2) more study is needed to determine whether adoption of the UBE will exacerbate the disparate impact that the bar exam has on particular subgroups of test takers;  3) instead of adopting the UBE, New York officials should encourage the National Council of Bar Examiners to reform the bar exam as it currently exists so that it more accurately tests... Continue »

Did Religious Profiling Allow Paris Terrorists to Proceed Undetected?

By Sahar Aziz Terrorism aims to invoke mass havoc and fear. Recent attacks in Western cities involved bombings of public buildings, transportation, and marathons, or mass shootings of civilians, conducted by amateur lone wolves. For this reason the calculated assassination of France’s best satirists raises serious concerns about the focus of French counterterrorism strategy. As they enlarge the blanket scrutiny of Muslims without individualized suspicion, French law enforcement is more likely to waste resources investigating innocent people. Meanwhile, the guilty have more opportunity to plot undetected. That French officials were unaware of this premeditated murder plot, notwithstanding numerous threats to Charlie Hebdo cartoonists over the years, evinces a breakdown in anti-terrorism enforcement. Specifically, one cannot help but wonder if the conflation of Muslims with terrorism may have distracted law enforcement from focusing on the… Continue »

Prisons, Muslim Memory & the Making of a Terrorist

 By SpearIt The media spotlight on Cherif Kouachi’s life rekindles questions about prisons and radicalization. As an alleged participant of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Kouachi has seemingly led many lives. In one incarnation, he was a marijuana-smoking rapper. Later, he would turn jihadi and find himself jailed, awaiting conviction for jihadist crimes. Over a decade of research on Islam in prison, I have concentrated on religious conversion and prisoner radicalization – this offers unique insight to Kouachi’s story. One urgent question is whether jail had anything to do with the attack. Paradoxically, the answer is no – and yes. Muslim prisoners overrepresented in French jails For France, Kouachi’s case calls for a close look at its prisons. With a prison population that is, reportedly, 60% Muslim, it is worthwhile to examine what exactly… Continue »

Review of Drones & Targeted Killing, edited by Marjorie Cohn

Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues (2014 Olive Branch Press, 296 pages) Edited by Marjorie Cohn Shining Light Into the Dark World of US Drone Warfare By Charles Sevilla, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Book Review This book is a compilation of fifteen authors’ views on U.S. drone killing policy. Drones are automated, pilotless flying machines capable of seeking out and assassinating individuals or groups anywhere. U.S. drone strikes have been ongoing for over a decade and their use has steadily escalated. Approved at the highest levels of government, they are justified as legal and effective measures to defend the homeland. This book questions both premises. The contributing authors are human rights and political activists, policy wonks, lawyers, legal scholars, a philosopher, a journalist and a sociologist, all… Continue »

Torture Report Confirms Team Bush War Crimes

By Marjorie Cohn Reading the 499-page torture report just released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was a disgusting experience. Even after many years of writing books and articles about the Bush torture policy, I was unprepared for the atrocious pattern of crimes our government committed against other human beings in our name. One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” without medical necessity – a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object. A concoction of pureed “hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins” was forced into the rectum of one detainee. Another was subjected to “rectal rehydration” to establish the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.” This constitutes illegal, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a humiliating… Continue »

(Part 1) Torture without torturers: On the rise and fall of the US political definition of torture as it pertains to US domestic criminal accountability for US official torture

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions This is my most recent first cut at trying to make sense of all that I have read and seen over the past ten years working for criminal prosecution in US domestic courts of senior officials and military leaders for torture.  It is about understanding a path to where we are today and for seeing the path going forward.  It will be in more than one part. I. The putting in place of the Political Definition of Torture A. Principle No. 1: Torture is murder only On December 14, 2014, on Meet the Press former Vice President Dick Cheney gave his definition of torture as what happened to those people burned… Continue »

I Can't Breathe: American Torture as America's 21st Century Lynch Law

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions “I can’t breathe” is on the t-shirts and in the mouths of demonstrators all over America as they protest the non-indictment of Eric Garner’s killers in New York, the non-indictment of Michael Brown’s killer in Ferguson, the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in Florida and case after case of unarmed black men and women killed by the police all across America.  On the media, we see a diverse group of Americans in the 24/7 news cycle dissecting every aspect of those cases and trying to make meaning of all that. And I support those efforts to address the profound contradiction experienced by many Americans at  watching a man get killed on videotape by… Continue »

American Thugs in American Democracy: This is what American Official Torture looks like

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions We now have the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Executive Summary of its Torture Report and for those who actually care about America, it is a nearly 600 page litany of American thuggery.  The description of what was done to people completely in the custody and control of the United States by these thugs is horrific.  To see these thugs in suits with the temerity to appear on television today and these past days and extol their work is to be subjected to psychological abuse.  To watch the pandering of television people to these people – soliciting the comments of persons who in any normally constituted setting would be some of… Continue »

(Beheading update 12/12/14) Senate Torture Report Release: We need an independent prosecutor as the crime and the coverup Continue

Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions So later this morning Senator Dianne Feinstein will release the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report.  With the firestorm of news coverages these past few days, you would think that this release is the full story. It is not. First, it will not have the names of the actual individuals who put in place the torture program – the operators.  We have the names of their bosses – we have listened to them for years defending the program right up to President Bush on Sunday.  But, we do not have the names of those individuals in the CIA who in their ambition were ready, willing and able… Continue »

(Update – 12/7 and 8) Obama And Bush Torture Misdirection

Benjamin G Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions Now that the former CIA leaders – thanks to Brennan – have had six months head start in preparing their vigorous public relations defense of the torture they did, please be prepared for an onslaught of comments by them. (Update 12/8  – they have been busy little bees according to this article with their new website going up – http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/08/exclusive-former-spies-launch-ciasavedlives-com-to-combat-torture-report/) It will start tomorrow on the CNN State of the Union show where George Bush will be interviewed. Actually, the charm offensive started somewhat earlier during the UN Committee Against Torture hearings in mid- November when George Bush was given airplay ostensibly about his book about his dad. Be that as it may,… Continue »