Total Illusion

Understanding and Changing the Role of Grand Juries & “Use of Force” Standards as Applied to Prosecutors & Cops


By Kevin

There are a lot of good legal reasons to be furious about the recent grand jury decisions not to prosecute Darren Wilson for the slaying of Michael Brown or Daniel Pantaleo for the suffocation of Eric Garner. Those reasons are compounded by public narratives that deny the racial significance and prosecutorial bias of these grand jury findings while—sometimes in the same breath—painting Brown as an archetypical “Black Brute” or blithely assuming the good intentions of both cops and prosecutors. There are, and long have been, fantastic reasons to be furious about the training and behavior of many law enforcement officials, particularly toward minorities, in a variety of communities across America. And there are many avenues through which that fury can express itself—some more productive than others.  Read the rest of this entry »


UK Denies Convicted War Criminal Charles Taylor Family Visitation Rights

Hypocrisy on Democracy: Obama’s Post-facto Justification of Iraq Invasion

Ryan Ward

By Seamus

On the 26th of March, President Obama spoke in Brussels addressing inter alia the crisis in the Ukraine. In an attempt to respond to accusations of hypocrisy aimed at the West, Obama, whilst admitting that he opposed military intervention in Iraq, went on to add:

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.”

Here Obama makes three claims, all of which are somewhat suspect. The first one, namely that “America sought to work within the international system” is laughable for obvious reasons and doesn’t merit further debate here. One only needs to remember the speech delivered to the Mayport Naval Station, Florida in 2003, in which the then President George W. Bush challenged the United Nations to “rise to its responsibilities” and authorize intervention in Iraq or else it would become an “ineffective, irrelevant debating society.” The second claim that America did not “claim or annex” Iraq’s territory may be true, but is more in keeping with the face of American imperialism. Since the Cleveland administration, regime change directed at installing democracy has frequently been about removing governments and imposing an ideal of self-government that operated according to the interests of the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes for a Non-​Statocentric Politics

Notes for a Non-​Statocentric Politics

Amador Fernández-Savater for

Secret Justice in EU Courts?

Secret Justice in EU Courts?

Gavin Sullivan for Al Jazeera; related to the terrorism article posted below.

Can State Anti-Terrorism Laws Authorize States to Act as Terrorists?: A Quick Look at the U.S., Ethiopia & Sri Lanka


By Kevin

Counterterrorism legislation has swept the globe in a variety of forms since September 2001. In recent years, there has been growing concern that some of these laws are being used to by states to commit grave human rights violations under the justification banner of counterterrorism.

A precise definition of the term “terrorism” has long eluded academics and practitioners alike, even before the 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center thrust the legal issues surrounding terrorism into the geo-political limelight. In reaction to the 2001 attacks, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1373, which requires Member States to criminalize the funding of terrorist activities and forbids Member States to harbor, encourage, or otherwise assist those accused of terrorist activities. But what exactly constitutes a terrorist activity? While Member State definitions of terrorism are highly varied, at least two factors remain consistent. First, a terrorist act must be intended to provoke fear or to intimidate in order to achieve a political or ideological purpose. Second, and more importantly for our purposes here, terrorists must be individual actors; there is no state definition of a terrorist broad enough to include the state itself. There is at least one obvious reason for this: States cannot be prosecuted under international criminal law (this is not a codified principle, but it appears to be a political reality). Moreover, although terrorism is not a discrete crime under the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is only authorized to hear cases brought against individual actors. Nevertheless, for our purposes here, I will set aside the issue of state prosecution for another day. The goal of this article, rather, is to determine to what extent, if any, the language of a state’s counterterrorism legislation can be used to authorize the state to engage in acts that, if perpetrated by a non-state actor, would be considered terrorist acts.

In exploring this possibility, I will use three case studies. Read the rest of this entry »

Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like.

– Edward, Lord Thurlow, 1731-1806