MC&A Newsletter
Volume XX  :: June 2011

The horrific events of September 11, 2011 will forever be etched in memory. In this issue, we discuss the death of Osama bin Laden -- the mastermind behind the attacks -- and related legal issues. We also bring you word of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's legal troubles and why he will not be leaving the United States anytime soon.



France's Presidential Hopeful Caught With His Pants Down


DSKDominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") and potential French presidential candidate, was arrested on May 14, 2011 and charged with attempted rape for allegedly sexually assaulting a maid in his New York hotel room. New York police officers removed Strauss-Kahn from his Air France flight to Paris approximately 10 minutes before it was scheduled to depart from its gate at JFK Airport.


According to the victim, a 32-year old housekeeper at a luxury hotel in Manhattan, she entered Strauss-Kahn's hotel room around 1:00pm, believing that nobody was inside the hotel suite at the time. The victim claims that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom completely naked, chased her down a hallway, and pulled her into a bedroom where he attempted to rape her. When unable to rape the housekeeper, he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him. The victim finally escaped and informed hotel coworkers of the incident. The hotel staff then called the police.


Police believe that Strauss-Kahn then attempted to flee the United States for France, leaving behind a cell phone in his hotel room. Assistant District Attorney Artie McConnell said he saw a video of Strauss-Kahn leaving the hotel after the alleged attack occurred, and Strauss-Kahn appeared to be in a hurry. Authorities were able to arrest Strauss-Kahn before his flight departed and the following day, May 15, 2011, the victim picked him out of a lineup. While awaiting his court date on May 16, 2011, Strauss-Kahn spent his time in a Manhattan jail cell.


On May 16, 2011, Strauss-Kahn appeared in front of Judge Melissa Jackson at the New York Criminal Court. Judge Jackson denied bail, remanding Strauss-Kahn back into protective custody. Officers took him to Rikers Island where he will be held in a single-person cell until his trial date.


Judge Jackson initially denied bail based upon the seriousness of the allegations and Strauss-Kahn's flight risk. Specifically, Judge Jackson indicated concern that Strauss-Kahn was on a plan at the time of his arrest, stating, "[w]hen I hear that your client was at JFK Airport about to board a flight, that raises some concern." Strauss Kahn has the financial means to easily leave the country, and since France has no extradition treaty with the United States, it is possible that Strauss-Kahn could evade prosecution.


Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn's defense attorney, argued that "this is a very, very defensible case. He should be entitled to bail." Brafman suggested bail to be set at $1 million, arguing that his client acted inconsistently with someone attempting to flee the country. Brafman argued to the court that Strauss-Kahn had remained in Manhattan after the alleged assault; he had a lunch date near the hotel. According to Brafman, Strauss-Kahn also informed hotel security of his whereabouts when they called looking for him. Nonetheless, Strauss-Kahn was eventually granted bail and placed under house arrest. In addition to being placed under house arrest, Mr. Strauss-Kahn must submit to video surveillance monitoring and wear an ankle bracelet. On June 6, 2011, he entered a not-guilty plea to all charges and awaits trial.


Strauss-Kahn is best known for his success as a brilliant economist. As the head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn has played a major role in the economic bailouts for Greece and Ireland. He is also active in the French political world. In 1986 he was elected to France's National Assembly, which is the country's lower house of parliament. Strauss Kahn then served as France's trade minister from 1991 - 1993 and as finance minister in the late 1990's. Until now, he has been the front-runner for France's presidential election next year. Simon Serfarty of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC told CNN that in regards to Strauss-Kahn's political career, "it's over. He's done."


Strauss-Kahn is also known as a ladies man, being called "a great seducer" and known for enjoying a lavish lifestyle. In 1999, he resigned from his ministerial position after allegations were made that his consulting business was involved in unethical financial practices. Strauss-Kahn also has a history with sexual controversy. Early in his career as head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn acknowledged that he had an improper physical relationship with a female employee, which an independent inquiry determined to be consensual.


Another woman has stepped forward to claim that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her. Tristane Banon, daughter of Anne Mansouret - a Socialist member of French parliament - claims that she was attacked in 2002. At the time, Banon chose not to file a police report out of fear it would hurt her career aspirations of becoming a journalist. Banon's attorney, David Koubbi, now says his client is considering filing a complaint for the 2002 incident.


Defenders of Strauss-Kahn, including Strauss-Kahn himself, are claiming that the incident is a political set-up - a ploy to ruin Strauss-Kahn's chances in his campaign for the French presidency. The victim's attorney, Jeffrey Shapiro, says that such claims are "ridiculous." At this time, Strauss-Kahn maintains his innocence and his attorney is ready to defend his client against the numerous charges against him: attempted rape, sex abuse, criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. According to Brafman, "[t]his battle has just begun." It appears clear, however, that Strauss-Kahn's battle for presidency is over.


Sources: "Judge Denies Bail to I.M.F. Chief in Sexual Assault Case," by John Eligon, May 16, 2011, The New York Times; "Dominique Strauss-Kahn: A brilliant career, a stunning accusation," by Alan Silverleib, CNN; "IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested for Sexual Assault in New York," by Mike Vilensky, May 15, 2011, New York Magazine; "IMF chief's arrest may speed up succession battle," May 16, 2011, msnbc.com; "Claims Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set up are 'ridiculous' says lawyer," by Hayden Smith, May 18, 2011, metro.co.uk

Bin Laden's Death

bin ladenOn April 29, 2011, American Navy SEALS and CIA paramilitary force entered a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was the leader of al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The special operation forces entered the compound by helicopter and within 40 minutes they found and shot bin Laden. In a speech confirming bin Laden's death, President Obama stated, "justice has been served." While many throughout the world rejoiced bin Laden's death, others question the legality of the operation and whether American forces should have used more care to capture bin Laden alive.


White House officials confirmed that bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALs entered his bedroom and shot him in the head. Although unarmed, bin Laden did not surrender and the special operations forces stated that he resisted capture. The fact that bin Laden was not armed has raised red flags among human rights groups and lawyers, who point out that international human rights law requires police to use best efforts to capture suspects alive.


This issue of legality hinges on whether Osama bin Laden was a combatant in a war or a mass murder suspect. If the fight against terror is considered a military campaign and bin Laden was therefore a military combatant, his death would be legal. According to University of Michigan law school professor Steven Ratner, "[y]ou're lawfully permitted to kill combatants." For the killing to be lawful in a military context, bin Laden would have to resist capture.


If the fight against anti-terrorism is not a military endeavor and is in fact a law-enforcement effort, the outcome differs. Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch's Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program said in a statement to the Associated Press that "[t]here is a higher obligation not to use lethal force." In defense of the Navy SEALs actions, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, "[f]rom a Navy SEAL perspective, you had to believe that [bin Laden] was a walking IED." An IED is an improvised explosive device.


The Obama administration justified its actions, citing the Authorization to Use Military Force Act of September 18, 2001. This Act allows the president to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against those involved in the September 11 attacks. United States Attorney General Eric Holder asserts that the actions were legal "as an act of national self defense."


In addition to issues surrounding the legality of bin Laden's death, Pakistan is claiming that the United States may have entered the country illegally to carry out its mission, thereby violating state sovereignty. Pakistan officials are claiming that the United States should have notified Pakistan of the attack. The United Nations Charter normally would prohibit the United States from using force inside Pakistan without the country's consent.


Pakistan's foreign minister Salman Bashir stated in a press conference in Islamabad that "[t]here are legal questions that arise in terms of the UN charter," and that this "violation of sovereignty, and the modalities for combating terrorism, raises certain legal and moral issues which fall . . . in the domain of the international community."


John B. Bellinger III, who served as legal advisor to the State Department under the Bush administration, said that in this case, the United States was legally justified in failing to disclose its plans to the Pakistani government. He said, "[t]he U.S. was justified in concluding that Pakistan was unwilling or unable to stop the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, and that Pakistan's consent was not necessary because of past concerns about the close ties between Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban." While there appears to be concern surrounding the operation's legality, there have not been any discussions about investigating or prosecuting anyone involved.

Sources: "Was Killing of Osama bin Laden Legal Under International Law?" by Ariane de Vogue, May 6, 2011, abcnews.com; "Osama Bin Laden Dead: Was Killing the Al Qaeda Leader Legal?" by Mark Hanrahan, May 6, 2011, The Huffington Post; "Bin Laden death prompts questions about legality, definition of anti-terror struggle is key," by Nedra Pickler and Mark Sherman, The Associate Press; "Bin Laden death prompts questions about legality," by Frank Jordans, May 4, 2011, The Associated Press; "US forces kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan," May 2, 2011, msnbc.com

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