About Jack

Jack is really a storyteller, international explorer, and humanitarian and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does. As a international human rights and criminal lawyer and trial skills teacher around the world, its his most important tool. As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally. As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world and its people as much as he himself is captivated.

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A World of Experience in One Room.

The ICC is truly international in scope and the people beside me reflect this world. I have a Moroccan Lawyer to my left and a Romanian Lawyer to my right. We are all looking at the same problem and yet our world views and experience are slightly different. To learn from each of them is such a privilege. It makes me better than I could be on my own. Further, a good number of these lawyers have experience in the ICC or some of the other Tribunals including former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. It’s just incredible.


Walking in the door at the ICC in The Hague. Yeah, no problem. Ugh ...


How to Reconcile Intense Beauty with Crimes Against Humanity in The Hague

After more than a few years rolling around this planet, I think I can say with some certainty that life is about balance.  Getting shot at and /or hit by IEDs will do that to someone. Go figure. And oddly enough, The Hague has a strange balance that goes beyond few places I have seen.

After a flight from Minneapolis to Toronto is cancelled and then rerouted through Chicago and then to Munich and then finally to Amsterdam, I stumble onto a train and try to embrace this relaxing stress-free ride down to Den Haag, The Hague.  At least, that's where I think I'm going. Not even sure what day it is. Watching the countryside speed by, its hard to believe that there are truly any problems anywhere in the world, which takes me back to the purpose for this trip. It's so strange as I prepare to go to the International Criminal Court.  The juxtaposition of this place could not be more stark. That work begins in the coming hours.

Sometimes just a slow lumbering walk is all it takes to remember the balance and why you are here and I know a slow lumbering walk. The Hague is absolutely stunning, even fairytale like.  The Government buildings, centuries old, the Prime Minister's office, small, almost inconsequential and yet amazing for that reason alone. If you can imagine a jewel box in city form, then you get it. The cobblestone streets, the historic architecture, the blue doors and window frames that are so unique in color that they seem to grow from this place only.  And then there are the canals. They criss cross the city just enough to give you the contrast and focal points that leave you breathless.

And yet, The International Criminal Court is here too. And more than anything else, it is none of these things. Oh, to be sure, its architecture is stunning and in an intensely modern way.  Of course, what I'm talking about is what they tackle. Genocide. Rape. Murder. Crimes against humanity. Let that sink in for a second. It stands as a testament that people should not be able to act with impunity and that they should be held accountable.  And maybe as much, maybe because it stands, others will think twice before they do something that puts them in the cross hairs of the Court.  

All that being said, as I think about it, having this intense beauty surrounding the Court actually makes sense. The beauty of life is real. It matters. It is stunning. And, when it is taken, by anybody, and any where on the planet, that beauty is stolen too.  And that beauty matters just as much.  

As as result, surrounding oneself with such intensity, both sides of it I mean, is probably the smartest and best way to remember the beauty and the brutality, so you can handle both with the focus and intensity that they require.  


Eighteen Human Rights Lawyers Coming Together at the ICC.  

As I pack for another trip, this one to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it feels very different. I'm one of 18 lawyers from all over the world who are coming together to work on trial advocacy work and to learn how to better address issues in international human rights and justice. I recognize that the ICC is far from perfect and aspects of what they do are troubling and the speed with which they operate and the individuals whom they decide to prosecute also make me scratch my head. Nevertheless, the intent and the true lack of an alternative brings me back to this place.

The lawyers with whom I am lucky enough to stand beside intimidate and inspire me. They are from everywhere; Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Venezuela, Lebanon, Ukraine, France, Morocco, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia and more.  And honestly, it isn't where they are from as much as their accomplishments in their home countries as well as throughout the world.  They've worked previously at the ICC as prosecutors, in the Tribunals in Lebanon, Yugoslavia  as elsewhere. To call it impressive really isn't enough. They are prosecutors, defense attorneys, human rights advocates, everything.

Over the next few days, I may write a little about what I'm working on and about some of these amazing people. I hope to make my own contributions but to be honest, I really believe that I will gain far more from these brains and hearts.  I hope to take you a little bit of a peak behind the curtain.  Damn this is going to be fun.

Hope you can tag along as I step into the International Criminal Court. 


Did We Learn Anything from Japanese Internments in WW2?

A new documentary entitled And Then They Came for Us is coming out about the American internment of people of Japanese descent in camps during World War 2 and the comparison to today.  I had a real privilege today to be a part of a Panel Discussion in Minneapolis on this issue along with Judge Lyonel Norris and Sally Sudo, who was herself interned as an American citizen in those Japanese camps when she was a child during the war.  The Seminar was put on jointly by the Hennepin County Bar Association Diversity Committe and the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association Diversity Committee.  

Great seminar and great audience participation.  Hard questions and answers might be even harder.  


Trump Objects to Mueller Testifying Before Congress

President Trump has objected to Robert Mueller testifying before Congress about his report about about Attorney General Barr's 4 page report, his press conference and Mueller's letter to Barr regarding his handling of the report. This is an extraordinary development considering the number of questions that exist along with many questions that people continue to have about the investigation itself.

The President's response has only driven this frenzy. His recent conversation with Vladimir Putin about this issue has only added gasoline to to the fire. Of course, the election, while set for November, 2020, continues to have an impossibly significant impact on this entire process.

I will appear on Voice of America International Edition to discuss what comes next.


The Mueller Report (Redacted) is Released and Nobody is Really Happy

The Mueller report was released inside the Beltway and nobody is really happy.  AG Barr has tried to spin it in a way that seems uttlerly shocking. He is not the President's private attorney but rather the Attorney for the U.S. However, he certainly isn't acting like it. His conclusions do not seem to reflect the report.  This is an objective fact. Also, the language he is using parrots the President's language even though "collusion" is not what this case was ever about nor is even a term of law.  Further, the report specifically rejects the usage.  Strange.  

The two issued the Report looks at are Conspiracy and Obstruction.  The conspiracy piece seems pretty clean, meaning that Mueller simply didn't find enough to go after Trump.  The obstruction piece actually is much much different. In that case, the Report says it can't exonerate the President and seems to leave it in the hands of Congress. Barr, on the other hand, tries to exonerate Trump on this issue.

There will be a fight.  I appear on VOA to discuss. 


Will The Country Ever See an Un-redacted Mueller Report?

Attorney General Barr released a four page summary of the 400 page Mueller Report.  Further, Barr decided there was insufficient grounds for an obstruction charge against President Trump.  As a result, Trump claimed complete vindication.  The Democrats don't seem to agree.  

On April 18, Barr is scheduled to release a redacted version of the report.  He was heavily pressured by the Dems to do so who have already threatened extensive subpoenas to get a complete version of the report without redactions.  Barr claims redactions for grand jury info, classified info, material about ongoing info and material affecting peripheral third parties.  We will see. . . 

I appear on Voice of America, International Edition to talk about what it means.  Should get interesting.


Heading Back to the International Criminal Court

I have seen trauma, tragedy and the death of innocents around the world.  Iraq.  Afghanistan. Haiti. Mexico. Kosovo.  The list goes on and on and on.  

I have seen where governments have failed, exacerbated the atrocities, were responsible for the atrocities or simply looked the other way. I have seen people from other countries large and small stomp into various corners of the world and act with abandon, not concerned about their behavior or what others do in their name.

Justice? It is a word that means little in some parts of the world.  I'm not saying it should but I'm saying that its what I have seen.

I know that the U.S. signed onto the Rome Statutes but never became members of the International Criminal Court. There are a whole lot of reasons that this is the case. I also know that the ICC is not perfect.  They take too long when handlingh a case from beginning to end.  Due process and presumptions of innocence are critical issues to beupheld. Their investigations can be myopic and miss some of the bigger players. They don't go after all of the bad guys.  They only go after the acceptable ones, according to some.  The list goes on and on.

U.S. Ambassador Bolton has called the Court illigitimate.  And yet, is there really anybody else doing what the do?  

That all being said, I love what the ICC is trying to do. Trying to hold those accountable for what they have done in the world. Trying to stop those who walk with impunity.  And maybe, just maybe, convincing some that in the future they shouldn't go down this path themselves.  

These are some of the reasons that I support the ICC.  This is why I became of member of the ICC Bar Association.  This is the reason I'm going to go back to the ICC in the coming weeks. To learn. To be better. To contirbute if I can.