Announcing A New Initiative And Website On Issues Of Legitimacy And Faith

Jesus Meets Muhammad

From the Jesus Meets Muhammad About Link:
“Religion is the primary source of those standards of legitimacy that define what we consider to be right and wrong, and in an increasingly pluralistic world in which most people identify as either Christians or Muslims, conflicting standards of legitimacy can lead to religious hatred and violence. (See the Introduction to the J&M Book)

This website presents topics for discussion on issues of legitimacy that are related to the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad. But those ancient teachings did not address critical issues of national sovereignty, just war, democracy and fundamental human rights in our time and place.  That requires that we apply the moral imperative to love God and our neighbors—even our unbelieving neighbors—as a governing principle of legitimacy.  It is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and when reason is used to apply that principle of faith to contemporary issues of legitimacy it enables us to reconcile our religious differences.

Reason requires that people of faith distinguish between voluntary moral standards and obligatory religious laws that are imposed on others.  That is because freedom of religion and expression require that religious standards of belief and behavior be entirely voluntary, in contrast to Islamic regimes that deny freedom with blasphemy and apostasy laws.

This website promotes the premise that both Jesus and Muhammad would support libertarian democracy as a means of loving God and neighbor, and have their followers use reason to conform their ancient holy laws to modern standards of legitimacy, leaving obligatory and coercive laws to elected lawmakers—not to God.

The J&M Book and other resources on this website can help Christians and Muslims better understand their differences and find the common ground needed to reconcile religious differences in a world of diverse and conflicting religious beliefs.

We welome your comments and suggestions on our blog.”

Summer Internship Program 2015 Overview

imageSummer Internship Program 2015

The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) is accepting applications for the Center’s 2015 Summer Internship Program. The program aims to increase students’ theoretical and practical understanding of work towards preservation of rule of law values in the face of the changing nature of warfare. Interns in the program will work as a team under the supervision of CERL’s leadership, and will participate in CERL’s activities to the greatest extent possible. They will engage, inter alia, in research on issues of national security law and policy, preparation of CERL’s forthcoming academic publications: “Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority” and “The Weighing of Lives in War; Combatants and Civilians in the Jus in Bello”, planning and organization of CERL’s conferences, managing and updating CERL’s website, and drafting of position statements to Congress and other governmental or private institutions.

Application Process

Law students, as well as graduate students from other disciplines related to CERL’s mission interested in examining the intersection of rule of law values, applied ethics, national security or the law and morality of war are encouraged to apply. Applicants will be required to submit a cover letter, resume, and names of two referees. Potential candidates for the program will be scheduled for interviews (through phone or in person), and offers of internship will be extended to six selected candidates. The internships program will last eight weeks, from June 1, 2015 to July 27, 2015. Applications for the Summer Internship Program will be processed on a rolling basis and may be submitted until January 20, 2015 to the email

Goals and Benefits of the Summer Internship Program

The Summer Internship Program is a part of CERL’s commitment to produce the next generation of ethical and legal scholars for preservation and promotion of rule of law values. CERL does not provide funding for the Summer Internship Program, however, students will be given academic credit for their full attendance during the program and successful completion of the program’s requirements. Students may also receive supervision on a paper in the area relevant to CERL’s mission or conferences. In addition, CERL will hold weekly lunches for the students, the majority of which will be attended by prominent guest speakers from the academia, military, government or the private sector (either in person or via Skype). These meetings will be dedicated to discussing the recent developments in national security law and policy, and the work in progress of the students writing academic papers.

Fall 2014 Reintroduction of Allied Ground Troops Into Iraq

Australian special forces are moving into Iraq to advise the country’s military in its fight …

Obama On Iraq: “Now What We Need Is Ground Troops”

In an interview with CBS on Face the Nation, the President refused to rule out sending greater numbers of troops to Iraq, and even admitted the need for boots on the ground.

Obama called the decision, announced Friday, to double the number of “US military advisers” in Iraq “a new phase” in the campaign, denying that the original strategy to combat the IS terror group had been inadequate.

“The air strikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL’s capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making,” Obama said. “Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back.”

  • President: new troops will focus on training local forces to fight Isis
  • Comments draw emerging parallel to past US military strategy in Iraq

Jury Finds Blackwater Guards Guilty of Iraq Shootings

Jury Finds Blackwater Guards Guilty of Iraq Shootings

Four Former Security Guards Had Claimed Self-Defense in Shootings of 14 Iraqis in 2007

Former Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of murder on Wednesday.
Former Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of murder on Wednesday. Associated Press

WASHINGTON—A federal jury Wednesday convicted four former Blackwater USA private security guards in the shooting deaths of 14 Iraqis in a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, closing a chapter in a saga that complicated U.S.-Iraq relations.

The guards were convicted on nearly every one of the 32 charges they faced. Nicholas Slatten, a sniper who prosecutors said started the shooting, was convicted of murder. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempting to commit voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges.

The jury didn’t reach a verdict on three of the charges against Mr. Heard, but his conviction on other charges would likely still result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Mr. Slatten faces a life sentence for the murder charge while the three defendants convicted on manslaughter charges could face at least three decades in prison.

The four defendants were largely motionless as the charges were read. Lawyers for Messrs. Heard and Liberty said they plan to appeal.

See also:


Mending Alliance, U.S. and Afghanistan Sign Long-Term Security Agreement


Mending Alliance, U.S. and Afghanistan Sign Long-Term Security Agreement

Ambassador James Cunningham, left, with the Afghan national security adviser, Hanif Atmar.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
KABUL, Afghanistan — American and Afghan officials signed a long-term security pact here on Tuesday, nearly a year after the agreement was cast into limbo by a breakdown of trust at the highest levels of each allied government.

See also:

Govern, Kevin H., Warrant Based Targeting: Prosecution-Oriented Capture and Detention as Legal and Moral Alternatives to Targeted Killing. Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 29, No. 3, (2012) (published 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Govern, Kevin H., The ‘Great Game’ & the US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement (May 22, 2012). JURIST Forum, May 2012 . Available at SSRN:

Govern, Kevin H., Right to Peace or Human Rights Per Se in Islamic States (March 13, 2013). Ave Maria Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 103, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Govern, Kevin H., Resigned to Failure or Committed to a Just Cause of Justice? The Matthew Hoh Resignation, Our Current Politico-Military Strategy in Afghanistan, and Lessons Learned from the Panama Intervention of Twenty Years Ago (January 1, 2011). Oregon Review of International Law Vol. 13, 161. Available at SSRN:

Military Firearms in Ferguson and Beyond: Arms Transfers to Civilian Law Enforcement Under the ‘1033 Program’

JURIST Guest Columnist Kevin Govern of Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, discusses the Department of Defense Excess Property Program—commonly known as the ‘1033 Program’—under scrutiny for the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and concludes that this will result in stricter delineations concerning military cooperation than ever before…


Last year, JURIST highlighted the notable subject of the Defense Support for Civil Authorities [PDF], in the context of man-made and natural disasters. A variety of historic laws and policies are the foundations for providing defense support to civilian authorities. One law garnering very little public scrutiny before the Fall of 2014—but tremendous media coverage since—is the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, commonly referred to as the ‘1033 Program.’ The ‘1033 Program’ is primarily oriented towards counter-drug activities, but sometimes leads to very different capabilities and employments.

Section 1208 of The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1990, allowed the Secretary of Defense to:

[T]ransfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is– (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.”

The law further provided that:

2) The Secretary shall carry out this section in consultation with the Attorney General and the Director of National Drug Control Policy.
(b) Conditions for Transfer-The Secretary of Defense may transfer personal property under this section only if-
(1) the property is drawn from existing stocks of the Department of Defense;
(2) the recipient accepts the property on an as-is, where-is basis;
(3) the transfer is made without the expenditure of any funds available to the Department of Defense for the procurement of defense equipment; and
(4) all costs incurred subsequent to the transfer of the property are borne or reimbursed by the recipient.

In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033 that subsequently became Section 2576a, yet is still colloquially called the ‘1033 Program’ through the present.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) notes that “[s]ince its inception, the ‘1033 Program’ has transferred more than $5.1 billion worth of property. In 2013 alone, $449,309,003.71 worth of property was transferred to law enforcement.” As part of its outreach to civilian agencies, the DLA predicted that, “[i]f your law enforcement agency chooses to participate, it may become one of the more than 8,000 participating agencies to increase its capabilities, expand its patrol coverage, reduce response times and save the American taxpayer’s investment.

Critics of the program, such as the ACLU, have remarked that “a disturbing range of military gear [is] being transferred to civilian police departments nationwide” and allege that “one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local and tribal police agencies is brand new.”

Accountability problems are also surfacing as 184 state and local police agencies have been reportedly suspended from participating in the Pentagon’s ‘1033 Program’ for losing weapons or failing to comply with other stipulations. Notably, on August 26th the nationally-known sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, admitted that his department had been suspended from the program and is currently missing nine firearms—eight .45-caliber pistols and one M-16 rifle—issued to the agency out of 200 weapons from the surplus program. Twenty to 22 of the weapons vanished over the years, but roughly half were recovered from retired or current deputies who, incredibly, took them home. Under the ‘1033 Program,’ the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office amassed an arsenal of “a Hummer, a tank, 90 M-16 rifles, 116 .45-caliber pistols, 34 M-14 rifles and three helicopters.”

This ‘1033 Program,’ coupled with National Guard troops deployment to Ferguson, Missouri, became the subject of critical medial focus in August 2014. Following the police shooting of the teenager Mike Brown, the Ferguson Police Department responded to protests and riots with a robust show of force, using gear that one media outlet documented as not obtained through the ‘1033 Program’, yet others speculated to the contrary.

In response to calls for a ‘demilitarization’ of civilian police forces, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said “[a]t a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community…I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message.”

On Friday, August 15th, Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) called for a review of the so-called ‘1033 Program,’ saying:

Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents. Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.

Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, also announced she will lead a hearing, observing that:

We need to de-militarize this situation—this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution. I obviously respect law enforcement’s work to provide public safety, but my constituents are allowed to have peaceful protests and the police need to respect that right and protect that right. Today is going to be a new start, we can and need to do better.

Shortly thereafter, President Obama ordered a “comprehensive review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-grade body armor, mine-resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles,” according to media interviews of senior officials.

Early on August 21st, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that the National Guard—which was brought in to provide security for the police command center—would be withdrawn from Ferguson; this withdrawal began the next day, some five days after being dispatched to help “quell the unrest” and four days before the burial of Michael Brown.

These recent developments—along with Congressional review of the surplus Department of Defense military equipment program—will lead to even stricter delineations than ever before regarding military cooperation with civil authorities, while still focusing on preparation, partnerships and vigilance.

Kevin Govern is an associate professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida where he teaches military law, national security law, administrative law, directed research and contracts I and II. Professor Govern began his legal career as an Army Judge Advocate, serving 20 years at every echelon during peacetime and war in worldwide assignments involving every legal discipline. In addition to currently teaching at Ave Maria School of Law he has also served as an Assistant Professor of Law at the United States Military Academy and teaches at California University of Pennsylvania and John Jay College. Unless otherwise attributed, the conclusions and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the US Government, Department of Defense, or Ave Maria School of Law.

Suggested Citation: Kevin Govern, Military Firearms in Ferguson and Beyond: Arms Transfers to Civilian Law Enforcement Under The 1033 Program, JURIST – Forum, Sept. 3, 2014,

The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems

Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

Upcoming Events

November 21-22, 2014

The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems

imageAutonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) are defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as “a weapon system(s) that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” Since the crucial distinguishing mark of human reasoning is the capacity to set ends and goals, the AWS suggests for the first time the possibility of eliminating the human operator from the battlefield. The development of AWS technology on a broad scale, therefore, represents the potential for a transformation in the structure of war that is qualitatively different from previous military technological innovations.

The idea of fully autonomous weapons systems raises a host of intersecting philosophical and psychological issues, as well as unique legal challenges. For example, it sharply raises the question of whether moral decision-making by human beings involves an intuitive, non-algorithmic capacity that is not likely to be captured by even the most sophisticated of computers?  Is this intuitive moral perceptiveness on the part of human beings ethically desirable? Does the legitimate exercise of deadly force should always require a “meaningful human control?” Should the very definition of AWS focus on the system’s capabilities for autonomous target selection and engagement, or on the human operator’s use of such capabilities?  Who, if anyone, should bear the legal liability for decisions the AWS makes?  The purpose of this conference is to address such questions by bringing together distinguished scholars and practitioners from various fields, to engage in constructive discussion and exploration of the moral and legal challenges posed by Autonomous Weapons Systems.

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