Foreign Affairs Law

“Power Wars”: Inside the War on Terror - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
Charlie Savage, Paul Rosenzweig December 18, 2015

Charlie Savage, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has just released his new book, "Power Wars." The book is an examination of the legal issues surrounding the War on Terror as practiced in the Obama Administration. Following up on his earlier examination of the Bush White House, this book takes us behind the scenes into the heart of the legal debates. Readers get a front row seat to watch as President Obama and his lawyers consider whether it is lawful to send a SEAL team strike into Pakistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden. They see the cross currents at play in debates over NSA surveillance and drone strikes in Yemen, and much more.


  • Charlie Savage, Washington Correspondent, New York Times
  • Paul Rosenzweig, Principal, Red Branch Law & Consulting PLLC

Developing The International Response To The Paris Attacks - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
François-Henri Briard, Michael Chertoff December 09, 2015

The attacks by ISIS on the citizens of Paris and the world have again focused attention on the challenges of counterterrorism. In this Teleforum, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and prominent French lawyer Francois-Henri Briard addressed issues such as international cooperation on surveillance and intelligence sharing, whether policies on encryption of electronic communications need to be revised, what authorities or international institutions, if any, should be called upon in support of the use of force against ISIS, and the nature of the response from France, the U.S., Russia, and other nations.


  • Francois-Henri Briard, Supreme Court Attorney (France), Delaporte, Briard & Trichet 
  • Michael Chertoff, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, The Chertoff Group

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 12-7-15 featuring Edwin Williamson
Edwin D. Williamson December 07, 2015

On December 1, 2015, the Supreme Court decided OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs. This case concerns the scope of the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).  Under this exception, sovereign immunity does not bar a lawsuit “based on a commercial activity carried on in the United States by [a] foreign state.”  In this case Carol Sachs sued the Austrian national railroad when she suffered serious injuries while attempting to board an Austrian train.  The question is whether Sachs’ purchase of her rail pass in the United States brought her suit within the commercial activity exception.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that it did. 

By a vote of 9-0, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, holding that Sachs’ suit was “based on” the railway’s conduct in Austria and therefore outside the FSIA’s commercial activity exception.

To discuss the case, we have Edwin D. Williamson, who is Of Counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

When Should America Act to Maintain International Order? - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Colin Dueck, Benjamin H. Friedman, François-Henri Briard, Mike J. Rogers, Brian H. Hook November 18, 2015

Most would agree that the world is unsettled, with hotspots in the Middle East, North Korea, the South China Sea, and the Ukraine, to name but a few. Terrorism has complicated international relations. But exactly when, and how, should America act to maintain order? Is a muscular and expeditionary style of engagement to be favored over quiet diplomacy? Is more and faster better than less and slower? How contextual should the answers to these questions be?

International: When Should America Act to Maintain International Order?
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom

  • Prof. Colin Dueck, Associate Professor, George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs
  • Mr. Benjamin H. Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies, Cato Institute
  • Mr. François-Henri Briard, Supreme Court Attorney (France), Delaporte, Briard & Trichet
  • Hon. Mike J. Rogers, Former U.S. House of Representatives, Michigan
  • Moderator: Mr. Brian H. Hook, former Assistant Secretary of State

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs - Post-Argument SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 11-18-15 featuring Edwin Williamson
Edwin D. Williamson November 18, 2015

On October 5, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs. This case involves a dispute regarding whether federal courts have jurisdiction over a lawsuit brought by Carol Sachs against OBB Personenverkher--the Austrian national railroad--when her legs were crushed by a train in Austria while she was using a Eurail Pass that she had purchased in the United States. 

The question before the Supreme Court is twofold: (1) whether common law principles of agency apply in determining whether an entity is an “agent” of a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA); and (2) whether, under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the FSIA, a tort claim for personal injuries suffered in connection with travel outside of the United States is “based upon” the allegedly tortious conduct occurring outside of the United States, or the preceding sale of the ticket in the United States for the travel entirely outside the United States.

To discuss the case, we have Edwin D. Williamson, who is Of Counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.