William C. Banks is a Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Professor at the College of Law and the Maxwell School as Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs. During 2015-2016, Banks was Interim Dean of the College of Law. A teacher and scholar at SU for more than four decades, Banks was the Founding Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), now the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL). Under Banks’ leadership, INSCT/SPL grew from its inception in 2003 to become a recognized leader in interdisciplinary research and education on national and international security and terrorism.
A highly regarded and internationally recognized scholar, topics of Banks’ wide-ranging research include constitutional law and national security and counterterrorism law; laws of war and asymmetric warfare; drones and targeted killing; cybersecurity, cyberespionage, and cyber conflict; emergency powers; emergency preparedness and response; civilian-military relations; and government surveillance and privacy.
Among his other major works, Banks is the co-author of Constitutional Law: Structure and Rights in Our Federal System (Carolina Academic Press, 2019; with Rod Smolla) and Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military (Harvard, 2016; with Stephen Dycus). He is the author, co-author, and/or editor of numerous other titles, including National Security Law (Wolters Kluwer, 2020) and Counterterrorism Law (Wolters Kluwer, 2020)—books that have helped set the parameters for these fields of study—as well as Counterinsurgency Law: New Directions in Asymmetric Warfare (Oxford UP, 2012) and New Battlefields/Old Laws: Critical Debates on Asymmetric Warfare (Columbia UP, 2011).
The subjects of Banks’ more than 160 published book chapters and articles range from the military use of unmanned aerial vehicles and the role of the military in domestic affairs, to cyberespionage, cyber attribution, and the FISA court. Recent writing includes “Law Enforcement by Military Means in the United States: Soldiers as Peacekeepers and Cops, Cops as Soldiers;” “Who Did It? Attribution of Cyber Intrusions and the Jus In Bello;” “Next Generation Electronic Surveillance Law: Imagining the Future;” “State Responsibility and Attribution of Cyber Intrusions After Tallinn 2.0;” “Developing Norms for Cyber Conflict;” “An Emerging International Legal Architecture for Cyber Conflict;” and “New Generation Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Law: Renewing 702.”
Additionally, Banks spearheaded numerous interdisciplinary research projects for INSCT/SPL, including New Battlefields, Old Laws: From the Hague Conventions to Asymmetric Warfare; Controlling Economic Cyber Espionage; and Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters, a collaboration with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UN CTED).
Banks joined the SU College of Law faculty in 1978. In 1998, he was appointed a Professor of Public Administration in SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and he was named a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence in the same year. In 2008, Banks became the first College of Law Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor. In 2017, the SU Law Class of 2017 bestowed on Banks the Res Ipsa Loquitur Award at their Commencement ceremony, in recognition of his impact on their class both as a teacher and as Interim Dean. Also in 2017, Banks was named Senior Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security and the Law.
Among his public service appointments, Banks has served as a Special Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee (for the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer); as a Member and Chair of the Advisory Committee of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security; as a Member of the InfraGard National Members Alliance Board of Advisors; on the Advisory Council for the Perpetual Peace Project; on the Executive Board of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community (ICTAC); as an Editorial Board member at The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, The Netherlands; and as a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Banks is Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security (August 2020) and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.