NCCIT has established a high-profile, politically and demographically diverse public Commission.  In the fall of 2017, the Commission will receive and record testimony from legal and human rights experts, former government officials, torture survivors, and others on the U.S. torture program and the facilitating role that North Carolina played in hosting infrastructure for it.  Commissioners will issue a report following this event that will include specific recommendations to elected officials on measures to address responsibility and prevent further torture, so that North Carolina can become a leader in accountability for torture.  

Confirmed commissioners include: 

 Robin Kirk (Co-Chair)
 Frank Goldsmith (Co-Chair)
 Rev. Ben Boswell
 James E. Coleman, Jr. 
 David Crane                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Jonathan Freeman
 Patricia McGaffagan
 Jomana Qaddour
 Dr Annie Sparrow
 Col. Larry Wilkerson



Robin Kirk (Co-Chair)

Robin Kirk is the Faculty Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute and is a founding member of the Pauli Murray Project, an initiative of the center that seeks to use the legacy of this Durham daughter to examine the region’s past of slavery, segregation and continuing economic inequality.

An author and human rights advocate, Kirk directs the Belfast program for DukeEngage, in partnership with Healing Through Remembering, an extensive cross-community project dealing with the legacy of past conflict and human rights. She directs Undergraduate Studies for Duke’s International Comparative Studies major, where she teaches, and is a lecturer in the Department of Cultural Anthropology. Kirk has written three books, including More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (PublicAffairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). She is a coeditor of The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and co edits Duke University Press’s World Readers seriesAn essayist and award-winning poet, she has published widely on issues as diverse as the Andes, torture, the politics of memory, family life and pop culture. Her essay on Belfast, “City of Walls,” is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books).

In the Fall of 2006, she was a Fulbright lecturer at the Human Rights Center at Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey. Kirk authored, co-authored and edited over twelve reports for Human Rights Watch, all available on-line. In the 1980s, Kirk reported for U.S. media from Peru, where she covered the war between the government and the Shining Path. She continues to write for US media, and has been published in The New York TimesWashington PostSojournersThe American Scholar, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Boston Globe and other newspapers.

Frank Goldsmith (Co-Chair)

Frank Goldsmith is a mediator and civil rights lawyer from the Asheville area. He graduated from Davidson College in 1967, studied international law and French constitutional law at the Université de Montpellier, France, and received his Juris Doctor degree with honors in 1970 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif, served as Associate Editor of the North Carolina Law Review, and received awards for his work in promoting law student involvement in legal aid for the poor. He served on active duty as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps during the Vietnam Era, where his duties included teaching the international law of war to soldiers and their commanders at an infantry training center. 

Goldsmith has also represented detainees imprisoned at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and is the author of a chapter in a book entitled “Obama’s Guantánamo,” a collection of perspectives from fourteen lawyers who have represented these men.  Goldsmith has taught trial advocacy at Duke University Law School and other institutions and programs.  He has been named to “Best Lawyers in America,” “Super Lawyers,” and “North Carolina Legal Elite,” among other professional honors, was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has served on the boards of directors of a number of legal organizations and nonprofit groups. 

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Rev. Ben Boswell

As Senior Minister, Reverend Boswell is responsible for the preaching and worship ministry of the Church, providing leadership and spiritual direction for the staff and congregation, guiding the Church in its strategic vision, and serving as the public face of the Church in the larger community.

Ben was born in Lynchburg, VA, grew up in Bethlehem, PA, and graduated from high school in Kannapolis, NC. He was educated at Marion Military Institute (commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant), Campbell University (BA in Religion and Philosophy), Duke Divinity School (Master of Divinity), and Catholic University of America (completed coursework for PhD).

Before joining the staff at MPBC, Ben served as a First Lieutenant in the North Carolina Army National Guard, Minister of Youth at Samaria Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, Associate Pastor and then Senior Pastor at Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, Adjunct Professor of Political Theology and Ethics at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, and Senior Pastor at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, NC.

When Ben isn’t at Church, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Katie, and his daughter, Lucy, working for social justice, running, reading, listening to music, watching TV and seeing movies, and hanging out with friends.

David Crane

Professor David M. Crane was appointed a Professor of Practice at Syracuse University College of Law in the summer of 2006. From 2002 to 2005, Crane was the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international war crimes tribunal, appointed to that position by Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Serving with the rank of Undersecretary-General, Crane’s mandate was to prosecute those who bore the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international human rights committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s. Among those he indicted for horrific crimes was Liberian President Charles Taylor, the first sitting African head of state in history to be held accountable in this way. Serving more than 30 years in the US federal government, Crane was appointed to the US Senior Executive Service in 1997. He held numerous key managerial positions during his three decades of public service, including Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the US Army Judge Advocate General’s School.. Read more

James E. Coleman, Jr. 

Jim Coleman is the John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and Co-Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic at Duke Law School.  He is a graduate of Columbia University (J.D. 1974), Harvard University (A.B. 1970), and Phillips Exeter Academy (1966).

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jim’s experience includes a judicial clerkship for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a year in private practice in New York, and fifteen years in private practice in Washington, D.C., the last twelve as a partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. In private practice, Jim specialized in federal court and administrative litigation; he also represented criminal defendants in capital collateral proceedings, including Ted Bundy through Bundy’s execution in 1989.

Jim has also had a range of government experience, including two years as an assistant general counsel for the Legal Services Corporation, a stint as chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, and a year as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education. 


Jonathan Freeman

Jonathan Freeman is a veteran of the United States Army and doctoral student in International Relations at the London School of Economics. In 2007-2008, Freeman was the Deputy Director of Veterans and Military Families Outreach on the Obama for America campaign. Immediately following the campaign, Freeman joined the Presidential Inaugural Committee as the Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs. He joined the Obama Administration as the Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of Defense, where he was responsible for assisting the appointment of all the political appointees at the Pentagon. From October 2009 to August 2012, Freeman held an appointment at the USAID as the Senior Advisor in the Office of Civil Military Cooperation.

A former active duty U.S. Army Officer, Freeman served in Taji, Iraq as a Fire Support Officer for B Company, 2-70 AR in 2005. He returned to Iraq in February 2007 where he worked on a Training and Transition Team, assisting a Border Police Battalion in Tal ‘Afar and then an Iraqi Army unit in Samarra. In 2011, Freeman volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan, serving at the Headquarters Commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435. His military awards include the Bronze Star (with an Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

Freeman received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Michigan and a Masters from Harvard University’s Extension School. He holds an MBA with honors from UMASS-Amherst.





Patricia McGaffagan

Ms. McGaffagan, a native of Pinellas County Florida, moved to North Carolina in 1978 to attend Graduate School at East Carolina University. A psychology internship in Johnston County led to a 25-year career at the Johnston County Mental Health Center, providing direct services and developing programs to serve individuals with severe mental illness. After retiring, Ms. McGaffagan served as State Quality Management and Accreditation Director for a large non-profit behavioral health agency, in addition to working for The Council on Quality and Leadership as a Quality Enhancement Specialist, and as an adjunct instructor at Johnston Community College. Currently, Ms. McGaffagan works for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services at Cherry Hospital as a Staff Psychologist, providing psychological and forensic services. She also is a consultant with the Neuropsychology Consultants, based in Raleigh, NC.

Ms. McGaffagan has lived in Johnston County since 1981 and has worked to establish several non-profit organizations. These include Harbor, Inc., serving victim of domestic violence and rape, Habitat for Humanity and the Johnston County Animal Protection League. Through her work at the Johnston County Mental Health Center, she was active in downtown revitalization efforts in Selma, NC, by establishing several businesses that hired individuals with mental illness. She remains committed to understanding and overcoming barriers to civic involvement faced by people affected by poverty, mental health challenges, addiction and involvement in the legal system.

Jomana Qaddour

Jomana Qaddour is the co-founder of Syria Relief & Development, a humanitarian organization that provides direct emergency and ongoing humanitarian relief for Syrians since 2011, that has distributed over $30 million worth of humanitarian aid to Syrians in Syria and the region. From 2014-2015, she served as a Senior Associate and Project Manager at the conflict analysis firm Caerus Associates, where she provided government clients with information on developments in Syria. Prior to joining Caerus, she was a Senior Research Assistant and Publications Manager for the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where she focused on Syria, Egypt, Palestinian politics, and Islamist movements. She is currently completing her LLM at Georgetown Law Center and holds a JD from the University of Kansas School of Law with a Certificate in International Trade and Finance, and a BA in Human Biology and International Studies from the University of Kansas. She has published pieces focused on Syria, including topics relating to international trade, civil society organizations, the Syrian opposition, and the Alawite minority. She has also been invited to participate on a number of panels, working groups, and meetings pertaining to developments in the Middle East post-Arab Spring.

Dr. Annie Sparrow, MBBS, MRCP, FRACP, MPH,

Dr. Sparrow combines the clinical skills of an experienced practitioner with public-health expertise acquired from working in many of the world’s most devastating combat zones. She is currently Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Human Rights Program in the Department of Global Health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City,  where she teaches human rights and humanitarian aid in complex emergencies. An Australian, Dr. Sparrow spent most of her first ten postgraduate years practicing pediatric critical care in London and her native Perth. She began focusing on refugee health and human rights after a brief stint in Afghanistan under Taliban control. Her first high-profile public-health effort was as a lead public advocate for refugees detained in punitive conditions in Australia. She then joined Human Rights Watch (HRW) as its first researcher with medical training, addressing HIV and sexual violence in conflict in Chad and Sudan, and provided testimony to the International Criminal Court. After HRW, she spent several years based in Nairobi working in various war-torn countries for the Emergency Response Team of Catholic Relief Services, and a further year as director of UNICEF’s   malaria program in Somalia for the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Since 2012 her focus has been on the humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Syria. She has traveled repeatedly to the Syrian border in the last two years, to document the health crisis and also to train Syrian doctors in critical care and infectious disease. She has published widely on the public health crisis, including the systematic assaults on doctors and targeting of medical care, the reemergence of poliomyelitis, the manipulation of chlorine as an indirect weapon of biological warfare, and the direct use of chlorine in chemical attacks.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.)

Lawrence Wilkerson's last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University.  He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.