Before joining the Al-Qaida/Taliban Monitoring Team at the UN, John Smith was a Trial Attorney with the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. His work involves defending the U.S. Government in lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country involving challenges to Government programs, statutes, and/or regulations. He also has been assigned to conduct legal reviews of terrorist designations proposed by the U.S. Departments of State or Treasury.
During his fellowship, John was based at the Ministry of Justice in Wellington. His project was entitled The balancing act of governmental efforts against terrorism financing: curtailing the funding for terrorists while protecting civil liberties.
He explored the effects and effectiveness of New Zealand's recent anti-terrorism measures, particularly the Terrorism Suppression Act enacted in October 2002 and predecessor regulations adopted after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. His focus was on assessing the impact of these measures on the ability of terrorists to use New Zealand to transfer money for terrorist acts. He also explored the ramifications of such laws on the personal freedoms of New Zealand citizens and non-citizens alike.