Post date: December 20, 2001 – 9:30 a.m.
In the aftermath of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, Harvard Law School professors have been called upon to help educated the world about the legal aspects of issues such as international tribunals, military courts, and civil liberties. “As we work this through spiritually, philosophically, emotionally, and psychologically, as an institution we cannot help but say, ‘alright let’s also think this through academically, or at least analytically,'” said Professor Jonathan Zittrain in the days immediately following the attacks.
The following is an abbreviated list of professors and their terrorism-related opinion pieces, testimony, and comments:
Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter
New York Times – November 17, 2001 Al Qaeda Should Be Tried Before the World “On Tuesday President Bush signed an executive order allowing the government to try accused terrorists before military commissions rather than in federal court. No matter how tempting or expedient, trials by military commission will prove disastrous — to the war against terrorism, to the Constitution and to the rule of law.”
Financial Times – October 12, 2001 Terrorism and Justice “A better alternative is some kind of international tribunal to work in conjunction with national courts around the world. The proposed International Criminal Court is one option, but it is not yet in existence. A preferable course would be to convene an ad hoc international tribunal with jurisdiction over all terrorist acts on or after September 11, wherever committed. It should be composed of justices from high courts around the world and co-chaired by a US Supreme Court Justice and a distinguished Islamic jurist of similar rank. “
Professor Laurence Tribe
Wall Street Journal – September 29, 2001 Freedom and Security “The monstrous attack on America that took the lives of thousands on Sept. 11, 2001, sent waves of anguish through the nation, setting in motion a response whose outlines we are just beginning to sketch. The way we complete that sketch will determine whether the terrorists will destroy, more than lives and towering structures, the very foundations of our freedom. To watch Congress take up a complex set of antiterrorism measures with lightning speed, with the usually lumbering Senate passing the whole legislative package in under 30 minutes, is a refreshing change. But institutional checks against intemperate action are there for a reason.”
United States Senate – Judiciary Committee Hearing: “DOJ Oversight: Preserving Our Freedoms While Defending Against Terrorism” – December 4, 2001 Statement of Laurence H. Tribe “Although many of our constitutional freedoms would be rendered meaningless without freedom from terrorist attack, they may be equally threatened by undue governmental limitations and intrusions imposed in the elusive pursuit of national security. The choice we face is not that of liberty versus security. Our challenge is to secure the liberties of all against the threats emanating from all sources—the tyranny and terror of oppressive government no less than the tyranny of terrorism.”
Professor Philip Heymann
The Washington Post – December 12, 2001 Prosecutors Need Only Circumstantial Evidence “You have to have agreed to commit either a crime or some general course of criminal conduct,” said Philip B. Heymann, a former deputy attorney general who now teaches criminal law at Harvard Law School. “In the federal system you have to have an overt act. An overt act doesn’t mean anything significant. You mail a letter.”
United States Senate – Judiciary Committee Hearing: “DOJ Oversight: Preserving Our Freedoms While Defending Against Terrorism” – November 28, 2001 Statement of Philip B. Heymann “We have a deep tradition – expressed powerfully in the Declaration of Independence – of confining military courts and secret proceedings to as small an area of necessity as possible. Only in the following circumstances have our courts allowed military tribunals to try citizens and aliens alike: where in a wartime situation there are no operable civilian courts; where, before peace is declared, there is to be a trial of wartime atrocities against the internationally recognized laws of war; where spies attached to a belligerent nation have been caught behind our lines. In all other situations they have refused, in inspired language, to depart from a legal tradition so old, so important, and so much a part of what we stand for.”
Professor Alan Dershowitz
The National Post (Toronto) – December 15, 2001 Tape Doesn’t Prove Bin Laden’s Guilt “Now that the world has seen and heard Osama bin Laden and his fellow Islamic extremists taking credit and praising Allah for the mass murder of thousands of innocent people, few reasonable people will doubt the moral culpability, despicability and dangerousness of these misguided Muslims. But does the tape actually strengthen the legal case against bin Laden, Zacarias Moussaoui and others likely to face trial in connection with the outrages of Sept. 11?”
New York Times – October 13, 2001 Why Fear National ID Cards? “As a civil libertarian, I am instinctively skeptical of such tradeoffs. But I support a national identity card with a chip that can match the holder’s fingerprint. It could be an effective tool for preventing terrorism, reducing the need for other law-enforcement mechanisms — especially racial and ethnic profiling — that pose even greater dangers to civil liberties.”
Professor Michael Levine
The Christian Science Monitor – December 18, 2001 Airlines, Shaken, Face More Shakeout “In times like these, people learn to do without, and then when they have more money again, the notion of paying 2,500 bucks for a round trip to the coast is just unacceptable,” says Michael E. Levine, a former airline executive who now teaches at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass.
St. Petersburg Times – December 9, 2001 Airlines Want Pilot Stun Guns Critics say the presence of stun guns in cockpits has risks, even though they would be stored in lockboxes. The weapons might be turned against pilots during a struggle or unauthorized users might find a way to get access to them. “I think more mistakes will be made with these things than they are worth, given the very limited circumstances they are being conceived for,” said Michael Levine, a former airline executive who is now a professor at Harvard Law School. “I’m not much for turning a cockpit into Dodge City.”