Panelists discuss the laws of fighting terrorism

Experts on terrorism were on hand yesterday for a panel discussion titled “Dealing with Terrorism: What Congress and the President Should Do.” The panelists discussed what changes they think should be adopted to better deal with the legal issues that have become controversial in dealing with the war on terror, including interrogation techniques, detention facilities, surveillance, and torture.

“I could argue that we’re in a constitutional crisis with a puny little Congress and a huge executive branch,” said Congresswoman Jane Harman ’69, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, about Congress’s ineffectiveness. She urged Congress to stop being partisan in order to adopt a new comprehensive legal framework that has “buy-in” from actors in both political parties across the government.

Michael Leiter ’00, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, discussed what challenges he faces in trying to effectively stop terrorist attacks on a day-to-day basis. He specifically said we need to start fighting a “war of ideas” that will persuade individuals not to get involved with Islamic militant groups. HLS Professor Phil Heymann ’60 agreed, saying the U.S. needs to remember not to act in a way that makes us more vulnerable for attacks.

As a former assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, HLS Professor Jack Goldsmith talked about specific legal challenges related to detention policy.

To view a video of the panel, click here.