Law 911

Harvard Law School responds to the call for new solutions in the fight against terror

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Before Sept. 11, 2001, the government treated terrorism like crime, responding to attacks with the familiar tools of law enforcement and prosecution.

But the warlike scale of the 9/11 attacks--which killed nearly 3,000 people in just a few hours--provoked military action abroad and a governmental assertion of sweeping new powers at home. In this issue, experts on the faculty of Harvard Law School tell how these responses have taken us into unfamiliar legal territory, where international laws for peacetime, the laws of war and domestic laws sometimes collide.

The law school is involved in the effort to draw new lines and constrain executive discretion in the fight against terror.

Professor Philip Heymann '60 is working with Juliette Kayyem '95 to develop legislative proposals to regulate counter-terrorism. The war on terror, he says, is being waged without a serious effort to respect our separation of powers and civil liberties and is alienating countries whose help we need for long-term containment and international cooperation. Heymann and Professor David Rosenberg are supervising students involved in terror-related projects and proposals, including several students working for the U.S. Department of Justice through clinical placements.

In Washington, D.C., three alumni are in the thick of the battles over the two most important proposals for institutional reform called for by the 9/11 Commission--an overhaul of the nation's intelligence--gathering services and of the way Congress oversees homeland security. Jamie Gorelick '75 served on the commission and is now fighting to see its recommendations adopted. U.S. Reps. Christopher Cox '76 ('77) and Jane Harman '69 sit on key committees taking up those recommendations.

From each of these vantage points, all are wrestling with the same fundamental challenge: to make the law adapt quickly against an enemy who won't wait, without sacrificing important civil liberties in the process.

Law in a time of terror
Four HLS professors consider whether the old rules apply when the enemies don't wear uniforms and are willing to die with their victims.

Talking about terror
A Harvard Law School professor says a unilateral war on terror will not succeed. His solution: contain and isolate extremists by repairing frayed alliances and finding common ground with mainstream Islam.

Code red
Christopher Cox '76 ('77) and Jane Harman '69 sit on different sides of the aisle, but the urgent threat of terrorism unites them.

Inside out
As a member of the 9/11 Commission, Jamie Gorelick '75 found herself scrutinizing the defense and justice departments she'd helped run.