The demand for trained and educated national security lawyers, including those in the military, is not going to lessen. The challenge is to meet the increasing demand with shrinking resources. The military services must first identify national security law as a core, mission-essential discipline. The services should integrate the joint and perhaps inter-agency legal community into the existing process for identifying and deconflicting legal education requirements. The services should also consider whether lawyers can learn certain aspects of national security law through civilian legal education and distance learning rather than brick-and-mortar military schoolhouses.
This article challenges the dominant pedagogical assumptions in the legal academy. It begins by briefly considering the state of the field of national security law, noting the rapid expansion in employment and the breadth of related positions that have been created post-9/11. It considers, in the process, how the legal academy has, as an institutional matter, responded to the demand. The article then proposes a new model for national security legal education, based on innovations currently underway at Georgetown Law. It points to a new model of legal education that advances students in their pedagogical goals, while complementing, rather than supplanting, the critical intellectual discourse that underlies the value of higher legal education.
In June 2010, journalists for the Associated Press reported the arrest often Russian spies, all suspected of being “deep-cover” illegal agents in the United States. Seeking to convey the magnitude of this event, the journalists wrote that this “blockbuster series of arrests” might even be as significant as the FBI’s “famous capture of Soviet Col. Rudolf Abel in 1957 in New York.” The reference may have been lost on many Americans, but Colonel Abel’s story of American justice at a time of acute anxiety about the nation’s security is one that continues to resonate today. The honor, and error, that are contained in Colonel Abel’s story offer lessons worth remembering as the United States struggles against a new enemy: international terrorists. One important lesson is that ad hoc departures from the requirements of constitutional criminal procedure, even in the pursuit of seemingly exigent and unique national security threats, tend to cause more trouble than they are worth. Another is that these lessons have been repeatedly learned and, it would seem, repeatedly forgotten. We should be in the process of relearning these lessons today. In that spirit, after briefly summarizing Colonel Abel’s case and some of the themes it shares with contemporary cases, this article presents selected aspects of Colonel Abel’s arrest, trial, and appeal.
Early in the morning of June 21, 1957, almost exactly fifty-three years before the June 2010 arrests, Special Agents Edward Gamber and Paul Blasco of the FBI pushed their way into Room 839 at the Hotel Latham in Manhattan. The FBI agents sat a sleepy and half-naked Abel on his bed, identified themselves as charged with investigating matters of internal security, and questioned him for twenty minutes, insinuating knowledge of his espionage activities by addressing him as “Colonel.” The FBI agents told Abel that “if he did not ‘cooperate,’ he would be arrested before he left the room.” When Abel refused, the FBI signaled to agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the INS, then under the authority of the Department of Justice), who were waiting outside. Under the close observation of the FBI agents, the INS agents arrested Abel, searched him and the contents of his room, and seized several items as evidence of Abel’s alienage.
Seen from the great height of global comparison, the number of new anti-terrorism laws that criminalize terrorism, block terrorism financing, develop new international monitoring mechanisms to spot terrorists, and increase vigilance about the international movements of persons is extraordinary. Up close, however, widespread compliance [with the Security Council Resolution 1373 framework] looks less like a tightly coordinated strategy than diverse variations on a theme.
At the January 2009 Association of American Law Schools’ Section on National Security Law panel discussion, I and others urged the incoming Obama administration to make a clear and decisive break with the Bush administration’s national security policies. Six months later, the new Administration has not done so. Rather, it has acted in a contradictory manner: boldly asserting in its first days that it would ban torture and close Guantánamo, but in practice continuing many of the Bush antiterrorism policies. President Obama’s major speech on Guantánamo and other national security issues reiterated his desire to close Guantánamo, but also argued that the United States could hold detainees in custody indefinitely without trial or try them by military commissions. The Administration has adopted the Bush administration position that detainees held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan indefinitely have no right to seek habeas corpus in U.S. courts. It has also continued to assert the state secrets privilege to attempt to block lawsuits seeking accountability for extraordinary rendition and torture.