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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2006

T C 357 • Legal Perspectives of the War on Terrorism

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44507 M
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

This seminar will focus on the major legal and ethical issues raised by the "War on Terror" conducted by the United States after the attacks of September 11th and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will begin with an examination of how the United States responded to the security risks of World War II, including the legal status of Japanese-American internment camps and, after conclusion of the war, the Nuremberg trials and adoption of international conventions and treaties. We will then examine and research contemporary issues such as: the concept of "justice" in a war against terrorism; several trials of terrorists in U.S. courts prior to September 11; several international tribunals held before September 11th that addressed terrorism, crimes against humanity, or genocide such as the terrorist bombing of PanAm flight 103 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; the Geneva Conventions and domestic U.S. laws relative to the detention and treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and the May 2006 report issued by a committee of the United Nations calling for the United States to close the prison; the response to Abu Ghraib and the "rendering" by the U.S. of detainees to countries known to engage in torture; the current controversy over domestic surveillance and how immigration laws have been used in the war against terrorism; and how the U.S. judicial system has responded to an expansive executive branch view of the Constitutional powers of the President to conduct a war on terror.

The seminar will examine these issues within the broader context of how a democratic form of government can protect national security and, simultaneously, preserve civil liberties, free speech, due process of law, and comply with international law. The last month of the seminar will be devoted to the research and writing of a term paper.

Grading Policy

40%: short assignments, including one essay, weekly written questions or comments on reading materials, and class presentations of group research assignments
35%: term research paper; including an outline, draft, and final paper
15%: oral presentation of term research paper
10%: class participation


Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (2006, revd edition, paperback)
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Knopf 2006)
Mark Danner, Torture and Truth (2004, paperback)
Michael R. Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, 1945-46: A Documentary History (1997, paperback)
Class Printed Materials on Geneva Conventions, international materials, U.S. laws and court cases
Numerous documents and articles on the class Blackboard page (required readings are subject to modification)
Writing Component and Grading


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