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

Spring 2005

T C 357 • Legal Perspectives of the War on Terrorism—W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
41145 TH
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
JON 4.208B

Course Description

This seminar will explore legal and ethical issues related to the United States’ response to 9/11 and threats of terrorism. The overall objective of the course is to examine and enhance understanding of (i) what is known about Al-Qaeda and international terrorism; (ii) past and recently enacted laws dealing with national security and terrorism; (iii) the challenges presented by trying to balance national security concerns with the basic democratic principles of civil liberties, free speech and assembly, and due process of law, as well as with the Geneva Conventions and international law; and (iv) legal and ethical issues arising out of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including problems of holding U.S. and foreign citizens as “enemy combatants” and of interrogation methods and treatment of prisoners (including the events at Abu Ghraib prison). This seminar is designed for students with a wide range of academic majors and experiences; it is not intended only for students interested in law school. There will be extensive reading assignments and a substantial writing component, and the seminar will likely require more time than a regular course. The last half of the semester will be devoted to small group research projects. These projects involve writing a term research paper and giving an oral presentation to the class. The research paper may involve an analysis of a specific case (for example, background and legal proceedings involving the “American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh), analysis of a legal issue (for example, how attorneys at the Department of Justice addressed issues of torture and “war crimes”), or analysis of a broader problem (for example, how terrorists use the internet and media).

Grading Policy

This course contains a substantial writing component. Several short essays, memoranda and other writing assignments, and class presentations on assigned topics: 40% Semester research project; including an outline, draft and revision, and final paper (20 pages): 40% Oral class presentation on research topic: 10% Class participation: 10% The seminar format of this class is designed to encourage student interaction and open discussion and debate of important facts and principals. As we will be confronting a broad range of issues, the responsibility of each member to attend each class session and be prepared is very important. We will work together to make this an interesting and rewarding learning experience.


New books and materials on the war on terrorism are being published weekly. A final list of materials for students to purchase will be posted in early January 2005 in the Plan II Office and sent by email to registered students. However, a preliminary list of materials includes: Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Seymour M. Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib Materials on the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Articles by Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker magazine on the 2004 Madrid bombing and a profile of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri; Legal memoranda, court cases, law review articles, documents and other materials related to the U.S response to terrorism.


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