SMU conference examines national security and civil liberties

On Oct. 22, 2011 – 10 years after the USA Patriot Act – noted experts in law, ethics and human rights will meet at SMU to discuss "National Security and Civil Liberties."

DALLAS (SMU) — Ten years after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in response to the 9-11 terror attacks, nationally recognized speakers related to the still-controversial law will be featured at SMU’s “Conference on National Security and Civil Liberties” on Oct. 22.

A 1 p.m. debate will feature John Yoo, former U.S. Department of Justice official and author of the “Torture Memos” with Joe “Chip” Pitts, a Stanford University law lecturer and former Amnesty International board chair. They will be discussing the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” and detainee treatment.

The daylong conference will focus on three provocative subjects:

Basic Legal and Ethical Controversies, 8:45–10:30 a.m.: What are the tensions and ethical dilemmas affiliated with national security and civil liberties? Guest panelists will be Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project; Daniel Tichenor, a political science professor at the University of Oregon; Joe Kobylka, SMU professor of political science and constitutional law; and Robin Lovin, SMU Maguire Professor of Ethics.

Treatment of Detainees, 11 a.m.–2:45 p.m.: What are the legal and ethical implications of categorizing detainees as “unlawful enemy combatants” and what legal processes should they be afforded? Panelists will be Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program; Mike Marchand, president of The Center for American and International Law, based in Plano; and Robert Chesney, University of Texas law professor. The Yoo-Pitts debate, moderated by SMU Political Science Professor Seyom Brown, will begin at 1 p.m.

Individual Rights, 3–4:30 p.m.: What compromises are being taken in connection with such First Amendment rights as freedoms of speech, press and association? Featured guests include journalist Lee Cullum, host of KERA’s “CEO;” Rebecca Gregory, former chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the U.S. Eastern District of Texas; and two professors from the SMU Dedman School of Law: Jeffrey Bellin, an expert in criminal law and procedure who is a former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Jeffrey Kahn, an expert on constitutional and human rights law as well as counterterrorism.

Conducted by SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies and the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, the free public conference will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the Meadows Museum’s Smith Auditorium. Registration is required. Please direct all questions regarding registration opportunities to the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at 214-768-3954. 


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.