Introduction to National Security Law

Author:Tung Yin
Position:Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Law

    Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Law. J.D., 1995, University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall). Thanks to the Editors of Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems for inviting me to guest edit this issue.

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Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., national security law has assumed prominence; a recent survey of 100 law schools concluded that two-thirds were offering courses in national security law or terrorism law.1 But what is national security law? A review of "national security law" casebooks reveals that the subject matter encompasses everything from constitutional distribution of war powers to international human rights. This Symposium focuses on some of the key national security issues relating to the U.S. government's responses to the 9/11 attacks.

The first set of Articles focuses on the treatment of suspected al Qaeda terrorists or their Taliban harborers. Prior to 9/11, such persons were prosecuted as criminal defendants and, in some instances, even executed.2 After Congress enacted a joint resolution authorizing the President to use all appropriate force against the perpetrators, planners, and aiders and abettors of the 9/11 attacks,3 however, the United States unleashed military force in Afghanistan, killing thousands of suspected al Qaeda or Taliban fighters and capturing hundreds of others. Nearly a thousand fighters were transported to the U.S. naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for detention.4

But military detention of enemy combatants has been extremely controversial, all the more so because the United States has denied those detainees prisoner of war status. While it is Guantanamo Bay that has drawn attention-no doubt in large part due to the stories of abusive treatment inflicted on detainees-the United States has not been alone in detaining suspected terrorists in the absence of criminal charges. In Comparative Perspectives on the Detention of Suspects, John Ip of thePage 770 University of Auckland, New Zealand, examines the various approaches that the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand have used in justifying such non-criminal detention. After noting the major difference between the United States' use of military detention, compared to its allies' use of immigration-based detention schemes, Professor Ip identifies similarities among the countries' approach to detaining suspected terrorists. Professor Ip concludes with a...

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