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Case Western Reserve University School of Law to host mock congressional hearing on NSA wiretap controversy

On December 16, 2005, the New York Times broke the story that the Bush Administration had ordered the National Security Agency to monitor international telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens with potential al Qaeda links without obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. The revelation set off a ferocious political and legal debate, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter promising a Congressional hearing. Meanwhile, lawyers for convicted terrorists are seeking to re-open their cases, claiming the government may have used evidence procured through unlawful wiretapping.

To help explore the legal, practical, and constitutional issues framing this controversy, Case Western Reserve University School of Law will present a mock Congressional hearing featuring two of the country's foremost experts on national security law: Professor Ruth Wedgwood of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and Professor David Cole of Georgetown University Law Center.

The event, part of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center's International Debate series, will take place Thursday, February 9 from 4:30-6 p.m. in Room A59 of the law school, 11075 East Blvd. It is free and open to the public, and 1.5 hours of CLE credit is available, pending approval. It will be webcast live at:

"We're very happy to host this timely and exciting program, which features two prominent legal scholars debating one of the most important issues of our time - the appropriate limits to presidential power in the context of the war on terrorism," said Gerald Korngold, dean and McCurdy Professor of Law.

Wedgwood and Cole will be questioned by an expert panel, playing the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, consisting of:

  • Professor Michael Scharf, director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case School of Law and a nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Professor Amos Guiora, director of the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case School of Law and former commander of Israel's Judge Advocate School
  • Professor Jessie Hill, assistant director of the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy, and formerly an ACLU trial attorney
  • Jonathan Adler, associate professor and associate director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case School of Law, constitutional law expert, and contributing editor to National Review Online
  • Professor Raymond Ku, associate director of the Center for Law, Technology and the Arts at Case School of Law and the author of numerous articles on issues of privacy in the cyber age
  • Hiram Chodosh, associate dean for academic affairs and Joseph C. Hostetler-Baker & Hostetler Professor of Law at Case School of Law

"This mock Congressional hearing at Case will preview the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments that will be employed by members of Congress, the executive branch, and litigators in the coming months," said Scharf, an organizer of the event.

Questions to be addressed during the mock Congressional hearing include:

  • What are the national security justifications for the NSA's warrentless wiretapping?
  • From a civil liberties perspective, what is the danger presented by the NSA's action?

Does the Constitution grant the President inherent authority as Commander in Chief to order this type of surveillance without Congressional authorization?

  • Is this activity inconsistent with the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?
  • Did Congressional authorization of the use of force after 9/11 empower the president to order the NSA warrentless wiretapping?
  • Did the White House's briefings of several Congressional leaders provide a legal basis for the action?
  • If the NSA's actions are unlawful, will convicted terrorists have a compelling legal argument for reversing their convictions?
  • What Congressional actions might be appropriate in response to the NSA wiretapping controversy?

David Cole is a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating from Yale University and Yale Law School he worked as a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he litigated many First Amendment cases including Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, which extended First Amendment protection to flag burning. He continues to litigate First Amendment and other constitutional issues as a volunteer staff attorney for the Center. Cole is the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a columnist for Legal Times, and a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." His book, Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, received the American Book Award and the Hefner First Amendment Prize in 2004.

Wedgwood is the Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, and director of the Program in International Law and Organizations at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. She has taught constitutional law, criminal law, the law of armed conflict, international law, arbitration, and United Nations politics and law. In addition, Wedgwood serves on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law, and the Central Intelligence Agency's Historical Review Panel. She serves as the American member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Wedgwood is a director of Freedom House and a member of the editorial boards of the magazines American Interest and The National Interest, as well as the Journal of International Law

For further information call (216) 368-6619 or (800) 492-3308.


About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.