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U.S. Must Adjust to Terrorist Threat, Judge Says


Describing terrorism as a “permanent conflict,” a national security expert told a gathering of Fordham Law School students and faculty members on Thursday, Sept. 6, that the United States will have to continually adjust to the evolving nature of the terrorist threat in order to secure both the country and civil liberties.

“If you go into the field of national security law, your career will last forever,” James E. Baker, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, told a packed room of law students. “It’s a continuous threat and that’s why it’s important to have the right laws.”

Baker, who recently published In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times (Cambridge University Press, 2007), was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by former President Bill Clinton in 2000 and served as special assistant to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council from 1997 to 2000. His presentation at Fordham was hosted by the Law School’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.

Baker said that terrorism will remain a prominent aspect of national security well into the foreseeable future, through succeeding administrations and generations of Americans. “This is a permanent conflict,” he said “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to build a nuclear weapon and it’s a threat that has the most potential to change everything as we know it.”

The Leitner Center’s mission is to increase awareness of human rights abuses at home and abroad and to prepare future lawyers to address those issues over the course of their careers. Each year, through the donations of James (LAW ’82) and Sandra Leitner, students are funded to participate in international human rights-related summer internships.


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