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University of Iowa News Release

July 17, 2003

Former NSC Advisor Teaches National Security Course At UI Law School

UI law students are learning firsthand this summer the dangerous and complex nature of national security in a class taught by James E. Baker, a federal judge and former legal adviser to the National Security Council.

Baker, who is visiting the law school for the summer, is teaching the course titled, "Managing National Security." The class, which he also teaches at the Yale Law School, introduces students to the substance, process and practice of national security law at the highest levels of government. Baker draws on his seven years of experience at the National Security Council, where he advised President Bill Clinton, the national security advisor and the NSC staff on U.S. and international law in such areas as the use of force, the law of armed conflict, intelligence activities and counter-terrorism. He said terrorism lingers behind every class discussion.

"Terrorism has always been a U.S. national security priority, since the first Middle East hijacking in 1968," he said. "However, the 1990s saw the presidency itself transition from episodic crisis and response to terrorism to a condition of perpetual alert and command over counter-terrorism. At the time of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, terrorism had become the top national security issue. The United States was facing a worldwide, organized, capable, conspiracy of terrorism with intent to kill as many Americans and to do so with conventional as well as weapons of mass destruction."

Baker said the United States must respond with the right combination of offensive operations, defense (homeland security) and preventive diplomacy. "Our success and commitment in doing so will determine whether we are living in a decade, time or age of global terrorism," he said.

In the class, Baker introduces students to the constitutional framework of decision and the tools of security: military, intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic and economics. He also addresses how and in what manner the U.S. and international legal regimes have addressed, or should address, the terrorist threat. The class culminates in a series of exercises with students playing the roles of principals at a National Security Council meeting. "National security requires the careful, but immediate, consideration of context, policy, law and constitutional values. Most of my students come away from this class with an appreciation for the difficult choices involved, the sometime incomplete information on which those choices are based, and a sense that liberty and security are both elements of national security, not zero-sum interests."

Baker, a former Marine, became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in 2000.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,