War On Terrorism Raises Legal Questions

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | July 15, 2004

Is the United States at war with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups? If this nation is at war, how do we win the war?

The answer to the first question is “yes,” according to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of U.S. government, said Jeffrey Addicott, a recent guest lecturer for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Professional Development Series.

The answer to the second question is more difficult, Addicott said. He explained that the global war on terrorism has raised “a plethora of legal issues.”

Addicott, who earned a juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law, is a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, and director of the school’s Center for Terrorism Law.

St. Mary’s currently is the only law school involved in the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Homeland Defense and Education Consortium. The consortium’s goal is to ensure the command’s roles are “adequately and accurately reflected in national educational initiatives,” said Stan Supinski, Ph.D., deputy of education and training at NORAD and USNORTHCOM.

Additionally, consortium members are developing and promoting homeland security educational programs and researching issues related to homeland security. St Mary’s will research some of the legal issues, Supinski said.

In addition to his presentation entitled “Winning the War on Terrorism,” based on his book with the same title, Addicott held a question and answer period with about 30 members of the headquarters staff.

“President Bush has declared numerous times that we are at war,” said Addicott. He also opined that Congress and the Supreme Court – by recent actions – accede that United States is at war.

Professor Addicott said if the country is at war, then the question begging to be answered is “how do we win this war?” The long-term solution, he said, “has got to be promoting democracy.” He also noted that appeasement of tyrannical leaders is not effective in advancing democracy.

Addicott, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, spent 20 years in military law. He is credited with pioneering the teaching of law of war and human rights courses to the militaries of numerous nascent democracies in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Addicott frequently contributes to national and international news shows, including MSNBC, FOX and the BBC, Supinski said.

In addition to two books, Addicott has authored numerous law journal articles, reviews, and essays and regularly participates in professional and academic organizations both in the United States and abroad, Supinski said.