Course Description of Prosecuting Terrorists

This course examines the use of civilian Article III courts to prosecute terrorists by following the logical course of a prosecution - legal basis, investigative techniques, litigation and sentencing issues. Major topics include: principles of counter-terrorist prosecutions, major legislative packages, definitions of terrorism, numerous selected criminal statutes, overview of the intelligence community, overview of federal law enforcement agencies, use and protection of national security information, Fourth Amendment framework, the Attorney General's Guidelines, U.S. agents acting abroad, electronic surveillance, interviews and interrogation, use of the grand jury, material witness, the Classified Information Procedures Act, physical security, witness protection, relevant United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines, litigation strategies and case studies.

The predecessor to this course was taught for five years at the College of Law with a specific focus on the use of civilian Article III courts to prosecute terrorists. Given the current policy debate in our nation and around the world, the revised course now offered for the third time is expanded to examine military commissions, courts martial, international tribunals, and a possible special national security court. The course maintains its practical approach following the progression of a prosecution. That is, it first looks at the legal bases for these multiple possible courts. It examines the substantive laws available for charging terrorists in these various judicial systems. It then reviews the investigative techniques available to law enforcement, to the military, to international tribunals, etc. For example, how do the Article III Courts handle classified information (the Classified Information Procedures Act)? How do military commission (portions of the Military Commissions Act of 2009)? How do international tribunals? Having examined the substantive and procedural law of the various fora and principled reasons to choose between them, the course leaves to the individual student to reach her or his own conclusion about which court is best under varying circumstances for trying terrorists. This is primarily a lecture course and not a seminar. There will be no set textbook for this course.

Class Meeting Times:

Class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. in the College of Law..

Potential guest speakers for 2012 are not yet committed.  In the past, the class met with an attorney who tried a material support case.  In addition, we were very fortunate to have an extended question and answer session with the Honorable Leonie Brinkema, United States District Judge, who presided over United States v. Moussaoui.




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The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) -- a joint venture of Syracuse University's College of Law and of its Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs -- provides cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, graduate-level education, and public service on law and policy challenges related to national and international security.