News

Special Event

Justice After Bush:

Should Former Administration Officials be Prosecuted?

March 10, 2009, 4:30 PM, Computer Science 104

To watch this panel, click here
For a copy of Professor Déak's handout, click here

After September 11, the Bush Administration engaged in legally questionable actions, from the detention and apparent torture of terrorist suspects to the warrantless wiretapping of domestic phones.  The underlying policies – and the allegations that they were illegal – have presented the new administration with complex questions of law and challenges of policy.  A growing number of influential commentators and congressional leaders are now calling for investigations and possibly criminal prosecutions of Bush Administration officials who played a role in these activities.   In this panel, a politically diverse group of speakers will consider what should happen to these allegations of illegality, as the country seeks “justice after Bush. 

About the panelists

István Déak is the Seth Low Professor Emeritus at Columbia University.  He was born in 1926 in Hungary and began his university studies there. Following his departure from Hungary in 1948, he studied history at the Sorbonne in Paris and completed his doctorate at Columbia University in Modern European History. Since 1964, he has been teaching at Columbia University.  His publications include, Weimar Germany's Left-wing Intellectuals: A Political History of the "Weltbuhne" and Its Circle (University of California Press, 1968); The Lawful Revolution: Louis Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848-1849 (Columbia University Press, 1979), for which he received the Lionel Trilling Book Award of Columbia College, and Beyond Nationalism: A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps, 1848-1918 (Oxford University Press,  1990), which received, among other things, the Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize of the American Association for the  Advancement of Slavic Studies. His most recent publication is Essays on Hitler's Europe (University of Nebraska Press, 2001) and, together with Jan T. Gross and Tony Judt, The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (Princeton University Press, 2000).  His work on post-World-War-II war crimes trials gives him an interesting perspective from which to view the current situation in the United States.   

Charles Fried '56 is the Beneficial Professor of Law, at Harvard Law School, where he has taught since 1961. He was Solicitor General of the United States, 1985-89, and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1995-99. His scholarly and teaching interests have been moved by the connection between normative theory and the concrete institutions of public and private law. During his career at Harvard he has taught Criminal Law, Commercial Law, Roman Law, Torts, Contracts, Labor Law, Constitutional Law and Federal Courts, Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy. The author of many books and articles, his Anatomy of Values (1970), Right and Wrong (1978), and Modern Liberty (2006) develop themes in moral and political philosophy with applications to law. Contract as Promise (1980), Making Tort Law (2003, with David Rosenberg) and Saying What the Law Is: The Constitution in the Supreme Court (2004) are fundamental inquiries into broad legal institutions. Order & Law: Arguing the Reagan Revolution (1991) discusses major themes developed in Fried\'s time as Solicitor General. In recent years Fried has taught Constitutional Law and Contracts. During his time as a teacher he has also argued a number of major cases in state and federal courts, most notably Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, in which the Supreme Court established the standards for the use of expert and scientific evidence in federal courts.  He published an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on January 10, 2009 called "History's Verdict" arguing against prosecution of Bush Administration officials, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/opinion/11fried.html.

Scott Horton is a Contributing Editor of Harper\'s Magazine and writes the No Comment column for Harpers.com.  A New York attorney known for his work in emerging markets and international law, especially human rights law and the law of armed conflict, Horton lectures at Columbia Law School. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union. He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, and has been involved in some of the most significant foreign investment projects in the Central Eurasian region. Scott recently led a number of studies of abuse issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association.  He wrote Harper\'s Magazine\'s December cover story "Justice After Bush," available at http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/12/0082303.

Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which has been the lead organization coordinating the litigation on behalf of the Guantánamo detainees.   Under Michael Ratner\'s leadership, the CCR repeatedly challenged the Bush administration on the constitutionality of indefinite detention and restrictions on domestic civil liberties. CCR, along with other human rights groups, filed a war crimes lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and other U.S. officials in Germany under the country\'s universal jurisdiction law.  Michael Ratner is the author of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know.  He is one of the hosts of the WBAI (NYC) radio show, Law and Disorder and runs a blog called "Just Left" at http://michaelratner.com/blog/ .   In 2007, he received the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship and in 2006 received the Hans Litten Prize from the Democratic Lawyers of Germany, along with the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights.

Deborah Pearlstein joined the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 2007 as an Associate Research Scholar in the Law and Public Affairs Program. A graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as articles editor of the Harvard Law Review, Ms. Pearlstein clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, then for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ms. Pearlstein\'s scholarly interests include U.S. national security law, constitutional law, the executive branch and the role of the courts, and her work has appeared in journals including the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Policy, and Columbia Human Rights Law Review. She has taught courses in national security law, international human rights and U.S. constitutional law at Stanford Law School and at Princeton University. She has also served as a teaching fellow for undergraduates at Harvard College and for Masters Degree candidates at Harvard Law School.  For more on Deborah Pearlstein, see her LAPA page.