Counterterrorism Meeting Planned For Oklahoma City

Monday, April 16th 2007, 5:26 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The delicate balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining the personal freedoms to which Americans are accustomed will be among the issues discussed Friday at a counterterrorism symposium scheduled in Oklahoma City.

U.S. Attorney John Richter, the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Oklahoma, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium titled "Congress' New -- and Future -- Law of Counterterrorism: Legislating Military Commissions, the Powers of Surveillance and the Role of the Courts in America's War on Terrorism." The event will be held at the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.

"This is important because it deals with some of the most important legal questions of the day," said Marc J. Blitz, assistant professor of law at Oklahoma City University, which is presenting the symposium. "How do you fight terrorism and fight it effectively within the context of our constitutional structure and preserve values that are central to American democracy and the American way of life?"

The legal community and the criminal justice system also play an integral role in fighting terrorism, said Donald Hamilton, executive director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.

"It's really important to keep in mind that terrorists, in effect search for the seams between national security and legal response," said Hamilton, who previously served in the Department of State's Counterterrorism Office and as a senior adviser to the National Commission on Terrorism. "They can make it extremely difficult for a society such as ours to respond."

Another issue that will be discussed is "irregular rendition," which Hamilton said is when a suspect is removed from one national jurisdiction to another without the use of formal extradition.

"A symposium like this can lead to changes in the laws and a better appreciation by the legal community and the citizenry as a whole as to how we can protect and preserve our heritage of civil liberties," Hamilton said.

Among the scheduled speakers are Gregory McNeal, assistant director at the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy; Robert Strayer, an attorney with the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; and Robert Turner, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and the co-founder of the Center for National Security Law.