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Entity Update: ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security


Vol. 41 No. 3
Sarah B. Markensen


Sarah B. Markenson, a 3L at Saint Louis University School of Law, is the 2012–13 Law Student Division liaison to the Standing Committee on Law & National Security.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al-Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.—President Barack Obama after the death of Osama bin Laden

With ever-increasing globalization and technological advances, the world has become small and compact. Conducting business with various countries around the world along with sharing knowledge on continuously evolving topics like health care, economics, technology, sustainability, etc., has demonstrated the benefits of globalization. At the same time, all of these advances also pose potential for security threats and public apprehension. The ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security focuses on legal aspects of national security issues, and works to spotlight the issues raised by legal responses to terrorist events to preserve national security and the value of our democratic society. National security law was developed as a field of law in 1974 when only one law school offered a national security law course. Today, almost all of the nation’s ABA-approved law schools have one or more offerings in this field.

The Standing Committee provides research and advice to lawyers and others in the national security field on topics such as  the congressional role in intelligence oversight, the legal system’s ability to cope with transnational terrorism, the promotion of the rule of law in the intelligence and law enforcement communities, and operational international law in the conduct of the military.

On the entity’s website, a D.C. Courts Habeas Database, Post-Boumediene, is available. This searchable database contains every Guantanamo and Bagram detainee habeas petition brought before the D.C. courts since Boumediene v. Bush was decided by the Supreme Court on June 12, 2008.

The committee produces many publications, including the National Security Law Report. The most recent books include Patriots Debate: Contemporary Issues in National Security Law; the U.S. Intelligence Community Law Sourcebook (now in its third edition); and National Security Law in the News: A Guide for Journalists, Scholars, and Policymakers and National Security Law: Fifty Years of Transformation from the Past to the Future, An Anthology. All books may be ordered through the Committee’s website:

The Standing Committee holds an annual conference to discuss significant national security issues. The 22nd Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law Conference will be held on November 29–30, at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. If you are interested in learning more about the field, or a career in national security law, or in meeting the top national security lawyers in the country, you should plan to attend the conference. Law students are encouraged to attend and registration costs are reduced.

Each year the Standing Committee sponsors a writing competition with a cash prize, open only to law students. Deadlines and information can be found on the committee’s website.

The Standing Committee is a terrific resource for law students and young lawyers; I would encourage you to look into it.

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.

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