Torture, Privacy, and Presidential Power

TUE, SEP 7, 2010 (59:32)

Can torture ever be justified? Since 9/11 there has been an intense debate about the government’s application of torture, eavesdropping and data mining to thwart acts of terrorism. Father and son political philosophy team Charles and Gregory Fried talk about terrorism and torture with Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz and terrorism expert Jessica Stern. When is eavesdropping acceptable? Should a kidnapper be waterboarded to reveal where his victim has been hidden? To create this seminal statement on torture and surveillance, Charles Fried and Gregory Fried have measured current controversies against the philosophies of Aristotle, Locke, Kant, and Machiavelli, and against the historic decisions, large and small, of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Pope Sixtus V, among many others. In their book Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy, and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror they discusses the behavior and justifications of Bush government officials but also examines more broadly what should be done when high officials have broken moral and legal norms in an attempt to protect us.

+ BIO: Charles Fried

Educated at Princeton, Oxford and Columbia Law School, Charles Fried, the Beneficial Professor of Law, has been teaching at Harvard Law School 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. [Source:]

+ BIO: Gregory Fried

Gregory was first drawn into philosophy by a need to examine his own thinking about pressing matters of the day: issues such as war, social strife, and international justice. The more he explored his questions and his own presuppositions, the more he came to realize that he could understand both only by studying the history of philosophy as well as ethics and political philosophy. [Source:]

+ BIO: Alan Dershowitz

Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is Brooklyn native. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, joined the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 after clerking for Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg. He has also published more than 100 articles in magazines and journals such as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Nation, Commentary, Saturday Review, The Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal, and more than 300 of his articles have appeared in syndication in 50 national daily newspapers.

+ BIO: Jessica Stern

Jessica Stern is a Lecturer in Public Policy and a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. She is a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law and holds a doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard. From 1994–1995, she served as Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, where she was responsible for national security policy toward Russia and the former Soviet states and for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear smuggling and terrorism. From 1998–1999, she was the Superterrorism Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and from 1995–1996, she was a national Fellow at Hoover Institution at Stanford University. She is the author of the New York Times Notable Book Terror in the Name of God and The Ultimate Terrorists, as well as numerous articles on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. A 2009-2010 Guggenheim Fellow, she was selected by Time magazine in 2001 as one of the seven thinkers whose innovative ideas “will change the world.” In her latest work, Denial: A Memoir of Terror, Stern investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial. Naomi Wolf calls Denial “one of the most important books I have read in a decade… brave, life-changing, and as gripping as a thriller, this should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand terrorism and anyone who has survived trauma of any kind… A tour de force.”

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