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Executive Branch Lawyers In A Time Of Terror: The 2008 F.W. Wickwire Memorial Lecture, W. Bradley Wendel Oct 2008

Executive Branch Lawyers In A Time Of Terror: The 2008 F.W. Wickwire Memorial Lecture, W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article discusses the ethical responsibilities of the lawyers who advise executive branch officials on the lawfulness of actions taken in the name of national security. To even talk about this subject assumes that there is some distinction between a government that does all within its power to protect its citizens, and one that does all within its lawful power. If there are good normative reasons to care about maintaining this distinction, then we have the key to understanding the ethical responsibilities of government lawyers. The Bush administration took the position that the role of lawyers is to get out …


The Bounds Of Necessity, Jens David Ohlin May 2008

The Bounds Of Necessity, Jens David Ohlin

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The current controversy surrounding the legality of torture can only be understood through an analysis of the distinction between justified necessity and excused necessity. Although there may be strong prudential reasons for international criminal courts to declare torture unlawful under any circumstance, this would not necessarily prevent a court from recognizing that an excuse may apply. However, the hallmark of the necessity excuse should not be understood, as it is in German law, as an exception that only applies when a defendant breaks the law to save someone close to him. Rather, the basic principle of the excuse ought to …