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PBD Debate: Civil Liberties, National Security Policy, and Targeted Killing in the War on Terror: Change vs. Continuity

On April 6, , the Phi Beta Delta International Forum, with support from the ONU Student Senate, presenteda debate between ONU Associate Professor of Law Michael W. Lewis and Ben Wizner, the Litigation Director of the ACLU's National Security Project. The subject of the debate was: "Civil Liberties, National Security Policy, and Targeted Killing in the War on Terror: Change versus Continuity from Bush to Obama."

Prof. Lewis served in the US Navy from 1987-95.He flew F-14's in Operation Desert Shield, conducted strike planning for Desert Storm and was deployed to the Persian Gulf to enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq.He teaches International Law and a Law of War Seminar and has just published a volume with the Oxford University Press entitled The War on Terror and the Laws of War: A Military Perspective.

As the Litigation Director of the ACLU's National Security Project,Ben Wizner has litigated numerous cases involving post-9/11 civil liberties violations, including lawsuits on behalf of torture victims, lawsuits challenging unlawful airport security policies, and a suit challenging the government's authority to use lethal force against U.S. citizens without due process. He has written widely on issues relating to detention, military commissions, and accountability for torture.

The debate was a model of civility, which demonstrated to the audience of students and faculty that contentious issues can be amicably contended. Both debaters did agree that there had been little change in the national security policies of the Bush and Obama administrations, though they disagreed on the cause for that similarity. Lewis argued that President Obama, once exposed to the realities of his new office, came to see the Bush policies as appropriate. Wizner, on the other hand, saw the Obama Administration as being trapped by the policies of his predecessors, and unable to make rapid change.