The second annual symposium on Legal and Cultural Issues in Counter Terror Operations was held on April 8 at Harvard Law School.  Organized by John Fitzpatrick ’87, a Senior Clinical Instructor at the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, and a Major in the US Army Reserve, the symposium brought together over 30 military personnel and legal experts whose work focuses on the areas of Islamic and human rights law as well as on cultural and international security issues.

Members of the Army's Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps are pictured with Professor Doug Johnson of the Kennedy School, who spoke to the group on the strategic implications of torture.

Members of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps are pictured with Professor Doug Johnson of the Kennedy School, who spoke to the group on the strategic implications of torture.

This event featured presentations from scholars at HLS, the Kennedy School, the University of Massachusetts, and the US Naval War College. Salma Waheedi, a Clinical Advocacy Fellow at the International Human Rights Clinic and a Visiting Fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program, addressed developments in Islamic law; and Professor Doug Johnson, Faculty Director of the Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, spoke about the strategic implications of torture. In addition, a screening of Eye in the Sky was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Major Fitzpatrick with Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ford, a Professor at the Naval War College specializing in the law of war for targeting; and Professor John Kaag of the University of Massachusetts, co-author of the recent book “Drone Warfare,” a comprehensive examination of legal, ethical and philosophical problems with the military use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“It was a privilege to host these distinguished speakers, each of whom agreed to appear at HLS on short notice,” said Fitzpatrick. “This is a continuing effort to break down barriers between the civilian academic bubble and military academic bubble regarding legal  issues of modern warfare. There has been an unfortunate tendency for civilian and military academics to retreat to their own echo chambers, instead of dialoguing constructively with each other. Events like this are small in scale, but hopefully can have a cumulatively larger, positive impact in bridging the knowledge gaps between the civilian and military academic worlds.”