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Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responds to law professor’s analysis of war on terror

September 21, 2010

In the latest issue of Texas Tech Law Review, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responds to general criticism of his handling of the war on terror and takes specific aim at only one scholar—law professor Tung Yin and a paper Yin wrote in 2008, titled “Enemies of the State: Rational Classification in the War on Terrorism.”

Despite Gonzales’ criticism of Yin’s legal argument, Yin was amused that the former attorney general acknowledged his work.

“I definitely got a kick out of seeing former Attorney General Gonzales cite my article, even if he was criticizing it,” Yin said. “At least he—or at least his research assistants—read it! I did joke that his standing among law faculty was such that my colleagues would probably see it as a badge of honor that I was criticized by him.”

Yin’s scholarly work focuses primarily on domestic legal issues arising out of the United States’ military and prosecutorial responses to the 9/11 attacks. He has examined such matters as the jurisdiction of the federal courts to entertain habeas petitions by Guantanamo Bay detainees, the theory of unilateral executive branch war powers, and the potential constitutional rights available to alien detainees outside of the country.

Listen to Yin discuss his legal research interest in the U.S. government’s war on terror.

There is no shortage of passionate discourse on both sides of the political spectrum about the Bush Administration’s handling of suspected terrorists, but Yin said his critique has always been one of objective legal analysis.

“My criticism went to the general absence of any consistent framework for understanding when the Bush Administration would treat a person as a criminal defendant and when as a military detainee,” Yin said. “In the case of the alleged shoe-bomber Richard Read, Gonzales’ explanation in his article was essentially that we had to treat Reid as a criminal defendant because he’s a British citizen, and we needed to placate the British. That’s fine as a matter of diplomacy, but it does not state a useable legal policy.”

Learn more about the scholarly showdown on Yin’s blog, where he writes about current issues in the law.

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