Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

National Security, Presidential Power and Holding Government Accountable

Professor Sudha Setty of the Western New England University School of Law will speak at 7 p.m. on November 14 in the Large Activity Room of the Bangs Center.

Professor Setty believes that excessive government secrecy in the name of counterterrorism has had a corrosive effect on democracy and the rule of law. In the United States, when controversial national security programs were run by the Bush and Obama administrations - including in areas of targeted killings, torture, extraordinary rendition, and surveillance - excessive secrecy often prevented discovery of those actions. Both administrations insisted they acted legally, but often refused to explain how they interpreted the governing law to justify their actions. They also fought to keep Congress from exercising oversight, to keep courts from questioning the legality of these programs, and to keep the public in the dark. All indications thus far suggest an even more aggressive approach by the Trump administration with regard to resisting oversight and accountability.

In a talk stemming from her recently published book, National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law, Professor Setty will address these issues as part of the legal, political, and public response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.  She will also discuss how these responses are reflected in several current events, including the Trump administration's changes to its drone strike policy, the limits of freedom of information act requests, and potential shifts to U.S. policies regarding detention of U.S. citizens.

Sudha Setty, a member of the LWVA, teaches national security law and comparative constitutional law at Western New England University School of Law, where she has twice won teaching awards. She was a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, and has edited Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law (2014). Setty has also served as chair of the Comparative Law and National Security Law sections of the Association of American Law Schools. For more information see WNE's web site.

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