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Paul MahoneyE-mail  E-mail    print  Print

Public Service and National Security

Paul Mahoney

So many Virginia lawyers answer the call to public service, from serving in the United States Senate to volunteering in a local school or hospital and everything in between. The lawyer’s skill set of analysis, judgment, and communication ensures that lawyers are in high demand in their communities. Because Virginia lawyers combine this skill set with civility, integrity, and leadership, they add even more value in their public service activities. Seldom, however, has one law school had as much impact on a critical mission of the federal government as Virginia Law graduates and faculty are now having on national security. This issue of UVA Lawyer profiles some of those outstanding public servants and the difficult jobs they perform with such dedication.

The Department of Homeland Security is an extraordinary organization and it takes an extraordinary person to run it. The department’s size and scope and the time-sensitive nature of its activities require a leader who combines vision with attention to detail across a wide range of substantive areas. America is fortunate that Secretary Janet Napolitano ’83 is just such a leader. Secretary Napolitano was recently in Charlottesville to accept the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, the University’s highest honor. She was kind enough to speak to us for an article highlighting the Department’s work and its extensive Virginia connections.

Secretary Napolitano has attracted some of the finest talent the Law School has produced to DHS. In the General Counsel’s office is Professor David Martin, who took a leave from his faculty position to help out his former student. Among the attorneys Martin supervises is Associate General Counsel for Immigration, Nader Baroukh ’99. Alice Hill ’83, Napolitano’s section mate and moot court partner, is senior counselor to the Secretary. John Morton ’94 heads U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the 16 primary components of DHS. John’s principal legal advisor is Peter Vincent ’95.

Virginia’s contribution to keeping the nation safe does not end, of course, with DHS. Robert Mueller ’73 is the Director of the FBI. Tom Donilon ’85 is the Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. Dan Sutherland ’85 heads the Global Engagement Group of the National Counterterrorism Center after serving as the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of DHS. Dan discusses his work with the NCTC and the role of civil liberties in the prevention of terrorism in these pages.

It is no coincidence that the Law School has contributed so much to the national security effort. Under the wise and knowledgeable direction of Professor John Norton Moore, we have been a leader in national security law for decades. As Professor Moore notes inside, upon its creation in 2003, the DHS paid the Law School’s National Security Center the ultimate compliment by sending some of its personnel to our summer National Security Workshop.

The years since September 11, 2001 have brought unprecedented public scrutiny to the federal government’s efforts to gather intelligence, monitor our transportation system, police our borders, and respond to large-scale disasters. This has rightly included passionate debate about the protection of civil liberties in a time of external threats. Virginia has left its mark here as well. Our former colleague Jack Goldsmith was a central participant in the debate over interrogation methods, first within the Department of Defense and later within the White House. Greg Nojeim ’85, interviewed herein, is one of our many graduates working as an advocate for more robust civil liberties protections in the process of gathering national intelligence. Finally, we profile a team of our graduates who have developed a unique approach to fighting notario fraud, a little-known but widespread problem in our immigration system.

The Law School community has ample reason to be proud as we read the daily news coverage of the federal government’s efforts to keep the nation safe. I hope you enjoy this wide-ranging discussion of the Law School’s substantial impact on the theory and practice of national security law and policy.