Penn State
Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA
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National Security Law I (Foundations)

Course Abbreviation: 
Credit Only: N Anon Gr: Y

This the first of a two-course sequence.  Students may take this course and later choose to not continue with National Security Law II (Crisis Simulation); however, all students wishing to take the National Security Law II (Crisis Simulation) must take National Security Law I (Foundations) as a prerequisite.  National Security Law I (Foundations) examines the laws, processes, and institutions relevant to protecting the nation’s security.  The course first examines the critical relationships between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in forming, overseeing, and executing national security policy and operations.  The course then examines the federal government’s authority to use force abroad, including covert and special operations; the government’s authority to collect intelligence and conduct surveillance, both within the U.S. and abroad; the interrogation and prosecution of terrorist subjects; and critical issues relevant to protecting the homeland.  The course also examines the practical challenges national security lawyers confront in practice.  Persistent themes include the balance between security and liberty, the allocation of authority within and between governments, and the perceived tension between national security and international obligations.  This course is appropriate for any student interested in better understanding some of the most important and even existential issues facing the nation today.  The course is also essential for students with specific career interests in national security or public international law.  NOTE: Because of overlap in course content, students that enrolled in National Security and Counterterrorism Law (PERSP 997) Fall 2016 may not enroll in this course.

James W. Houck,