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If you were searching for a model legal career, Michael Greenberger’s might just be it. His current title is professor of law and director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. But he hasn’t spent his whole life teaching, and therein lies a tale not only of public service, private practice, and academia but also of legal smarts, hard work, professionalism, and chance. As a result, he has a crack at defining the parameters of a new body of law: counterterrorism. Greenberger started his legal career at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was editor in chief of the law review. After graduating in 1970, he clerked for the late Judge Carl McGowan of the D.C. Court of Appeals and later became legislative assistant to then-Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, D-N.Y. In August 1973, Greenberger took the prestigious position of special assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson. But at this point, chance intervened for the first time. Two months after Greenberger started work, Richardson and Greenberger lost their jobs in the so-called Saturday Night Massacre when President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox for being too vigorous in investigating Watergate and fired Richardson for refusing to fire Cox. Having learned a lesson about the hazards of political positions, Greenberger went into private practice. He spent the next 24 years with Shea & Gardner in the District, doing appellate litigation. He describes the work as “every lawyer’s dream.” He says he was a generalist, someone with an expertise in no one area of the law, but then adds with a wink that he is a quick study. Greenberger returned to government service in 1997 with the Commodities Future Trading Corp. To explain why an appellate lawyer had an expertise in commodities, a subject that conjures up wheat and pork belly futures, he says, “I had done a fair amount of derivatives work in my practice.” In 1999, he went to the Justice Department, where he was principal deputy associate attorney general, a title that translates into being the No. 3 or No. 4 person at the department, depending on who’s doing the counting. Once again, chance came along to change Greenberger’s career. The Bill Clinton administration was worried about terrorism and wanted to stage a government-wide counterterrorism war game known as TOPOFF I. Then-Attorney General Janet Reno tapped Greenberger to represent the Justice Department in planning the test of the government’s readiness. The game had simultaneous terrorist attacks with chemical, biological, and nuclear materials on Denver; Portsmouth, Maine; and Washington, D.C. Greenberger learned the ins and outs of responding to terrorism and later wrote a planning manual on federal officials’ legal rights after a terrorist attack. The manual dealt with matters such as quarantines and posse comitatus (the use of federal troops in law enforcement). Thus, Greenberger’s second stint in government left him with an expertise in counterterrorism. CAREER CHANGE On Jan. 20, 2001, there was a new president, from the other political party, and Greenberger was again looking for work. Since he had long thought about teaching, he decided this was the time. “There’s a little-known secret about landing a job teaching law,” he says. “It is normally a young person’s game, but sometimes, in midsummer, law schools find themselves a faculty member or two short.” And so, he became a visiting professor of law at the University of Maryland Law School to teach contracts and trademarks beginning in the fall of 2001. But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought to the fore Greenberger’s latent expertise in counterterrorism. He was asked to speak at a university teach-in on terrorism along with David Ramsay, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Afterward, Ramsay talked to Greenberger about creating a think tank on counterterrorism. The result was the university’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, which Greenberger now heads, and a full-time teaching position. The center has three distinct functions. First, it provides consulting services to the state of Maryland and local governments on counterterrorism. For example, Greenberger drafted amendments to the Maryland constitution to provide for the continuity of government in the event of disaster. The center has also helped stage terrorism preparedness exercises for Baltimore and the surrounding counties. Second, the center coordinates the university’s participation in homeland security grants. The medical school, for instance, is developing vaccines against biological weapons. Third, the center creates interdisciplinary programs in homeland security for the university. But the latest twist in Greenberger’s legal career, his courses on counterterrorism, are especially intriguing. With these, he is at the cutting edge of an entirely new body of law. Greenberger teaches one course for law students. A second interdisciplinary course is offered to both law and medical students. The interdisciplinary approach reflects the fact that the principal responses to terrorist attack must come from legal and medical institutions. Of course, some might think that just getting future lawyers and doctors to sit down together in the same classroom is a significant accomplishment. Still, it is a sad commentary on world affairs that courses such as these are necessary. The syllabi, www.umaryland.edu/healthsecurity/syllabi/, show how broadly terrorism affects us. The interdisciplinary course covers once unthinkable topics like “consequences management” (e.g., how to deal with thousands sickened by a chemical weapon), homeland security funding, posse comitatus, and Project Bioshield (developing and distributing vaccines against biological weapons). The law course includes: introduction to weapons of mass destruction; military tribunals; detentions; religious, ethnic, and racial profiling; crisis management; consequences management; the attorney-client privilege; and, media/First Amendment rights. Greenberger says law students take his course to prepare for careers in law enforcement, military law offices, and public administration. He also finds that law firms are creating homeland security departments to advise clients in health and transportation industries and on cyber-security measures. Greenberger himself is interested in the civil liberties issues. However, as yet, none of his students has come to him to express a burning interest in a legal career of representing terrorists. The University of Maryland is not alone in offering such courses. A number of universities have programs on these subjects. One example is the course U.S. Security and the Law, taught by professor Juliet Kayyem, a leading expert in counterterrorism at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. However, the course is somewhat different from Greenberger’s. Intended primarily for graduate students rather than lawyers, it is more bellicose and focuses on the national security policy aspects of counterterrorism. The Kennedy School syllabus includes: why does law matter; the role of the president, Congress, and the judiciary; the war powers resolution; imperfect war, terrorism, and anticipatory self-defense; intelligence operations, covert war authorization, and oversight; assassination/targetted killings; torture and coercive interrogations; delegating bad acts (such as letting foreign governments do them); organizing for terrorism; surveillance at home; profiling; preventive, extended detention; political and religious surveillance; military in America; bioterrorism; and protecting secrets. Kayyem jokes that last year, her students, who typically have military or national security backgrounds, “did not see law as being in the same world as bombs.” But after the photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were made public, she says, “people came to understand why law matters.” Nonetheless, Greenberger believes no one else yet teaches “the soup-to-nuts version” of the course that he does, covering law enforcement, intelligence, the military, money laundering, and the federal, state, and local health aspects. But, what he, Kayyem, and others share is the chance to create an academic construct for the war on terrorism and to provide their students with a perspective that is a step removed from the fear, panic, sound-bites, jingoism, bravado, and political maneuvering that too often characterize the public debate. For Michael Greenberger, the generalist and appellate lawyer, this latest twist of chance is a welcome challenge. Washington, D.C. lawyer James H. Johnston is a frequent contributor to Legal Times.

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