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Philip B. Heymann

Philip B. Heymann is James Barr Ames Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a former Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He is author of Terrorism, Freedom, and Security (2003) and Preserving Liberty in an Age of Terror (2005), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Lessons from the War on Terrorism

In an age of global terrorism, can the pursuit of security be reconciled with liberal democratic values and legal principles? During its “global war on terrorism,” the Bush administration argued that the United States was in a new kind of conflict, one in which peacetime domestic law was irrelevant and international law inapplicable. From 2001 to 2009, the United States thus waged war on terrorism in a “no-law zone.”

In Laws, Outlaws, and Terrorists, Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann reject the argument that traditional American values embodied in domestic and international law can be ignored in any sustainable effort to keep the United States safe from terrorism. They demonstrate that the costs are great and the benefits slight from separating security and the rule of law. They call for reasoned judgment instead of a wholesale abandonment of American values. They also argue that being open to negotiations and seeking to win the moral support of the communities from which the terrorists emerge are noncoercive strategies that must be included in any future efforts to reduce terrorism.

Since September 11, 2001, much has been said about the difficult balancing act between freedom and security, but few have made specific proposals for how to strike that balance. As the scandals over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the "torture memos" written by legal officials in the Bush administration show, without clear rules in place, things can very easily go very wrong.

With this challenge in mind, Philip Heymann and Juliette Kayyem, directors of Harvard's Long-Term Legal Strategy Project for Preserving Security and Democratic Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, take a detailed look at how to handle these competing concerns. Taking into account both the national security viewpoint and the democratic freedoms viewpoint, Heymann and Kayyem consulted experts from across the political spectrum—including Rand Beers, Robert McNamara, and Michael Chertoff (since named Secretary of Homeland Security)—about the thorniest and most profound legal challenges of this new era. Heymann and Kayyem offer specific recommendations for dealing with such questions as whether assassination is ever acceptable, when coercion can be used in interrogation, and when detention is allowable. They emphasize that drawing clear rules to guide government conduct protects the innocent from unreasonable government intrusion and prevents government agents from being made scapegoats later if things go wrong. Their recommendations will be of great interest to legal scholars, legislators, policy professionals, and concerned citizens.

Winning Without War

On September 11, 2001, the United States began to consider the terrorist threat in a new light. Terrorism was no longer something that happened in other countries on other continents but became a pressing domestic concern for the US government and American citizens. The nation suddenly faced a protracted struggle.

In Terrorism, Freedom, and Security, Philip Heymann continues the discussion of responses to terrorism that he began in his widely read Terrorism and America. He argues that diplomacy, intelligence, and international law should play a larger role than military action in our counterterrorism policy; instead of waging "war" against terrorism, the United States needs a broader range of policies. Heymann believes that many of the policies adopted since September 11—including trials before military tribunals, secret detentions, and the subcontracting of interrogation to countries where torture is routine—are at odds with American political and legal traditions and create disturbing precedents. Americans should not be expected to accept apparently indefinite infringements on civil liberties and the abandonment of such constitutional principles as separation of powers and the rule of law. Heymann believes that the United States can guard against the continuing threat of terrorism while keeping its traditional democratic values in place.

A Commonsense Strategy for a Democratic Society

The bombings of the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the Oklahoma City federal building have shown that terrorist attacks can happen anywhere in the United States. In this book, Philip Heymann argues that the United States and other democracies can fight terrorism while preserving liberty and maintaining a healthy, unified society. Drawing on his experience in the US Departments of State and Justice, he shows how domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering can thwart terrorism, how the United States must cooperate and share information with its allies, and how terrorism can be prevented in many cases. Heymann has written a new introduction for the paperback edition.