McGeorge School of Law

Sims and Yoo debate electronic surveillance

October 10, 2007

John Yoo and John Sims

Boalt Hall Professor John Yoo and McGeorge Professor John Sims

Boalt Hall professor John Yoo and McGeorge professor John Sims debated the hotly-contested Bush administration's electronic surveillance policy before a nearly packed house of faculty, students and the public on October 1 in the McGeorge lecture hall. Sponsored by the Federalist Society of Sacramento and the McGeorge Federalist Society, the debate, "FISA and Electronic Surveillance — Does National Security Burden Freedom?," was moderated by Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former general counsel to the National Security Agency and the CIA.

FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of intelligence information between or among foreign powers. The Bush Administration ordered the National Security Agency to expand the program in 2002. Critics assert that the warrantless spying program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and illegal under FISA.

Professor Yoo is one of the few defenders of the administration's actions in legal academia. Best known for his 2001-2003 work with the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, he co-authored the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act and wrote a controversial memo denying enemy combatants protection under the Geneva Conventions and advocating some forms of torture to extract information from captured terrorists.

Professor Sims has been an ardent critic of Bush administration policies. A frequent speaker on international human rights issues, he is the founding co-editor of the McGeorge Journal of National Security Law & Policy.