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Question: What are the biggest legal issues of our time? 

Alan Dershowitz: Can we hold people? And for how long can we hold them? And under what circumstances can we hold them because we strongly suspect that they are planning to do something terrible?

If we can hold them, what can we do to them? Can we punish them? Can we coerce them? Can we make them provide information – real-time information – to help us prevent these terrible acts?

If so, by what means? What other means can we use to intrude and interfere with plans to do terrible things? Can we have psychological testing of people who are sexual predators?

Can we create profiles, whether they be based on ethnicity, race and religion, or a combination of factors, which include but aren’t limited to these kind of crude predictors? How good are we at predicting? How do we test the accuracy of our predictions?

These cases are coming up every day. As we sit and do this interview, just yesterday the United State Court of Appeals ruled that residences of the United States could not be held indefinitely based on suspension and prediction that he might be an al-Qaida operative. The courts are going to have to come to grips with these issues. And they don’t have a clue as to how to begin, because there is no on-the-ground jurisprudence that can deal with this developing phenomenon.


Recorded On: June 12, 2007

More from the Big Idea for Sunday, June 19 2011


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