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Making the ‘Case’ for counterterrorism

Greg McNeal '99 at a memorial for 9/11 victims at Case School of Law.

As detainees sit in Guantanamo Bay, they are unaware that there are people in the United States analyzing their legal rights. One of those people is Greg McNeal ‘99, who recently became the first student from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law to be honored with a position on the prestigious Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

“The detainees are entitled to humane treatment—they should not be tortured, they should be provided with food and housing; but they are not entitled to privileges that lawful prisoners of war enjoy,” says McNeal, who is one of only 12 law students in the country working directly on the legal issues involving the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also recently founded lawandterrorism.com, a Web page dedicated to tracking news stories and other analyses related to terrorism and homeland security.

The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy publishes three issues annually. Two issues are edited by students at the Harvard Law School, and the editorial board for the third issue—the symposium edition—is comprised of students from the nation’s top law schools.

McNeal was chosen as one of those students and will work directly with the Journal’s managing editor on the symposium edition, focusing on the tension between liberty and security in the post 9/11 world. Specifically, he will ensure that the work of the nearly 20 other editors of the Journal is completed accurately and on time.

The rights of detainees

McNeal’s research focusing on counterterrorism helped land him the position working on the terrorism-related issue of the Journal.

“My research generally focuses on whether the 1949 Geneva Conventions apply to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay and if so, do they apply in their entirety,” he says. “Historically, stateless actors not fighting under the control of an organized military have enjoyed very little legal protection. … The laws of war and the Geneva Conventions are in some respects an incentive-based system in which meeting the criteria of lawful combatant or behaving as a non-combatant civilian affords that civilian certain protections.”

Al Qaeda terrorists, McNeal says, deliberately violate these rules by targeting civilians, making every effort possible to blend in with civilians and increasing the possibility of innocents being killed.

“But with that said, I do have some misgivings about the current process used to make determinations that an individual is properly detained,” he says.

A firm foundation at Lehigh

McNeal says his education at Lehigh helped prepare him for every challenge he’s faced since graduation.

“My undergraduate background in International Relations laid the foundation for my graduate education at American University and the counterterrorism research I’ve done, and it has helped me evaluate problems not only in a legal context but also in the broader policy context,” says McNeal, who will graduate from Case with his J.D. in 2006.

It’s no accident that he landed at Case, located in Cleveland, for his law degree. “The Case School of Law is the only law school in the country working under an agreement with the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct research on behalf of the Prosecutor in the DoD Office of Military Commissions,” McNeal says.

And although it’s been a few years since he’s physically hung his hat at Lehigh, McNeal has continued to make his mark on the university. He completed his tenure as the inaugural president of the Young Alumni Council in June and will move on to a position on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. “I also volunteer with my fraternity, and I would encourage other Greek alumni to do the same,” he adds.

--Elizabeth Shimer

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin Online
June 2005

Posted on Wednesday, June 08, 2005

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