|‘War on Terror’ topic of Roberts lecture|
|Written by Katie Klein, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Wednesday, 14 September 2011 21:46|
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the annual Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture brought George Taseff to deliver his “War on Terror: Civil Liberties and National Security after 9/11” lecture.
Students and members of the community filled the Circus Room of the Bone Student Center last night to learn more about Taseff’s unique take on U.S. security and his involvement as a senior litigator for the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Central District of Illinois.
Taseff took the audience through a brief history of America’s security discussing the Civil War, World War I and II and President George W. Bush’s War on Terror.
“History does have a way of repeating itself … This has been proven for 120 years,” Taseff said.
Multiple court cases citing our country’s involvement with internment camps, torture and writs of habeas corpus were discussed, shedding light on what the U.S. does with or within the confines of the law.
“I believe this is an important issue to discuss because this issue will come back to haunt us for years to come,” Taseff said.
Taseff set the stage for his personal involvement in the war on terror as public defender for Ali-Selah Kahlah al-Marri, who was arrested on charges of being a sleeper Al Qaeda agent while studying at Bradley University.
“I stood next to [al-Marri] in the court room and he turned, looked me directly in the eyes, and asked, ‘You’re my lawyer?’ and I told him I will stand and fight for you,” Taseff said.
“[Al-Marri] said, ‘Let me see some form of identification.’ That was the only time in my career someone asked to see a form of I.D.” Al-Marri later dismissed Taseff as his defense, saying he would rather not have anyone defend him in a court of law. The suspect was incarcerated for seven years, during which President Bush left and Barack Obama entered office to review the al-Marri case. Bringing it back to where it all began, al-Marri stood in Peoria’s federal court and pled guilty. The guilty plea earned the al Qaeda agent a 15-year sentence, which was lowered to an eight year sentence due to the previous seven years al-Marri spent in federal prison.
“By all appearances, the enemy was in our midst,” Taseff said. “He admitted to attending Al Qaeda training camps, receiving $10,000 from the 9/11 financier and continuing to follow Al Qaeda when he and his family moved to the states.”
On Wednesday night, the evening before his lecture, Taseff watched a PBS Frontline special on the very subject he was writing on.
“If my speech tonight causes any of you to do anything in response to my discussion tonight, please watch the documentary Frontline: The Interrogator on pbs.org,” Taseff said.
Taseff’s practice in Peoria is dedicated to the defense of federal criminal cases, both trials and appeals. From 1982 to 2000, Taseff was an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at ISU, his alma mater.
“It is indeed a great honor to speak in honor of Dr. Roberts and the lessons he taught me and a generation of students. I urge all the students, in honor of his memory, to continue their quest to ensure our liberties, birthrights and principals still exist,” Taseff said.