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John Rizzo Speaks at National Security Law Symposium

On Friday, April 4, 2014, over 120 people attended Pepperdine Law Review's annual symposium in Malibu, California, with dozens more viewing the sessions via live Internet streaming. The event, entitled "The Future of National Security Law," featured over a dozen panelists with backgrounds in military law, diplomacy, and intelligence. The featured speaker was former General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Rizzo.

John RizzoThe symposium's four sessions were "Separation of Powers and the Future of National Security Law," "International Law and the Future of American National Security Law," "A Conversation About Whether the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Should Be Renewed," and "The Future of American National Security Surveillance." Commentators discussed whether the United States' separation-of-powers system is under stress after more than a decade of conflict against al-Qaeda and associated forces, concluding that there was significant new government convergence, but that that still didn't address all issues. Similarly, on the international front, America's transnational conflict against non-state actors was observed to have placed significant strain on international human rights law and the law of armed conflict. The afternoon closed with a sweeping look at surveillance, big data, and the evolution of related laws, such as the controversy and challenges that flowed from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaking of stolen classified documents.

John Rizzo's remarks came during the luncheon. Mr. Rizzo had a thirty-four-year career as a lawyer at CIA, culminating with seven years as the Agency's chief legal officer. In the post-9/11 era, he helped create and implement the full spectrum of aggressive counterterrorist operations against Al Qaeda, including the so-called "enhanced interrogation program" and lethal strikes against the Al Qaeda leadership. He is the author of Company Man, a look at his years with the Agency. He commented on a range of topics, from the CIA interrogation program – "To the extent that [the CIA] got hits, we deserved them" – to Edward Snowden, regarding whom Mr. Rizzo says that he sees no evidence that Snowden is a "traitor."

The event was streamed live at Pepperdine Law's Livestream site. Videos of several presentations are currently still available for viewing on the site. Other questions about the event may be directed to the Law Alumni, Advancement, and Public Affairs Office: or (310) 506-4840.