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Who Decides About War Conference
10.02.2009 - 10.03.2009 
Georgetown School of Law - Washington
Community Events


OCTOBER 3, 2009


8:30 am – Registration, coffee and tea, bagels and pastries.


9:00 – 9:45 am – Welcome and keynote remarks: Dr. Morton Halperin, Senior Advisor to the Open Society Institute, veteran of Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton administrations, expert on national security and civil liberties.


10:00 – 11:30 – Panel I - War Powers Principles: Constitution, Laws, and the Will of the People. Panelists: Rep. Michael Fisher, Sen. Rich Madaleno, Sen. Jamin Raskin, Leah Bolger, Benson Scotch, Ben Manski, Jean Athey (moderator)

  • The Constitution: The roles of Congress, the President, the courts, and the States under the Constitution, from the perspectives of the Revolution, the Founders, and on.
  • The Laws: The creation of a standing army; federalization of the state militias; creation of the modern Defense Department and the rise of the “military-industrial complex,” including increased use of private military companies; mutual defense treaties and non-treaty military obligations.
  • The Will of the People: Popular understandings and beliefs about U.S. defense policy, the role of the Guard, the responsibilities of the states, and the allocation of war powers.

11:45 – 12:30 – Keynote remarks: Jeremy Scahill, author, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army


12:30 pm – Lunch (on your own at area restaurants(subject to change))


2:00 – 3:30 – Panel II  – War Powers in Practice. Panelists:  Don Wallace, John Bonifaz, Marjorie Cohn, David Swanson, Caleb Rossiter, Bonnie Gorman (moderator)

  •  How have Presidents, Congress, and the Courts interpreted and applied the Constitution’s war powers clauses?
  • How has the principle of checks and balances enumerated in the Constitution’s war powers clauses been applied or been defeated?
  • What are the ways in which Congress has sought to exercise its war powers to control, limit, or promote the use of military force? How have laws like the War Powers Act been applied (or not), and with what results? 

4:00 – 5:30 – Discussions & Proposals


Facilitated strategy discussions on the War Powers Act, National Guard, Force Structure, and other key issues, leading to proposals for potential adoption by the Conference.  These discussions will address major areas of concern encompassing all of the questions raised earlier in the day:


  • War Powers and Congress: Legislation, existing and future; authorizations for the use of force; appropriations for the use of force in ongoing actions.
  • The Guard: Revisiting the role of the states and the use of the National Guards.
  • Composition, structure, and role of military forces in the United States: Reviving the discussion. 
  • Citizen participation in peace and war policies and decisions.
  • Rethinking Empire, force projection, and the more than 1000 U.S. military bases located outside of the United States.


Any statement of principals or recommendations adopted by the Conference will be forwarded to interested parties in civil society, the media, and government, for endorsement, discussion, and/or consideration.


5:00 – 6:30 - Final announcements, thanks, evaluation sheets.


6:00 – New Location: Post-conference reception at Busboys & Poets (5th and K location)

This conference is organized by the Bring the Guard Home! campaign and the Liberty Tree Foundation, hosted by the National Lawyers Guild at
Georgetown Law School, co-organized by Veterans for Peace and Institute for Policy Studies and co-sponsored by Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America and After Downing Street.

Click here for further info.


Georgetown School of Law
600 New Jersey Ave., NW
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