Security minded Law students learn firsthand from former Homeland Security official

By Debra Talcott

Legal News

Whether serving in various military capacities, or as Michigan's first Homeland Security Advisor, or in his newest role as Cooley Law School professor, Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel says "service" is the common thread that has been woven through what most consider to be a noble and illustrious career. Currently teaching in the Constitutional Law Department at Cooley's Auburn Hills and Ann Arbor campuses, McDaniel also looks forward to developing a new program of study in Homeland Security Law.

"There is a direct connection between Constitutional Law and Homeland Security Law," says

McDaniel, who points out that laws passed by Congress to respond to acts of terrorism since 2001 have raised constitutional questions.

"Consider how the Military Commission Act of 2006, which included the suspension of some detainees' legal right to challenge their detention was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court two years later. Another example is Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, which provided guidance to the executive branch on the scope of constitutionally-permissible detentions."

McDaniel says that as Homeland Security law evolves, constitutional questions will continue to arise before the courts, making this area of law particularly relevant.

"Cooley intends to build a Homeland Security Law program that is of equal interest and benefit to both the private practitioner and government agency lawyer," says McDaniel. "The courses in this program will likely include Homeland Security Law; Law of Terrorism, National Security and the Military; Constitutional Law; and Civil Rights Seminar. We will also offer courses that appeal to specific interests, such as Aviation Law, Intelligence Law and Privacy Issues, Immigration Law, and Practice before Government Agencies. Finally, there will be a focus on the new international domains, including Space and Cyberspace."

McDaniel envisions a program with smaller classes, seminars, independent studies, and a required master's thesis.

"Students who pursue this area will likely be more mature and have practiced law for a number of years, so the program will be tailored to their time constraints and the heuristics of adult learning," says McDaniel.

Cooley students will benefit from the unique combination of expertise and experience that Brigadier General McDaniel brings with him. In 2003, then Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed McDaniel to be Michigan's first Homeland Security Advisor at a time when the nation was still reeling the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001 and the anthrax attacks in October and November of that year. A statewide interoperable communications system was already under development as a result of the combined efforts of the legislature, the State Police, and the Department of Information Technology when he accepted his appointment.

"Our efforts over the next six years included completion of that system, which included training all interested local responders; development of statewide and regional response plans for terror attacks and other events; development of a system of statewide information fusion, sharing, and analysis; development of a strong partnership with Michigan's private sector businesses for protection of our critical infrastructure; and development of robust plans for cyber security and distribution of medical prophylaxis," explains McDaniel.

The accomplishment McDaniel deems most important, however, is the formation of what he calls a "strong partnership" between the federal and state governments (including the Michigan National Guard and local governments) with private sector entities such as General Motors and Olympia Entertainment. These coordinated efforts have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of citizens while attending large public events.

"There are many other private sector partners, but I use those two to illustrate that the commitment in Michigan extends to all of our business partners. That partnership has been strengthened through repeated Homeland Security exercises and through National Security special events hosted in the Detroit area, including the Ryder Cup, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the NFL Super Bowl, and the NCAA Final Four-all of which required closely coordinated security efforts."

When McDaniel began as Michigan's Homeland Security Advisor, only two other states had someone in that role with that title.

"Now, every state has a Homeland Security Advisor, and the Department of Homeland Security has approximately 200,000 employees. Simultaneously, there has been a growth of the profession in the private sector," says McDaniel.

In less than a decade Homeland Security has become a distinctly-recognized profession, and over 200 colleges and universities now offer an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in Homeland Security or a related field.

"One of the expected outcomes of this focus on Homeland Security law will be its recognition as a separate discipline," predicts McDaniel.

McDaniel applauds Cooley Law School for making the commitment to develop the Homeland Security Law program and for its history of commitment and support to the military and law enforcement in general. He also admires Cooley's culture of community service.

From his 24 years spent in the Michigan National Guard, McDaniel was already familiar with Cooley's Service to Soldiers program, which has provided legal assistance referrals to over 1800 Michigan service men and women. Later this month, McDaniel will become active in Service to Soldiers when he instructs attendees at a Continuing Legal Education event for the Hillsborough County Bar Association from Tampa, Fla., where the program is expanding.

"Besides the opportunity to build the Homeland Security Law program, the two most compelling reasons for my coming to Cooley are the strong sense of collegiality between faculty and staff and the strong sense of public service displayed by the entire school-faculty, staff, students, and alumni," says McDaniel.

Professor McDaniel is particularly pleased with the level of commitment and dedication to hard work that his students demonstrate.

"I can unreservedly aver that they are more disciplined and motivated than students of my generation. They are making greater sacrifices to attain membership in a still-noble profession, but, more than that, Cooley students are engaged in service to community."

McDaniel resides in East Lansing with his wife, Annie, a freelance web designer and avid community volunteer. The McDaniels are parents of a son and daughter, both of whom are undergraduate students at the University of Michigan. Jim, a junior resident assistant in the Michigan Community Scholars Program, is studying physics with a minor in urban planning. Hilary, a freshman member of the Alpha Phi Sorority, is studying psychology and plans to go to law school.

While teaching at Cooley, McDaniel will continue in his role as visiting professor at the Naval Post Graduate School, where he is scheduled to speak on the topic of Leadership in Homeland Security at two conferences later this month.

"NPS is considered the nation's foremost Homeland Security graduate program in the country for Homeland Security professionals. My goal is to make the Thomas M. Cooley Law School the foremost Homeland Security Law graduate program in the country for H.S. professionals," says McDaniel, noting that the two programs will be synergistic, not in conflict with each other.

Attorneys who wish to make homeland security their area of expertise will anxiously await the start of Cooley's newest program. McDaniel is quick to point out, however, that all citizens should collectively guard against complacency when it comes to our national security and way of life.

"Terror as a tactic demonstrably worked-the U.S. government and private businesses have had to allocate billions of dollars over the last 10 years to preparedness and the prevention of further attacks," he explains.

McDaniel reminds us that the U.S. has been attacked again -- albeit not on the scale of 9/11.

"I would submit that the U.S. was attacked at least four times in 2009-2010 by agents of Al Qaeda: the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood shooting, the June 1, 2009 Little Rock recruiting center shooting, the 2009 Christmas Day attack on Delta flight 253 (which ended at Detroit Metropolitan Airport), and the October 30, 2010 discovery of bombs placed on two U.S.-bound cargo planes. "

Because two of those attacks were by Al Qaeda agents who became radicalized, at least in part, through social networking and other Internet-facilitated means, McDaniel says efforts by local, state, and federal governments and by private sector partnerships, as well as the support and participation of the American public, will be needed into the foreseeable future.

"And, since we are a nation of laws, we have sought and will continue to seek legislative and regulatory solutions to these problems. Those efforts will require attorneys with expertise and sophistication in this emerging area."

Published: Fri, Feb 4, 2011