A study in security--MSU professor authors book on counter-terrorism

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Stephanie Blum, adjunct professor at Michigan State University College of Law, teaches a hot button topic--National Security Law.

An attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, where she advises and supports the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), Blum also teaches terrorism-related courses at the MSU School of Criminal Justice.

The field is dynamic and incorporates several other fields, she says.

''Law students need to understand not only national security law, but also constitutional law, immigration law, international law, comparative law and lots of other fields as well.

Following graduation from law school, Blum clerked for three federal judges and then worked in employment litigation for Jenner & Block in Chicago. Eventually, she accepted a position as an employment litigator with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that had opened up a mission support center in Detroit. Blum and her husband, a Detroit native whom she met at the University of Chicago, were looking to return to the Motor City.

Blum defended TSA management and personnel against accusations of employment discrimination and challenges to adverse personnel decisions before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, and federal court -- winning the Silver Medal Award, Illumination Award, Special Act Award, and Bronze Medal Award for tenacity, strength, and persuasiveness in litigating cases and excellent trial skills, including extensive pretrial briefing, thorough witness preparation, and highly effective direct and cross examination.

After five years with TSA, Blum became more interested in policy issues affecting the newly created Department of Homeland Security, of which TSA was a part. When the opportunity arose to obtain a master's degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security, sponsored by DHS, she jumped at the chance.

Blum's thesis, ''Preventive Detention in the War on Terror: A Plan for a More Moderate and Sustainable Solution,'' won the Outstanding Thesis Award at her December 2008 graduation. She turned it into a book as well as two journal articles, and has written several other articles looking at surveillance reform and unused counterterrorism tools.

Her book, published by Cambria Press in 2008, explores the underlying rationales for preventive detention as a counterterrorism tool and analyzes the legal obstacles to creating a preventive detention regime for U.S. persons.

''After comparing and analyzing several different alternative preventive detention regimes -- including looking at how Israel and Britain handled the detention of terrorist suspects -- I recommend using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor a narrow regime of preventive detention for U.S. persons.

''While some of the book is outdated now, many of the underlying principles are still relevant, especially given the current controversy over the National Defense Authorization Act and to what it extent it authorizes the military detention of U.S. persons associated with al-Qaeda.''

Blum got her start in this career by earning a bachelor's degree in political science, magna cum laude, from Yale. She earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, and says law was always her career target.

A Baltimore native who grew up in Dallas, Blum enjoys reading and playing strategy board games, and hanging out with friends and family. She and her husband, who works in commercial real estate, have a 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

Published: Mon, Feb 6, 2012

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