BY EMILY BEARG
Just a few weeks ago, Professor Philip Heymann’s second book on terrorism, entitled Terrorism, Freedom, and Security: Winning Without War, arrived in bookstores across the nation. The book recognizes how the world has changed since the World Trade Center bombings, and how the U.S. government should address this more serious type of terrorism while still maintaining civil liberties for its citizens.
Heymann’s 1998 book, Terrorism in America, had focused on a terrorism that “created a huge amount of public attention, based on temptations to do very dramatic things with very little damage.” The new book grapples with the reality that terrorists may use nuclear or biological weapons in the future, while arguing that the United States cannot stay at war for the next ten to twenty years without dramatically changing the contours of our society.
Also in response to September 11, Heymann has revived a terrorism course he taught in the early nineties, which has now been offered for the past two winter terms and is taught with Deputy Dean of the Radcliffe Institute Louise Richardson and Arieo Merari, an Israeli terrorism export.
Heymann is also in the midst of running a series of two-day meetings with Juliette Kayyem, Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, attended by intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as lawyers from the United States and Britain for discussions about the twelve hardest questions regarding terrorism. Topics include “assassination, coercive interrogation, detention without trial and military tribunals,” he said. The group plans to release a preliminary report this spring and a full report by September 11, 2004.
Yet Heymann’s activism on the subject of terrorism is only a single element of a long career in domestic and international public service and teaching.
Raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Heymann attended Yale University as an undergraduate where he majored in philosophy. Upon graduation, he traveled to Paris on a Fulbright scholarship where he continued the study of philosophy, while his wife, Ann Ross Heymann, completed her junior year abroad.
Because he participated in the ROTC program as an undergraduate, Heymann’s first experience in government was a two-year position with the U.S. Air Force in the Office of Special Investigations, where he spent his time reviewing security clearances.
Of his choice to attend law school, Heymann commented that “I had a sense that I was at a crossroads: I could either do something academic or more active. I had a very romantic image of being a lawyer, as though being a litigator was almost like being a gladiator or something.”
Heymann’s classmates at Harvard Law School included a host of legal greats, namely Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Richard Arnold, Senator Paul Sarbanes and Professor Frank Michelman.
While a law student, Heymann published a piece on limited partnerships, and wrote his 3L paper on the meaning of congressional intent entitled “Ice Cream in Harvard Square but no Motor Vehicles in the Park,” both of which “got a lot of attention at the time,” he said.
Heymann clerked for Justice Harlan immediately after his law school graduation and then went to work for Archibald Cox in the Solicitor General’s Office, first as special assistant, and then arguing cases.
In 1965, Heymann moved to the State Department, which he thought would be more exciting, exhibiting his increasing desire to turn away from the scholarly to the active. Working with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Heymann became acting administrator of the Bureau of Security of Security and Consular Affairs. In a “highly politically charged” atmosphere, Heymann dealt with passports and visas of Americans abroad, as well as the welfare of American prisoners of war. His creation of lifetime visas became the first Kennedy School case study.
Heymann later assumed the roles of deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Organizations, and then executive assistant to the Undersecretary of State, who was Nicolas Katzenbach at the time. Among those he worked with were Lawrence Eagleburger (later secretary of state under former President Bush), Arthur Hartman (later the U.S. ambassador to both the Soviet Union and France), and Tony Lake (President Clinton’s national security advisor).
“I was never heavily involved in Vietnam,” Heymann remarked, but of his State Department days he said, “I loved it at the time, I was on the inside of the inside, working with very smart people, who were not lawyers. It was fun to be away from the law for a time.”
When Nixon was elected president, Heymann left the State Department and was approached by HLS Dean Derek Bok about coming back to the Law School to teach.
“I had been thinking about [teaching] for a long time,” Heymann said. “I asked then-Dean Derek Bok if they would first pay for me to be a public defender and he said yes if I would then teach criminal law.”
“I felt like I’d been up in the stratosphere at the State Department … I wanted to see what was going on with the poorest and most deprived,” he added. Heymann spent four months arguing and armed robbery cases, before arriving at HLS in the fall of 1969 to teach. He was offered tenure two years later.
Of things that have changed at HLS since his arrival, Heymann cited the writing requirement for faculty. When he was hired, “I had no idea I was supposed to be doing major writing… they hired you based on your law school grades and 3L paper.”
Furthermore, “the whole notion of law has shifted dramatically over the past 30 years,” he said. As a law student and a young professor, Heymann said “the idea was that there was a right answer, or something pretty darn close.”
“In law school and at the solicitor general’s office… things are very different now,” he added. “It makes for much more politics and much less law.”
Heymann described how Supreme Court cases used to be decided based on convictions as to what was the right or wrong legal outcome, just as he observed how as solicitor general, Cox decided issues as a matter of law.
Heymann has also been on the faculty long enough to have observed how the faculty shifted from an “intellectual hierarchy” that was entirely non-diverse, to the diverse and international faculty of today that no longer remains silent when a senior member expresses an idea.
Heymann’s tenure at HLS has been highlighted by stints at the Department of Justice and in international legal work.
During his summers from 1973 to 1975, Heymann was involved in the Watergate prosecution, helping to set up the special prosecutor’s office with late Professor Jim Vorenberg, and serving as associate prosecutor in the trials and appeals of John Ehrlichman and Gordon Liddy, among others.
Heymann left HLS again from 1978 to 1981 when Griffin Bell, President Jimmy Carter’s attorney general, asked him to take the position of assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the criminal division. While there, Heymann presided over the Abscam FBI sting operations, which exposed extensive bribery on Capitol Hill.
Heymann was also involved in drafting the “Stanford Daily Statutes” that rejected the 1978 holding of the Supreme Court which allowed the government to search newspaper offices for photographs of demonstrators. In addition, Heymann worked on the Classified Information Procedures Act, which addressed the problem of testimony in national security cases.
When he left the Department of Justice, Heymann turned his attention outside of the United States, and devoted his time outside of the classroom to overseas projects for building justice institutions.
In Guatemala, Heymann worked to improve the process of criminal investigations until 1990 when President Cereso refused to allow HLS representatives to remain involved in major cases with political implications.
Heymann was invited to chair an international commission to help the South African police force cope with demonstrations during the transfer of power
to Nelson Mandela. The commission published a report, provisions of which were later converted into a statute that immediately reduced the number of deaths caused by such clashes. He also helped South African law enforcement officials write a RICO-styled statute and advised them on setting up an organized crime unit.
In 1993, Heymann returned to Washington as deputy U.S. attorney general under President Clinton, although “I was there a little less than a year … Janet Reno and I didn’t get along at all.”
In the ensuing years, along with his work on terrorism, Heymann focused his research and conference work on street crime and drug policy, publishing “Law Enforcement and Intelligence in the Last Years of the Twentieth Century,” in the ABA National Security Law Report and “Saving Our Children: Can Youth Violence be Prevented?” at the Harvard Law School Center for Criminal Justice, both in 1996.
Currently, Heymann is working on the Bellow-Sachs project with Jeanne Charn, Lecturer on Law and Director of the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center, which will report on “new, imaginative, and untraditional ways” of delivering legal services to large numbers of the poor and middle class. Their report will come out next fall.
In addition, Heymann is composing a report to the government of Peru, funded by the Soros Foundation, “on how to keep their intelligence agencies from running wild as they did under Montesinos.”
Heymann has two children and four grandchildren. His children have followed in his footsteps as devoted public servants: Steve is deputy chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office here in Boston, and Jody teaches at Harvard’s School of Public Health and works around the world on HIV and work-health issues.
Latest posts by The Record (see all)
- Mythbusters: Top Five Myths About Prison Divestment - March 25, 2019
- Meet the Candidates for Student Government, 2019-2020 - March 11, 2019
- Class of 2021, Welcome to HLS! - September 6, 2018