The Bush administration has often defended the use of controversial interrogation techniques as necessary in the war on terrorism.

In a lecture sponsored by the Law School yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said those tactics do more to hurt the nation’s counterterrorism efforts than they do to help it.

The lecture, “Torture, the Rule of Law, and American Security,” was part of the Law School’s International Law Workshop series. The talk, which took place in Hutchins Hall, drew about 80 students, faculty and Ann Arbor residents.

Levin, who is the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, called the actions of the Bush administration in Iraq “unilateral” and “reckless” and called upon the U.S. to abolish practices of torture so it can regain the support of other countries and their citizens.

“No amount of military power in the world can remedy that loss of support,” Levin said.

Levin also said the moral implications of torture oppose American values. He said it’s important for Americans to remember that opposing torture is not being “soft on terrorism.” He said the use of torture hinders efforts to keep the United States safe.

“It’s what we do in the name of security that keeps the U.S. less secure,” Levin said.

LSA senior Michael Radtke Jr., who attended the lecture, agreed with the senator’s position on the ethics of torture.

“I would hope that we would give them the rights that we cherish so dearly,” he said. “We’re not asking to let them off. We just want due process.”

Levin also touched on the issue of stem cell research, of which he is an avid supporter. He called the lack of federal funding for stem cell research “unconscionable” and urged Michigan residents to push for a more stem cell-friendly policy at the state level.

LSA sophomore Josh Strazanac, co-chair of the new student group Students for Levin, said he was excited to hear the senator speak because of his candidness and honesty, regardless of the time of year.

“What’s really neat about Carl Levin is that even in a time when an election is coming up, he is willing to speak on controversial issues,” he said.

Levin, the longest-serving Michigan senator in the state’s history, is up for reelection in November. He’s held his post since 1979.

Law student Chas Ballew said that while he found the lecture interesting, he wished its topics were better integrated into the Law School curriculum.

“I think the issues that Senator Levin discussed are really important issues, but practically, from a perspective of a future attorney, it’s difficult to see how we can directly have an impact on these issues of national security and ethical treatment of our opponents,” he said. “I hope they develop more opportunities to learn about this at the Law School.”

Virginia Gordon, the assistant dean for international affairs at the Law School, said the the speaker series is designed to educate students on important matters relating to foreign legal policy.

The senator’s appearance coincides with efforts by Students for Levin to ensure his name appears on the ballot for the upcoming election. Despite the senator’s incumbency, state law requires that he receive 15,000 signatures in order to appear on the ballot.

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