The Case of Colonel Abel

Journal of National Security Law & Policy, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2011

SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 276

39 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2010 Last revised: 16 Jun 2016

See all articles by Jeffrey Kahn

Jeffrey Kahn

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: September 16, 2010

Abstract

In June 2010, journalists for the Associated Press reported the arrest of ten Russian spies, all suspected of being “deep-cover” illegal agents in the United States. Seeking to convey the magnitude of this event, the journalists wrote in the first paragraphs of their article that this “blockbuster series of arrests” might even be as significant as the FBI’s “famous capture of Soviet Col. Rudolf Abel in 1957 in New York.” Colonel Abel’s story of American justice at a time of acute anxiety about the nation’s security is one that continues to resonate today. The honor, and error, that is contained in that story offer lessons worth remembering as the American and Russian systems of justice struggle with a new common enemy, international terrorists.

This paper examines three topics: (1) the appointment of counsel for Abel, (2) the pretrial investigation and trial work conducted by his defense counsel, and (3) the defense’s motion to suppress evidence, a motion that led to two separate oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court. Comparisons are made between the American and Russian systems of criminal procedure. Similarities and differences are also explored between the treatment in the United States of a suspected Soviet spy in 1957 and suspected terrorists fifty years later.

Keywords: Rudolf Abel, Criminal Procedure, Comparative Law, Counterterrorism

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Jeffrey, The Case of Colonel Abel (September 16, 2010). Journal of National Security Law & Policy, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2011; SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 276. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1677969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1677969

Jeffrey Kahn (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States
(214) 768-2792 (Phone)
(214) 768-4330 (Fax)

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