Inside the Room: Attorney-Diplomats at work on U.S. Foreign Relations (Part Two)

On March 18th, 2021, the Washington Foreign Law Society hosted the second instalment of a two-part interview series with Mark B. Feldman (Georgetown Law) and Jeffrey H. Smith (Arnold & Porter). The first segment took place on February 18th, and is available at this link.

In the second and final program of the series, Mark Feldman interviewed Jeff Smith, former General Counsel of the CIA. Mr. Smith first recounted his direct involvement in the exchange of spies between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, also popularized by Steven Spielberg’s 2015 picture “Bridge of Spies”. Mr. Smith provided a rich recollection of his trips to and from East Germany and negotiations with European counterparts.

The conversation then turned to Mr. Smith’s role as the U.S. trial observer in the 1980 trial of Korean politician Kim Dae Jung, who would later become President of the Republic of Korea in 1998 and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2000. Mr. Smith discussed how no real evidence had been brought forward against the future President, and that the verdict – a death sentence against Mr. Dae Jung – had been delivered in the absence of proper due process. As Mr. Smith noted, the US government – thanks, in part, to Mr. Smith’s own involvement – was later able to secure a deal with the South Korean government, obtaining the release of Mr. Dae Jung in exchange for an official visit by South Korean officials to the White House.

Lastly, Mr. Feldman asked Mr. Smith to provide an account of his position as counsel to the Joint Congressional Committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986-1987. Mr. Smith described the political climate surrounding the investigation and provided insightful anecdotes on some of the most relevant hearings, particularly those of the then NSA Poindexter and CIA Director Casey.

The Washington Foreign Law Society wishes to thank Mr. Feldman and Mr. Smith for their invaluable contribution throughout this interview series.

Posted March 18, 2021 in: General News