Podcast: Ethics & the National Security Lawyer: Distinctions with a Difference

Col (ret.) Kate Oler

Want to hear a fresh take on how to handle ethical issues in the national security context? Today’s podcaster Kate Oler can help you think through these difficult issues. She’s currently a Special Master of the United States Court of Federal Claims, but formerly served in the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps before retiring in 2017 as a full colonel. She earned a degree in English and Political Science from Wellesley College, and received her J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.

Kate’s presentation is entitled “Professional Responsibility, Ethics & the National Security Lawyer: Distinctions with a Difference” and was originally presented at Duke Law’s 24th Annual National Security Law conference last February. What is especially interesting about her discussion is the number of real-world situations/scenarios she uses. She offers practical advice, and doesn’t shy away from talking about the complex, gray area issues that arise, especially for those practicing  law in the national security area.

Iraq, 2007

While in the Air Force Kate served a tour as my executive officer, and we visited bases around the world (including a short stop in Iraq in 2007). As I mention in my introduction of her at the conference, one of the many things that makes me most proud to know her is the fact that after leaving her assignment as my executive officer she went on to become a military judge.

Allow me to explain a bit more: Prior to assuming those duties Kate was obliged to attend a several-week military judges’ course at the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School. Despite being out of the day-to-day practice of military justice for well more than a year, she finished first in the class that included judges-to-be from across the services. Believe me, that is no small accomplishment (yes, I went ‘judges school’ many years previous, but let me just say I wasn’t #1 in my class!)

Unsurprisingly, after serving as a military judge and in other assignments including as a staff judge advocate, Kate went on to become the Air Force’s Chief Prosecutor and Chief Government Appellate Counsel. She is also the mother of two wonderful children, and the wife of Col (ret.) Adam Oler, who was my executive officer after Kate and who is now a professor at the National War College.

If you want to learn from the best of the best, watch this podcast! Again, it’s found here.


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