David Cole Has a Lesson to Teach

As someone who has covered the government's legal response to the war on terrorism from its inception, in mid-September 2001, I can tell you that there are only a handful of analysts and commentators and scholars around who have spent the time and the energy and the focus piecing together patterns of executive branch call and legislative and judicial branch response (and I'm not saying that I am necessarily one of them). There are patterns everywhere. From Moussaoui to Lindh to Hamdi to Padilla to Hamdan, from the CIA to the NSA to the FISA, from "material support" to "extraordinary rendition," you can see even from the short distance of a few years or months the arc of the executive branch's efforts and the often-deferential but sometimes fiesty reaction to those efforts.

In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, David Cole offers in a few thousand words an excellent summary of a significant front in the Administration's legal war on terror. Cole is a talented law professor at Georgetown and also a frequent litigator on the side of civil libertarians who have been gaining more and more legal traction as the events of 9/11 recede and the White House keeps overplaying its legal hand. He's been in the heat of battle, if you will, but in his writings he is able to clearly and succinctly explain-- go figure for a law professor!-- where the law was when the Twin Towers fell, where the Bush Administration has tried to take it, and then how the other two branches have responded until now and how they might want to proceed going forward.

Do your self a favor and read Cole's work. You may disagree with his conclusions- a lot of conservatives do-- but no one can deny his credentials as a professor and litigator with valuable insight into the turbulent legal times in which we live.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 25, 2006; 7:00 AM ET
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