01 September 2015

Right Wing Still Unhinged

Earlier this year, U.S. Military Academy at West Point Assistant Professor of Law William C. Bradford published a law review article arguing that law professors who disagree with him about military law are unlawful combatants "subject to coercive interrogation, trial and imprisonment" and that "law school facilities, scholars' home offices, and media outlets where they given interviews --- are also lawful targets" for military strikes, "so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ nonprohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism." William C. Bradford, Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column, 3 Nat'l Sec. L.J. 278 (2015).

The new editorial board of the law review in question has disavowed the article as a mistake to publish, and the professor in question resigned today.  Bradford was hired August 1, 2015 and taught a class for five days before resigning.

But, the fact that people who are so unhinged can even be hired as law professors and taken seriously enough to get articles published, demonstrates how deeply the right wing legitimatized deep departures from what should be consensus views of law, academia and politics.  This isn't the first time something like this has come up:
The US military’s educational institutions have come under fire before for promoting “total war” against Islam. In 2012, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, ordered a comprehensive scouring of anti-Islam training material after a course proposed “Hiroshima” tactics against Islamic holy sites, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary”.

The previous year, highly regarded counter-terrorism scholars affiliated with the US army aided the FBI in eradicating similar material from its own training. Those scholars came from West Point.
In addition to the obvious problem with calling your professional colleagues legitimate military targets, Bradford also goes deeply awry in arguing that the U.S. is at war, if not with Islam, with Islamists, which simply isn't good law.

The Guardian summarizes some of the rest of the article:
The lengthy paper, which has been repudiated by its journal editor as a “mistake”, accused a “clique of about 40” law professors of active collaboration with “Islamist” organizations and recommended targeting them as enemy combatants.

Supplementing military action, Bradford recommended that Congress investigate links between the professors and “Islamism” under “a renewed version of the House Un-American Activities Committee”, which was one of the vehicles for the discredited “Red Scare” hunts for Communists in the 1950s.

“Treason prosecutions shore up national unity, deter disloyalty, and reflect the seriousness with which the nation regards betrayal in war,” Bradford wrote.

Bradford went on to argue that “total war” against terrorism ought to include military targeting of “Islamic holy sites”, in order to restore an American deterrent. He acknowledged “great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties and civilian collateral damage” were entailed in his proposal, and suggested that dissent ought to be curbed.

“[D]oubts and disputes about this war [should] be muted lest around them coalesce a new set of self-imposed restraints that prevent Western forces from waging war with sufficient ferocity and resolve so that either Islamism is discredited and the political will of Islamist peoples to prosecute a jihad collapses, or, if necessary, all who countenance or condone Islamism are dead,” Bradford wrote.
Among the people on his shit list:
Robert Chesney of the University of Texas, a founding editor of the influential national-security law blog Lawfare, is one of the legal scholars Bradford references as pernicious – for a 2011 paper that largely defended Obama’s execution without trial of US citizen and al-Qaida preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.
Chesney was treasonously soft on Islam in Bradford's reckoning. Bradford also, of course, utterly disregards the language of the U.S. Constitution defining treason narrowly.  Lawfare itself does have some coverage of the story buried deep in a story summarizing a variety of daily headlines that gives no hint that its own authors are in the news:
William C. Bradford, the West Point professor behind a controversial recent national security law journal article, has resigned. The news comes after the journal behind its publication denounced the piece and on the heels of a Guardian report that showed he had inflated his academic credentials. The Atlantic has an overview of the article, which argued that U.S. legal scholars are assisting radical Islamists and are legally targetable under the laws of war. Among the target list? Academics like Lawfare’s Bobby Chesney and Gabriella Blum, Ryan Goodman of Just Security, and Michael Walzer of Princeton, who---if you did not know---are all wielding their expertise in “the service of Islamists seeking to destroy Western Civilization and re-create the Caliphate.” Who knew?
In truth, the only person engaged in Un-American Activities in this case is Professor Bradford himself, who is also guilty of serious resume fraud:
Bradford had represented himself in academic papers as an “assistant professor” at the Defense Department-run National Defense University. But he was not a professor there, nor even a staff employee, according to NDU representatives. He is said to have worked for a Waynesboro, Virginia-based translations and business consultant, Translang, which had a contract with the university. Before referring further comment to an attorney, Beatrice Boutros, Translang’s president, told the Guardian Bradford was not an employee of NDU.

Bradford has had a checkered academic career. In 2004, he quit a job teaching at the Indiana University School of Law after allegations emerged that he had exaggerated his military service, portraying himself inaccurately as a Gulf War veteran, an infantryman and a recipient of the prestigious Silver Star, an award for gallantry in action. The army provided Bradford’s releasable service history to the Guardian on Monday. Bradford was commissioned into the army as a second lieutenant – the same rank West Point cadets hold upon commissioning – in 1995 and served the majority of his six-year service in military intelligence in the army reserve. He neither deployed nor earned any awards.

In 2005, the Guardian has learned, Bradford took a visiting professorship at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, teaching property law. A former student who wished to remain anonymous said Bradford’s behavior included “doing push-ups in class [and] making students stand and give answers in a military-like manner”. Bradford, the former student said, ended up leaving his class – and ultimately the college – without grading the final exam. A William and Mary spokesperson, Suzanne Seurattan, confirmed Bradford’s visiting professorship lasted a single semester, which she described as not unusual. She would not address whether Bradford had left under a cloud or did not submit his final exam grades ahead of departing the school.
Good riddance Mr. Bradford.

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