I Signed the Law Professors’ Letter on Iraq

Just thought I should mention that last week I signed the Law Professor's Iraq Letter. Its concluding paragraphs ask Congress to:

(1) assess responsibility for the abuses that have taken place, identifying the officials at all levels who must be held accountable for enabling these abuses to occur and for the failure to investigate them, and determining what sanctions, including impeachment and removal from office of any civil officer of the United States responsible, may be appropriate;

(2) decide whether the U.S. should have an official policy of coercion in connection with interrogation, and if so what form it should take as well as what safeguards it should include to protect against abuses in violation of the policy.

There were about 500 signatories, almost all law professors. I'm sure they would have had more if there had been more time to organize signatures or if were not the summer vacation season.

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9 Responses to I Signed the Law Professors’ Letter on Iraq

  1. Steve says:

    During the Bush presidency, Congress has completely abandoned its duty of executive oversight. (9/11, WMD intelligence, Plame outing, Abu Ghraib, etc).

    While I applaud your profession for organizing this letter campaign, would it not be more effective to bring your case directly to the American people rather than to an emasculated Congress?

  2. MP says:

    Law professors are not really effective at anything, so your question is moot. Further, Steve, law professors have no monopoly on opinion, values, or policies. You see, Steve, we Americans like to make decisions for ourselves, and not have them made for us by self-aggrandizing judges and law professors. If our elected Congress is “emasculated” as you say it is, Steve, then it got that way because law professors and judges decided that they know what’s best for us and we are too dangerous if allowed to vote and decide things on our own.

    You see, Steve, there is a section of our Constitution that allows Americans to do more than write a meaningless letter. We can actually elect a new President! So if Americans don’t like what’s going on in Iraq, we can “choose” a new leader. But rather than let things run their course and allow the people to decide, law professors know what’s best and throw around words like “impeachment” because they don’t think we ought to be able to decide on our own.

    Funny, I don’t remember any law professors signing letters to Saddaam when he was torturing and killing his own people, do you Steve? Have they sent one to Bin Laden? Could this letter be a mere attack on Bush in an election year by dem-loving liberal professors?

    Hey Steve, here’s a joke for you: How many law professors does it take to write a letter?

  3. Steve says:


    What do Saddam and UBL have to do with the actions of the Bush Administration?

    If you were designated an enemy combatant by George Bush; incarcerated indefinitely without trial, denied access to counsel, forbidden communication with your family; never charged; and left to rot away in an unnamed military brig – would you feel better if I said, “Hey, Hitler did worse”?

    Is it really unreasonable for American law professors to hold the USG to American standards regardless of the tactics employed by terrorists and police states?

    I care about our conduct. I care about American liberty and civil rights. I’m a conservative who still believes in that quaint, old fashioned notion that it’s we who empower the government – not the other way around. Or, as Ronald Reagan once said, “Are we a nation with a government or a government with a nation?”

  4. molly bloom says:

    The Constitution provides several options- electing new leaders is one. Impeachment is another. Its unlikely when Congress is GOP controlled. Another option provided by the constitution is for the executive branch to use its powers of prosecution in a court of law.

    The more interesting question is what would a Kerry administration do with evidence of war crimes committed on authority of certain Bush administration officials (assuming they were not pardoned by the outgoing Resident)? Would they prosecute Bush if that is where the evidence led? Would Bush pardon everyone in sight if lost the election? Does the pardon power include the power to pardon the pardoner? That is to say can a President Pardon himself? So many questions.

  5. fibo says:

    MP, I applaud your stance on the power of the people to “choose” a new leader. I agree completely that our freely elected representatives should not be at the mercy of law professors, judges, or any other group seeking to hound them out of office for political gain. We were in sore need of your wisdom during the Clinton years.

    I have to disagree with your criticism of this letter, though. Much as you might wish otherwise, MP, law professors, judges, and dem-loving liberals are also American citizens, and are permitted to hold opinions, organize, write letters, and petition Congress, just as any other profession would be. You’re forgetting that law professors are also part of that great American ‘we’ who ‘ought to be able to decide on [our] own’ and have the same freedom to promulgate their opinions as everyone else.

    Your mentions of Saddam and Osama are irrelevant at best and moral relativism at worst. Like Steve said, we need to judge our actions by our own moral and legal standards, and _not_ permit those standards to be weakened, regardless of what other people happen to do elsewhere.

    (P.S. None. That’s what secretaries are for.)

  6. Steve says:

    Molly, we might be hearing more about impeachement from the Dems if we weren’t 4 months away from a General Election. At this point, by the time they rev’d up the Impeachment process, election day would be a memory.

    If George Bush wins a second term – and more importantly, if the midterms in 06 go against him – I think we’ll hear more of the I word.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Good for you, both for signing the letter and for posting a link. That was the first chance I’ve had to read it,and although I’ve heard about the existance of the letter, I appreciated being able to read it.

    I’m proud of the fact that so many professors of law have signed the letter. Keep up the pressure. I’d very much appreciate it if you’d blog about who it has been sent to, and any responses.

    Thank you.

  8. Evelyn Blaine says:

    Amusing that Dershowitz is one of the signers, isn’t it?

  9. Eli Rabett says:

    Given that you are sending this thing to Bill Frist and Tom DeLay, I trust you will not be disappointed in the reaction it gathers. If you want to do something serious bring the writers up on charges to the Bar, otherwise don’t expect me to be impressed.

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