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lawfare

After the Olympia Food Co-op in Washington removed products from Israel from its shelves, it was sued by several members who claimed that it had violated its bylaws. “A motion filed by attorneys with Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle and by attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights asserts that the lawsuit is a ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,’” banned under a Washington statute; one of the attorneys who filed the suit says “it is ‘absolutely, positively not’ a SLAPP suit.” [The Olympian, more here and here]

“International human rights law” — what could sound more cuddly and humanitarian? Who could disapprove of such a thing? That’s one reason it’s so popular at almost every law school nowadays following years of generous support by the Ford Foundation, Soros, and other donors. In practice, as is now clear, it often tends to furnish a set of handy weapons for carrying on “lawfare” — warfare by means of courtroom action against one’s adversaries, particularly in the courts of third countries. (Anne Herzberg, “Lawfare against Israel”, WSJ, Nov. 5). For the closely related issue of laws empowering private attorneys and litigants to pursue foreign entities over alleged terrorist support whether or not such actions advance U.S. diplomatic goals, see Sept. 12, 2007.

It’s not just the U.S. civil-justice system that often winds up serving counterproductive ends, but also our criminal and national security legal systems. And just like with, e.g., our tort system, it sometimes seems like everyone knows this except us Americans.

Consider this, from the Timesdetailed account of the interrogation of 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

Mohammed met his captors at first with cocky defiance, telling one veteran CIA officer, a former Pakistan station chief, that he would talk only when he got to New York and was assigned a lawyer–the experience of his nephew and partner in terrorism, Ramzi Yousef, after Yousef’s arrest in 1995.

Apparently, KSM was somehow privy to an advance copy of Boumediene. . .

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