Life & Death in Academia

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Putting the power of life and death in anyone’s hands is a dubious undertaking, to put it mildly. Giving such responsibility to a pair of academics is questionable, at best.

“Senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and another America-born militant were killed in Yemen early Friday morning by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike, marking the highest-profile takedown of terror leaders since the raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound,” Jennifer Griffin & Justin Fishel reported on Fox on September 30, 2011.

“Sensing they were on sensitive ground, officials of the Obama Administration illegally leaked information to The New York Times about the policy, indicating that Obama relied on a 50-page Department of Justice memo for justification to kill al-Awlaki,” Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media reported last month. “It was principally drafted by David Barron and Martin Lederman, who were both lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the time, and was signed by Mr. Barron,” the Times claimed.

“But these are the Obama lawyers who were supposed to stop this kind of thing in the executive branch,” Kincaid points out.

“One of the more interesting storylines unfolding right now is President Obama’s ongoing appointment to the Office of Legal Counsel of lawyers who strongly opposed George W. Bush’s use of the war on terror to justify dramatic expansions of executive power,” liberal blogger Greg Sargent of The Washington Post said in January of 2009.

These lawyers included Martin Lederman and David Barron.

“A veteran of the Clinton administration OLC [Office of Legal Counsel], Barron spent ten years teaching law at Harvard University,” a Washington Post political profile of Barron said. “During that time, he was critical of the George W. Bush administration, claiming that the White House used the war on terror to justify increasing executive power.”

“Hence, Obama appointed lawyers who had been critical of how Bush used executive powers against terrorists but turned around once they joined the Obama Administration to endorse such powers, even to the extent of using them to kill an American abroad,” Kincaid stated. “Barron is back at Harvard, while Lederman is now at Georgetown University.”

They did not get rave reviews there either. “How did he get this far while being so disorganized?” one of Lederman’s students asked on Rate My “A nice guy, but he never seemed able to figure out the syllabus, and we used our exam review session to introduce new material (an article about war powers which he just finished writing, naturally).”

“He then spent six months trying to plan our class dinner,” the student added but noted that Lederman was “Nice to have a beer with, though.”

At least Lederman teaches International Relations. Barron teaches property law, and opinions on his pedagogical manner vary, to say the least:

  • “Don’t waste your time… your [sic] better off watching Court TV!!!” one reviewer opined.
  • “He told me that my first baby would be a witch,” another reviewer recounted. “UNCOOL to say.”
  • “Great professor, really clear and easy to follow,” one of his favorable reviews read. “His only problem is that he sometimes tucks his shirt into his underwear and it peeks out over the top of his pants.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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