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My Review of William Shawcross’s “Justice and the Enemy”

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Friday, January 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

It can be found here (and Wells’s review for Lawfare can be found here.)  I liked the book, which uses the dilemmas and compromises of Nuremburg as a lens for Shawcross’s empathetic and fair-minded account of the cross-cutting pressures and difficult trade-offs the Bush administration (and later the Obama administration) faced in deciding how to bring justice to the perpetrators of 9/11.  My main criticism:

Shawcross often expresses frustration with the extraordinary legal and judicial scrutiny of American counterterrorism policies during the last decade.  But as the evolution of military commissions illustrates, this scrutiny, and the legitimating alterations by the other branches of government that it brought, led us to a place where President Obama, seized of the responsibilities of the presidency, has been able to embrace these policies and confer on them a legitimacy that his predecessor never could have.

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