In memory of my stepfather.
Latest in In memoriam
The obituaries of President George H.W. Bush have appropriately focused on his foreign policy successes, especially his deft diplomatic handling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany as well as his firm but ultimately restrained response to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. One reason for his success is that he entered office with more foreign policy experience than any other president, having served not only as vice president for eight years but also previously as director of central intelligence, ambassador to the United Nations and as envoy to China.
I am a perhaps-improbable admirer of Michael Ratner, whom I was sad to learn passed away yesterday. I interviewed Ratner six years ago for my book Power and Constraint and thought him such a significant figure in the story of post-9/11 accountability that I built a chapter around him (called “The GTMO Bar”). Here is the extraordinary story of his reaction to 9/11 that I patched together from interviews and other sources:
In my view, at least, Justice Scalia's public statements on national security issues and his one majority(-ish) opinion in a "canonical" national security case (in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd) could lead folks reasonably to question just how faithful Justice Scalia was to his first principles where national security was involved. That doesn’t in any way diminish the late Justice’s track record (or Adam’s elegant reflection upon it); it just suggests that, as is so often the case, adding national security-specific considerations to the mix tends to complicate matters.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s views on much of national-security litigation are embodied in an awkward moment during my clerkship interview. Justice Scalia, like most judges, believed that an aspiring law clerk’s transcript should be mostly black-letter law courses, rather than esoteric seminars and other “fluff.” (He’s right, but that’s another story.) My law-school record had a respectable proportion of black-letter law but also plenty of Lawfare fodder: international law, IHL, and various national-security-law seminars (including some taught by Lawfare’s own Matt Waxman).
Like others here at Lawfare, I was saddened - and shocked, as well, as I had not known anything was amiss — to hear of Mike Lewis’ passing. I had just sent Mike an email, in fact, inviting him to guest post on the new DOD Law of War Manual, and that afternoon heard the news of his death. He was a good friend and colleague in the law of war and national security law community; even though we only saw each other once or twice a year, we corresponded frequently and spoke by phone on many of the LOAC issuesthat our community engages with.