Editor: Marjorie Cohn teaches law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law – my old alma mater – plus she is the national president of the National Lawyers Guild. This interview with her on voiceofsandiego just appeared and we had to share.
by Randy Dotinga / Voice of San Diego / Sept. 25, 2009
On the legal front, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have few bigger enemies than Marjorie Cohn, a professor at San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Cohn, president of the liberal National Lawyers Guild, is a leading voice demanding that members of the Bush Administration be prosecuted for war crimes. She also condemns the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as illegal under international law, which she says the United States. It’s a debate that hinges on whether the wars were launched in self defense.
In a new book, “Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent,” she and a co-author (Kathleen Gilberd) write about members of the military who have resisted service in the current two wars on legal grounds. She’s also written a book about the Bush Administration called “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.”
So far, Cohn’s opinions aren’t gaining much traction in Washington D.C., although the Obama Administration is slowly making strides toward some torture prosecutions.
So Cohn fights on. In an interview, she talked about the responsibility of soldiers to disobey wrongful orders, the prosecution of government lawyers and the country’s ability to withstand the distraction of putting a former president and vice president on trial.
What are your biggest recent successes on the war-crimes front?
I have testified as an expert witness in courts martial and military hearings for service members who have refused orders to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have argued that those wars are illegal. My testimony has corroborated those beliefs by citing the U.N. charter, which is part of U.S. law, which says one country cannot invade another country unless it’s in self defense or the U.N. Security Council agrees. And neither of those wars is lawful under the U.N. charter.
(For the remainder of this article at voiceofsandiego.org, go here.)