The National Security Law Journal Outdoes the Onion

by Kevin Jon Heller

The journal has published what has to be the most ridiculous article in the history of IHL scholarship. And no, I’m not being hyperbolic. Written by someone named William C. Bradford, identified — terrifyingly —  as an “Associate Professor of Law, National Security, and Strategy, National Defense University, Washington, D.C,” it’s entitled “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict as an Islamist Fifth Column.” (Props to the author for knowing how to use Google: the main title translates as “treason of the professors.”)

I’m not going to waste even a few seconds of my life responding to the article, which blathers on for 180 pages and nearly 800 footnotes. (Seriously.) I will just offer two quotes, almost chosen at random. In the first, the author advocates prosecuting CLOACA scholars (the “critical law of armed conflict academy” — a scatological acronym the author no doubt finds profoundly clever) for material support for terrorism. Bonus points for actually calling for a new House Un-American Activities Committee!

In concert with federal and state law enforcement agencies, Congress can investigate linkages between CLOACA and Islamism to determine “the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the U.S. [that] attack the . . . form of government . . . guaranteed by our Constitution.” Because CLOACA output propagandizes for the Islamist cause, CLOACA would arguably be within the jurisdiction of a renewed version of the House Un-American Activities Committee (Committee on Internal Security) charged with investigating propaganda conducive to an Islamist victory and the alteration of the U.S. form of government this victory would necessarily entail.

“Material support” includes “expert advice or assistance” in training Islamist groups to use LOAC in support of advocacy and propaganda campaigns, even where experts providing such services lack intent to further illegal Islamist activity. CLOACA scholarship reflecting aspirations for a reconfigured LOAC regime it knows or should know will redound to Islamists’ benefit, or painting the United States as engaged in an illegal war, misrepresents LOAC and makes “false claims” and uses “propaganda” in a manner that constitutes support and training prohibited by the material support statute. Culpable CLOACA members can be tried in military courts: Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides that “[a]ny person who . . . aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things . . . shall suffer death or . . . other punishments as a court-martial or military commission may direct;” the Rule for Court Martial 201 creates jurisdiction over any individual for an Article 104 offense.

But that’s not my favourite quote. This one is — in which the author argues that that CLOACA scholars are unlawful combatants who can be killed in their law-school offices:

CLOACA scholarship and advocacy that attenuates U.S. arms and undermines American will are PSYOPs, which are combatant acts. Consequently, if these acts are colorable as propaganda inciting others to war crimes, such acts are prosecutable. CLOACA members are thus combatants who, like all other combatants, can be targeted at any time and place and captured and detained until termination of hostilities. As unlawful combatants for failure to wear the distinctive insignia of a party, CLOACA propagandists are subject to coercive interrogation, trial, and imprisonment. Further, the infrastructure used to create and disseminate CLOACA propaganda—law school facilities, scholars’ home offices, and media outlets where they give interviews—are also lawful targets given the causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited. Shocking and extreme as this option might seem, CLOACA scholars, and the law schools that employ them, are—at least in theory—targetable so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ nonprohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism.

No, I’m not kidding. And no, the author apparently isn’t either.

I won’t tell readers to go read the article for themselves, because that would be cruel and unusual punishment. I will simply end by pointing out the most fundamental flaw in the article: namely, that it fails to note that I am a card-carrying member of CLOACA. Indeed, I’ve been advocating for radical Islam to defeat the West for years now, both here on the blog and in my scholarship. Surely I should be targeted, too!

UPDATE: The author of the article, William C. Bradford, resigned from Indiana University-Indianapolis’s law school in 2005 after it was revealed that he had lied about his military record — including falsely claiming to have won a Silver Star during Desert Storm. See this article in Inside Higher Education.

14 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post . One can laugh of course, but one could also try to figure it out, what is the mechanism which produce it:
    The huge gap between letters and spirit in the process of interpretation of laws . Many laws or provisions, by letters, while using common language and understanding, especially in martial laws, would drive you to crazy places.

    But, the gap between letters and spirits , between law and reasonableness, is not an easy task, up to a very skillful judge, and typically:

    judges and their rulings , are very very mispercieved in societies . Thanks

  2. My, the academic job market can’t be that bad if this guy still manages to be employed somewhere.

    You’d think a federal staff college would be a little more hostile to people who lied about their military awards.

  3. Tired of this crap.

  4. An example for illustrating the dangers of student-run US law journals that do not use a system of peer review?

  5. Making Bradford’s ‘article’ even more disturbing, I observed that the SSRN version is marked up, and indicates that the second passage quoted above used to make express the argument that law scholars can be killed:

    “CLOACA members are thus combatants who, like all other combatants, can be targeted at any time and place [Okay to delete “and killed”?] and captured and detained until termination of hostilities.”

    I also enjoyed the following, which was apparently written without a trace of irony:

    “…scholarship permits professional purveyors of pretentious poppycock to propound magical insights [to] transform … society, even if most of their publications are slops [that] fill the law reviews with contrarian and unorthodox positions designed to generate controversy, notoriety, and subsequent citations”.

  6. Response…Categorically false assertion about the grounds for my resignation, which I submitted months before the false allegations against me were published. Those allegations have been debunked and it is libelous to reassert them. I would hope that if you disagree with my article you confine your criticism to my work.

  7. I will simply note that there is nothing publicly available that in any way calls into question the idea that Bradford lied about his military service — and there are numerous articles in mainstream media sources to the contrary, such as the one I linked to in the post above. Nor does Bradford himself supply a link to the supposed “debunking” of the claims concerning his military service. If he does, I will be happy to amend the post accordingly.

    For the record, I normally have no interest in dredging up unpleasant facts about scholars whose work I criticise. But it takes a special sort of chutzpah for someone to claim that IHL scholars should not be taken seriously if they have no military expertise when that person has himself lied — systematically and repeatedly — about his own military service.

  8. I assume that many readers have already seen this, but if not, the article was “repudiated” by the journal, with an accompanying explanation by Jeremy Rabkin:

  9. ^ this is why I love this blog lol

  10. Thanks to Mr. Frye for referring readers to the NSLJ’s repudiation of Bradford’s article. I was shocked to see that Bradford is now teaching at the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint. This is as bad as John Yoo getting an endowed chair at UC-Berkeley School of Law.

    Francisco Forrest Martin

  11. Unbelievable that Bradford was just hired to teach law at West Point. In addition to his lying about his Army record, he claimed to have been an associate professor at NDU- while he was not an employee, but a contractor. And Indiana Law, he wore a Silver Star pin around campus and drove a car with major’s insignia on the license plate holder- he never served on active duty, was not in the Gulf War, was not awarded the Silver Star, and was released from reserve duties as a 2ndLT- the same as he entered, which shows that he didn’t do much in the reserves. He promoted himself as a decorated veteran of the Gulf War- he is a liar.

  12. Also Bradford was not an “Associate Professor of Law, National Security, and Strategy, National Defense University, as he claimed in his article. NDU has repudiated that, noting that he was a contractor. Another lie.

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