In a column in the Rocky Mountain News, Paul Campos called our friends Glenn Reynolds and Hugh Hewitt “right wing extremis[ts]” and suggested that they should lose their jobs; Glenn and Hugh, like Campos, are law professors. Campos suggested that calling Glenn and Hugh “fascists” would be pretty close to the mark:
The use of propaganda to help bring about the murder of people you would like to kill has been especially favored by fascists. Fascism is marked by, among other things, extreme nationalism, contempt for legal restraints on state power, and the worship of violence.
And while it would perhaps be an exaggeration to call people like Reynolds and his fellow law professor Hugh Hewitt (who defended Reynolds’ comments) fascists, it isn’t an exaggeration to point out that these gentlemen sound very much like fascists when they encourage the American government to murder people.
What prompted this rhetorical outburst? Reynolds wrote here that selectively and covertly killing nuclear scientists and mullahs in Iran could be a more effective response to Iran’s involvement in Iraq than either diplomacy or invastion:
Nor do I think that high-profile diplomacy, or an invasion, is an appropriate response. We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists, supporting the simmering insurgencies within Iran, putting the mullahs’ expat business interests out of business, etc. Basically, stepping on the Iranians’ toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq.
Hewitt weighed in here, in response to Glenn’s post:
Glenn will no doubt attract virtual bricks from the usual suspects, but he goes right to the heart of the problem. If we know that Iran is killing American soldiers, if we don’t punish that action is some way, the killing will not only continue, it will increase.
Note that Hezbollah hasn’t kidnapped any Israeli soldiers lately. There’s a reason.
This is what Campos calls “extremism” and borderline (at least) fascism. Campos writes:
[E]ven if Iran were at war with the United States, the intentional killing of civilian noncombatants is a war crime, as that term is defined by international treaties America has signed. Furthermore, government-sponsored assassinations of the sort Reynolds is advocating are expressly and unambiguously prohibited by the laws of the United States. ***
[I]f the American government were to follow Reynolds’ advice, his employer would have an accessory to murder on its payroll.
Strong words. One would expect a law professor like Campos to have authority to back up such language. But in fact, his characterizations of the relevant legal principles are over-simplified, if not flat-out wrong.
Glenn cites this article by by Catherine Lotrionte, who teaches Intelligence Law and International Law at Georgetown’s Foreign Service School. She writes:
According to international law and U.S. domestic law, the president of the United States, in executing his constitutional authorities as commander in chief of the U.S armed forces, may legally order the killing of a regime leader as part of an armed conflict as long as it is not a