Reading & Discussion: Accountability for Torture and Rendition with David Cole, Moderated by Issa Mikel

Wed, December 10, 2008 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror by David Cole and Jules Lobel (The New Press, 2007)

Winner of the first Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties prize, the book Zbigniew Brzezinski calls "a timely and unsparing exposure of the disastrous consequences of the 'war on terror' demagogy of the Bush administration"

In this brilliantly conceived critique, two of the country’s leading constitutional scholars argue that the Bush administration’s preemptive approach to domestic and international security has not only compromised our character but has in fact made us more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks.

In a groundbreaking analysis of efforts employed in the name of protecting its citizens—preventive detention, coercive interrogation, pretextual prosecutions, registration of Arab and Muslim men, and preventive war—law professors David Cole and Jules Lobel expose the government’s abysmal record of failed prosecutions and empty successes. The authors argue that these results, when coupled with the resentment such coercive tactics have engendered throughout the world, have left us less safe than we would be had we employed a more sensible and less controversial preventive strategy. The book concludes by proposing an alternative preventive strategy to guide us into the future.

Already standard reading for those who question the idea that “war” is the appropriate response to terrorism, Less Safe, Less Free offers an eloquent and original argument for a return to the rule of law.


David Cole is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, a volunteer staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He is the author of three award-winning books. His most recent book, Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, won the Palmer Civil Liberties Prize in 2007 for best book on national security and civil liberties. Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, received the American Book Award in 2004, and No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System, which was named Best Non-Fiction Book of 1999 by the Boston Book Review, and best book on an issue of national policy in 1999 by the American Political Science Association.

He has litigated many significant constitutional cases, including Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, which extended First Amendment protection to flagburning, National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, which challenged political content restriction on NEA funding, and Massachusetts v. Sullivan, which challenged restrictions on what federally-funded family planning centers could tell women about abortion. Since 9/11, he has been involved in many of the nation’s most important cases involving civil liberties and national security.

Issa Mikel is a Palestinian-American lawyer and activist currently living and working in New York City. Issa was born in Jerusalem and raised in the United States. He is a founding member of Adalah-NY: the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and is on the Board of the Arab-American Association of New York. He has represented detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in a pro bono capacity.

Last updated: 2008-11-21 02:28:24

David Cole
David Cole

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