Review of Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Bingham, or how the “war on terror” destroyed the rule of law

I am lumping together my review of Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Rule of Law by Tom Bingham because all three chapters deal with one aspect or another of today’s post-9/11 world, a world in which the rule of law is now all but dead–death by a thousand cuts, like the Taylor Swift song. Chapter 9 (“A Fair Trial”), for example, highlights the existence of so-called “hybrid procedures”–i.e. legal actions that are neither civil nor criminal in nature, such as parole board decisions or preventive detentions of “enemy combatants”, while Chapter 10 (“The Rule of Law in the International Order”) and Chapter 11 (“Terrorism and the Rule of Law”) focus on the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the misnamed “war on terror” in response to 9/11.

Combined, these chapters–especially chapters 10 and 11, the best part of the entire book–explain how the USA’s–and to a lesser extent, the UK’s–response to 9/11 contravened our most cherished rule of law values. Among other things, Bingham presents a stinging critique of mass surveillance, extraordinary renditions, torture, and all the other emergency measures used to fight the Bush-Obama-Trump “war on terror”. (Point of order: Although it was President Bush Jr. who ordered these extra-legal measures; Presidents Obama and Trump inherited them and kept them in place. Also, the fact that Bingham’s book was published several years before Edward Snowden revealed the United States Government’s indiscriminate and illegal mass surveillance of its population makes Bingham’s case all the more compelling.)

For my part, instead of rehashing Bingham’s legalistic arguments against the invasion of Iraq and the ill-defined war on terror, I will conclude with the following observation. Recently, the U.S. Government accused Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukraine (see here, for example). But this accusation begs the question, If Vladimir Putin is a war criminal (which he is), then what about George W. Bush?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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7 Responses to Review of Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Bingham, or how the “war on terror” destroyed the rule of law

  1. The War on Terror has been a series of lawless breaches of the Bill of Rights for several decades. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like these policies will end anytime soon. To quote Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program”.

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