Samuel Moyn’s vicious and unprincipled attack on Michael Ratner, one of the finest human rights attorneys of our time, was published in the New York Review of Books (NYRB) on September 1. Moyn singles out Ratner as a whipping boy to support his own bizarre theory that punishing war crimes prolongs war by making it more palatable. He disingenuously claims that enforcing the Geneva Conventions and opposing illegal wars are mutually exclusive. As Dexter Filkins noted in the New Yorker, Moyn’s “logic would favor incinerating entire cities, Tokyo style, if the resulting spectacles of agony lead more people to oppose American power.”
Moyn takes Ratner—the long-time president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who died in 2016—to task for filing Rasul v. Bush to give people indefinitely detained at Guantánamo the constitutional right to habeas corpus to challenge their detention.
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