An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Forum

February 27, 2019

Martin Drake
President
Harvard Law School Forum
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Dear President Drake:

You are an honorable man. Board Members of the Harvard Law School Forum are honorable. That explains my chagrin at the surprise O Henry ending to my invitation to address the Forum about limitless executive power on March 1, 2019.

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Can Harvard Law School Confront its Moral Crisis Over Rule of Law?

Dante’s Inferno warned that, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”

That warning made Harvard Law School graduate and then United States Attorney General Francis Biddle agonize over the moral crisis he was then confronting.

The date was February 18, 1942.  Only weeks had elapsed since the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which President Franklin Roosevelt had decried as “a date which will live in infamy.” Continue reading “Can Harvard Law School Confront its Moral Crisis Over Rule of Law?”

Secret Government Is Stupid, Reckless, Incompetent, & Lawless

In 1961, after The New York Times downplayed the impending Bay of Pigs debacle, President John F. Kennedy remarked to editor Turner Catledge, “Maybe if you had printed more about the operation you would have saved us from a colossal mistake.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson tasked Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to visit Vietnam in December or early January of 1964 to assess the war situation. Battlefields were toured. Briefings by generals were attended. The secretary twice publicly voiced optimism about the progress of South Vietnam’s war effort. But in the White House, McNamara told an opposite story, as Benjamin Bradlee of The Washington Post recounts based on the Pentagon Papers: “[E]verything was going to hell in a handbasket in Vietnam.”

But that assessment was concealed from Congress and the American people.  If it had been disclosed, the United States might have been saved from the Vietnam War calamity the heartbreak of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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