Law: A Law of Convenience

In the Iraq war, the White House has little use for international law--except when it comes in handy

You could say President Bush's policy on international law is that he's against it--except when he's for it. Mostly, he's been against it. The Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases? Not a chance. The International Criminal Court? Forget about it. The U.N. Convention Against Torture? Mere background noise for a White House committed to asserting the sovereignty of the U.S.

What, then, to make of the Administration's sudden respect for international law as applied to the war in Iraq? Two cases before a federal appeals court in Washington present the odd spectacle of Justice Department lawyers claiming that, legally speaking, the...

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