David Cole

David Cole is the legal director the ACLU and the author, most recently, of The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable (New Press).

Articles by this author

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Friday, August 25, 2017
Why We Must Defend Free Speech
Does the First Amendment need a rewrite in the era of Donald Trump? Should the rise of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups lead us to cut back the protection afforded to speech that expresses hatred and advocates violence, or otherwise undermines equality? If free speech exacerbates inequality,...
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Monday, March 06, 2017
We’ll See You in Court, 2.0: Once a Muslim Ban, Still a Muslim Ban
If a Muslim Ban is cleaned up to exclude Iraq, exempt lawful permanent residents and other current visa holders, is it still a Muslim ban? That’s the question presented by President Donald Trump’s decision to replace his original executive order, enjoined by the courts, with a new one. The...
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Sunday, January 29, 2017
We’ll See You in Court: Why Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees Violates the Establishment Clause
According to the Supreme Court, “the clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” Larson v. Valente , 456 US. 228, 244 (1982). But that command is apparently not clear enough for President Donald Trump. On Friday he...
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Why Trump’s Proposed Targeting of Muslims Would be Unconstitutional
As a candidate, Donald Trump notoriously called for a ban on the entrance of all Muslims, a database to track Muslims in the United States, for aggressive surveillance of “the mosques,” and for closing down mosques . When many pointed out that such religiously targeted enforcement actions would be...
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Thursday, May 12, 2016
Michael Ratner, 1943–2016
S everal years ago, I asked the civil-rights lawyer Michael Ratner, who died Wednesday at age 72, whether he thought he had any chance of prevailing when, with the Center for Constitutional Rights , he sued George W. Bush in early 2002 on behalf of some of the first Guantánamo detainees. “None...
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Sunday, March 08, 2015
Torture: No One Said No
Who bears ultimate responsibility for the US torture program? The report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released in December, told us much about how the program was implemented and carried out: it was fundamentally ill-conceived, poorly managed, and led to grievous abuses of basic...
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A "drone shadow" created for the Istanbul Design Biennial. (Photo: STML/ Creative Commons/ Flickr) Views
Sunday, May 11, 2014
‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’
Supporters of the National Security Agency inevitably defend its sweeping collection of phone and Internet records on the ground that it is only collecting so-called “metadata”—who you call, when you call, how long you talk. Since this does not include the actual content of the communications, the...
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The wreckage of a car destroyed by a US drone strike in Azan, Yemen, February 2013. (Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters/Corbis) Views
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
How Many Have We Killed?
On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United...
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(Image: NYRB / David Levine) Views
Monday, April 07, 2014
'One Dollar, One Vote' (and the End of Democracy)
As Senator Mitch McConnell, an outspoken opponent of regulating campaign spending, has conceded, trying to put limits on political donations is not easy. In McConnell’s words, it’s “like putting a rock on Jell-O. It oozes out some other place.” But if it was difficult before the Supreme Court’s...
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
The CIA’s Poisonous Tree
The old Washington adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime may not apply when it comes to the revelations this week that the Central Intelligence Agency interfered with a Senate torture investigation. It’s not that the cover-up isn’t serious.
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