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Academics Who Criticize War on Terror Are ‘Lawful Targets,’ West Point Professor Says

Legal scholars who criticize U.S. tactics against terrorists are committing treasonous acts in support of an enemy, and they and the law schools that employ them should be regarded as “lawful targets” for military attacks, a law professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point argued in an article published recently by a student-edited law journal.

The article, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict / Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” appeared in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the National Security Law Journal, based at George Mason University, in Virginia. The journal has since repudiated the article and apologized to readers for publishing it.

The article’s author, William C. Bradford, has been an assistant professor of law at West Point for about a month, the British newspaper The Guardian reported on Saturday. A West Point spokesman said in a statement to The Guardian that the article had been written and accepted for publication before Mr. Bradford was employed at the military academy, and that the views expressed in the article were solely the professor’s and do not reflect those of the university.

Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is a co-founder and contributor to the blog Lawfare, a respected source of analysis and commentary relating to law and national security, is the author of a paper criticized in Mr. Bradford’s article. “It’s very hard to take this seriously,” Mr. Chesney told The Guardian, “except insofar as he may actually be teaching nonsense like this to cadets at West Point.”

Mr. Bradford did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

This is not the first time the professor has been at the center of a controversy. In 2005 he resigned from the School of Law at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where he said a political climate hostile to his conservative views had poisoned his chances of earning tenure. Mr. Bradford said at the time that he had applied for tenure but that the university had never acted on his application. University officials, however, said Mr. Bradford had notified them, via email, only of his intent to apply for tenure but had never actually applied.

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