When Prof Dershowitz Dodged My Question: A Brief Encounter at Harvard
- January 19, 2020
- Posted by: Sadeq Bigdeli
- Category: Sanctions
My brief encounter with Prof Dershowitz goes back to 2008 when I was a law student at Harvard.
There are few professors as widely known outside of Harvard and the legal world as Prof Alan Dershowitz.
He has become a lawyer/celebrity, made famous in early years for advocating for civil liberties but later became known for “defending people who do outrageous things” or, as New Yorker put it, the “devil’s advocate”.
I might be wrong but I don’t think any other law prof in the world has brought along bodyguards at the campus – well of course, I mean, outside of the Western academia.
My encounter with him goes back to 2008 when I was a law student at Harvard. I was a participant in a debate on a book, as I recall, written by Bob Brecher where he had made harsh critique of Prof Dershowitz’s “ticking bomb” scenario as a justification for “regulated” torture procedures in “certain extreme circumstances”.
Those were the times where it had become apparent that these arguments were actually used in the so-called “torture memos” in post-9/11 by the Bush Administration’s legal team to justify waterboarding – a method of “enhanced interrogated technique”! – at places like Guantanamo Bay.
After defending his thesis, Prof Dershowitz was bombarded with questions from an outraged audience. Perhaps fooled by my naive look sitting at the back of the large auditorium, he let me make my remarks.
Without repeating the obvious critique I just recounted: “what you just explained professor is what I remember to exactly have heard from a professor of mine back at Tehran University teaching criminal procedure.
I think you two are exactly on the same page. And by the way, he is now the deputy of Iran’s President Ahmadi Nejad!”
I simple-mindedly thought my statement would work like a sudden wake-up call for him, especially having his family escaped from the horrors of the Holocaust, which was notoriously denied by Iran’s former president.
But I was dead wrong. He professionally managed his outrage, dissociated himself from the Iranian guy and rambled on with his “academic” thesis.
Now it makes perfect sense to me that he should be part of the team representing Trump at the Senate hearing for the US president’s impeachment.
By: Sadeq Z Bigdeli Founder of @bigdeliacademy