Anthony Lewis

Anthony Lewis is a former columnist for The New York Times.

Recent Articles

The Road to Abu Ghraib

From the last, best hope of earth to Abu Ghraib: What has happened to the vision of America as the land of justice? In countless ways, at home and in the world, this country has abandoned its commitment to the protection of human rights. The change is all the more stark because Americans played such a large part in creating the very concept of international human rights. The United States Congress, 30 years ago, began demanding that countries receiving U.S. aid live up to basic standards of humanity. Private organizations such as Human Rights Watch highlighted the repressive cruelties of regimes from the Soviet Union to Latin dictatorships. American constitutional rights -- guarantees of due process of law, the right to counsel, freedom of speech -- became an international standard. That enlightened leadership seems now to belong to another age. The United States is best known now, in world human-rights terms, for its single- minded opposition to the International Criminal Court,...

First They Came for the Muslims ...

The Palmer Raids were one of the most notorious episodes in American legal history. A. Mitchell Palmer, President Woodrow Wilson's attorney general from 1919 to 1921, rounded up 3,000 allegedly "subversive" aliens for deportation. Only about 300 were actually deported, but the roundup was widely deplored as crude and lawless intimidation. In the wake of September 11, current Attorney General John Ashcroft carried out the most sweeping roundup of aliens since the Palmer Raids. Between 1,100 and 2,000 people were arrested and detained. The exact number is unknown because the Department of Justice, after criticism grew, stopped announcing a running total. The last published figure, in November 2001, was 1,147. Perhaps in part because he put a lid of secrecy on the operation, Ashcroft's roundup has not aroused the kind of outrage that Palmer's did. David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and the country's foremost civil-liberties advocate in the immigration field, provided...

The Prosecutorial State

W hen Richard Holbrooke was chosen to be United States ambassador to the United Nations last June, the State Department's inspector general received an anonymous letter charging that Holbrooke had violated ethics rules. The writer, who described himself as a department employee, said he based his charges on hearsay. Over the next four months, agents of the State and Justice Departments investigated Holbrooke in this country and abroad. One subject was his failure to list as income, in his financial disclosure form, the use of a room in a friend's home in Washington when he was assistant secretary of state. Holbrooke had a real estate agent value the use of the room and amended the disclosure form to include the estimate, $12,000. The investigation focused finally on whether he had had improper contacts with U.S. diplomats after he left the job of assistant secretary in 1996 to become vice president of Credit Suisse First Boston. (He met with many diplomats on his frequent trips to...

The Prosecutorial State

One of the great law reporter's best pieces from the Prospect archives

flickr/steelforest Anthony Lewis, who died this week, was in a class by himself. As The New York Times reporter covering the Supreme Court and later a twice-weekly Times columnist, he invented a brand of reportage that was lucid, learned, and that explained the importance of courts and our constitutional system in a way that lay readers could appreciate. He covered the High Court in a different era, that of the Earl Warren Court, a time when courts were expanding rather than constricting rights. Lewis was a strong civil libertarian and a prescient critic of the incursions of what he called a “prosecutorial state.” Despite his erudition and celebrity, he was a sweet and generous man, and a long-standing friend of this magazine. Here is one of his feature pieces for The Prospect , published in January 1999. — Bob Kuttner W hen Richard Holbrooke was chosen to be United States ambassador to the United Nations last June, the State Department's inspector general received an anonymous letter...