- President of the National Lawyers Guild
- Calls the U.S. a racist nation
- After 9/11, she stated, "As a sign that the United States has learned something from the bombing of a civilian city, the U.S. should immediately stop its almost daily bombardment of Iraq."
Born on November 1, 1948, Marjorie Cohn earned a BA in Social Thought and Institutions from Stanford University in 1970, and a JD from the Santa Clara University School of Law in 1975. During her student days, she participated in anti-Vietnam war activism. At Stanford, for instance, she was a member of the April Third Movement, a campus initiative that protested the war.
In 1978, Cohn traveled to Iran as a legal observer on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, where she has been a longtime member and once served as deputy secretary general.
From 1991-2016, Cohn taught at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, where she is now a professor emeritus.
Three weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Cohn stated that the terrorists who had committed these “crimes against humanity … must be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law,” rather than by means of “retaliation” that involved “bombing other countries.”
In May 2004, Cohn wrote that American racism had repeatedly expressed itself in the form of the mistreatment and torture of people around the world. “U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam,” said Cohn, “were trained to think of the North Vietnamese as ‘gooks.’ The objectification of the non-white enemy made it more palatable to kill and abuse them. American troops and mercenaries in Iraq likewise objectified their Iraqi prisoners when they sexually abused and sadistically humiliated them in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.”
Cohn served as president of the National Lawyers Guild from 2006-09.
In addition to the organizations cited above, Cohn has also served as: (a) a board-of-directors member for Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and the Vietnam Agent Orange and Relief and Responsibility Campaign; (b) a board-of-governors member with the Society of American Law Teachers; (c) a civilian board member with GI Voice; and (d) a national-advisory-board member with Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America, the U.S. Human Rights Network, and the American Constitution Society‘s San Diego chapter.
Cohn writes and speaks frequently on various political and human-rights issues. Many of her articles have appeared in such Internet publications as Truthout, Huffington Post, AlterNet, CommonDreams, Counterpunch, OpedNews, AtlanticFreePress, ZNet, and GlobalResearch.
In 2010, Cohn wrote an article defending Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier and intelligence analyst who had violated the Espionage Act by disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents. “If Manning did what he is suspected of doing,” wrote Cohn, “he should be honored as an American hero for exposing war crimes and hopefully, ultimately, helping to end this war” (in Iraq).
In late 2016, Cohn, who had visited Cuba in 2015, wrote a tribute to Fidel Castro on the occasion of his death, lauding him as “one of the most remarkable leaders of the 20th century” who had “steadfastly stood up to the United States and survived.” Cohn further praised the late Communist dictator for having provided his countrymen with “superior access to universal housing, health care, education, and [a] guarantee of paid maternity leave and equal-pay rates.” “History has absolved, and promises to continue to absolve, ‘El Comandante’ Fidel Castro,” Cohn concluded.
Cohn is an outspoken critic of Israel and a supporter of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which she says “should be embraced as a nonviolent strategy to challenge the Israeli occupation.” Cohn also backs the Palestinian “right of return,” which, if put into practice, would spell the permanent end of Israel as a Jewish state.
In a January 2012 article, Cohn wrote that “Israel, with the possible assistance of the United States, has orchestrated the assassinations of at least five Iranian nuclear scientists or engineers since 2007.” These “acts of terrorism,” she alleged, were “designed to provoke Iran to retaliate” and thereby “spark a war that could spread to the entire Middle East.” Insisting that Iran was “not a [nuclear] threat to Israel’s security,” Cohn emphasized that “it is up to us [Americans] to prevail upon our elected officials to avoid a tragic conflagration in Iran by pressuring Israel to cease and desist.” In a similar vein, Cohn in 2015 denounced America’s “longstanding policy of turning a blind eye to Israel’s many violations of the law.”
Cohn has published numerous articles accusing Israel of such transgressions as “colonialism,” “collective punishment,” “torture,” “genocide,” “massacre[s],” “crimes against humanity,” and “war crimes … targeting civilians.” In May 2017, she expressed support for a prison-cell hunger strike by the incarcerated Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti. And in October 2017, Cohn claimed that the magnitude of “U.S.-backed Israeli violence and aggression” vastly exceeded any wrongdoings perpetrated by Hamas or Hezbollah.
Cohn currently sits on the board of advisers for the leftist website Truthout, along with such notables as Bill Ayers, Jodie Evans, and Richard D. Wolff. Over the years, she has served as a commentator, analyst, and news consultant for numerous broadcast networks, including BBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, and Pacifica Radio.
For additional information on Marjorie Cohn, click here.
Further Reading: Biographical information from LinkedIn.com, MarjorieCohn.com/biography, AlternativeRadio.org, Keywiki.org, and CanaryMission.org; “Rise Above It: Fight Terror Legally” (by Marjorie Cohn, 10-1-2001); “Torturing Hearts and Minds” (by Marjorie Cohn, 5-4-2004); “Bradley Manning: An American Hero” (by Marjorie Cohn, 9-20-2010); “The Remarkable Legacy of Fidel Castro” (by Marjorie Cohn, 12-3-2016); “Pressure Israel, Not Iran” (by Marjorie Cohn, 1-18-2012); “Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike as Trump Visits Israel” (by Marjorie Cohn, 5-20-2017).