The 31 Year-Old Doogie Howser Of Terrorism

Wesley Yang profiles online terror expert Evan Kohlmann:

Kohlmann has, for the past seven years, made his living as an expert witness for hire during an episode of American history that posterity may record as not among its proudest. Our criminal-justice system, chastened by its failure to take the 9/11 hijackers seriously before they struck, has greatly expanded the share of prospective terrorist threats that it treats as real. While this aggressive posture may well have contributed to the absence of any major attack since 9/11, it has also produced a raft of cases that tend to look more frightening at the initial press conference than they do once evidence is admitted at trial, and situations in which the only terrorist plots the defendants have participated in are those invented by the government.

To his admirers, Kohlmann is just the kind of indefatigable obsessive we need to track down the fanatics who confront us. But by agreeing to testify in the trials of nearly every defendant placed before him, Kohlmann has earned a reputation among many scholars as a “hand for hire,” as London School of Economics professor Fawaz Gerges puts it, working in the “guilty-verdict industry.” Another leading terrorism scholar calls him a “whore of the court,” making basic analytical errors on the stand and engaging in a charade of expertise. It is the opinion of George Washington University constitutional-law professor Jonathan Turley that Kohlmann was “grown hydroponically in the basement of the Bush Justice Department.” Kohlmann says he simply testifies to what he sees on the weband what he sees frightens him very much.