Harold Koh is often asked if he is a hypocrite. During the Bush Administration, as dean of Yale Law School, he established himself as one of the staunchest critics of the president's approach to the War on Terrorism, especially its practice of holding alleged enemy combatants without due process. But during the Obama Administration, as the State Department's legal adviser, he defended a more expansive view of executive-branch power, including President Obama's targeted-killing program, putting him in the awkward position of having objected to detaining accused terrorists without due process but supporting the policy of actually killing accused terrorists.
The Los Angeles Times took note of that seeming contradiction in a news article published earlier this year, just as Koh was leaving the Obama Administration and returning to Yale. Eric Posner, a University of Chicago professor, was quoted explaining what might have happened. "Academics can take strong positions when they are speaking for themselves, but when they go into government, they have to compromise. Koh was asked to join a team," he said. "My guess: He believes he has done more good than not. But it will be interesting to hear what he has to say now."