Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NY Post Says No to Koh

The New York Post has run an editorial highly critical of President Obama's pick to be State Department Legal Adviser, Dean Koh of Yale Law School. See: http://www.nypost.com/seven/03302009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/obamas_most_perilous_legal_pick_161961.htm?&page=1

The New York Post is one of the nation's oldest papers. It was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801 as the New York Evening Post. Since Rupert Murdoch took control of the paper some years ago, it has been known for its sensationalist headlines and conservative editorial views.

The thrust of the Post's criticism of Koh is that he wants international legal norms to govern application of US law. This has at least some relevance to cultural property issues. Critics have long argued that the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has effectively gutted the provisions of the Cultural Property Implementation Act that were meant to ensure that US restrictions will not be coextensive with the broadest declarations of foreign ownership over cultural artifacts.

If the Post editorial is to be believed, Dean Koh will not be a likely "change agent" for the way the State Department does business. On the other hand, if Koh is committed to President Obama's promise that government should be more transparent and accountable, perhaps things might still change for the better.

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